Music Readers

After doing some very un-scientific tests on my iPad this morning I have a few short thoughts on reading music (PDF’s) on the iPad.

FIRST – I’m not sure why I never tried out using Apple’s iBook app but today I did try it out by accident. I dropped a PDF directly onto my iPad in iTunes. Upon realizing that I had not dropped it into a specific app I went looking for it, figuring it had gone into iBook. There it was. My first immediate thought was that iBook is not acceptable for use to read music though! At least with this one file…. when I turned pages the page turned quickly but with a very blurry preview.


As I went back through and was playing with different apps it hit me that MAYBE iBooks wasn’t so different after all. For instance when I turned the page in iBooks and I would see a blurry page it was about a 2 sec time period until it cleared up(OK…. so this is the un-scientific part – I just counted in my head…. so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t 2 SECONDS but you get the idea). If I was using unReal Book the page would turn and be clear right away upon turning but I could still count to 2 BEFORE the page turned. So it was never blurry but it still took the same amount of time. I tested this in ForScore as well. Same thing about a count of 2 before the page was turned. In GoodReader though the page turns were wicked fast! GoodReader uses some sort of background loading tech though. Sometimes there was this little icon up in the right hand corner that was working and then the pages took a count of 2 to show up in GoodReader too. This was usually when I was trying to turn page, after page right away (like one would do if we were quickly looking through a music score to find a certain page and didn’t know which one it was.) In ForScore they have a nifty little page preview thing when you use the page turning bar at the bottom of the screen. Using that page preview in ForScore it is pretty easy to still (even though it is SMALL) find the page you are looking for and it is fast!

Conclusions…… GoodReader wins the fastest page turning award hands down! BUT only when it has time to preload the pages! If you don’t give each page a second to sit there GoodReader isn’t any faster than any other app I’ve tried. The other apps are about the same in page turning ability. One other element I found really interesting in GoodReader is that when I write on a PDF I can have it saved to THAT file and then when I load it back into my Mac everything I wrote on it is still there!

In fact I might end up using GoodReader for rehearsals for a while just to try it out again. The problem with going to GoodReader is it is missing some critical elements for music people!

unRealBook for instance has the ability to use SetLists. I use those all day long, every day! Every class has it’s own set list and it is easy to re-order the set lists in an instant so they are in order for rehearsal as well! unRealBook also has the ability to add in hotspots for DS’s and DC’s and Repeats – a must for musicians!

ForScore has the ability to do half-page turns! This works for some music and not for others…. If I am reading a piano score it works great! When I am in the bottom half of the page I turn the page but only the top half of the page turns. This allows me to see the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2. Totally solves the issue with a page not turning fast enough!

These apps are cheap enough that I can still PURCHASE several and not feel like I am wasting money just because I use one app for the majority of the time and just play around with some of the other apps. UnRealBook still wins for me with one wish… I wish it would turn pages faster!

UPDATE: Aron, the developer for UnRealBook, contacted me and said “If you scan at 150-200dpi, the page turns are very, very fast. I think the resolution you have scanned at might be too high.” I’m quite possibly playing with a score that was scanned at higher than that. He agrees that the blurry look that Apple uses in iBooks is not an appealing look as well – lol!


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