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iPad sizes and specs for live stuff


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The thread on charts and my recent gigs with a Pink Floyd tribute band has me thinking about finally making the jump from binders full of hand-written charts / notes to an iPad. Recent pictures from our last gig showed my big ugly music stand taking up too much space. 

So... 11" or 12.9" iPad Pro? Regular iPad? iPad Air? I honestly have no idea what the differences are and which would be the best for what I'd like to do, which is mainly read lyrics and reminders for these tunes as well as have a repository of all my charts for the various bands I play in.

 

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As a reader, 40+ years of age wearing glasses, the 11” or better (preferably the 12.9”) is the way to go.  The Pros, also, for processing power and RAM are just more capable machines and don’t get turned over as quickly as the standard iPad as far as OS and app updates.   If you get into running virtual instruments on it you’ll be happy you picked a Pro as well.  
 

By far the most common sheet music librarian app I have seen is forScore, I often get calls to play duo, trio, etc. and they either send me an entire forScore setlist by Google drive, or they just airdrop it to me from their iPads at the gig. It opens immediately in the app with all the markings and edits they’ve made. 

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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If you're just using them for reading charts, whatever model you choose will be more than capable (since displaying PDFs is pretty simple). And for pretty much anything else, it doesn't matter (unless you're trying to run a lot of virtual instruments — then, the more powerful, the better). So I think it mainly comes down to screen size. I just have the regular iPad, which is a 10.2" screen. I've used it for reading charts at home, where I'm sitting down and can be close to it, but i think it would be just a bit to small to use at a gig. Unfortunately, it's a big jump up in price to the bigger screens, but you can save money if you check out the refurb section one the apple website. I've bought a few refurbished things from them and never had any issues.

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i have an ipad mini 6 but i only use that for instrument apps. 

 

for lyrics and tune notes i just use an outdated 29 dollar (on sale) amazon fire 7" tablet.  for me, it works, costs nothing (don't care if i lose it or it gets broken/stolen), the small form factor doesn't draw attention, and the battery lasts forever. i use the free "setlist helper"  app which beside chords and lyrics also lets you attach mp3's and PDF's if need be. i play in 5 or 6 very different bands and it has worked well for me.

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As has been mentioned, you don't necessarily need an iPad Pro to run ForScore. However, if you're reading anything beyond a chord chart, a bigger-screened model will make it easier to see one full page at a time in portrait mode. I have an old iPad Air 2 which has a 9.7" screen, and find a full-page chart hard to read in that orientation, so I mount the iPad in landscape mode which shows half a page at a time; that means I have to do some scrolling. You can get bluetooth pedals to do that, but I opted to assign a few of the pads on my controller to scroll back & forth, and also switch between scores. ForScore lets you tap or swipe the screen to do this, but I find those gestures finicky - you have to hit the screen just right or your touch can be misinterpreted, and reaching to tap a pad on my controller is closer than reaching for the iPad screen, which makes dealing with scrolling and page turns easier. If I was doing gigs with heavy chart reading I'd probably get pedals. Good luck!

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The bigger and brighter, the better. I use a new 12.9” iPad Pro, and its fantastic. It also has a very long battery life, which saves me from hooking up yet another cable. 

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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I would say how good your eyes are is key to which size to get.   If just using for reading charts you don't need the top of the line, but if you plan to start getting into run software instruments and the like you probably want one of the more powerful iPads. 

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100%  - get the 12.9" Pro!

 

I have an early generation iPad, which was OK for its time.  The 12.9" was long-rumored before it went into production.  

 

I ordered one the first day it was possible to do so, and have never regretted it!

 

Sure, you could get by with the 11", but this is what you do.  You're a respected pro with top-shelf equipment, and your iPad should be no exception.  In its vertical orientation, reading a single page can be as large and bold as a page out of a fakebook.  And in portrait view, reading 2 side-by-side pages is pretty reasonable.

 

forScore is absolutely the way to go, as well.  I have used it since the beginning, and was bringing it on gigs from the first day I had it.  With its numerous and frequent updates, the feature set is now staggering.  Suffice it to say that you can edit/annotate scores, create set lists easily, and much, MUCH more.  Pairing it with a Bluetooth page-turner is great, but you can also turn pages via facial gestures in the current OS.  It's also very doable, with a little practice,  to turn pages by tapping on the screen, unless you're playing music where there's no opportunity whatsoever for your hands to leave the keyboard.  (I've discussed this with Reezekeys on the forum, and as he indicates above, he prefers turning pages via his controller.)  But the real point is, this baby is flexible, and you can make it do what you want and need it to.

 

I'm about to buy another one for my 21 year-old son, who's graduating from college in May, and is following me into the perilous career of a NYC keyboardist.  (God help us!)  I know it will be an important tool in his arsenal, and it will be in yours, too.  DO IT, Jim!  You won't be sorry.

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I have a previous-gen iPad Mini (7.9in) which is too small for scores/manuscript, but fine for chord charts and simple notes.

The problem with the larger pads is that they form an obstacle between you and the audience depending on where you place them.

 

If money is an issue, consider Android? I wouldn't recommend it for audio (softsynths and the like) over Apple, but simply displaying charts should be fine.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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I personally would like the mini, or somewhere between the mini and what I have (9.7 I believe).  But I use it mainly for sound generation, with mixing apps and some lyrics coming in tied for 2nd.

I think mine is pretty standard, and it's far from new, and it doesn't have any issues with running B-3x.  So I doubt if any of the models will blink at doing chord charts and the like. Just a guess though.

If you are going to connect it up mid and audio-wise (sounds like not), then I'd check into whether usb-c has any issues vs lightning.  It's something I mean to check about before getting one of the new minis.

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2 hours ago, Jim Alfredson said:

Thanks everyone. Money isn't an issue; I've been saving for this tool. So I think I'll go with the 12.9" iPad pro. Concerning memory, is 512GB generally enough?

Yes.  Any sheets or charts are likely less than 3mb.  The largest thing you’d install is maybe Korg Module.  The sample libraries tend to be less than 1gb each.  A few may be larger - like Ivory piano or something.  

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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No question the 12.9" screen is what you want. I've been using an iPad Pro 12.9" with 1TB of memory - way overkill for the memory. I run forScore and this combination has served me well for all forms of music docs - charts, sheet music, chicken scratch, lyrics, etc. Moving from paper to the iPad is one of the best changes I have made in my rig. You will never look back!

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I have a 128GB iPad 6th Generation that has 90GB left after the usual iOS software, news apps, 10 music-maker apps (Ravenscroft, AUM, B-3X etc etc) lots and lots of PDF owners' manuals. I download Netflix movies all the time but remove them when done, and don't store any A/V content anyway.

 

512GB should be more than enough, but why not go with the most you can afford based on what you expect to store on it. If you ever run out of space for some reason, offload it to iCloud, but by then I bet you'll be ready to upgrade your iPad.

____________________________________
Rod

victoria bc

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Jim... I have 512 in my iPad Pro and running Korg module, several sound libraries, and Model D... I have no issues with memory.  A few pointers when when you use your iPad, especially when you use it as a sound module.  

 

1. Charge it to full before the gig.

2. Close all apps that you will not be using.

3. Turn on Airplane Mode and turn off BluTooth.

4. Bring a charge cable just in case.  (I get over 4 hours of charge for a gig, and I am running several apps. But you never know...)

And...

5. Enjoy that bright, beautiful display and the excellent speakers. 

'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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9 hours ago, Jim Alfredson said:

Thanks everyone. Money isn't an issue; I've been saving for this tool. So I think I'll go with the 12.9" iPad pro. Concerning memory, is 512GB generally enough?

 

I've got a 256GB model with almost 1800 charts loaded in forScore and I'm only using about 10 percent of the total memory.

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19 hours ago, stoken6 said:

I have a previous-gen iPad Mini (7.9in) which is too small for scores/manuscript, but fine for chord charts and simple notes.

The problem with the larger pads is that they form an obstacle between you and the audience depending on where you place them.

I agree. For gigs I bought the standard iPad 8 with about 11” screen and 128 gig, running ForScore. More than big enough screen for reading charts without being overly distracting to the audience. Yet still big enough for my old eyes.  I have about 250 charts stored and have barely scratched the surface of the memory.

I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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8 hours ago, stillearning said:

I agree. For gigs I bought the standard iPad 8 with about 11” screen and 128 gig, running ForScore. More than big enough screen for reading charts without being overly distracting to the audience. Yet still big enough for my old eyes.  I have about 250 charts stored and have barely scratched the surface of the memory.

I agree for charts lead sheet fine. But it’s not great for sheet music.  The larger the better.  Closest thing to paper they sell is best.
 

 It is frustrating because of course there should be a full size iPad available as a reader - the processing power in a Pro isn’t necessary at all in this function.  But they know screen size is a major feature and therefore make everyone pony up for it even if they aren’t a professional graphic artist that needs to run Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. on a tablet. 
 

If needing the full size screen and wanting to save some money - refurbished and second hand iPads Pros are an option. Also Samsung has done Galaxy models with the 12.9” screen.  The Mobile Sheets app appears to be the way to go on Android. 

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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42 minutes ago, ElmerJFudd said:

I agree for charts lead sheet fine. But it’s not great for sheet music.  The larger the better.  Closest thing to paper they sell is best.
 

 It is frustrating because of course there should be a full size iPad available as a reader - the processing power in a Pro isn’t necessary at all in this function.  But they know screen size is a major feature and therefore make everyone pony up for it even if they aren’t a professional graphic artist that needs to run Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. on a tablet. 

I agree, for sheet music with fine print I would want larger also. I was only going by Jim’s OP where it seemed he was reading his own hand written charts and was concerned about having an overly intrusive music stand taking up too much space, which also reflects my situation. I wanted to be big enough for the job, but also not so large as to be a distraction to the presentation from the audience POV.
 

When I started using a tablet on stage, I was using an iPad Pro with a 9” screen. Worked ok, but not ideal. I bought an 11” screen model after looking at the 12.9” and deciding it was bigger than I needed, or wanted to have on stage, since I don’t need to read sheet music for what I do, only charts. If I did, I might opt for the larger screen as you suggest.

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1 hour ago, cedar said:

I use a Surface Pro, which I think might be slightly smaller than the larger iPad.  Using Mobile Sheets Pro, I've put thousands of lead sheets on the device.  My eyesight is not bad.  I rarely use reading glasses (though my wife thinks I should do so more often).

 

Anyway, for single-page lead sheets I find the size of my device absolutely fine, especially when I orient the device in "portrait" mode.  For simple 2 page lead sheets (requiring me to orient the device in "landscape"), I sometimes have some difficulty reading the melodies.   

 

At the Mobile Sheets pro forum, some people have posted that they actually use a larger (like 24") monitor, and then connect it to their tablet.   I think this would give one a screen that is even larger than paper.  I've been considering this kind of approach for home use, but don't know if I'd want to bother for gigs (most of which involve tunes I know anyway). 

 

 

 

I have mobile sheets installed on an HP EliteBook. Neither it or a Surface Pro are inexpensive solutions as readers. 
 

pros - I already have it for work.

It runs Windows and Windows apps.

It has a lot of ram and storage for sampled instruments and applications that need it.  

Windows music apps/desktop versions are full versions as opposed to adaptations or slimmed down for mobile.  

cons - The design runs hot, does require a fan and produces fan noise. 
HP’s screen is cut for 16:9 so you can’t get a sheet of paper to fit properly in portrait mode.  
Windows music apps are fully featured but are priced higher than iOS versions.  
iOS apps are all designed for touch screen interface, Most Windows apps are not. 
The iPads are slimmer and lighter.  
The iOS ecosystem has tons of solutions for everything, especially mounting and placement. 

Live: Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700

Home: Rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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11 minutes ago, ElmerJFudd said:

I have mobile sheets installed on an HP EliteBook. Neither it or a Surface Pro are inexpensive solutions as readers. 
 

pros - I already have it for work.

It runs Windows and Windows apps.

It has a lot of ram and storage for sampled instruments and applications that need it.  

Windows music apps/desktop versions are full versions as opposed to adaptations or slimmed down for mobile.  

cons - The design runs hot, does require a fan and produces fan noise. 
HP’s screen is cut for 16:9 so you can’t get a sheet of paper to fit properly in portrait mode.  
Windows music apps are fully featured but are priced higher than iOS versions.  
iOS apps are all designed for touch screen interface, Windows apps are not. 
The iPads are slimmer and lighter.  
The iOS ecosystem has tons of solutions for everything, especially mounting and placement. 

Although the iPad is quite powerful, the EliteBook, Surface, or any other Windows-based solution gives you the ability to use it to run VSTs as well, and there are many more hosts and VSTs available for Windows than for iOS.

Instruments: Walters Grand Console Upright Piano circa 1950 something

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This 10.5“ iPad Pro is five years old now, and is holding up fine. What gentle signs of stress it’s beginning to show, like lagging input or hanging scrolling, tend to disappear *immediately* once I kill the Facebook app, and beyond that, nothing seems to cause similar stress to the system. Go figure. 
 

On the job, i use it primarily for sheets and onstage program changes. 
 

using Dropbox, apple’s own Files app, and Set List Maker. 
 

I write my own sheets on blank staff paper PDFs using Apple Pencil in the Files app. 
 

The size is at the lower limit for sheets, but a great one for portability. 
 

The Air feels overpriced to me, though. Beyond that, it would be my recommendation. 

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I'm going to devil's advocate, particularly since I've gone down this path myself:

 

Even if you have the money, there's really no reason to buy an ipad (specifically) of any kind for this job. About the only functions it will need to perform are those of ForScore/SheetReader, perhaps iRealPro, and maybe a word-processing app--though as as long as whatever you use also has internet access, you can (and probably should) just use Google Docs for your lyrics. But you can also just use any of the other "pdf reader" apps that host lyrics alphabetically for that as well.

That's practically a resting state for literally every tablet option out there. SheetReader and ForScore are basically the same apps for different platforms, and the other options are so baseline as to barely merit mentioning in a device's specs. (That is, it would be far more noteworthy if a tablet did NOT have the ability to display pdfs.)

IMHO, if you're not using the device as a Midi source or doing any processing of any kind, and you don't need it anyway for other reasons, I'd just buy the largest-screen Android tablet you can find and load up the 2 or 3 apps you'll ever use live. Save the money for a device or other item you'll get that money's worth out of. There is no benefit to up-powering this item, and in terms of wear and tear and potential breakage or damage, there's significant downside.

Plus, for gigs, you'd basically be Un-Ipading your device every time anyway. You'll turn off messages and mail and all other notifications, since they are guaran-f'ing-teed to come in right when you needed to turn a page to finish a line, and once you've done that, you no longer have an ipad, you have a simple reader (with a smaller screen than many of the Android offerings).

It's a little bit of an old-fashioned tendency to think we need an Ipad and it has to be the best and brightest, for this job. That's because it used to be true. Now it's (again, just my opinion) a step down to pay for all that engineering when all you really need is a large, clear screen and a long enough battery life to get you through a gig.

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Funny thing happened at the gig last night. We are all in our 60's and our sight and memories are fading... We all have iPads in front of us for lead sheets, etc. And our lead singer has one on a stand for lyrics.  A patron came up to my girlfriend last night and asked her if our lead singer was a substitute cause he was using a "teleprompter".  He does rely on it a lot. I use mine for difficult passages, but have memorized 90% of the songs, and since it is primarily running Korg Module, why not use it for lead sheets as well?  

 

Anyway, it does pull away from the audience/performer connection. This is especially important for the front-man/woman. So I see the contrarian view clearly.  

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'55 and '59 B3's, Leslies 147, 122, 21H, Motif XS7, Mellotrons M300 and M400, Wurlitzer 200, Gibson G101, Vox Continental, Mojo
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1 hour ago, MathOfInsects said:

if you're not using the device as a Midi source or doing any processing of any kind, and you don't need it anyway for other reasons, I'd just buy the largest-screen Android tablet you can find

This. PDFs, and even a bit of MIDI program change, are within the ability of any Android tablet. 

 

Secondhand is also an option. Android doesn't have the same support for older devices as Apple, but if you're not going to connect the thing to the Internet (once your apps are loaded), you might want to take the risk of not having years of security update.

 

(I speak as someone who bought a s/h iPad - for other reasons - at close to retail for a new one). 

 

Cheers, Mike.

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42 minutes ago, stoken6 said:

PDFs, and even a bit of MIDI program change, are within the ability of any Android tablet.

 

Would an Android tablet have helped me the last few times I was on a gig and a tune got called I didn't know - and within 15 seconds a chart was on my iPad, airdropped from a bandmate's iPad?

 

I remember many years ago being annoyed that I was getting .doc files and didn't own MS Word - didn't matter, it was the de facto standard. (This was in the days of MSW 5.1 when you needed Word to open Word files!). In my admittedly limited experience, everyone I see uses ForScore on an iPad and it's tremendously convenient to be able to shoot someone a chart, on the gig, even seconds before the bandleader is counting off the song.

 

Having said that, of course it's true an iPad Pro is way overkill, processing-wise, for displaying PDFs. If Jim is sure that's all he'll ever use a tablet for, I would advise buying solely on screen size and what looks comfortable to his eyes. I don't have stock in Apple or Samsung so could care less about what anyone chooses, but just wanted to point out one characteristic of the iPad world I've had a first-hand and positive experience with.

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100%. But also essentially the same amount of quick if someone texts it to you instead of airdrops. And Android has Nearby Share, same as Apple's Airdrop.

 

My friends who have made the scary leap away from i-products can't figure out why the rest of us are still dishing out all that cash for the letter 'i.' As time goes on and all tech advances, I agree more and more.

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On 4/29/2022 at 12:38 PM, Jim Alfredson said:

Thanks everyone. Money isn't an issue; I've been saving for this tool. So I think I'll go with the 12.9" iPad pro. Concerning memory, is 512GB generally enough?

Been wearing glasses since I was 4 and love the 12.9". 512 GB holds plenty of games, music programs and photos. I still have 300GB available. 

This post edited for speling.
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