Quiet, reliable, and compact: the AirTurn Duo BT-500 is my favorite page turner. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com
The best Bluetooth page turners in 2023
Last updated on November 13, 2023
One of the many advantages offered by using digital sheet music (on a tablet or e-reader) is the ability to turn pages without having to use your hands. To do this, the essential accessory is a page turner (or Bluetooth pedal).
Page turner pedals connect via Bluetooth and are compatible with all tablets and cell phones on the market, whether they run Android or iPadOS/iOS (Apple).
The differences between the various page turner brands lie mainly in build quality, battery type, size, and weight. Other important factors are the noise and the often flashing pedal lights, which can be disturbing on stage, especially in classical music concerts.
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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!
1. AirTurn Duo BT-500: the best page turner with a built-in battery
The AirTurn Duo BT-500 is the successor to the BT-200. It’s my favorite Bluetooth pedal, as the “sensation” when turning pages is very pleasant, and the switch is perfectly silent. The design is quite compact and, in my opinion, highly appealing.
The built-in battery lasts an extremely long time, over 200 hours according to AirTurn, and I’ve never managed to drain it. The pedal recharges via a standard mobile phone charger (USB Type-C).
The Bluetooth ID, “DUO500 V3.X.X XXXX”, is unique to each pedal. The last series of four digits is printed on the back of the device. This makes each pedal easy to identify during Bluetooth pairing, even if there are several AirTurns in the same room.
The AirTurn Duo is very robust and reliable. After a year and a half of use, mine is as good as new. In addition, the AirTurn Duo fits neatly inside music stands trays.
A very practical little detail: the AirTurn Duo fits nicely inside a typical accessory tray for music stands. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com
Unfortunately, the AirTurn Duo isn’t perfect; it has the following few shortcomings:
- The on/off switch (electronic push-button type) doesn’t let you see at a glance whether the pedal is switched on or not.
- The LEDs are too bright. When the pedal is connected, a blue LED flashes every three seconds. On my pedal, I covered this LED with a quarter inch (6 mm) diameter round black sticker (see on Amazon*). This works very well, but it makes it more difficult to ensure that the pedal is actually connected!
- The configuration can be quite tricky, and the “AirTurn Manager” app is very poorly rated on both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. This shouldn’t bother you too much, as the app is not necessary for normal use (such as turning pages). I must admit that I hardly ever use it.
The “AirTurn Manager” app lets you view the battery level, activate the repeat function, update the pedal and reset it, among other things. Screenshot: tablets-for-musicians.com
AirTurn Duo BT-500: Pros
- Excellent battery life
- Solid, durable construction
- Absolutely silent
- Unique Bluetooth ID
- Two years warranty
- Flashing blue LED is too bright
- Impractical on/off button
- High price
2. PageFlip Butterfly: the best Bluetooth pedal with removable batteries
The PageFlip Butterfly is of remarkable build quality, on a par with the AirTurn Duo. Its distinguishing feature is the use of two 1.5 volt AA batteries (which can be rechargeable), instead of a built-in battery. This means you can change the batteries quickly and continue playing music without having to wait for the pedal to recharge.
To recharge the batteries (or change them), you have to remove them from the compartment. This is more fussy than using a cell phone charger like on the AirTurn. Here too, the advertised autonomy is over 200 hours, or 200,000 page turns.
The use of removable batteries makes the PageFlip Butterfly a more environmentally-friendly product than the AirTurn. AA rechargeable batteries are always available, whereas it’s difficult (if not impossible) to replace a built-in battery.
What’s more, when the time comes to dispose of the pedal, the batteries can be removed and recycled separately.
The PageFlip Butterfly is taller and thicker, but not as wide as the AirTurn Duo. It does not fit into narrow music stand accessory trays. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com
The PageFlip Butterfly is completely silent and I have never had any connection issues. Here are some of its distinctive features:
- It’s slightly heavier and bigger than the competition, but it’s the pedal that’s least likely to slip on the floor.
- Its two-position on/off slide switch is ideal. You can see immediately whether the pedal is off or on.
- A small red LED flashes when the pedal is connected. This is discreet, however, and can be covered with a small black sticker.
- There is a small “reset” button, very useful for pairing the pedal with a new tablet or resolving any connection problems.
- The Bluetooth identifier, “Dual Pedal”, is not unique. This is not prohibitive, but it can be a nuisance in large bands, orchestras or choirs, if there are several pedals of this type.
PageFlip Butterfly: Pros
- Excellent battery life
- Removable batteries (eco-friendly product)
- Absolutely silent operation
- Easy to use, “reset” button
- Does not slip on the floor
- Quite large and chunky
- Non-unique Bluetooth ID
- High price
- Only one year of warranty
3. Donner wireless page turner: good value for money
Despite its German-sounding name (Donner means “thunder” in German), Donner is a company headquartered in Guangzhou (Canton), the largest city in southern China. Donner operates warehouses in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany.
The mid-range Donner pedal is one of the best-selling page turners on the market. Photo: Donner
While the build quality of the Donner pedal is slightly inferior to the previous two, it works perfectly well. Here are its distinguishing features:
- The two-position on/off and “Repeat” buttons make it easy to tell whether the page turner is off or on. They are however small and flimsy.
- The repeat function allows you to continue turning pages as long as you press the pedal. This can be handy for quickly navigating through a score, but can also lead to unintentional page-turning.
- The Bluetooth identifier, “Bluetooth Music Pedal”, is not unique to each pedal. As Donner page turners are very common, this might be an issue in certain (rare) situations.
- The Donner does not fit into a standard music stand accessory tray.
- The pedal charges using a mini-USB type B cable, which, although supplied, is long obsolete. You will not be able to recharge the Donner pedal with your cell phone or tablet cable.
- The advertised battery life is just 50 hours, and will, as always, decrease over the years. As the battery is built-in and non-replaceable, this greatly reduces the value of this pedal.
Detail of the obsolete USB Mini-B connector and pedal buttons. Photo: Donner
- Attractive pricing
- Good availability
- Reset button
- Repeat function with dedicated button
- Battery life shorter than the competition
- Flashing green light
- Charges via obsolete USB Mini-B
- Non-unique Bluetooth ID
- One-year warranty only
4. iRig BlueTurn: a beautiful page turner with a few imperfections
The iRig BlueTurn Bluetooth pedal is manufactured by IK Multimedia, a company based in Modena, Italy. Originally specializing in music software, the company has diversified greatly over the years and produces a wide variety of products including amplifiers, studio monitors, keyboards, and synthesizers.
The iRig BlueTurn is the best-selling page-turning pedal on Amazon. It is one of IK Multimedia’s simplest products and has been on the market since 2016.
Despite its name with the lowercase “i” prefix, which echoes Apple’s product names, the iRig BlueTurn is not specifically designed for use with iPads or iPhones. Any relatively new device supporting Bluetooth LE (4.1) will be compatible with the iRig – including Android tablets, of course. In 2023/2024, this pedal should pose no compatibility issues.
The iRig BlueTurn is a beautiful page turner with a minimalist design. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com
The iRig BlueTurn has excellent reviews on various online shopping platforms. In addition to its low weight, it has the following strengths:
- Besides the AirTurn Duo, it is the only pedal that fits “inside” an accessory tray for music stands. This can be very practical for moving the pedal together with the music stand, not leaving it on the floor, etc.
- The iRig BlueTurn is the simplest and easiest pedal to use. There are only two buttons on the upper side, no frills.
- It supports Bluetooth LE (Low Energy). Despite the small, replaceable AAA batteries and the backlight, it has an excellent battery life.
12.9-inch iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, sheet music and page turner. Photo: tablets-for-musicians.com
Despite its very successful design, the iRig BlueTurn suffers from the following more or less significant flaws:
- The on/off switch is located on the bottom of the pedal, which is not very practical.
- The Bluetooth identifier, “iRig BlueTurn”, is not unique to each pedal. For large orchestras or choirs, it can be difficult to know which pedal is paired with which tablet.
- The soft plastic buttons are pleasant to use, but they do produce a (very) slight squeaking noise when pressed. AirTurn and PageFlip pedals are quieter.
- The iRig BlueTurn is light and quite high (2.5 cm). If you press too hard on the edge with your foot, it tends to tip over or even roll over.
- The blue backlighting of the buttons cannot be switched off! For most music styles, this will not be a problem on stage. For classical music, however, it’s a real turn-off.
- From my point of view, the biggest issue with the BlueTurn is its height. The buttons also contribute to the height and are not close enough to the edge. For musicians who play seated, you have to lift your foot too much to press the pedal. In my experience as an orchestra musician and chamber music player, it is the most uncomfortable page turner in this comparison.
- Attractive design and solid construction
- Lightweight and compact
- Backlit buttons
- Good battery life thanks to Bluetooth LE
- Two years warranty
- The page turner is too high, the buttons too small.
- The backlight cannot be deactivated.
- Non-unique Bluetooth ID
- On/off switch not easily accessible
5. Lekato and Moukey page turners
The Lekato and Moukey pedals are replicas of the Donner pedal. They share most of its functions and specifications. However, their on/off button is more fragile and doesn’t seem to survive daily use.
The advantage of the Lekato pedal compared to the Moukey is the charging via USB Type-C. The Lekato can easily be recharged with a most tablet or cell phone charger. Note that older iPhones and iPads still use a Lightning connector, which will not work.
In addition, the Lekato is significantly cheaper, while the two pedals are almost identical. If I had to choose, I’d go for the Lekato.
The two Bluetooth pedals I can recommend without reservation are the AirTurn Duo (BT-500) with built-in battery, and the PageFlip Butterfly with removable batteries. Both products are made by American companies specialized in their particular field: page turning technology.
The iRig BlueTurn, a very popular page turner thanks to its attractive design, stands apart from the crowd. Due to its height, the small buttons and the permanent backlighting, it is suitable for musicians who perform primarily standing, in all styles except classical music.
Donner, Lekato, Moukey and Btuty pedals are more affordable solutions, and work perfectly well. They are sold by Chinese companies who market a large number of different music-related products.
The logo and body of these pedals are different, but they share the same electronics, features and almost identical marketing pictures. They will probably have a shorter lifespan than the AirTurn and PageFlip page turners, particularly because of their small battery, but they are a viable solution if your budget is limited.