iPad Stands for Music: Comparative Review

by Marin Fauvel

September 3rd, 2020

Using an iPad (and, preferably, the Newzik App!) to manage their collection of sheet music, musicians can store thousands of pieces into a compact device weighing less than one kilogram. However, if this has suppressed the need for carrying around sheets of paper by the bucketload, music stands are still needed to hold the device at a comfortable height for practice and performance - for now, anyway, but we hardly see a flying iPad being released in the next few years…

Of course, for the nostalgic, a typical music stand can do the job just fine. But why not opt for a lighter, more compact and more secure solution while you’re at it? There are quite a few iPad stands available on the market designed specifically for musical use, able to hold your device securely and reliably, and taking little space on stage. To help you make the right choice, we compiled this review article comparing some of the most popular iPad holders.

We know that not everyone uses devices of the same size, so you will find here some stands for all kinds of iPads, from the iPad mini to the 12.9’ iPad Pro. Please be aware that some of the options presented below are full stands, whilst some will only be holders, needing the additional purchase of a mic stand to be fully functional.

Table of content


1. Airturn GoStand et Airturn Manos - $98 / 101€ (Full stand)

The right choice for travelers.

Compatible with: all iPads, from the iPad Mini to the 12.9’ iPad Pro.

Where to buy: On Airturn's website, on Thomann (GoStandManos) if you live in the EU.

Good points:

  • Universal: fits all iPad sizes
  • Light, foldable and compact: great for travelling
  • Fast and reliable clamping system

Could be improved:

  • It is a bit on the expensive side
  • Sturdiness could be improved

You might already know Airturn for their best-selling Bluetooth page turners such as the Airturn Ped Pro or the Airturn Duo. The American brand also offers a very good universal iPad holder: the Airturn Manos. This model has been around for quite a while and we have been using it extensively at Newzik. It is compatible with all iPad sizes and is a very reliable and portable option.

Keep in mind that the Manos is only an iPad holder, and you will need to purchase the Airturn GoStand (or any standard 5/8 mic stand) in order to have a full iPad stand.

Both the GoStand and the Manos are quite compact when folded and fit in a backpack, and they weigh less than 1.5 kg together. Ideal for travelling musicians! The clamping system makes it very quick to put the iPad on, and take it off, the stand.

Although the Manos and GoStand are generally well-built, we have had some issues with a few stands (after extensive use, that is): the thread on some bolts became damaged and we had to use gaffer tape in order to keep using the stand. Additionally, you will have to be careful when extending the tubes to their full length, since we have had some come loose.

If you use a 3rd or 4th generation iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil, you might want to think twice before purchasing the Manos: unfortunately, the way it is designed does not let you attach the Pencil magnetically to the right side of the iPad Pro, where it is supposed to rest for charging and pairing. The clamps get in the way when the iPad rests on the Manos. You can still attach the Apple Pencil to the GoStand to store it, but it will not charge this way.

This stand being one of the most expensive ones in our list, it would be nice to see these points improved to fully justify the price.


2. K&M 19793 – $52 / 58€ (Full stand)

A great, quality stand… if you do not use an Apple Pencil.

Compatible with: from the 10.2’ iPad to the 12.9’ iPad Pro.

Where to buy: On Amazon or Thomann EU.

Good points:

  • The fine adjustments help hold the iPad in place very securely
  • Feels sturdy and well-built
  • 5-year K&M warranty

Could be improved:

  • There is a bit of wobble when used at a certain height

Koenig & Meyer (K&M) is a reputable German brand and a reference for stage and studio equipment relating to stands, holders and other accessories. Their 19793 model is a full stand compatible with all iPads except for the iPad Mini. Like most K&M products, it feels sturdy and road-ready, and comes with a 5-year warranty!!

Although it takes a bit of time to set up, the 19793 allows very fine adjustment of the grip and holds the device in place very securely. There are gradients on two of the retractable arms, allowing you to find the ideal setting for your particular device and use it as a standard if you have multiple stands, in the case of an orchestra for example. If you are looking to use this stand with a 12.9’ iPad Pro, we will save you the trouble of having to look for the right setting by trial and error: set both arms at the 5th mark and your iPad will fit like a glove.

The bottom part of the 19793 is just like a traditional mic stand and is very fast to set up and fold back. It is a tad heavier and not as compact as the Airturn GoStand, so it is not as suited for a more nomad use.

If you usually set up your music stand quite high, be aware that there can be a little bit of wobble when the 19793 is extended fully.

This iPad stand is, in our opinion, a very good product and could have easily become our favorite. Unfortunately, the third supporting arm of the holder is placed right over the magnetic attachment for the Apple Pencil (for iPads Pro 3rd generation and later), making it impossible to set the Apple Pencil on the side of the iPad to pair and charge it whilst the device is on its stand. This is a real shame, because if only the arms of the holder were reversed (so that the corner holders would be on the right side, and the side arm on the left), this stand would be near perfect.

Of course, you can flip the iPad 180 degrees in order to have the pencil attachment on the left. Whilst this does work, it results in the volume buttons being covered, or worse, pressed on, by one of the grips. Let’s hope K&M can, quite literally, turn this around!


3. K&M 19776 – $80 / 66€ (Full stand)

Another stand from K&M, suited to all iPad sizes.

Compatible with: all iPads, from the iPad Mini to the 12.9’ iPad Pro.

Where to buy: On Thomann US or Thomann EU.

Good points:

  • Compatible with all iPad sizes
  • Strong and secure grip
  • Compact size when folded
  • 5-year K&M warranty

Could be improved:

  • Sturdiness could be improved
  • The latch system is not very easy to operate
  • There is a bit of wobble when used at a certain height

Another iPad stand from German brand K&M, this time suited to all iPad sizes, iPad Mini included. At Newzik, we have used this model quite a lot, and if we like its compact size and its secure grip, we do find a few flaws with it.

First of all, you will have to extend the holder to its very maximum in order to fit a 12.9’ iPad Pro with a case. We found that this put quite a lot of strain on the mechanism, and we had some issues with some parts breaking (granted, after extensive use). Moreover, the latch used to lock the arms in position is not the easiest to operate.

Unfortunately, like most other iPad holders available, the K&M 19776 does not allow the Apple Pencil to rest on the side of the iPad Pro. You can always attach the Pencil magnetically to the bottom part of the stand, but this will not pair nor charge it.

The bottom part of the stand is the same one as with the other K&M model reviewed in this list, and as such it shares its qualities and weaknesses: it is sturdy and quick to unfold, but it tends to wobble at a certain height.


4. Millenium Universal Tablet Holder $18 / 19€ (Holder only)

A cheap option that leaves enough space for the Apple Pencil!

Compatible with: from the 10.2’ iPad to the 12.9’ iPad Pro.

Where to buy: On Thomann US or Thomann EU.

Good points:

  • Leaves space for the Apple Pencil to be attached to its magnetic connector on the side of the iPad Pro
  • Inexpensive, although requires the purchase of a stand (standard 5/8 mic stand)

Could be improved:

  • Not very quick to set up

Up until here, none of the options we presented in this list could accommodate for the Apple Pencil resting magnetically on the side of the iPad Pro. This is due to a simple fact: such models are hard to find! Luckily, this tablet holder from Thomann’s own brand Millenium grips the iPad at two opposite corners, leaving the sides free and not getting in the way of the Apple Pencil. This is a big plus, although it does make the grips not as discreet as with other holders.

The Millenium Universal Tablet Holder does not come with a stand, so you will have to purchase an additional stand. It is compatible with most mic stands (thread size of 5/8") and can also be mounted on a tube thanks to the included clamp. The good thing is this tablet holder is rather on the inexpensive side, so hopefully you will be left with some budget to buy a reliable stand for it.

Two additional corner grips are supplied with the holder. They are a little bit smaller and a tad more discreet, and we advise using those.

This holder is not the quickest to set up, especially if you mount it using the clamp, so keep that in mind in case you or your stage crew are often pressed for time.


5. Millenium PC & Tablet Holder - $21 / 22€

For the nostalgic of traditional music stands.

Compatible with: all iPads, from the iPad Mini to the 12.9’ iPad Pro (without a case)

Where to buy: On Thomann US or Thomann EU.

Good points:

  • None apart from the price, unless you really do not want your audience to see that you are using an iPad for your sheet music

Could be imroved:

  • Feels cheap
  • Charging dock and Apple Pencil magnetic connector are covered up by the prongs
  • The ball-joint tends to move and not keep the angle

This one is the odd one out: it resembles a traditional music stand, with a big plastic board to attach the iPad to. Unfortunately, this does not bring many advantages. In fact, it is quite the contrary, and unless you want to hide from your audience the fact that you are using an iPad to read your music, I do not see why you would want to use such a system. It could have been a good option if only there was a ledge to place your reeds and other accessories on but, unfortunately, there is none.

This tablet holder is advertised as being compatible with iPads of a maximum screen size of 11”, but you can actually push it to its maximum and fit a 12.9’ iPad Pro in there, although without a case.

A big problem when clipping an iPad onto this stand is that the charging doc is covered up by one of the prongs, so you cannot charge it when performing. There is a workaround to this issue, though: you can easily unscrew one of the side prongs and move it on to the rail above. Unfortunately, the magnetic connector for the Apple Pencil is covered up as well, and there is no workaround for this.

All in all, this product feels pretty cheap, and although it does hold the iPad in place pretty securely, the ball-joint attachment does not tighten very well, leading to the holder often not keeping its angle. This is especially problematic when you have to rest your hand on the screen to annotate your sheet music with a stylus.

The holder comes with a clamp to mount it on a tube (there is not stand provided with this product, just the holder).

I would stay away from this one if I were you, since there are much better options in the same price range.


6. Hercules HCDG-305B $45 / 49€

A pretty solid but pricey option.

Compatible with: all iPads, from the iPad Mini to the 12.9’ iPad Pro (without a case)

Where to buy: On Amazon or Thomann EU.

Good points:

  • Feels sturdy
  • Secure grip
  • Leaves space for the Apple Pencil to be attached to its magnetic connector on the side of the iPad Pro
  • Supplied with three different attachments

Could be improved:

  • The top arm grip covers up part of the front camera
  • A bit expensive, especially considering that you will have to purchase a mic stand to use it with

This iPad holder from stand manufacturer Hercules is advertised as fitting tablets with a screen size of up to 12.1’, but it actually fits the 12.9’ iPad Pro as long as you do not use a case for it. This is great news, since the HCDG-305B leaves enough space on the side of the iPad Pro to attach the Apple Pencil to its magnetic connector! It is one of the rare 12.9’-compatible iPad holders to offer this.

The product feels pretty solid, it holds the device in place securely and clipping the iPad in is a pretty fast operation once you have found the right setting. One issue with the grip system, though, is that the top grip covers up part of the iPad’s front (FaceTime) camera. If you want to record yourself when playing or if you use Face ID to unlock your device, this will be a problem.

The HCDG-305B is a holder only and does not come with a stand. It is supplied with three attachment types: a suction cup for desktop use, a clamp to mount on a tube and a mic stand adaptor. We would advise using this product mounted on a mic stand, since it takes quite a lot of time to mount the clamp on a tube.

The holder is fitted on a ball-joint, which will allow you to find the perfect angle for your preference.


7. Coda Music Magnetic Tablet Holder $49 / 45€

An interesting, different solution.

Compatible with: all iPads, from the iPad Mini to the 12.9’ iPad Pro

Where to buy: On Coda's website.

Good points:

  • Unique magnetic attachment makes for very quick setup
  • Leaves space for the Apple Pencil to be attached to its magnetic connector on the side of the iPad Pro

Could be improved:

  • The joints need to be very tight and tend to budge a little with heavier devices
  • A bit expensive, especially considering that you will have to purchase a mic stand to use it with
  • Hard to get outside of the US

To finish with, let us have a look at a very different – and interesting – option: the magnetic tablet holder from Coda Music Technologies. You might be familiar with the Coda Stomp, their flagship product, a Bluetooth page turner which we featured on our article about best page-turning pedals..

Aside from their pedal, Coda Music have also designed an iPad holder that comes in two parts: a clamped arm that can be mounted on a tube or mic stand, and a slim circular magnet that attaches to the back of your iPad with a sticky pad. We advise sticking the pad on a case rather than directly on your iPad, because once it is stuck there, you will have a very hard time removing it. Indeed, the sticky pad is very strong and although you might be a bit weary of relying on a little piece of tape to hold your precious device, you can trust it blindly. Similarly, the magnetic coupler attaching the iPad to the arm is surprisingly strong and offers the advantage of a very quick set up. The only problem with this iPad holder is that you will have to tighten the screw of the arm quite a lot, and even then the joints tend to budge a little with heavier devices like 1st and 2nd generation iPads Pro.

Of course, since the only attachment point is at the back of the iPad, you can freely attach your Apple Pencil to the side of your iPad Pro if you have one.


Conclusion

Just like most of the time with musical equipment, choosing the right iPad stand for reading sheet music all comes down to personal preferences and needs. The context you are planning to use these stands in should of course influence your choice greatly: some factors like set-up time, ease of storage and weight for example might matter to you more if you are looking to equip a whole symphony orchestra rather than just purchasing an iPad holder for your individual use. Similarly, some holders will qualify more than others if you use an Apple Pencil to annotate your sheet music on an iPad Pro. By the way, if you use a first-generation Apple Pencil to mark up your music, you can use a magnetic sleeve such as this one to attach it to your iPad stand. It is a cheap and efficient solution!

Of course, it is always possible to use a traditional music stand to hold your iPad – as long as you are careful enough not to knock it over. Some musicians might even prefer this option if they use a mix of paper and digital sheet music or if they need the ledge to set their reeds, bow, etc. If the latter is the case, K&M sell a tray that can be mounted on their iPad stand. We wish there was a solution to quickly and easily convert a traditional music stand into a tablet holder but, unfortunately, we have not yet found a satisfying option.

One thing that many musicians have been telling us is that they find that using an iPad on a stand looks a lot better than a traditional music stand. Judging from the pictures below, we can only agree! By leaving more on stage, it seems to take down a barrier between you and your audience, making you feel closer to them, and them to you.


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by Marin Fauvel
September 3rd, 2020