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Sheet music on Apple iPad, Android tablets and Windows 2-in-1 convertibles

Sheet music on an iPad (left), a Samsung tablet (top) and a Microsoft 2-in-1 (bottom). Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com

The best tablets for musicians

Last updated on February 7, 2024

As a musician, choosing a tablet is not an easy task. It is an important decision and the tablet will hopefully last for many years. The Apple iPads are dominant among professional musicians, but there are a lot of other options out there, so it can be overwhelming to find the right one.

In 2024, new tablet options are available to amateur and professional musicians. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Samsung’s Tab Ultra now face competition, and picking a tablet for reading sheet music, recording and performing is more complex than ever.

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Author Johannes Eva (viola)I am a classical musician (violist) with 20 years of professional experience in orchestra and chamber music. For many years, I have been advising colleagues, students, and fellow musicians in the choice of their tablet.

Along with the many positives of using tablets, I’ve also seen the negatives: tablets crashing just before going on stage, batteries that don’t hold up during long rehearsal days, and missing page turner pedals in concert.

I spent my school years in France, and this article must be riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, for which I apologize. Feel free to send me any corrections!

There is no test protocol! I use the most different tablets possible in my real life as a musician, which includes practicing, rehearsing and playing concerts.

Tablets for sheet music test bench (iPad, Andoid tablet, e-reader, scores, stands)

Practicing with multiple tablets at the same time can be laborious. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com

The tablets and e-readers are purchased with my own funds and used as long as I please. This means that my tablet reviews are always independent, long term and real life reviews.

1. Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is undoubtedly the tablet most used by professional musicians. Paired with forScore, it is the absolute reference for reading sheet music.

For a majority of professional and amateur musicians, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is simply the best choice – if your budget is up to it.

Sheet music on an Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4x3)

Sheet music on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com

Which iPad model is best for reading sheet music?

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021 or 2022) is definitely Apple’s best tablet for reading music. Its screen is slightly smaller than a sheet of paper.

To be precise, the area of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s display is:

  • 82.6% of the area of a sheet of A4 paper or
  • 85.5% of the area of a sheet of Letter paper.

Its aspect ratio is closer to Letter format than A4:

  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch: 1.33 (4:3) aspect ratio
  • Letter: 1.29 (22:17) aspect ratio
  • A4: 1.4 (7:5) aspect ratio

A4 and Letter paper sizes compared to 12.9-inch and 11-inch iPad Pro screens. The surfaces and dimensions are those of the screens and not those of the tablets.

The screen size of the iPad Pro 12.9 is sufficient to display complex scores. By cropping the score margins (which is very easy in sheet music reading apps such as forScore, Newzik or MobileSheets), you can get close to the size of a printed score.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is sleek and looks great on stage. It fits on any “normal” sheet music stand or on a dedicated tablet stand.

iPad Pro 11‑inch, iPad Air and “standard” iPad

The iPad Pro 11, on the other hand, is too small to read music parts or scores without straining your eyes. Its display represents only 60.8% of the area of a Letter page.

The 11-inch version is therefore more suitable for displaying tablatures, chords, or lyrics (e.g., with SongSheet Pro or Ultimate Guitar). It blends in very well on stage, especially on a tablet stand.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 vs 11 inches for music (display scores and parts with forScore)

The display of the 11-inch iPad Pro represents only 71% of the area of its 12.9-inch big brother. Here they are compared in Beethoven’s Piano Sonata № 12 in A-flat major (Opus 27).

The same applies to the iPad Air and the 10th generation iPad (2022). These two tablets have the same display size: a 10.9-inch panel that is only slightly smaller than the one on the 11-inch iPad Pro. The display is too small to avoid squinting your eyes during long rehearsals or performances.

Practicing music before a concert on an iPad Pro (with forScore or Newzik)

A little practice on my iPad before a baroque music concert. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com

Sheet music on the iPad: what are the cons?

Besides a very high price, the iPad Pro has a number of disadvantages that can lead to the choice of another tablet or e-reader:

  • The 4:3 aspect ratio of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is not ideal for displaying sheet music: the tablet is not tall enough, and the toolbars tend to overlap the music. When used in landscape mode, a particularly large amount of space is lost, as can be seen in the screenshot below. Musicians who often play in landscape mode (pianists?) should take a look at Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Ultra. The latter has a 16:10 aspect ratio, in which virtually no space is wasted in landscape mode.
Piano sheet music on an iPad (in landscape orientation), screenshot

Piano sheet music on iPad: Due to the 4:3 aspect ratio of the display, screen space is lost when used in landscape mode (bottom of the image).

  • Transferring data (for example, sheet music in PDF format) from a PC or Android mobile phone can be tricky, and you won’t find an SD or microSD card slot.
  • Apple’s vendor lock-in is stronger than on other platforms. For example, the score-reading apps forScore, Newzik and Enote are only available on Apple devices.

Professional musicians and music students: In which cases is there no alternative to Apple?

It is difficult to do without Apple iPads in the following cases:

  • You want or need to use forScore. ForScore is often considered as the ultimate sheet music reading app and is only available for iPad and iPhone.
  • Your friends/colleagues use AirDrop to transfer music files (for example, PDF sheet music). AirDrop only works with Apple devices.
  • Some of the music apps that you want to use are only available on the Apple Store, like Newzik, Enote, GarageBand or KORG Gadget 2.
  • You need a powerful tablet to edit videos with, for example, DaVinci Resolve (not available on Android tablets).

However, if you mainly want to use a tablet as a sheet music reader to practice, rehearse and play gigs (and if your budget is tight), there are good alternatives to Apple’s iPads.

The best iPad for sheet music

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the best iPad for reading sheet music. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com

Pros

  • The iPad Pro is the de facto standard for music
  • AirDrop, forScore, Newzik, GarageBand, …
  • Unmatched performance
  • Holds value over time, long-term support
  • Excellent accessories (Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard)

Cons

  • Glossy display
  • 4:3 aspect ratio, not ideal for sheet music
  • No SD or microSD card slot
  • Slow charging (only 20W)
  • Extremely expensive

iPads for musicians: Verdict

You can’t go wrong with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro! It is the most used tablet among professional musicians and has the best stylus and keyboard. iPadOS still has some exclusive apps (forScore, Newzik, GarageBand) and features (AirDrop, AirPlay), as well as the best performance of any tablet to the day.

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch has some drawbacks though, the biggest being its aspect ratio, which is ideal for office use, but not for displaying sheet music. Also, don’t expect a fast battery charge during rehearsal breaks, as the iPad Pro has the slowest charging speed of all the tablets in its category.

In my opinion, the 11-inch iPad Pro, the iPad Air and the “standard” iPad are too small for more than casual music practice. If you’re on a budget, I would strongly recommend getting a used or refurbished 12.9-inch iPad Pro over one of the smaller models.

In case you already own an iPhone or a Mac, it’s a no-brainer: the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is your best option. However, if you’re not tied to the Apple ecosystem, a Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra may also be an excellent choice.

What are the alternatives to Apple iPads for reading sheet music?

There are excellent alternatives to Apple iPads for reading and editing sheet music. The following tablets are in a similar price and performance category to Apple’s iPad Pro and are discussed later in this article:

  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, a huge tablet with a 14.6-inch screen, ideal in landscape mode. It is the favorite tablet of the author of these lines, a professional musician.
  • Its Lenovo counterpart, the “Tab Extreme”, which was launched in June 2023.
  • Microsoft’s Surface Pro 9, featuring a display with an aspect ratio of 3:2, which is ideal for displaying parts or scores.

Large e-book-readers (with e-ink) can also be an alternative to iPads or tablets. There are only two models large enough to read music:

  • The Onyx Boox Tab X with a 13.3-inch e-paper screen
  • Its twin brother, the PadMu 4, which came onto the market in 2023

You can find more information about these solutions in my comparison of e-readers for musicians.

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is a high-end Android tablet with a 14.6-inch display. It is the largest tablet available on the market in 2024.

Sheet music (music scores) on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 15 № 2 on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra in landscape mode. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com.

At 1.61 pounds (or 732 grams), the weight of the S9 Ultra is relatively low considering the huge screen size. The display area corresponds to 102% of the area of a Letter-size paper or 99% of the area of an A4 sheet of paper.

Thus, this tablet is the closest thing to printed music in terms of display size. Nevertheless, it remains significantly smaller than the commonly used orchestral sheet music and scores.

The largest tablet on the market, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, has a display area equivalent to 102% of a sheet of Letter paper (or 99% of the A4 format). The surfaces and dimensions are those of the screens and not of the tablets.

The display of the Samsung tablet is very elongated, the aspect ratio is 16:10, which might seem impractical at first glance. However, this unusual format is actually very well-suited for displaying sheet music:

  • The toolbars (shown here with MobileSheets) do not cover the score (as is the case with forScore on the iPad):
Displaying sheet music on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra (Berlioz)
  • Working with a split screen works great, for example with YouTube, a score or a tuner in the lower part:
Sheet music and videos on a tablet computer - Shared screen (Android multi window aka split screen)
  • In landscape mode, the 16:10 aspect ratio is (almost) perfect for displaying two sheets of music side by side:
Mozart Piano Sonata on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Android tablet

The beginning of the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata № 8 in A minor, K. 310 / 300d on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra (screenshot)

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: Pros

  • Largest display on the market, versatile aspect ratio
  • Excellent battery life
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 5 years of security updates
  • Superfast charging (up to 45W)

Cons

  • Glossy display (prone to reflections)
  • Some apps (like forScore) are not available for Android
  • Stylus (“S-Pen”) less pleasant to use than the Apple Pencil
  • Very expensive
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is the best Android tablet for reading sheet music, scores, lead sheets and songbooks.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is the best Android tablet for reading sheet music. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com.

Music on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: Verdict

The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is arguably the best Android tablet for music. It has the largest display available on the tablet market. This gigantic screen combined with the unique aspect ratio makes it an outstanding tablet for reading sheet music.

In real life, its battery life has proven to be better than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Thanks to the ultra-fast charging, it is also possible to recharge the battery between rehearsals or even during a rehearsal break (plus 20% every 10 minutes).

Among the downsides is the stylus, which didn’t quite convince me (but is included with the tablet). And of course the very high price, which however remains well below Apple.

I spent more than 20 months working with the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and already 6 months with the S9 Ultra (alternating with other tablets and e-readers). In total, this meant countless hours of practice and rehearsals and a good number of concerts. I can therefore recommend the S8 and S9 Ultra to (almost) all musicians, on an equal footing with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Tablets for musicians - Symphony orchestra rehearsal with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

Symphony orchestra rehearsal with the Samsung Galaxy S8 Ultra, seen from the viola section. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com

Is the previous-generation Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra still a good choice in 2024?

Absolutely! The Tab S8 Ultra is very similar to the S9 Ultra, the differences are minimal. For reading sheet music (MobileSheets, MuseScore) or for almost any music app (Simply Piano, Yousician, BandLab…), the S8 Ultra is still a terrific tablet. Nevertheless, there is one important point to keep in mind: Samsung’s security updates policy.

Samsung offers five years of security updates for both the S8 and S9 tablet series, as well as “up to four generations of One UI and Android OS upgrades”. No other Android tablet manufacturer offers this length of support.

What’s essential here is that this rule applies from the product’s global launch date – not from the date of purchase. With this information, it is easy to determine how long the S8 and S9 tablet series will be supported.

How long will the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and S9 series receive software updates?
  • The Galaxy Tab S8+ and S8 Ultra were released in April 2022 and came with Android 12 and Samsung’s own One UI 4.1 user interface. They will receive security updates at least until March 2027, and be upgraded to Android 16 and One UI 8.
  • The Galaxy Tab S9+ and S9 Ultra launched in August 2023, running Android 13 and One UI 5.1. They will receive security updates almost a year and a half longer than the previous generation, at least until July 2028, and will be updated to Android 17 and One UI 9.

Apart from the significantly shorter software support, nothing speaks against getting a Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra for music in 2024. If you find a good deal, go for it!

3. Microsoft Surface Pro 9

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is the company’s latest 2-in-1 detachable tablet computer, released in October 2022. The Surface Pro 9 succeeds both the Surface Pro 8 and the Surface Pro X, merging both product ranges. It can be used as a laptop or as a standalone tablet, without its keyboard.

Microsoft Surface Pro with sheet music (Windows tablet, music scores)

Editing music with MuseScore on the Microsoft Surface Pro 9. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com

Is the Surface Pro a good tablet for reading sheet music?

Absolutely! The Surface Pro series features a large 13-inch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, making it a great choice for displaying and annotating sheet music.

My favorite application for reading sheet music, MobileSheets, is available as a native Windows application in the Microsoft Store.

While the Surface Pro 9’s screen area is slightly smaller than that of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, its 3:2 aspect ratio is more suited to reading sheet music.

The superpower of Windows tablets: software diversity

The Surface Pro 9 does not run Android, but Windows 11. A powerful mini-PC is hidden beneath its tablet look. Unlike iPads or Android tablets, the Surface Pro 9 is therefore not limited to mobile apps.

In addition to apps like MobileSheets (for reading sheet music) and various metronomes and tuners, the Surface Pro 9 is capable of running real Windows software in its full version.

Music notation software

The professional music notation programs Sibelius, Finale and Dorico run in their full Windows version. For comparison: these are entirely absent from the Android platform, while iPad users will only find a simplified version of Sibelius and Dorico.

Tablets for music - Microsoft Surface Pro 9 with Finale by Makemusic (music notation or engraving)

Windows tablets are the only ones that can run the Finale music notation software (here on the Surface Pro 9). Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com

Musescore is also available in its full version. This version allows full playing and editing of parts and scores, while the mobile apps (for iPadOS and Android) only allow music reading and transposing, not editing.

Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs)

Cubase or Ableton Live can be used in their full version on the “Surface Pro” series. These programs are not available for either Android or iPadOS.

However, according to Notebookcheck, the latency of the Surface Pro 9 is relatively high (1942 μs), which is not ideal for recording. However, it is possible to reduce latency and optimize Windows for audio recording.

Stylus and keyboard

Like Apple, Microsoft does not include the stylus (dubbed “Surface Slim Pen 2”) with its high-end tablet. As it is essential for writing your fingerings, bowings and dynamics, you will need to purchase it separately. It is much more enjoyable to use than the Samsung S-Pen, but I slightly prefer the Apple Pencil.

The “Signature Keyboard” is also not included. It’s excellent (fortunately, considering its price), but its “plush” finish tends to attract dust.

Sheet music (for piano) on Microsoft's Surface Pro (screenshot)

Screenshot of Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A major (D. 664) on the Surface Pro 9 in landscape mode.

Surface Pro 9: Pros

  • Excellent display for working indoors
  • 3:2 aspect ratio, ideal for sheet music
  • Full-fledged Windows 11 PC
  • Supports full software versions (Sibelius, Finale, Cubase …)

Cons

  • Glossy, highly reflective display
  • Slow waking up from sleep mode
  • Limited choice of mobile applications
  • Active cooling, occasionally audible fan
  • Less convenient than Android or iPadOS tablets

Surface Pro 9 verdict: an excellent 2-in-1

If you’re looking for a single device to serve as both a laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro 9 is for you! As a laptop, it will make most users happy. As a tablet, it is certainly a little heavy, but well proportioned and very pleasant to use.

On the other hand, if you already have a laptop and are only looking for a device to practice, rehearse and perform, the Surface Pro 9 is probably not the best choice. It’s less convenient than an Android tablet or an iPad, and the range of mobile apps is more limited.

Tablets for musicians: conclusion

After many years of unchallenged dominance, Apple’s iPads are no longer the only recommendable tablets for making music. In 2024, the tablets of the competition are excellent, and in some aspects, Samsung’s and Microsoft’s flagships even surpass the iPad Pro.

As a musician, picking a tablet is very complex, because it’s as much about choosing hardware as it is about choosing a software platform. Let’s summarize:

Apple iPads
  • Hardware: Although iPad screens don’t have the ideal aspect ratio for sheet music, Apple iPads (and especially the iPad Pro) are exceptional in quality and performance, and the stylus is outstanding.
  • Software: Apple still holds exclusivity for several mobile applications, such as forScore, Newzik, Ableton Note and GarageBand. However, some of these apps are only available in a feature-reduced version, such as Dorico or “Sibelius for Mobile”.
Android tablets
  • Hardware: The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is the best Android tablet for musicians. The huge display, split screen functionality and superfast charging make it a great workhorse, on a par with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
  • Software: Android’s maturity on large-format tablets is now beyond doubt. They’re super-responsive and easy to use. And when it comes to score-reading apps, MobileSheets has not much to envy to forScore. Still, the choice of music apps is more limited than with Apple.
Windows tablets
  • Hardware: Windows 2-in-1 devices are both a laptop and a tablet. If you only want to own a single device due to space, budget or environmental reasons, this is the best solution.
  • Software: For using as a laptop and especially for using scorewriters such as Sibelius, Finale, Dorico or MuseScore, Windows 2-in-1 devices are an excellent option. But unfortunately, Windows does not shine in tablet mode. If you’re primarily interested in reading sheet music, an iPad or an Android tablet are a more convenient alternative.

Can't make up your mind?

Are the arguments listed above too obscure and the decision seems too complex? There is a very simple way to choose a tablet, and it depends on your mobile phone:

  • If you use an Android phone (Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, etc.) and are happy with it, choose an Android tablet. Now all you have to do is install MobileSheets (via the Play Store) to start reading sheet music.
  • If you own an iPhone and are happy with it, choose an iPad Pro. Install forScore via the App Store to start reading sheet music.

This way, you will already be familiar with the interface, and it will be easier to get started. However, consider this method as one argument among others: it is entirely possible to use an Android tablet for music if you have an iPhone, and vice versa.

21 thoughts on “The best tablets for musicians”

  1. Hello and thank you for your detailed articles on the various options available to us musicians!
    I would like to get more information about the sustainability, durability and lifespan of each tablet. Are the e-readers and the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 more durable? For me, such an expensive device is only worth buying if I can use it for ten years or so…
    Kind regards!

    1. Hello!

      The question of sustainability and lifespan of tablets is very important to me, and I will try to write an article about it soon (also about the CO₂ footprint of using tablets vs. printed sheet music).

      Here’s a short answer: it’s hard to know exactly how long a tablet will work. Even after the official support period ends, a tablet can remain usable for many years. If you take the official support period as a reference, this is what you get:

      Apple iPad: The first generation iPad Pro 12.9 was launched in September 2015. Eight years later, iPadOS 17 was released with no support for that device. Still, there will be security patches for iPadOS 16, but over time the old iPad will work less and less well. You can expect it to be usable for almost 10 years, although the battery will in all likelihood need to be replaced at some point.

      Microsoft Surface tablets: Microsoft’s The Surface Pro 4 was released at the same time, in October 2015, but support ended in January 2021, after more than five years. Support for the Surface Pro 5 (released 2017) ended in January 2024, after 6.5 years. According to Microsoft’s new update policy, new Surface Pro models should be officially supported for at least 6 years. But Windows will certainly continue to run for many years after the end of support.

      Samsung and Android tablets: Samsung’s first large flagship tablet, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, only came onto the market in spring 2022. So there are no reliable empirical values on real life security support yet. Samsung promises four generations of One UI and Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates for its high rage devices. This is short compared to Apple and Microsoft, but very long for Android devices. Lenovo, which makes the second-biggest tablet, promises only three Android versions and four years of security updates for its Tab Extreme, and this is already more than most other Android manufacturers.

      So your best bet when it comes to tablet longevity is probably an Apple tablet. The good news is that sheet music reading apps don’t require particularly powerful hardware. This means that newest models will probably be able to run, for example, forScore, Newzik or Mobile Sheets in 10 years. But also that refurbished or used tablets are able to run sheet music software and therefore are an option to consider. I hope this could help!

      Sources:

      Apple: iPad models compatible with iPadOS 17, iPad models compatible with iPadOS 16. Here you can see that 10 years of support can be quite possible: Apple iPad on endoflife.date
      Microsoft: Surface devices driver and firmware lifecycle, Which Surface devices can be upgraded to Windows 11?
      Samsung: Samsung: Announcing up to five years support for Samsung Security Updates on select Galaxy devices
      Lenovo: Android Upgrade Matrix, see “The Security Updates EOL for all products” at the bottom of the page

  2. Hello,

    I am currently searching for reader software myself and came across MusicReader It has an automatic page turn timer. I haven’t tried this function, but it may help organists. They offer a 30-day free trial.

    Best of luck!

    I am trying to decide between MusicReader and MusicSheets so if anyone has experience with these 2 platforms I would love to hear your experience. I will be using a Microsoft Surface Pro 7. I will probably get a 13″ iPad at some point in the future, but since I already have the Surface Pro I will use that.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi, Eric,

      thank you for your comment, I never stumbled on MusicReader before, so I’m happy you mentioned it. There are not many cross-platform sheet music app that support all major platforms. Beside MusicSheet and MusicReader, you could also try Dimusco. I have not tried MusicReader yet, but will certainly do so in the near future. Cheers!

  3. I noticed you didn’t mention Piascore. I’m quite surprised, because I’ve been using it for many years on my iPad, and I’m very happy with it!

    1. Hello Michael,

      Piascore is a digital score-reading application developed in Japan, and is one of the most widely used in the world. Just like forScore, Enote and Newzik, it is only available on iPad and iPhone.

      In early 2018, Piascore reached over 10 million downloads. At the time, most users came from the USA (37%), Japan (23%) and China (16%). According to Piascore’s own description on the Apple App Store, the app currently has 4 million active users.

      Unfortunately, the development of Piascore seems to have slowed down considerably, or even stopped, since 2019.

      This is unfortunate, because Piascore is one of the few free sheet music reading apps (although some features require to be purchased within the app, such as the recorder, the tuner, and exports via AirDrop). It’s also almost the only app (along with forScore) to offer page-turning via face gestures, which is very useful for organists or harpists who can’t use foot pedals to turn pages.

      I hope the development of Piascore will resume soon. In the meantime, it’s not a future-proof solution, and I prefer to recommend the applications mentioned above, or MobileSheets, which has the advantage of also being available for Android and Windows.

  4. Good morning,

    Your analyzes are very well done and relevant, thank you. I bought the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, which I use with MobileSheets with its PC companion software. (There is only one thing that I would fix: the tablet is not only unusable outdoors, but also as soon as there is a window behind you… It seems that there are anti-reflective filters available…)

    I have a question about importing my scores to MobileSheets, which can be a heavy workload, what do you use?

    For the moment, I scan on an all-in-one printer (photocopier-scanner). It’s not easy to fit in the A4, you have to position it correctly. Then, I edit my scores by hand: enhance contrast, rotate, eliminate my manual notes (or not). I’m told that there are smartphone apps that do all the work automatically from photos, I couldn’t find any free ones.

    1. Hello Kristop,

      I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra for plenty of outdoor gigs, and found it to be quite usable in almost all cases. For having compared it many times directly in the bright sun to my 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021): the brightness and readability of the scores is even a tad better on the Samsung tablet than on the iPad.

      But if you play a lot of concerts outdoors and especially in direct sunlight (e.g., if the stage has no roof), the displays on e-readers for musicians are incomparably better, but e-readers have other drawbacks.

      When it comes to digitizing sheet music, having tested several mobile applications, I can recommend Adobe Scan (available on Android via the Google Play Store and on the Apple App Store). The app is free for standard use and allows you to export PDFs of scanned music scores.

      However, scanning sheet music on a real physical scanner (in 600 dpi if possible) or a multi-function printer gives better results. And above all, the result does not depend on the ambient light, the shadow of the smartphone or tablet, the phone’s flashlight, etc.

      Happy scanning!

  5. Great article, thanks!

    I’m currently using a Surface Pro 5 with PowerMusic Pro. They work very well together.

    Although, the Surface Pro screen is starting to get a bit small for me and it seems the one needs to go with an All-In-One setup. PowerMusic Pro has these in various sizes in their hardware section, not software products.

    Thought this might provide another point of view.

    Cheers

    1. Thank you, Carl, for your feedback!

      The Surface Pro 5 was released back in 2017 and features a 12.3-inch display. Microsoft upgraded the Surface Pro series to a 13-inch-Display in 2019 with the first Surface Pro X, and 2021 with the Surface Pro 8.

      I’m happy to hear that you’re still using the Surface Pro six years after its release – it speaks for good hardware quality and a reliable software update strategy!

      The next version of Surface Pro is expected to be released in October 2023. Wi-Fi models will likely be updated with Intel’s 13th-generation mobile processors. The 5G Surface Pro 10 (based on ARM processors) may feature a new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 4 processor.

      For reading sheet music on a tablet, there is absolutely no need for a fast processor, though. Even older tablets will do the job.

      PowerMusic is available on Mac, PC and for iPhone and iPad. I have never tested it, but it has excellent reviews on the Apple App Store and seems to be a good solution!

      The UK-based company behind PowerMusic also sells digital 16-inch and 20-inch digital music stands. Check their website here:
      Power Music Hardware Store

  6. Hello
    Thank you for your honest comparisons!
    What do you think of a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE? It seems interesting in terms of size and price.
    Musical and digital greetings!

    1. Hello Francis,

      That’s a tough question! A year ago, it would have been easy to recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE. It was released in June 2021, two years ago. Samsung guarantees four years of security updates on this model, starting from the global release date.

      The Galaxy Tab S7 FE is therefore halfway through its official lifespan. Samsung has not released an S8 FE in 2022, but a Galaxy Tab S9 FE seems to be planned and should be launched at the end of 2023. Its price is likely to be significantly higher than the S7 FE.

      The S7 FE is the only 12-inch tablet in this segment and at this price, with the Tab S8+ costing almost twice as much! So the S7 FE is not a bad choice, despite its age. And since so many have been sold, I can’t imagine Samsung abandoning security updates altogether, even after the advertised 4 years of support.

      Pros: 12.4-inch screen, update to Android 13, S-Pen included, DeX mode, SD-card support, excellent battery life.

      Cons: only two years of support left, rather slow processor on the 5G model, 64 GB / 4 GB versions too low on memory.

      There are two fairly different versions:

      • The LTE model has the slower processor (Snapdragon 750G), supports only Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5, and has a phenomenal battery life of about 23 hours.
      • The WiFi model has a much faster processor (Snapdragon 778G), supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2. However, its battery life falls to 18 hours, which is still excellent.

      In both cases, if your budget allows, it’s best to opt for the 128GB or 256GB memory variants (which also come with 6GB or 8GB RAM, compared with just 4GB RAM for the 64GB versions). Here are the (affiliate) links to the models I’d recommend:

      For sheet music reading apps like MobileSheets or Musescore, there’s no need for very fast processors, and even the 5G models should be sufficient.

      I hope this helps!

  7. Hi, how about padmu 4, do you recommend it? I’m a pianist and I love using books to study and have all my notes in them, but sometimes when I’m preparing new pieces I need to print them when I don’t have them in physical format. This is a waste of money and paper, I hate having paper all over the house!
    Also, padmu has a dual-device version, quite nice for pianists.

    What do you think?

    1. Hi, Daniel!
      I tested the PadMu 4 for several months, without being very convinced. The advantages for playing music outdoors are undeniable: the screen is readable even in direct sunlight, and the battery lasts a very long time. But the poor responsiveness of the screen makes me much prefer practicing with a good Android tablet or an iPad Pro.

      My review of the PadMu 4 is finally out, check it out here:
      PadMu 4 review: the best e-reader for musicians?

  8. To turn the pages of a church organ, for example, you can’t use a pedal. Unfortunately, I still don’t know on which tablets it’s possible to turn pages by winking your eye, moving your lips or your head using facial recognition.

    I know it works with forScore on iPad. But Apple is too expensive for me. I’d be grateful for a reply.

    1. Hello HS!

      Unfortunately, turning pages via face recognition only works on Apple tablets (and is called “Face Gestures” in forScore Pro and “Motion Detection” in Newzik).

      MobileSheets (on Android and Windows) is planning to implement facial recognition, but the is no release date for this feature, so it could take a while.

      There’s an Android app from Google called “Camera Switches” that lets you control the tablet using facial gestures. But this is not intended for turning the pages of sheet music, at least I couldn’t get it to work under Mobile Sheets.

      An alternative page turning option would be the AirTurn Bite Switch Remote Controller. For some instruments, a mini ring remote control* might be a possible solution, but probably not for organ playing.

      Until Mobile Sheets supports face recognition, the only realistic solution remains to get the most affordable Apple iPad you can find. Be careful when buying older models: not all iPads support “Face Gestures”! For example, “standard” iPads before the 8th generation are not supported, nor is the 4th generation iPad Air.

      Models that support Face ID seem to be generally compatible with forScore’s facial recognition (see the official list of Face ID-compatible models) – although I cannot guarantee it.

      I hope it helps!

  9. Hello!

    I’ve been working my way through your super interesting article. Unfortunately, I only understood half of it (I was born in 1963)! My problem is: I’m a complete page-turning dyslexic (the scores keep falling down!)

    That’s why I need a tablet for my performances on the harpsichord (fragile music stand) that I can operate with a foot pedal. In addition, I should of course be able to write in fingerings in the parts with a pen. I am also a composer, and would like to be able to edit scores with Sibelius. Which tablet can you recommend?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Hello!

      Sibelius is not available for Android tablets and Chromebooks, so these device categories are out. You are left with the following two (excellent) options:

      1. A Windows tablet like the Microsoft Surface Pro 9* or the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. This allows you to install the “full” desktop version of Sibelius. However, composing on a 13-inch screen might be tedious. Windows tablets are also a bit less convenient to use than Apple tablets. As an app for practice, rehearsals and concerts, I can (as already mentioned in the article) highly recommend MobileSheets; forScore does not run on Windows.
      2. An Apple iPad. The only really usable size for music is the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. However, you can’t run the full version of Sibelius on an iPad, only “Sibelius for Mobile”. Both forScore and MobileSheets are available as sheet music reading apps.

      As for fragile music stands: the iPad Pro 12-inch weighs 1.41 lb, which is lighter than the 2-in-1 devices from Microsoft (1.94 lb) and Dell (from 1.60 lbs) – weight without keyboard.

      Personally, I would edit sheet music and scores on a desktop computer (with a larger screen), and prefer an iPad for reading sheet music and occasional Sibelius edits.

      As for turning pages, all of these devices are compatible with Bluetooth page turners. My favorite pedals are the Airturn Duo 500* (compact, charges like a cell phone) and the PageFlip Butterfly* (works on two AA batteries, the on/off switch is better).

      Best regards!

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