A Review of Page Turners – Not the Human Variety – Updated Feb 2019

page-turnerThe art of being an efficient (human) page turner is a highly sought after skill for performing musicians, particularly those whose hands are occupied on a keyboard or keyboards. But not all musicians have a page turner.

I remember well the time a few years ago I attended a Christmas concert in the Kelvingrove Art Galleries in Glasgow, where Kevin Bowyer was manfully struggling with a large book of music on the piano, as he accompanied the choir singing carols. Watching the pages of the book slowly flipping over, as if in slow motion and then Kevin’s antics at getting back to the page he was wanting to play was most amusing. I have to say that today Kevin is now a total convert to electronic music display and no longer has this nightmare.

So if you are thinking of moving to electronic music display or are already a user, I thought a short review of the current crop of (non-human) page turners might be helpful.  I am only reviewing ones I have personal experience of and the opinions expressed in this blog are mine. These pedals all work really well with Power Music. If you have other experiences with page turners please feel free to post a comment on this post.

Of course if you are using a device with a touchscreen – iPad, Windows tablet, all-in-one PC etc, there is always the option of just tapping or swiping the screen to turn the page. It still involves taking you hands off the instrument but the speed of page turning makes this a usable option.

However I want to have a look at a range of page turners. All page turners operate by sending key presses to the software displaying the music. So it is important that the device you choose sends the correct page turning key presses – these are usually page up/page down or arrow up/arrow down, but other keys are sometimes used.

Page turners are of two distinct types:

USB cabled

  • No batteries required.
  • USB cable connected to the display device.
  • Plug and play, no driver software or pairing required.
  • Distance from pedal to PC limited to 5m without active USB extension.

Bluetooth wireless

  • No cables.
  • Battery powered, rechargeable or standard battery.
  • Require initial pairing with the device running the display software.
  • Be aware there are different Bluetooth standards which are not always compatible. The Low Energy, Bluetooth Smart 4.0 pedals will not work with a PC or tablet that has only Bluetooth 3. However a Bluetooth 3 pedal will work on devices that have Bluetooth 4.0 and up.  For Windows device you can always get a Bluetooth 4.0 USB “dongle” which will allow the use of these pedals.
  • Most Bluetooth devices have a “sleep” mode where the device goes into a power-saving mode after about 30 minutes of inactivity.  A single tap to the pedal or button will instantly re-awaken it.

So here are some pedals to consider – they can all be found on the Power Music Hardware Store

bilipro21

BiLiPRO (Sadly no longer manufactured!)

This was a favorite pedal of many musicians as it did not require batteries and did not go to sleep. However the manufacturer ceased production in 2017 and any remaining stock have been sold. I have just left it in here for historical reference.

 

  • USB cabled
  • Very robust
  • Illuminated buttons
  • Not completely silent
  • Switchable between page up/down and arrow up/down
  • Very sturdy construction – Low cost

 

PageFlip Butterfly Read more…

This is the entry level pedal from PageFlip. Very robust pedal with good tactile feedback. Not programmable but with 3 switchable modes – page up/down, arrow up/down or arrow left/right. These cover the vast majority of options for page turning for both iPad and Windows apps.

  • Bluetooth 3
  • Silent switches
  • 2 x AA batteries 200hrs continuous use per set

 

firefly11

PageFlip Firefly Read more…

The Firefly is an excellent all purpose pedal. Very robust and with a good feel when pressed. Has the advantage of switchable white LEDs to help see the pedal on a darkened stage. Four preset modes and can easily be programmed using a Utility from PageFlip. Two additional pedals can be plugged into the Firefly via 3.5mm jacks

  • Bluetooth 3
  • Can also be connected using USB cable (Not recommended as the socket can be broken with rough handling.)
  • Illuminated pedals – switchable
  • Easy to program keys using switches or Windows utility software
  • Additional 2 pedals can be plugged in via 3.5mm jack sockets
  • 2 x AA batteries 200hrs continuous use per set

 

PageFlip Dragonfly Quad Read more…

The Dragonfly is the “Rolls Royce” of pedals! With 2 main pedals and 2 secondary pedals all of which can be programmed by switch selection or customised using the PageFlip Utility program. Very robust and with a good feel when pressed. Has white LEDs to help see the pedal on a darkened stages

 

  • Bluetooth 3
  • Can also be connected using USB cable (Not recommended as the socket can be broken with rough handling.)
  • Illuminated pedals – switchable
  • Easy to program keys using switches or Windows utility software
  • 2 x AA batteries 200hrs continuous use per set

 

AirTurn PEDpro Read more…

The Pedpro is an updated version of the AirTurn PED. The main difference is that the pro has a rechargeable battery. The PED is very lightweight and has no moving parts. The pedals are pressure sensitive and don’t give and tactile feedback.

  • Bluetooth Smart 4.0
  • Very light weight, low profile
  • Pressure operated pedals
  • Rechargable battery
  • Mode change button for different key presses

 

AirTurn BT200-S2 Read more…

This is a new pedal from Airturn. It is modeled on a typical guitar effects pedals and actually takes a standard effect pedal power supply (9V centre  -ve) as well as operating from a rechargeable battery. It is in a robust plastic case with heavy duty guitar foot switches.  There are also 4 and 6 button versions of this pedal available.

  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Can be programmed using AirTurn utility
  • Rechargeable LiPo battery giving 200 hrs use between charges
  • Very sturdy construction
  • Good tactile feedback

 

And Finally… It’s not a foot pedal but is another way of controlling page turning.

usbbutton-34%2011

Programmable USB Button Read more…

This unique little device can be programmed to send a string of key presses to the computer it is connected to just as if they were coming from the keyboard. For page turning just program a single Page Down or Page Up to turn pages. The programming utility is for Windows only. They are also illuminated and can be programmed to any colour when pressed and released.

  • USB cable – plug and play
  • Can be programmed to any sequence of key presses using Windows Utility
  • Illuminated – programmable,  colour change when pressed
  • Great for organists
  • Available with either metal or plastic bases.

 

Programmable Bluetooth Button Read more…

Similar to the USB version but connecting to any device by Bluetooth 4.0. For page turning just program a single Page Down or Page Up to turn pages. The programming utility is for Windows only. They are also illuminated and can be programmed to any colour when pressed and released. The sleep time is programmable.

  • Bluetooth – requires pairing once
  • Can be programmed to any sequence of key presses using Windows Utility
  • Illuminated – programmable,  colour change when pressed
  • Great for organists
  • Supplied with Charging meter and USB charging cable

 

Airturn in the US supply a wide variety of Bluetooth pedals as well as the PED.

I hope you found this post useful. There are several other page turners out there. If you use one and would like to write about it please post a comment on this post.

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3 thoughts on “A Review of Page Turners – Not the Human Variety – Updated Feb 2019

  1. I have found that a gaming pedal works just as well.
    I use a 3 pedal one at home and a 2 pedal one for church.
    The 3 pedal is set up as follows – left pedal turns back a page, middle pedal turns on a page, right pedal moves on to the next song. This is vey handy when moving from the 2nd page of a 3 page song to the next one. (2 pages showing on screen) The 2 pedal is set up as follows: right – forward, left – back. These pedals were also considerably cheaper, although not the cheapest on the market.
    Much as I like physical books I have no desire to move back to sheet music. 1200 songs and counting so far on the computer.

    Thanks for a great product

    Paul

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