In the modern music era, entering the studio for a demo or full album recording can be intimidating. The current state of popular top 40, hip-hop, and rock ‘n roll music may best be described as slick, polished, and harrowing to reproduce in anything but the most expensive studios. By extension, the sound of modern drumming is predominantly mechanical and measured. If you want to produce a recording with a professional sound, then you should consider whether, and how, to utilize a metronome, or “click-track.”
If you have never used a metronome before, the first step will be to choose a model that you are comfortable using. You will want to check that the sound of the click is audible while you play; but a harsh, grating tone will make your studio session an exercise in teeth-grinding. You will typically want your metronome or drum machine to sound like a cowbell: a precise, upper-midrange “ping” will cut through clearly in most playing situations.
Remember that the click-track is only your guide. The metronome is not making any music: you are. If you have put in the work in rehearsal, the click-track will not dominate or overshadow your studio session. You will have the assurance that your best performance will not have an unintended sway in tempo. By the same token, a click track will not fix a bad song, mask sloppy playing, or energize an uninspired performance. If used correctly and diligently, and if you remember to keep it musical, a click track can be a valuable tool to polish your playing and to finish your recording with a professional edge.