The number of triangular icons in the display indicates the specified beat. On each beat, the icon color changes from left to right, indicating the current beat of the measure in a way that's intuitively clear. This provides visual cues as to when measures will change – a helpful advance over metronomes that provide only an audible indication.
The tempo can be set using one of three methods: increase or decrease the tempo using the standard increments familiar from a mechanical metronome (pendulum steps); increase or decrease the tempo in single-step increments over the full range of 30-252 (full steps), or use the Tap Tempo function to enter the tempo by pressing the switch in time with the music.
Practice a wide variety of songs by specifying any beat count from 1 to 9, and choose any one of the eight rhythm types: quarter notes, eighth notes, triplets (straight triplets, triplets with inner beat omitted, triplets with the third beat omitted), and sixteenth notes (quadruplets, quadruplets with middle beats omitted, quadruplets with the third and fourth beats omitted).
Sound Out mode produces a reference pitch (selectable over an octave C4-B4) that you can use when tuning nearly any instrument. The frequency of the A4 reference pitch (calibration) can be adjusted in 1 Hz steps over the broad range of 410 Hz to 480 Hz.
An earphone output is provided for personal use. The earphone volume can be adjusted to suit for any situation; from private practice in your room to group rehearsal in the studio.
When you turn off the power, the current tempo, beat, rhythm, calibration, and reference tone settings will be remembered for the next time you use the MA-1. (These settings will be initialized when you replace the batteries.) After 20 minutes of non-use with the power on, the power will automatically turn off to preserve the battery life.
The MA-1 is designed for long battery life, with continuous operation of approximately 70 hours when using zinc-carbon batteries, or approximately 290 hours when using alkaline batteries.