Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Airturn vs. PageFlip Cicada - Update!!

First of all: I am not getting paid for this review nor my previous one.

I've been subscribing to one of the blogs I found that has a pretty good break down between these two pedals. I subscribe to it because I want to see what other people have to say about the pedals. That was where I initially voiced my personal experience with the PageFlip Cicada before I got my hands on an Airturn pedal.

To read that post, go here:
AirTurn vs. PageFlip Cicada - A Bluetooth Battle Showdown

(My comment is under "Rebecca." Just keep scrolling til you see it. Essentially, it's the same as my previous Post.)

George over at PageFlip Cicada is pretty quiet in the blogosphere, at least from my experience in trying to find comments by the makers of their product. I'm always curious to hear what they have to say, and have them clarify whatever the blogger has left out in their review. Hugh over at AirTurn on the other hand, is like me and Facebook. He's on top of it, and you always hear him drop a note to bloggers. Which I believe it's important to do because it shows that he takes a lot of pride in his product. Internet presence is important these days, People!

So, to actually hear George chime in on the blog-comments I subscribe to, I was pretty surprise and want to hear what he has to say:

"The newer versions of the Cicada (since July 2012) no longer require you to enter a passcode. Furthermore, these same versions allow you to expose the iPad’s virtual keyboard by simply pressing the button next to the current mode (the button next to the flashing light). Each time you press it, you expose/hide the virtual keyboard. Therefore, those arguments against the Cicada no longer apply. Also, we have NEVER had the plastic of the pedal break. Don’t let the lightness fool you. It is very durable. The Cicada has been in use by prize-winning musicians in prestigious venues around the world. It’s a great device, and you can’t beat the price difference."

There you have it!

To which Hugh responded:

"Hi George – interesting comment about the durability of the Cicada, given some of the contradictory experiences of other users:
Have you been able to address the noise issue yet with your newest version? Musicians on American Idol cannot afford to have any extra noise while turning pages on the TV set – that may be one reason why they are using AirTurn pedals:
Philip Phillips performs American Idol finals with AirTurn pianist
All the very best,

(Thanks for the shout-out) 
George's Respond: 

Your concerns about noise are unfounded. It certainly has not had an impact
on the Grammy award winning composers and performers who use the PageFlip Cicada. It did not have am impact with the world class musicians who have used the Cicada on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, O2 in London, and many other venues around the world. In just the last few months, traveling bands with the Temptations, Cliff Richard, as well as Broadway musicians have been enjoying their PageFlip Cicada pedals. A DVD was made by one of the PageFlip users at the Sydney Opera House last month and noise was never an issue, otherwise they would not have used it.
I enjoy reading the comments we regularly receive from satisfied customers who value the benefits they derive from hands-free reading using their PageFlip Cicada pedals.

Some of our users have commented that they find it comfortable to actually rest their foot on the pedal, with the Repeat switch on the Off position. In that case, their foot never has to search for the pedal while they are concentrating on the music and they can simply release and press the pedal again to turn the next page. It’s a simple action that makes no noise whatsoever.

As for the issue of durability, some people have commented on the lightweight plastic, as if it is a concern that it would crack or break. There has never been one incident of plastic breaking. If any defect is found, we are quick to repair it. As Becky pointed out, we worked with her to attempt to resolve her issue. Her situation is odd because it involved her iPad losing Bluetooth connectivity. The flashing Bluetooth icon on her iPad is not a problem with a Bluetooth device not working, it is a problem with her iPad being able to maintain the pairing. Afterall, whether our pedal is on or off should not cause a Bluetooth icon on her iPad from turning off. She even alluded to some other problem her iPad had. I was so surprised by her experience that I used her returned pedal as my own personal pedal. The result: I have never had an issue with that pedal on my iPad2.

There are some mistaken ideas about the pedal’s impact on page-turning speed. As you and I know, the pedal simply emits a key press signal (just like a keyboard). Any delays in page turning are purely due to sluggish response of the software. This may be due to suboptimal programming, poor use of memory, wasteful storage of the sheet music in the pdf file, or an excessive number of apps running in the background that degrade performance. It simply is not due to slow emission of a keypress from the pedal, as this behavior is as instant as a keyboard.

You may not be aware of this but I’ve been contacted by a number of your
former users who have traded their Airturn pedals for PageFlip Cicadas. Several issues with their Airturn pedals were cited, including problems with Bluetooth pairing, cryptic use of buttons and lights to change profiles, incompatibility with Windows XP, and problems dealing with the rechargeable battery. Airturn, like any company, has clearly had to deal with people returning units due to defects or poor satisfaction. After all, where do you think the refurbished units come from that are available on Airturn’s website?

On the subject of batteries, some people on this blog have commented that they think using a rechargeable battery is somehow better. When designing the PageFlip Cicada we of course had a choice of using a rechargeable battery
but specifically opted not to. Instead, we went with a more reliable solution by using universally available AA batteries. The rationale was simple: we wanted to avoid having the hassles of constant recharging. In addition, what do you do when your rechargeable battery runs out in the middle of a show? You don’t have time to recharge it. However, you can always pop in two fresh batteries that you can carry as a backup. Furthermore, how do you monitor the charging level of rechargeable batteries? This fear causes people to distress about the state of their batteries and requires them to recharge excessively. I hear that Airturn users charge their units weekly. This is simply a matter that the user should not have to be concerned with. We designed the PageFlip Cicada to consume very little power. Therefore, it is not uncommon for one set of batteries to last about a year of heavy usage. When the batteries run low, the pedal lights emit a triple flash. Why would you subject yourself to weekly recharging rather than batteries that can last approximately a year? Any worries about endlessly replacing alkaline batteries are totally unfounded. No PageFlip Cicada user ever claimed that their batteries ran out of juice in anything closely resembling the recharging period for the Airturn pedal!

There are people on both sides of the fence regarding their like/dislike of the pedal motion. Many users like the added travel distance of the Cicada rather than the imperceptible gap of the Airturn. It’s a matter of preference. However, it should be noted that we do support two 1/8″ mono outlets in which you can plug a pedal of your choice.

The bottom line is that the Cicada and Airturn pedals meet the needs of their respective user bases and offer hands-free page turning solutions. Check out a recent survey I co-authored about page turning solutions (including mechanical options). You can download it from

PageFlip is attentive to the needs and feedback of its users. We plan to announce some exciting new developements soon. I will post to this blog to share the details. In the meantime, PageFlip is glad to offer coupons to interested folks who want to try us out. Please contact me at sales@pageflip.com and I would be happy to get you set up."


So what do I have in response to these comments?

For the record: NEVER CALL ME BECKY!

My husband, who works in the Production and Tech world said it best:

"You know, I've mixed for famous musicians who use shit-gear. Just because you are an amazing musician, doesn't mean you know your gear. Manufacturers are always throwing free gear at artists to get them endorse it."

Bottom-line, I still choose Airturn over PageFlip Cicada simply based on what happened to me in performance. Even though I have a 1st-Gen iPad, and forScore crashed on me during the production of Millie, I never lost the Bluetooth connection. Now, I understand that price may be a factor in making that decision. I have been asked by colleagues about my experience of the two pedals, and some chose the Airturn, some chose PageFlip, and some decided to stick to old-school paper because paper doesn't "disconnect." They are both great devices. I did enjoy using PageFlip the one year I had it if it wasn't for it failing on me.

Word of advice, if you do decide on the PageFlip, keep your box to travel in.

Here is a great video from Chris Burke who prefers the PageFlip over Airturn:

(Take note: Every time he picks up the PageFlip, it clacks.)

On that note: I'm off to LA to play for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Music Center.

Happy Playing!


  1. Hey Becca.. You may not have seen my update on the review I did.. I picked 2 of the Boss FS5U pedals, and plugged them into the airturn transmitter, and THIS I dubbed as the "guitar players dream".. and in regards to your comment of "every time he picks up the cicada it clacks.. yes it does.. but also take into consideration my context.. I say in my video that the cicada is better for me in my context.. I'm a worship leader in a church with a large sound system, so no one will hear that clicking (which I do make note of).. I also say that if you are a concert pianist, that the airturn is probably best for you.. so if people don't take the time to watch my video, they probably will think I'm a moron.. Of course the airturn is a better pedal.. it's more expensive.. thats like me saying that my focus is better than a audi.. clearly it's not.. but its all in context.. in my context of a worship leader with a sound system, the cicada works just fine.. but a concert pianist who has sensitive microphones around them.. no they can't have clacking of the cicada with them..

    BUT the airturn with the boss FS5U pedals is a guitar players dream.. I love it and its what I use daily now.. I actually use a 4 pedal version the the airturn with onsong using the regular airturn and then the boss fs5u pedals plugged into it as well with a splitter plugged into the transmitter.. this allows me to control my loops thats I run as well.. it's fantastic.

  2. Oh.. you can watch the updated review (with the boss fs5u here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1hS13TDtTw

    1. Thanks Chris for the update! I did enjoy using the PageFlip when the one year I used it. I did like the comfort of leaving my foot on there. But switching over to Airturn didn't take much transition at all. Because the Airturn doesn't fly away like the PageFlip did, I always know where my foot is going to step when I turn pages.

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