AirTurn vs. PageFlip Cicada – A Bluetooth Pedal Showdown

If you’re an iPad-using musician, chances are good that you’ve come across forScore, the single best sheet-music reader out there (in my not-so-humble opinion).  Chances are also good that you are looking for a way to turn pages a bit more simply – and, of course, fancily.  Those searches probably led you to discover Bluetooth foot pedals, and of those you probably are looking at one or both of the AirTurn or the PageFlip Cicada; in fact, both are linked prominently from forScore’s website.

I’ve decided that it’d be prudent to write a little bit about my opinion of these two devices stacked up against one another, in hopes that it might help the iPad/forScore-using public out there to make a semi-informed decision.  For this article, I’m comparing the AirTurn BT-105 bundle that includes two ATFS-2 pedals and the organizer tray against the PageFlip Cicada unit.

So, here we go.  First, some of the tangibles:

Size and weight: The two units are nearly identical in dimensions – the Cicada measures 6″x4.5″x1.25″ (LxWxH), whereas the AirTurn (again, on the tray) measures 7″x5.5″x1″.  Both are quite manageable for a musician’s gig bag, though the AirTurn gains a slight advantage for the space-crunched musician if removed from the tray.  Weight-wise, however, the AirTurn unit weighs 12.4 oz., nearly double the Cicada’s 6.6 (with batteries – only 4.8 without).  Neither are unreasonably heavy, but if you’re a musician with lots of gear, the Cicada will travel lighter. Advantage: AirTurn for size, Cicada for weight.

Both units are roughly half the size of an iPad. The AirTurn is on the top, the Cicada on the bottom.

Power: Both units can be plugged in via mini-USB, and can be operated while plugged in.    For me, I used a mini-USB cable connected to my iPad’s power plug – which you’d likely have around anyway.  For wireless page-turning, the AirTurn is powered by an internal rechargeable battery – less maintenance.  The Cicada can be run on 2xAA batteries, which is more maintenance.  However, another angle on this is that bringing extra AA batteries is always going to be a sound backup plan for the Cicada; for the AirTurn, you need to hope that you’re near an outlet if it runs out of juice.  Advantage: Cicada for flexibility,  AirTurn for simplicity.

Pairing with iPad:  Most people know how to pair Bluetooth devices nowadays, so the only reason I mention this is for comparison.  The Cicada required a passkey, which was a bit more tricky to get right than the AirTurn, which required no passkey.  The Cicada has buttons on the face, in the upper right, which are numbered.  To get 1-5, you press the button…to get 6-0, you hold one of the pedals (marked “Shift”) and press the button.  It took me 2-3 tries to get my Cicada paired with the iPad.  But, once it was done, it was done. Advantage: AirTurn.

Powering on and off / status indicators:  The Cicada features a simple, no-frills on-off switch on the face.  Can’t get simpler than that.  The indicator lights are all on the front face, so you can easily ensure that the device is functioning properly.  The AirTurn is operated almost solely with a single button on the back of the unit, and one indicator light (also on the back) that flashes combinations of green, yellow, and red.  To power the AirTurn on or off, the button must be held, and the light must be observed.  Powering on is usually no problem; powering off usually takes me 2-3 tries for some reason.  At first, I was also nervous about not being able to see the indicator light on the unit while playing; the light also indicates when the battery is running low, and I can’t see that if the light’s not facing me. Advantage: Cicada, by a lot.

Changing keymapping: Both devices can be used with a Bluetooth-capable computer as well, and can be switched to send different keystrokes to those devices (up/down arrows, PgUp/PgDown, even mouse clicks).  The AirTurn changes those settings by holding down a pedal while powering it up.  I’ve done that accidentally before, and it caused me a good bit of frustration.  The Cicada changes that setting with the numbered buttons I mentioned above in the “Pairing” section.  The buttons aren’t “recessed” per se,  but are flush enough with the surface to avoid accidental presses.  The Cicada also has more options for specific keystrokes, whereas the AirTurn only has Mac/PC “mode” and iPad “mode.”  Both worked fine with my computer (MacBook Pro).  Now, how much you actually use these features?  For me, not a ton.  Advantage: Cicada, slightly.

Additional Features: Both pedals can accept input from other pedal sources.  In fact, the Cicada works with the AirTurn’s pedals plugged into the unit.  No biggie here.  One additional feature for the Cicada, though – the “Repeat” feature.  If you enable this, and hold down the pedal, the unit sends repeated keystrokes to the connected device.  You can therefore turn multiple pages without lifting your foot.  However, I’m not sure this feature is actually a good feature for reading sheet music on the iPad…I accidentally turned too many pages once by accident by leaving my foot on the pedal too long.  Advantage: even.

Responsiveness: The two devices both send their keystrokes to the iPad with the same amount of perceived delay; maybe 1/10 of a second…that’s just my guess.  Either way, it’s just long enough to notice, but not long enough to bother you.  Advantage: even.

OK – those are the tangibles.  Now to get into the “opinion” piece, which is the feel, noise, and durability…those things which I could measure if I were to go all Mythbusters on these pedals, but I don’t have the time or the budget for that (not to mention I don’t have my own TV show).  Here we go:

Durability: The mechanism behind the Cicada’s pedals is some kind of spring/hinge mechanism.  The mechanism behind the AirTurn’s pedals is much simpler, the pedals being essentially one piece, curled over tightly on itself (see pics below).  My mantra (and that of many computer folks who use SSD drives) is that “the fewer moving parts, the better.”  And, the Cicada’s pedals are made from lighter plastic.  While that contributes to its overall lightness as a unit, lighter/thinner plastic is always more susceptible to breakage.  As a habitual worry-wart, I envision this unit getting caught up on something in my gig bag, and one of these pedals snapping.  Of course, the AirTurn’s pedals are connected to the main unit via 1/8″ connectors, so there’s a variable there as well – how long are those wires / connectors going to last?  Both units have some places for concern, but they’re admittedly mostly minor.  I’m giving the slight edge to the AirTurn here for its lack of moving parts. Advantage: AirTurn, slightly.

The PageFlip Cicada's mechanism is more of a hinge/spring.

The AirTurn is essentially a piece of plastic tightly-bent around into a U

Noise: The Cicada’s hinge mechanism and ligher plastic do lend it to be slightly noisier than the AirTurn, which is one thing I’m super picky about.  If I’m using technology on stage, it absolutely cannot distract from the performance.  As I said, I haven’t done any formal testing on this, but on a hard floor, the AirTurn was nearly silent, and the Cicada was noticeably audible to me.  Advantage: AirTurn.

Feel: One other construction issue that probably contributes to the noise of the Cicada also contributes to its feel – its pedals traverse roughly 1/2″ one-way for a “press.”  The AirTurn, on the other hand, covers only 1/16″ one-way for a “press.”  To be fair, you could consider the AirTurn more prone to accidental presses because of this trait, but I’ve had more problems with accidental non-presses of the Cicada than I’ve had accidental presses with the AirTurn.  However, both units are fairly smooth, and require minimal effort while standing.  While sitting, I give the edge to the AirTurn.  Both units can be operated from a seated position “piano pedal” style without a problem (heel on the floor), but I found the AirTurn to be more organic this way, since my foot didn’t have to travel such a long distance.  Advantage: AirTurn.

There’s one last thing I haven’t mentioned yet, and that’s price.  The AirTurn lists at $129.95, while the Cicada is a whopping $50 cheaper at $79.95.  AirTurn occasionally has “scratch-and-dent” units available for $89.95, however, and that’s how I got mine.  To be honest, I can’t even tell where it was supposedly blemished.  The downside there is that you don’t get as much selection with your color; I was lucky enough to get my desired black color, but as of today’s writing, they S&D models aren’t showing any stock in black. Advantage: Cicada

Conclusion:  It’s close.  The units to have some fundamental differences, and you’ll ultimately need to decide what’s most important to you.  I will conclude with this: both units are excellent, and offer all of the functionality that a musician needs.  Perhaps the biggest disparity is price – a brand new AirTurn is over 1.5x as costly as a brand-new Cicada, which could be a major turn-off for some.

Personally, going forward, I’m probably going to keep to my AirTurn, because I am sold on the way it feels under my foot.  I do wish it had some of the things the Cicada has, though – like a clearer on/off mechanism and a better-placed indicator light.  But if you’re new to the game, and trying to decide between the two, there are a few things that I could see swaying you toward the Cicada instead – price, weight, power options, and interface clarity.  All in all, both units perform admirably – you just have to figure out what matters most to you in a pedal.

Did my article help you?  I’d love to hear about it!  Please feel free to comment (top left), and / or send me an e-mail – mslibera (at) uncg (dot) edu

115 thoughts on “AirTurn vs. PageFlip Cicada – A Bluetooth Pedal Showdown

  1. Great article! Just wanted to point out another key advantage of the AirTurn BT-105: you can the iPad’s virtual keyboard on with other text input apps, whereas the Cicada hides the iPad’s virtual keyboard. forScore manages to enable the virtual keyboard, but if you have to jump to another app to enter text, you’ll find the BT-105’s keyboard toggle helpful (it’s the only page turner on the market that has this capability).
    http://airturn.com/bt-105-faqs/using-the-ipads-virtual-keyboard-with-the-bt-105-v-122

    By the way, the higher price of the BT-105 is reflected by the fact that it is proudly constructed in the USA, whereas the Cicada is made in China.

    • The newer versions of the Cicada (since July 2012) no longer require you to enter a passcode. Furthermore, these same versions allow you to expose the iPad’s virtual keyboard by simply pressing the button next to the current mode (the button next to the flashing light). Each time you press it, you expose/hide the virtual keyboard. Therefore, those arguments against the Cicada no longer apply. Also, we have NEVER had the plastic of the pedal break. Don’t let the lightness fool you. It is very durable. The Cicada has been in use by prize-winning musicians in prestigious venues around the world. It’s a great device, and you can’t beat the price difference.

  2. hey, there, thanks very much! few minutes ago i ordered the cicada to figure out the benefits for me. Main reasons? the price and the imho clearer design. China vs. usa makes no difference to me. I’m playing in a gospel setting, hoping to get rid of the paper versions of counted 426 pieces of sheet music… :-)

    best regards and thanks again for the tight and serious test survey!

    ch

    • Hey Chris, thanks for your response! Glad that my review could help you make this decision. I do have another post on my process for scanning music using an iPad and the forScore app, if you’re using that setup. I’ve put in tons and tons of music, and have found that keeping the PDF size down has been extremely helpful to my process. I’m also exploring TurboScan, which I plan to post about soon as well.

      All the best!
      — Matt

    • Hi Chris
      If you’re interested in trying the AirTurn alongside your new PageFlip Cicada, please let me know and I’d be happy to send you a special discount coupon. The AirTurn BT-105 is designed to be ready to go right out of the box – turn it on, pair it up, and you’re ready to go. Pairing is instantaneous (no need to enter passkey codes), and if multiple members of your band are using AirTurn’s, you’ll be able to clearly see the serial numbers of each AirTurn in your iPad’s Bluetooth settings (rather than just a generic “keyboard” designation). The recessed power button was intentionally designed so that you don’t accidentally turn it on while it’s in its gig bag. And if you need to enter text into your iPad while turning pages, keep in mind that only the AirTurn BT-105 has that capability :)

      • I have two cicada’s but am interested in your 4 pedal set up, do i qualify for the coupon you are speaking of?
        This review is very helpful by the way, wish I had seen it before I made my purchase.
        Thanks!

        • Hi Melvin – send me a private email and I’ll send give you a special discount coupon :) hugh@airturn.com
          Plus we’re offering free shipping until Christmas, so that will help you save even more!

      • Just wondering if other people can get a coupon? I’m going to be using it at a Christian summer camp and my concerns are on how it will hold up in an outdoor dusty environment?

        • Hi Jonathan,

          I don’t know about how it holds up in an outdoor environment (or which product you are inquiring about), but my thought is that the AirTurn will likely do best, as it has no hinges or moving parts that could be susceptible to letting in dust and dirt. I would also assume that you could simply put the unit (either product) into a clear Ziploc bag while using it if you’re concerned about it; that shouldn’t affect the operation of the unit at all.

          Regarding coupons, I can’t speak for Hugh Sung (owner of AirTurn), but I will again recommend checking the Clearance section of the AirTurn web store (http://airturninc989.corecommerce.com/Clearance-Items-c20/) to purchase at a discount.

          Hope that helps,
          — Matt

      • Hugh,
        Please put simple on off button and do not disable the keyboard. When I hit the edit button, I want to edit. What is the reason for disabling the keyboard? Also, all the other flashing lights and combos of lights are impossible to navigate without a manual…in the middle of a gig, you want simplicity. For some reason (either setlist app or airturn device), I have had my iPad and Airturn disconnect. This requires my turning everything off and reconnecting. With the complicated on- off sequences, I end up in limbo. This is a disaster in the middle of a performance. Hence I am now looking to replace my Airturn or Setlist App or both. Please let me know if there is some simple fix I am missing. Thanks!

        • Hi Karl

          The virtual keyboard issue is a problem with the iOS operating system. Apple hides the virtual keyboard whenever it detects that an external keyboard – like the AirTurn BT-105 – is connected. The AirTurn BT-105 has a workaround – when you’re in an active text field, press the red power button to toggle the virtual keyboard back on. You can see this demonstrated here: http://airturn.com/bt-105/support/bt-105/usage/using-the-ipads-virtual-keyboard-with-the-bt-105

          As for disconnecting in the middle of a performance, check your iPad’s auto-lock settings and make sure it is set to “never”. That should prevent that from happening again.

          I hope this helps. Feel free to email support@airturn.com if you need any more help, or call our office toll-free at 888-247-1223.

        • Oh, and with regard to the on-off switch, we’re redesigning that with the next version of the AirTurn BT-105 (hopefully coming sometime next year). Thanks for the suggestion!

          • Hugh,

            As soon as you have the new model with the on-off switch, please let me know! I will likely purchase it and sell my old one.

            Thanks!
            Karl

  3. Thank you so much for your thorough and easy-to-digest comparison! I’m so excited about going paperless, had my first paperless show last month, but wasn’t ready to decide on a pedal yet so swiped instead. I’m ready for the pedal now, and your article will sure help me to make a decision as I shop around!

    -Mollie

    • Mollie, glad I can help! The AirTurn folks did just come out with new pedals too, that are lighter and more consistent than the ATFS-1. I’m behind in my posting, but I will be comparing those as well in the near future.

      Happy hunting,
      — Matt

  4. Hello, and Thanks for your review.
    Are you using this for piano performance?
    I guess you’re using your left foot to turn pages while using the right foot for the sustaining pedal? Is it still possible/convenient when you’re using your left foot for the damper pedal? Do you then turn pages with your heel?
    Thanks

    • Hi Maxime,

      I’m a clarinetist by trade, and have used it in performances on clarinet and acoustic guitar. I don’t know what pianists would do to turn pages when both feet are occupied. Perhaps use the heel…if you can make it work without affecting the damper pedal. If you give this a try and find a method that works, please do let me know!

      One other quirky app you might (keyword: might) be able to put to good use is MagicReader. It’s a reader app that uses the camera, and turns the page when it sees you turn your head. Not a great app for sheet music in general, as it doesn’t have the library management of forScore, but it *might* do the trick for those special circumstances…and for a musician whose face is not occupied actually playing the instrument ;)

  5. I’m a classical pianist, and I use my left foot to tap my AirTurn BT-105, since I don’t use the soft pedal (Una corda) as often as my damper pedal with my right foot. And yes, for those occasions when I need both the Una corda and the AirTurn, I can easily use my heel – it’s a simple technique borrowed from organists. You can see a demonstration of the toe/heel technique here: How to use one foot to press two pedals at the same time

    • Thanks for the quick reply, Hugh! This looks more than reasonable. The video helps too. One question – what if you need to access the “back” pedal too? Is there a good configuration that would allow you easy access to both pedals?

      • I use Planning Center Online’s Music Stand application. Right now, I simply change pages with iPad gestures. I’m looking into the two page turn devices right now, not only for myself, but to add to the curriculum of a music technology course I teach at a local college.

        In agreement with Hugh, below, here’s one tip I might offer: Whether you use gestures or a pedal device, there will undoubtedly be times when you could need a way to go back a page. However, for the most part, I set up my set list so that if I need to go back, that page is added to the PDF twice, so that I can simply go forward with it. Then I add a highlight or other marking to point to the place I need to go to on that page (coda, second ending, etc.) The advantage is that often when you need to go back one page, you then need to go forward two pages. I’ve used this technique for playing winds and percussion in concert bands, and on guitar, bass and piano in a worship setting.

        One nice option that Music Stand gives you is the ability to sync multiple iPads so one person (band member, sound engineer, projectionist, etc.) can flip pages for everyone. It even has a metronome that changes settings based on the song that you are on to create a simple “click track.”

        Of course, there is one thing that helps make all this technology work: PRACTICE. As a music teacher, my strongest advice is to have the music available, but do your best not to need it! Oh, and also, never use technology in a live setting until your are very proficient at it. Again, that equals practice.

  6. The beauty of digital scores is that you can design them in such a way that you don’t need to go backwards, as with paper versions that use repeat, Da Capo, and D.S. signs as a means of saving paper. forScore is a particularly great app for this. You can use forScore’s “Rearrange” feature (within the settings) to copy pages and move them around in any order you like. I use this to make sure all my repeats are set up in a way that always moves forwards. Hence, I rarely – if ever – really need to go backwards with my AirTurn!

    • Ah ha, Hugh, i’m not as smart as i thought…i figured i was the only one to do all my music “top-down” with never a need to scroll backwards!!!

  7. I would be using a page-turning device for my iPad 2 for lyrics scrolling during live performance (original acoustic duo). I mostly use Prompster Pro, and I have some other lyrics loaded in Numbers (spreadsheet style). Is forScore good for that, as I have no probelm switching Apps to one that works well with a page-turning device? I did not see a feature comparison that addresses what I see on Amazon: The Cicada has different modes to choose between Page Up/Down; Left/Right Arrow;Up/Down Arrow, Left/Right Mouse Click; Space/Enter. Does the BT-105 have the same options? Is either of these more suited to a strictly text (lyric) use. I am not scrolling thorugh music scores, just lyrics. With a turning device, I can enlarge my lyrics fonts for easier visibility and still keep up with the music.

    • Joel, thanks for writing in. While I’m no expert on teleprompting apps, I have actually used forScore in a pinch in this capacity. I created a PDF of a script I was using for a promo video, made the text large, imported the PDF into forScore, and used my AirTurn to change pages out of view of the camera. forScore works with any PDF document – doesn’t matter whether it’s sheet music, text, or anything else…it’s just that extra step of making a PDF. The beauty of forScore is its price ($5) and its library management – I don’t know whether a teleprompting app would have the same library capability.

      Before you go get forScore, though, I might check to see if Prompster Pro works with the AirTurn. I know that the AirTurn does have multiple modes (called Profiles) that you can select – one is for iPad, and the other for the computer. Presumably, these different profiles are mapped to different keystrokes, but the manual isn’t explicit. Check it out for yourself, if you want. If Prompster Pro doesn’t work with a foot pedal, you can also check out another app called Teleprompt+, which specifically supports the AirTurn.

      I think the pedal itself will suit you very well, as mine has me thus far. Your toughest decision will be the app. forScore is cheap and robust, but probably not exactly what you really need unless you plan to use it with sheet music as well. In the end, it’s your call!

      Hope that helps,
      — Matt

  8. Hi Joel
    There are several great AirTurn-compatible apps that will do what I believe you’re describing:

    Setlists is made by the same folks who make Teleprompt+ – it shows “slides” of your text-based lyrics that can be networked with multiple iPads so that every iPad shows the same slide simultaneously: Setlists

    OnSong is a very popular text-based reader for the iPad that scrolls lyrics up and down. You can change the text attributes like font, font size, color, spacing, and can even transpose chord and capo settings on the fly: OnSong

    SongBook Chordpro is another popular text-based reader that works on both your iPad and your iPhone – basically any iOS device that is Bluetooth capable will work with the AirTurn, and scrolls your lyrics up and down: SongBook Chordpro

    For more app suggestions, check out our interactive App Guide: AirTurn’s App Guide for Tablets and Computers

  9. Many thanks for the very informative article which I came across whilst looking for confirmation on whether either pedal works with the iReal Book. I will continue to look but very pleased I found your blog site. Thank you,

    Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for commenting. I do believe either pedal will work with that particular app, but I do not use it myself, and thus haven’t tested it. You may want to check out Christopher Russell’s blog (http://techinmusiced.wordpress.com/) – he uses foot pedals and is well-versed on the apps supported by them. Plus, it’s just a good read :)

      — Matt

  10. Thanks for the review! Now I know what I’m buying…. price-wise. Excellent information..thanks again.

  11. This was great. I am leaning towards the airturn because it seams sturdier. When I get the extra cash I’ll go ahead and get it. The big downside is the price tag. Hopefully it will be worth it.

    • Hi Taylor,

      Glad this post helped. Don’t forget to check the “Clearance Items” section of the AirTurn store – I got mine there at a deep discount, and it looks and performs just like new, at least to my eyes!

      Cheers,
      — Matt

  12. Here is my experience with the Cicada PageFlip:

    I’m a classical pianist and I work in the dance and theater world. I musically direct productions when I’m not playing for ballet technique classes.

    I didn’t want to fork up too much money on a product that had very few reviews at the time. After much debate and talking to the wonderful guys at forScore, they recommended the Cicada on price alone. I purchased the Cicada this time last year and started to work on our fall production. 

    I get a lot of “mileage” out of my iPad/Cicada combo. Two months into using it, the pedal started skipping pages for no reason. I made sure the repeat switch was off, and made sure the debounce option was off in forScore. I contacted the Cicada guy, who was gracious enough to send me a new pedal. 

    The new pedal he sent me worked beautifully for several weeks until show-time. In the middle of Act 1 at our second performance, the Bluetooth icon switched off, and the pedal stopped working. Then it would randomly switch back on and the iPad tried to catch up with me and the pages would flip several times out of place where I was suppose to be. By this point, I have completely lost my place. During intermission, I quickly asked the stage manager for an extension cord, removed the batteries, and re-synched the pedal. I noticed there were lots of Bluetooth signals from the audience’s phones. My theory was, could I be getting Bluetooth interference from all the mobile devices from the audience? Plausible, but highly unlikely. So before the second act started, my Boss Lady got up on stage and asked the audience to turn off their Bluetooth devices in hopes that this would fix the problem. It didn’t, as expected. Through the second act, the Bluetooth symbol kept flickering on and off, then when it was back on, it would flip several pages to catch up. I ended up playing the show 90% by memory. I was lucky that I knew the show well enough to get through it. But it was not fun. Who likes performing in Panic-Mode?!

    After the run of the show, I contacted Cicada again, and explained the problem. I even sent a video showing him exactly what happened with the Bluetooth signal, and the skipping of pages after it wakes up. He was apologetic and sent yet another pedal he tested himself. 

    Here we are a year later and I am in the process of prepping for the production again. The spring mechanism in the backwards pedal came out and stopped working. You can actually hear something rattling in there when you shake it. 

    Verdict: You get what you pay for. I need something that lasts, with the amount of “miles” I put on the pedal. I do not recommend the Cicada if you are a gigging musician. I am hoping to get an AirTurn soon. (Life happened and I can’t fork up the dough right now.) Since the forward pedal still works, I’ll use that until the spring on that one breaks or the Bluetooth malfunctions again. 

    • Hi Rebecca,

      I am a regular user of my bluetooth pedal (at least 1x per week), and I never experienced that with my Cicada. However, I confess that I have mostly been using my AirTurn, so perhaps I haven’t put the miles on it that you have.

      You’re right about the “panic mode” – when we use technology in our performances, it must not get in the way. As Hugh put it – it should be bulletproof! I feel that it should not only equal the experience of traditional paper music, but improve on it. After all, why use it if it doesn’t make things better? Paper music does occasionally lead to some mishaps (muffed page turns, rips, etc.), so I would expect well-executed technology to improve on the number of such mishaps.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Please feel free to keep us updated!
      — Matt

    • Hi Rebecca. I have the same problem on my Cicada with the back pedal not working anymore. You know that you can plug in an external pedal for both the forward & backward. I plugged in a cheap foot switch to the back ward mode & that works fine. I may just get another foot switch & use the cicada as a controller only for now. But I agree, I think I will eventually go with the Air turn. The Cicada just isn’t reliable.

    • Hi, Rebecca…when technology fails “live”, it sure creates panic in my world…congrats on being well-prepared…”the show must go on”. i’ve been using my AirTurn every single day for hours getting ready for some competitions, as well as playing in the BC Accordion Orchestra (i play a Roland FR8x), and it has never glitched, given up, or done anything unexpected. i’m kind of a tech geek, and i’ve learned NEVER buy Chinese if you can help it! “The sweetness of low price is quickly overshadowed by the bitterness of low quality.” (btw, i charge my Airturn every other day, and it has never run out on me…and i never care about the light being hard to see…i know it’s OK)

      • If you NEVER buy Chinese, I assume you have dispensed with the iPad, iPhone, or any Android tablet for that matter. They are all assembled in China.
        The quality remains largely a matter of how carefully the product is designed and how well the production runs are monitored.

        Since January 2014, we have launched a new premium pedal at PageFlip.
        Dubbed the PageFlip Firefly, it has the best features of any existing Bluetooth pedal: sturdy, silent, integrated pedals that are LED illuminated. The pedals can be operated in wireless (Bluetooth) or wired (USB) mode. In Bluetooth mode, there is a long 30-minute timeout period in which the pedal can remain inactive before it goes to sleep. The other pedals on the market have less than a 10-minute period. Finally, the Firefly pedals are programmable using a Windows program you can download from http://www.pageflip.com. That means you can assign different functions for the five pedal modes featured on the pedal as well as the optional external L/R pedals. The Firefly has been very well-received since being launched, so check it out on http://www.pageflip.com.

        • Hi, George, notice my post says “i’ve learned NEVER buy Chinese if you can help it! “…in the case of my iPad(s) and iPhone(s), i couldn’t help it! ha ha

  13. Dear Rebecca,
    I’m sorry to hear about your experiences with the PageFlip Cicada, especially during a critical performance situation. Please email me at hugh@airturn.com and I’ll see what I can do to help you get an AirTurn BT-105 page turning pedal system to try out. I’ve used it to record two CDs for Sony Classical as well as performances in Carnegie Hall, so I completely sympathize with you on the need to have an absolutely bullet-proof reliable page turning device. As a side note, I’ve never had a problem using my AirTurn BT-105 even with thousands of other Bluetooth devices running at the same time in conventions.

  14. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the post. Very interesting. I was just wondering about your experience with the Airturn. Is there a problem with the flashing LED facing the audience? Do you need to cover it up in some way? I’m concerned this could be an issue – or maybe it’s a case of gaffer tape to the rescue (again).
    Thanks,
    Geoff

    • Hi Geoff,

      Glad that the post has been helpful so far. To answer your question – the LED is on the back of the unit, on the same side as the pedal plugs. So, if you use the tray that comes with the new ATFS-2 foot switches (or the makeshift tray that came with the ATFS-1 pedals), the LED will face outward toward the audience, yes. However, I haven’t had a problem with it, as IMO it’s not exceedingly bright. If you were concerned, gaffer’s tape could be a solution. I also have a friend who uses the AirTurn without the tray, with the unit opposite the pedals, and in that case the LED faces him instead of the audience. You could do that too.

      Hope that helps! Thanks for writing.
      — Matt

  15. Ive actually got a showdown on my website to. As a guitarist the cicada wins, because the pedal is easier to press.. However there is also an airturn option which uses the boss fs5u pedals.. This is easily the best option.. It’s what I currently us.. The pedals are great and responsive!

    I do also use my cicada as I use ambient tracks in the background, run on my iphone, and the cicada is used to change tracks.

    • Chris,

      I guess it comes down to a matter of “feel,” as I still prefer the ATFS pedals, but I could see the Cicada being better for people who prefer a bit more tactile response as a feedback mechanism. I’ve never used the Boss FS-5U pedals, so I can’t speak to those in comparison, but I’ll certainly take your word for it!

      Thanks for your input – feel free to chime in anytime!
      — Matt

  16. very helpful and complete info, thanks!
    i am very interested in these two devices to use them as a substitution of the midi keyboards (as these are very big and heavy) to control imusic apps. recently the app i work with has added this bluetooth devices support, so a new world of portability and possibilities opens.

    u can take a look of the way i work with the idevices at my website:

    http://www.eccecello.com

    and thanks a lot fot this article!

    david

  17. This is really a great and very helpful article! I use the Airturn together with Forscore, and I have encountered a problem – maybe someone here has made a similar experience and can help me: after turning a few pages in one direction, when I want to turn a page in the opposite direction, i. e. use the other foot switch, on the first try nothing happens. After pressing the switch two or three times, the page turns, but most times in the wrong direction. Only after another two or three times the direction suddenly changes and I can turn the pages back. As you can imagine this is extremely unnerving while playing music. I was using the Cicada when the problem first occured, and thought it was some sort of hardware thing, therefor I returned the Cicada and bought the Airturn instead – same problem again. So this seems to be more like a software issue. You have any suggestions?

    • Hi Wolfgang,

      Thanks for writing. I haven’t encountered your problem before, and because it happens on multiple devices, I am inclined to blame software. You might reference the AirTurn documentation on how to make sure you’re in “iPad mode,” but since you’re getting the pedal to communicate with the iPad, I suspect that part of it is OK. The other thing you can try on your iPad is a “Reset Network Settings” operation. This will cause you to lose all saved WiFi passwords, so just be aware of that before you do this.

      If all else fails, the folks at forScore are usually pretty responsive – I’d definitely get in touch with them.

      If you have a buddy with an iPad and forScore, you could try pairing the AirTurn with his/her device, and see if the problem is reproduced. (Remember to un-pair it later!). This could give you a better idea of what the source of the problem could be…

      Good luck – sorry I can’t give you any definite fix.
      — Matt

    • My apologies for the delay in getting back to you. This was an issue with the iOS 6 update. Go to the app store and update forScore to the latest version – that should fix the page turning issues with the AirTurn.

  18. Do you know if there’s any way to set up either the AirTurn or the Cicada to turn pages on multiple tablets at once?

    Your article talks up the ability to have multiple AirTurns in the same room, but what if we wanted to pair ONE AirTurn to MULTIPLE tablets?

    (I’m assuming that since it’s Bluetooth PAIRING, we’re out of luck, but I thought I’d ask.)

    • Hey Chad,

      Thanks for the comment. As far as I know, your last statement is correct – the pairing involves only two devices at a time. You might be well-served contacting Hugh Sung, who has also commented on this thread – he will know absolutely for certain.

      Cheers,
      — Matt

    • we use onSong and one AirTurn BT-105, i don’t know how he did it, but one of the other guys in the group got 5 ipads synched to one AirTurn…trouble is , if a page gets turned accidentally, EVERYONE is lost…ha ha…

  19. While Bluetooth devices like the AirTurn BT-105 can only be paired with one host computer at a time, there are a number of innovative iOS app developers that have added the ability to control multiple iPads in just the way you describe, and even more. One app lets you not only open everyone’s iPad to the same song and turn their pages – you can also send your annotated markings to everyone’s iPad. Pretty cool stuff to say the least! You can find a list of apps that have the ability to network by exploring the AirTurn App Guide, which is an interactive applet that helps you find apps by features.

  20. I perform standing up playing 2 keyboards stacked on an Apex stand each with its own sustain pedal. I also sing while playing. Therefore, my right foot is juggling between 2 sustain pedals, and I must balance my weight on my left foot. Which of these pedals would work best if I mounted it just above my top keyboard and operated it with my left hand, pressing for a turn?

    • Hi Fred,

      Thanks for writing. Personally, I think either of them will do for you. I’ve never used them hand-operated, and the possible challenge you could face would be that the pedals (being designed for the foot) may be harder to press with the hand. The AirTurn’s pedals are closer together, so the distance you’d travel would be less, but I find them to be more resistant (which isn’t a problem when using my foot).

      The other thing to consider would possibly be the overall footprint of the devices, and the AirTurn is much thinner than the Cicada.

      Your call in the end. I know that both manufacturers are good with their customers, so ultimately if you try one and don’t like it, I’d suspect that they’d be willing to work with you on a return.

      Good luck!
      — Matt

    • I play my keyboard sitting down. The setup I have has a damper pedal and another multi-purpose pedal that I may program at will. I use both of these with my right foot. Though I haven’t been able to pair my Cicada yet, I plan to use it between the other pedals. This sort of setup should work well for you also.

      With more than 200 buttons and switches on the top of my keyboard besides my regular keys, I certainly don’t have time to be hitting keys, switches, and buttons unnecessarily.

      Rob

  21. The AirTurn BT-105 is a modular system – if you want an even smaller “footprint” for your hand trigger, you might want to consider getting just one pedal if most of your page turns are only going forward.

    Another option is to connect your BT-105 to a bite or tongue switch if you want to keep your hands AND your feet free. Again, this would be a uni-directional page turn solution, but lots of organists, drummers, harp players and pianists have found this to work really well for them. There’s even a long cord to fish the switch out of your tummy if you accidentally swallow it ;) (just kidding)

    Hope this helps! Let me know if you need links for the individual components and I’ll be happy to post them here.

  22. Thanks so much for the review and comparison of the two devices! That’s exactly what I needed to flesh out the pros and cons of each system.

    Before reading this article, I was leaning towards the PageFlip simply due to the money I would save in the initial purchase. But after what you said about the noise level of the PageFlip, along with the durability of the hinge/spring mechanism on it, that moved me decidedly into the AirTurn column. As a professional gigging musician, I can’t be a distraction to the performance and also can’t have things breaking down in the midst of a tour.

    But cue the sad trombone, just saw that I missed the holiday sale discount from AirTurn last month, so might still have to go the cheaper PageFlip route and keep my fingers crossed, as pennies have yet to grow on trees, especially for full-time musicians :) lol

    Thanks again for your blog. Love the articles so far. Look forward to reading more from you in the future!

    • Hi Cory,

      Thanks very much for writing. I am glad that my post was helpful to you!

      If I didn’t mention it in my original post, AirTurn often has “scratch and dent” items in their clearance section (http://airturninc989.corecommerce.com/Clearance-Items-c20/) – that’s where I got mine from, and I’ve had no problems with it. I don’t think the price *quite* gets down to the PageFlip, but it’s closer!

      Ultimately, both devices are good at what they do, and I don’t think you’d be disappointed with either one. For me (a clarinetist), there are a few key factors (including portability) that have inclined me more toward the AirTurn as of late.

      Hopefully I’ll be able to end my post “hiatus” soon – I’ve been busy here at UNCG with the new website for the School of Music, Theatre and Dance and the start of the semester, but I’m hoping to return to regular posting very soon. Always nice to know that people do, in fact, read what I write on occasion :)

      All the best,
      — Matt

  23. As a long-time user of the AirTurn, I ended up reading this great review and thread because I was wondering if I should switch to the Cicada, for two reasons: sometimes I have pressed the on/off switch in the wrong way and messed up the mode, plus I hate having to remember the cryptic light patterns to watch for so you know which mode you’re in. Also, when standing while singing and playing guitar in live settings, I have often hit the forward or back pedal without meaning to. I thought the higher profile of the Cicada mit prevent accidental tapping when just shifting my feet on stage. But your review convinces me to stick with the AirTurn and maybe try it with the Boss pedals mentioned above. Btw, I also wish the lights were visible while standing so I know if the pedal is still on and charged. Had some issues with it powering off due to inactivity, though these had nothing to do with the oedal, itself, but rather Bluetooth settings on my iPad.

    As for the best lyrics-scrolling/page-turning app out there for band members like me – i.e. for both an acoustic duo and a rock band – Set List Maker is incredible! It of course also helps you create and manage set lists for multiple bands and shows. Mapping of AirTurn commands is a cinch in the app. you decide what the pedals should do in the settings. And in answer to the query about having multiple iPads scroll together, based on one band member’s AirTurn pedal, that works with Set List Maker, too. The developer is ultra-responsive and always busy enhanching the app. He gigs with it, himself, so he knows what people need and incorporates user input very reliably. This single app warrants buying an iPad if you are a gigging musician. The zoom options are fantastic for playing without reading glasses, and everything works perfectly in landscape mode, too, giving you more screen real estate for seeing more of each line of your lyrics/chords. For me, zooming the horizontal screen a lot and seeing a good 80% of each line is the way to go to rule out Stage Alzheimers, since I play from memory but use the app and pedal on newer material to be on the safe side, and in the practice room. The app even remembers zoom settings for each song, and you can also tell it how “fast” it should advance the page at each press. Hope this is not too off topic for some.

    • Hey Scott,

      I did that once, too – I mistakenly had something held down while turning on the AirTurn, and then had to mess with it for 20 minutes before it worked right again. But, I’ve been careful since then, and it hasn’t happened again.

      A friend of mine uses his AirTurn without the tray, so when the pedals are in front of him, the light on the Bluetooth unit also faces him. Not as compact this way, but helps you see the light better.

      Thanks for the info on Set List Maker – I’ll have to check it out. Not off topic at all! Any and all experiences with the AirTurn / Cicada are welcome.

      Keep me posted on any other developments or tips you have!
      — Matt

    • unsnap the AirTurn module itself from the tray, but leave the footpedals snapped in. Turn the AirTurn module upside down and lay it on floor with light facing you…works great, it’s still just one piece to pack around, it snaps and unsnaps in a second…

  24. Hello! Thank you for your article! It was of great help because I just found out these things existed! I definitely think I am going to go for the AirTurn, for the simple fact that it has a rechargeable battery, which is also why it is probably more expensive. But in the long run probably evens things out because you don’t have to buy batteries all the time.

    • Heather,

      Glad this could help. The AirTurn’s rechargeable battery is definitely a plus – I even use the iPad’s power brick to charge it, which is nice, since I don’t have to carry another power brick with me.

      If you’re looking for good rechargeable AA batteries, try Eneloop – we have a bunch, and they work very well.

      Thanks for writing!
      — Matt

      • Am I right in assuming that the internal battery of the Air turn is not replaceable? This is indeed a big drawback. Rechargeable batteries loose their maximum capacity over time and need to be replaced someday, as we all know.
        I use the Cicada with rechargeable AAs (Eneloops) and a backup battery set. I will easily replace them when they are old. Big pro for Cicada!

        • That is indeed my understanding…but for the record I have been using my AirTurn for several years now and have not noticed any diminishing of the battery life. In fact, I rarely even have to charge it.

          But yes, as far as backup plan, I see your point. I always have my USB cord and a spare iPad adapter with me, but that hinges on my ability to find an outlet to plug it into.

          • “I always have my USB cord and a spare iPad adapter with me, but that hinges on my ability to find an outlet to plug it into.”
            If needing an outlet handy is a concern, get a portable USB Charger (mine is a 10,400mAh). I took one on a trip to the Philippines in March and although I never used it (i plug in whenever possible), I rescued several people multiple times to recharge their devices.
            Thanks for your review. I am taking my worship team paperless this fall and am setting up now (Ipad based). 2 switch vs 4 switch and which App to use are all part of this search.

  25. Thanks for the review. Very helpful. I am going for the AirTurn as near silent operation is key for me. Can’t have loud clicks in a studio. Best
    John

  26. Fantastic review. I really appreciated everyones’ comments to and I think in the end AirTurn has my vote given the potential for cheap manufacturing breaking down. You do get what you pay for.

    Did someone say there was a coupon for AirTurn??? I would really like to find out about it given I work in ministry and well…times are tough! lol…

    thanks again,

    M
    acoustic guitar / vocals

    • Hey Mark,

      Glad you found this useful! I don’t know about a coupon for the AirTurn, per se, but I did mention the Clearance section of the AirTurn store, where they often have scratch-and-dent items discounted. (http://airturninc989.corecommerce.com/Clearance-Items-c20/). I got mine here, and it works great…can’t even tell what the original flaws were, to be honest.

      And/or, contact Hugh Sung (hugh@airturn.com) – especially if you want to potentially order in bulk, he may be able to hook you up with some special pricing.

      Hope that helps!
      — Matt

  27. Hey hello everybody. I’m about to get me a page turner. And this really helps!
    For now I’m going for the Air Turn…….

    thanks again

    Hans

  28. I use an Android tablet (ASUS t700) running MobileSheets PRO which is an excellent program with lots of features. I use the Page Flip Cicada peddle and after about 6 months of use it is working fine. Only negative on these type of peddles is the slight delay from pedal push to page turn. You need to allow for that. A really cool app for Android is CAMSCANNER HD which lets me take a photo of my music in multiple pages and than directly imports it as a PDH file into MOBILE SHEETS. The PDH allows for very small file sizes so won’t use up your memory quickly. The neat thing with Mobile Sheets is you can put repeats in and mark where they are to go to so instead of having to hit the pedal back button to find a page a few pages earlier…you must hit the forward pedal and it automatically goes to the page you want to repeat from and than continues on. You can do this multiple times in the piece of music.

    By the way…my friend had the other brand in this article but swapped it out for the Cicada and after his comments I went with the Cicada too. Not sure about reliability but at this point it is fine. One nice feature of the Cicada is that if the pedal broke, you can still plug in another pedal via a 1/8″ phone jack. My biggest issue is that it is light and you have to be careful it doesn’t get kicked all over the floor. AND make sure you pick it up when done….I can see someone forgetting it and leaving it behind.

    I am wondering if there is someway to eliminate the slight lag in response.

    • Hi Robert,

      It’s good to have someone weigh in from the Android perspective, as well as the Cicada perspective, as I’m an iPad-only guy, and am using my AirTurn almost exclusively these days. I use TurboScan on iOS to scan my music, and forScore has the same feature to make repeats easier…but it’s good to know that there are options for those of you in the Android world. Re: the Cicada – yes, another pedal is definitely an option. Forgetting the pedal is certainly a risk, no matter what you choose!

      The lag in response is, I think, necessary – is it significant for you? With the combination of the new forScore version, and my iPad 3 (I had an iPad 2 at time of review), the lag is all but gone for me.

      Thanks!
      — Matt

  29. Hi George – interesting comment about the durability of the Cicada, given some of the contradictory experiences of other users:

    http://balletfromthepiano.blogspot.com/2012/11/those-page-turns-will-be-death-of-me.html

    Have you been able to address the noise issue yet with your newest version? Musicians on American Idol cannot afford to have any extra noise while turning pages on the TV set – that may be one reason why they are using AirTurn pedals:

    Philip Phillips performs American Idol finals with AirTurn pianist

    All the very best,

    Hugh

    p.s. And yes, I’m still happy to share coupons for anyone interested ;)

  30. Hugh,
    Your concerns about noise are unfounded. It certainly has not had an impact
    on the Grammy award winning composers and performers who use the PageFlip Cicada. It did not have am impact with the world class musicians who have used the Cicada on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, O2 in London, and many other venues around the world. In just the last few months, traveling bands with the Temptations, Cliff Richard, as well as Broadway musicians have been enjoying their PageFlip Cicada pedals. A DVD was made by one of the PageFlip users at the Sydney Opera House last month and noise was never an issue, otherwise they would not have used it. I enjoy reading the comments we regularly receive from satisfied customers who value the benefits they derive from hands-free reading using their PageFlip Cicada pedals.

    Some of our users have commented that they find it comfortable to actually rest their foot on the pedal, with the Repeat switch on the Off position. In that case, their foot never has to search for the pedal while they are concentrating on the music and they can simply release and press the pedal again to turn the next page. It’s a simple action that makes no noise whatsoever.

    As for the issue of durability, some people have commented on the lightweight plastic, as if it is a concern that it would crack or break. There has never been one incident of plastic breaking. If any defect is found, we are quick to repair it. As Becky pointed out, we worked with her to attempt to resolve her issue. Her situation is odd because it involved her iPad losing Bluetooth connectivity. The flashing Bluetooth icon on her iPad is not a problem with a Bluetooth device not working, it is a problem with her iPad being able to maintain the pairing. Afterall, whether our pedal is on or off should not cause a Bluetooth icon on her iPad from turning off. She even alluded to some other problem her iPad had. I was so surprised by her experience that I used her returned pedal as my own personal pedal. The result: I have never had an issue with that pedal on my iPad2.

    There are some mistaken ideas about the pedal’s impact on page-turning speed. As you and I know, the pedal simply emits a key press signal (just like a keyboard). Any delays in page turning are purely due to sluggish response of the software. This may be due to suboptimal programming, poor use of memory, wasteful storage of the sheet music in the pdf file, or an excessive number of apps running in the background that degrade performance. It simply is not due to slow emission of a keypress from the pedal, as this behavior is as instant as a keyboard.

    You may not be aware of this but I’ve been contacted by a number of your former users who have traded their Airturn pedals for PageFlip Cicadas. Several issues with their Airturn pedals were cited, including problems with Bluetooth pairing, cryptic use of buttons and lights to change profiles, incompatibility with Windows XP, and problems dealing with the rechargeable battery. Airturn, like any company, has clearly had to deal with people returning units due to defects or poor satisfaction. After all, where do you think the refurbished units come from that are available on Airturn’s website?

    On the subject of batteries, some people on this blog have commented that they think using a rechargeable battery is somehow better. When designing the PageFlip Cicada we of course had a choice of using a rechargeable battery but specifically opted not to. Instead, we went with a more reliable solution by using universally available AA batteries. The rationale was simple: we wanted to avoid having the hassles of constant recharging. In addition, what do you do when your rechargeable battery runs out in the middle of a show? You don’t have time to recharge it. However, you can always pop in two fresh batteries that you can carry as a backup. Furthermore, how do you monitor the charging level of rechargeable batteries? This fear causes people to distress about the state of their batteries and requires them to recharge excessively. I hear that Airturn users charge their units weekly. This is simply a matter that the user should not have to be concerned with. We designed the PageFlip Cicada to consume very little power. Therefore, it is not uncommon for one set of batteries to last about a year of heavy usage. When the batteries run low, the pedal lights emit a triple flash. Why would you subject yourself to weekly recharging rather than batteries that can last approximately a year? Any worries about endlessly replacing alkaline batteries are totally unfounded. No PageFlip Cicada user ever claimed that their batteries ran out of juice in anything closely resembling the recharging period for the Airturn pedal!

    There are people on both sides of the fence regarding their like/dislike of the pedal motion. Many users like the added travel distance of the Cicada rather than the imperceptible gap of the Airturn. It’s a matter of preference. However, it should be noted that we do support two 1/8″ mono outlets in which you can plug a pedal of your choice.

    The bottom line is that the Cicada and Airturn pedals meet the needs of their respective user bases and offer hands-free page turning solutions. Check out a recent survey I co-authored about page turning solutions (including mechanical options). You can download it from
    http://www.pageflip.com/survey/PageFlipSurvey.pdf

    PageFlip is attentive to the needs and feedback of its users. We plan to announce some exciting new developements soon. I will post to this blog to share the details. In the meantime, PageFlip is glad to offer coupons to interested folks who want to try us out. Please contact me at sales@pageflip.com and I would be happy to get you set up.

    • Hello George,

      I do have to chime in and say that I really enjoyed using the PageFlip when I had it. I did like the comfort of being able to leave my foot on the pedal. It’s unfortunate that I ran into so many problems because I have spoken to a few other musicians who were very happy with it.

      As far as the connectivity issue with the pedal I sent back to you, I did attempt to pair it to my husband’s iPad2 and ran into the same issue of disconnecting. Yes, I did allude to my 1st Gen iPad having problems in my blog with my last production. The snag I ran into was forScore crashing in rehearsal, but never once did the AirTurn disconnect on me. A complete restore of the whole iPad fixed the problem.

      I have recommended both pedals to my colleagues, and some chose PageFlip, some chose AirTurn, and the ones who were in the pit with me when the first incident happened, decided it was best to stay “old school” and stick with REAL sheet music! So I think it’s a matter of preference.

      Musicians are usually a little slower in adapting to technology. But then again, this is true for most artists. At the end of the day, both AirTurn and PageFlip are after the same goal. Finding creative solutions to make turning pages easier for musicians.

      Best,
      Becca

    • We have exciting news at PageFlip!

      We have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for our next-generation page turner pedal: the PageFlip Firefly. The Firefly promises to be the most advanced page turner pedal on the market. It features five programmable mode buttons, illuminated pedals, a long 30-minute timeout period, wireless OR wired connectivity, and a new design that is rugged, hefty, ergonomic, and silent.

      Please visit our Kickstarter page to see a demo. You can find us on http://www.kickstarter.com by searching for PageFlip, or go directly to:
      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/106246461/pageflip-firefly-programmable-bluetooth-page-turne

      Our Kickstarter campaign lets you place an advance order to get the new Firefly pedal within three months at a 33% savings! In addition, if you order a PageFlip Cicada on our Kickstarter page, you can save $15 and get the pedal within a month — just in time for the holiday season.

      Please visit us at http://www.kickstarter.com (search for PageFlip) and help spread the word. Feel free to contact us at support@pageflip.com if you have any questions or comments.

  31. Hi George
    The great news is that the digital sheet music revolution is well underway, and it’s exciting to see so many musicians discovering the joys of going paperless, as well as the incredible benefits of being able to turn pages hands free while being able to focus better than ever on their music and performance. As more and more musicians adopt these amazing technologies, I’m sure we’ll see great improvements on all page turning accessories such as the AirTurn and the PageFlip Cicada. In the end, the musician is the winner, as these tools make it easier and more practical to use tablets and computers as practical reading tools in practice, pedagogy, and performance situations.

    We wish you well in all your upcoming developments. Here’s a look at several current improvements on the AirTurn line of wireless page turners that are available right now:

    1. The 4 pedal AirTurn BT-105 – goodness me, why in the world would anyone need 4 pedals? Aren’t two enough for turning pages back and forth? Ah, but here’s where our developer partners have taken our iOS SDK and really started to rock out some cool possibilities – imagine being able to not only turn pages back and forth, but also navigate between pieces in a set list (we classical musicians tend to be very linear in our programming, but Jazz players and others who need to have the flexibility to jump around and change the order of their setlists on the fly will appreciate this capability). Or perhaps assign two pedals to transpose music up and down. Or assign a pedal to trigger an accompaniment track linked in from iTunes, leaving the other pedals for page turns and setlist navigation – well, you get the idea! Oh, and we’ve partnered with some other cool developers that are adding Looping and Guitar/Bass/Amp effects for iOS devices, controlled by the 4 pedal AirTurn. Check out the growing list of apps that work with the 4 pedal AirTurn BT-105 here:
    http://www.airturn.com/4-pedal-bt-105/apps/4-pedal-apps

    The AirTurn 4 pedal BT-105 is available as an all-in-one unit that can fit into a standard backpack:

    Details on the AirTurn 4 Pedal BT-105

    2. The AirTurn Digit – now for the first time, you can use the AirTurn as both a foot pedal AND a handheld wireless controller. The AirTurn Digit has membrane buttons on the face of the unit for handheld control, and these button functions are replicated with 2 and 4 pedal extensions. Not only can you control page turns, but you can also control iTunes on any iOS, Mac or PC, as well as the camera functions on any camera-equipped iOS device. Here’s a quick video demo you can check out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lddSvwtUhy4

    You can get the AirTurn Digit now from our web store

    3. Thanks to our iOS SDK (we were the pioneers in getting the iPad and other iOS devices to work with external Bluetooth controllers like the AirTurn, and the PageFlip Cicada has certainly benefited from our growing network of partner developers), there are more apps than ever giving you a wide array of control options well beyond just turning pages. A great way to explore all the different possibilites, and to choose the AirTurn-compatible apps that best fit your needs, is to take advantage of our interactive App Guide:

    AirTurn’s App Guide

    By answering a series of questions in the App Guide, you can discover which apps give you the ability to draw annotations, transpose keys, trigger accompaniment tracks, control multiple iPads, buy music directly online, and so much more!

    More cool goodness coming very soon!

  32. Hi,
    your reviews and comments are really helpful,thanks.
    I use the airtune, I work resident so six nights a week. I after a year or so I find I’m having to press the pedal harder, or sometimes twice. The Bluetooth is fine, it seems to be the pedal. Have you ever come across this before?

    Many thanks Andy.

    • Hi Andy,

      Glad to help. My AirTurn pedals are holding up just fine. I’m not sure what the issue could be. Perhaps try contacting Hugh Sung from AirTurn to see if he has any suggestions…?

      Thanks!
      — Matt

    • Hi Andy

      Which pedals are you using with your AirTurn? If you are using Boss pedals, you need to make sure your polarity switches are set correctly. In the wrong position, it can “feel” like the pedals are “heavy”, or unresponsive. You can see the correct polarity settings here:
      Boss FS-5U settings
      Boss FS-6 settings

  33. Hi Thanks for the replies. I am using the ATFS-2 AirTurn pedels.

    • Check out our solutions page for connection problems here:
      AirTurn BT-105 Solutions
      It may be an iPad issue that’s causing the performance slowdown/problems you’re experiencing. Be sure to go through all the steps in order and let me know if this helps.

  34. Your article has been very helpful and informative. Most impressive to me is that Hugh from Airturn is reading and responding to posts, which means he is customer focused. Keeping himself informed about the people who are using his product, as well as his competition, shows me that he cares about his product. I don’t see any posts from Page Flip. This, along with the article, has sold me On Airturn.

    • Much appreciated; glad to be useful :)

      And actually, in fairness, there are several posts here from George Wolberg from PageFlip as well. Just sayin’.
      — Matt

    • Hi Brent – thanks so much for your kind words! We’ll continue to do the best we can to make ourselves as available as possible to help folks make the best decisions when it comes to wireless page turners.

  35. Just an update about my experience.

    I was toying with the decision of going with the less expensive Cicada unit, but after Matt told me about AirTurn’s refurb they offer on their website, I ended up buying one of those. Looks brand new and works great. And I have to say it has completely revolutionized the way I play gigs now. I don’t think I could ever go back to playing from a 3″ thick folder of music again :) In fact, when I’m forced to go back to the world of paper sheet music (if someone has just thrown something at me last minute), I find myself tapping my left foot and getting annoyed that the pages in the folder aren’t turning themselves lol

    There’s one question I can’t seem to find a solution to, and it’s not that big of a deal. Pardon for me asking in this thread, but with as many AirTurn users as are on here, I thought someone might know:

    If I’m playing a gig and have my iPad and pedal set up at the piano and then have to walk away from the piano, I normally take my iPad but leave the pedal (not that I don’t trust people, but they’re gonna see an iPad as an easier target to take than a black pedal underneath a dark piano). When I come back to the piano, I would like to find a way to have the iPad automagically reconnect to the AirTurn again, without me having to awkwardly reach down and hit the power button on the unit in front of an audience of people staring at me lol

    Is there a setting or something I can activate on the iPad that will quickly reestablish the bluetooth connection to the pedal? I know I could turn off the bluetooth reciever in the iPad and then back on again, but sometimes that works and sometimes doesn’t. Plus, it takes a little bit longer than I can spare before it reconnects.

    Sorry for the long post, just wanted to pick yall’s brains and see if you had encountered this situation and if anyone had any solutions to it.

    Thanks again for your articles and website Matt. Keep up the great work!
    Cory

    • Hi Cory,

      Good story! I must admit I’ve done that too. Sheet music is

      I actually have done what you’re asking about (take the iPad out of bluetooth pedal range, and bring it back), and I *think* it’s worked for me before, if I recall correctly. I want to say that all I had to do was push one of the pedals on the AirTurn once my iPad was back in range, and it reconnected just fine. If I think of it I’ll test it out in the next few days (my pedals are at home at the moment).

      Thanks for the kudos, and I’m glad the information is helpful. I’m quite behind in posting new stuff lately, but hopefully that’ll change soon.

      Cheers,
      — Matt

    • Hi Cory – the AirTurn Bt-105 is set to go to sleep after 3 minutes of inactivity. This is a power-saving measure. If you take your iPad far enough away to break the Bluetooth connection (approximately 60 ft) or turn it off, that will cause the BT-105 to turn itself off after 3 minutes.

      I’m afraid you’ll still have to reach down and turn the unit on – either that or start bringing the AirTurn along with you when you take that break ;)

  36. I just purchased an HP Split notebook to get a larger screen size than the usual 10.1″ standard tablet. I’ve been interested in buying a blue tooth page turner, but in reading your review of Cicada and Air Turn
    the only tablet mentioned is I-pad. Are these page turners compatible with the HP Split and will the Bluetooth feature work with it?

    • Jim,

      I would have to assume that they are at least basically compatible, if the HP Split has bluetooth capability. At heart, page turners like the AirTurn and Cicada are simply conveying keyboard commands to devices (like PgUp / PgDown, etc.) – so as long as your device can connect to one of these pedals, I think you can configure it to work the way you’d want.

      Hope that helps,
      — Matt

  37. Thanks for the interesting review. I use an AirTurn BT 105 and I really like it. However, I do want to add my comments to your biggest criticism. That one button on the back of the unit that does everything! I have had my unit for well over a year and use it regularly with my worship band and I am still nervous about touching that button. It does too many things and does not indicate anything. I carry notes in my gig bag just in case. I have abandoned using it in battery mode; not because I don’t trust the battery life, but because I don’t trust my own interpretation of the indicator light. I love the pedal. When the company comes out with one that has a simple on/off switch and a battery life indicator that is not part of the global multifunction indicator light. I’ll buy another one.

  38. Hello!
    I started using a Pageflip Cicada pedal with an ipad running forScore for rehearsals and live performances exactly one year ago today. Today, the Cicada “died” in rehearsal just before our performance. The right pedal would no longer turn pages. So, since the left pedal (backward turn) still works, I am guessing that the switch failed. I had noticed that it was getting louder when I pressed it. I had to survive 2 performances swiping pages…no fun and multiple turns a few times!
    I use 2 keyboards while performing (with their sustain pedals) and a vocal effects processor. I am standing while performing, so my feet are full of pedals. Therefore, I operate the Cicada with my left hand. So, here is my question. Do any of you Air Turn users think that I could use one of the Air Turn pedal setups with my hand? I tried one in a store before buying the Cicada and thought that it might be too stiff. I would appreciate any input Air Turn users might provide. I don’t want to spend $90 every year for a Cicada.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Fred,

      During a recent UNCG musical, several of our keyboard players used AirTurns for patch changes, and at least one of them used their hands to activate the pedals…so I know it can be done! That said, I do believe the older ATFS-1 pedals are easier to push by hand than the newer ATFS-2, so if you could find a set of those (perhaps check the AirTurn clearance page, or e-mail Hugh directly), I think that’d be your best bet.

      You can always try contacting the PageFlip folks as well – I would imagine that they’d be willing to help you out at least in some way. The other consideration is that you can plug other pedals into the Cicada base unit – it makes things a bit more complicated to carry around the Cicada and another pedal or two, but it’d be cheaper than getting another Cicada unit.

      Good luck – I could only ever survive hand-swiping when I was conducting…I can’t imagine having to do it while playing an instrument.

      — Matt

  39. In less than 24 hours I have a new Pageflip Cicada unit being shipped to me at a discounted price! That is really, really excellent service from this company.! I could not be more pleased with the way that they treated me with this problem.
    In my situation, using my hand to operate my page turns, the Cicada is the best choice because of the ease of activating the pedal. So, my statement of having to spend $90 is no longer valid. Thank you, Pageflip Cicada customer service!

    • That’s excellent – sounds like a win all around! Thanks for the update.

  40. Thanks for the article. I just received my Airturn and had not opened the box. Now I will. The power light issue is somewhat important, but quiet operation is crucial and a deal breaker for the Cicada. I play solo delicate passages that cannot have the sound of me turning the page. It’s worth more money to buy something that will be quiet. As long as the Airturn is quiet and reliable, I’ll work around the lack of lights that I can see while playing. By the way, my Mac alerts me when my batteries are low on my bluetooth devices, like my mouse. Wonder if it will do the same with the Airturn?

    As to US built, as long as it’s good quality, I don’t care where it’s built. I’ve bought junk built in the US as well as China. My Mac is built in China. It’s a wonderful piece of well made gear. I obviously paid more for it than anything built here.

  41. The AirTurn BT-105 will flash yellow when the battery is at medium power, then red when it is at low power.

  42. You should be aware that the PageFlip Firefly is now available from http://www.pageflip.com. It is now the most advanced wireless/wired page turner on the market. It builds upon the success of the PageFlip Cicada by offering the following five features: (1) five programmable pedal modes, (2) illuminated pedals, (3) wireless (Bluetooth) or wired (USB) operation, (4) a long 30-minute timeout period of inactivity before the pedal enters sleep mode, and (5) hefty/rugged construction with silent pedal mechanism. Check it out. Launched during the NAMM 2014 tradeshow in January, it is the best page turner pedal on the market.

  43. The PageFlip Cicada and PageFlip Firefly also offer a warning for low-battery condition. When the PageFlip pedals emit a sequence of triple flashes, that indicates that the two AA batteries should be replaced. Fortunately, since the PageFlip pedals are designed to sip very little power, the need to change AA batteries only happens after nearly a year of regular use. We designed our pedals so that the user doesn’t have to be hassled with constant recharging. Recharging should just be needed for items like phones and laptops that can drain a battery in about a day. Recharging should certainly not be required for a device that should have a long battery life (e.g., many months).

  44. Don’t forget to consider the PageFlip Firefly pedal, in addition to the Cicada. The Firefly was released in January 2014. It has the best features of any existing Bluetooth pedal: sturdy, silent, integrated pedals that are LED illuminated. The pedals can be operated in wireless (Bluetooth) or wired (USB) mode. In Bluetooth mode, there is a long 30-minute timeout period in which the pedal can remain inactive before it goes to sleep. The other pedals on the market have less than a 10-minute period. Finally, the Firefly pedals are programmable using a Windows program you can download from http://www.pageflip.com. That means you can assign different functions for the five pedal modes featured on the pedal as well as the optional external L/R pedals. The Firefly has been very well-received since being launched, so check it out on http://www.pageflip.com.

  45. Hi Brice
    Controlling multiple iPads depends on the app you’re using. There are several apps that give the ability to open songs on multiple iPads – others also give you the ability to turn their pages as well. Some examples of these apps (in no particular order) include:

    My Lyric Page
    OnSong
    unrealBook
    Musicnotes Sheet Music Viewer
    Music Book

    You may find the AirTurn App Guide to be a helpful resource to explore other features with nearly 100 apps that are compatible with the AirTurn BT-105. Visit http://www.AirTurn.com/AppGuide to check it out. Hope this helps!

  46. Anyone use any of these pedals with an Android tablet? Trying to find one to use with Music Stand while playing guitar.

    • Mike,

      Sorry to approve this so late. All of the pedals I’ve tried work fine with Android. I have begun testing MobileSheets on Android, and it works OK with that app.

      — Matt

  47. My brother just borrowed an AirTurn for a Cabaret gig. He loved being able to flip through all his digital music on his iPad and would like to buy his own (still researching/comparing models.). The problem he is anticipating is that he plays many piano bar gigs where he needs to scroll through 1000 song set lists quickly. So far, he has found that using the pedal negates all of the touch screen options. He would like to be able to use a pedal or use the touch screen without having to dis/connect anything, but thinks it can’t be done. Is that true or does he not know how to use/program it correctly?

    • Sandy,

      I’m not sure what app your brother was using, but my app of choice is forScore. I have never experienced a loss of functionality of any kind on my device while using the AirTurn; the only semi-quirk is that, since the AirTurn is recognized technically as a Bluetooth keyboard, some apps will disable the built-in keyboard.

      However, with the AirTurn and forScore, there are two ways around this: 1) forScore should have the option to force the virtual keyboard to appear regardless of having a foot pedal active; 2) on the AirTurn, you should be able to press the button on the unit once to re-display the on-screen keyboard.

      That’s the only potential loss of functionality I’ve experienced with AirTurn + forScore.

      I’ve not used it for setlists nearly that big, but my library probably eclipses that many pieces by now. I typically search for songs by name in my library, and to do this I go to the top of the list (where the search bar is), activate the keyboard (if necessary), and type in the name of the piece I’m looking for.

      I hope that helps – I adore using a foot pedal with my iPad…it really has revolutionized the way I perform.

      — Matt

  48. Thank you so much for your quick and thorough response. He does use forScore, so I think we have a winner! Thanks again.

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