Printer for music

December 14, 2014 at 08:38 PM · I don't own a printer, because I pretty much never print anything out -- except music. My community orchestra issues all parts as PDFs, as does every other musical organization that I do anything incidental with.

So now I'm looking for a printer, because I'm tired of going to Fedex (Kinko's) every time I need music, plus the charges to print music are exorbitant (it's around $35 per concert's worth of music, typically).

Requirements: Under $500 street price (so probably up to $750 or so is okay for list price of the printer, since Amazon and others discount so heavily), very crisp readable reproduction of music, only monochrome really matters.

Any suggestions? Printer reviews typically concentrate on text output and Powerpoint printing or photographs, and these aren't really relevant to gauging the quality of music output.

Replies (22)

December 14, 2014 at 09:39 PM · Modern ink jet printers are fool-proof and are frequently given away for free with a new computer purchase.

$500 would be a high end personal printer now-a-days. If you are not doing high volume printing, then anything from $70 to $200 would work.

December 14, 2014 at 09:48 PM · Recently received a

Can print double sided and such, and apparently can also do elongated paper types but haven't tried it. Fairly nifty.

December 14, 2014 at 10:55 PM · I'd recommend a monochrome laser printer for your situation.

We mainly use our printer for printing music from PDFs too, and quickly found inkjet printer running costs were substantially higher than that of a laser printer.

When our multifunction laser printer died a few years ago we picked up a $25 monochrome laser printer to use while we looked at other replacement printer options. We've now printed several thousand pages with it, have found no need to upgrade and couldn't be happier.

December 14, 2014 at 11:17 PM · The biggest expense in running a printer, especially inkjet, is the ink. The initial cost of the printer itself is next to give-away, but after a few hundred sheets of music, or text, the cost of replacement ink cartridges will be an ever-increasing cost that will dwarf your initial outlay.

Most inkjet printers accommodate at least two cartridges, one for black ink and the other(s) for the more expensive color. If all you're interested is monochrome (using inkjet technology) then I suggest you could minimize ink cartridge expenditure by seeking out a printer which will accept a black ink cartridge in a color slot (unfortunately not all allow this), then you'll be able to have two black ink cartridges in one machine.

December 14, 2014 at 11:37 PM · Could you folks who like your printers cite the model numbers please? Thanks!

December 14, 2014 at 11:50 PM · I agree with Trevor. Do not be fooled by a low price of InkJet printers. Their total cost of ownership is in fact higher than laser printers. Go to your local store, get some models, printing price per page, and the number of pages per toner cartridge. Then google for reviews. Read those with 3 stars (those with 5 are paid to post positive, those with 1 to pay negative comments). Do the math. That is your printer.

December 15, 2014 at 01:03 AM · Unless you really need color, don't even consider inkjets. Go with the laser printer. Back in 2000 - 2005 i had a cheap HP laser printer that lasted forever. The only reason I got rid of it was because it became incompatible with newer versions of Windows. The only caveat with toner printers, IMO, is that they tend to curl because of the heat. Make sure they curl left and right or not at all. My current printer (cheap Samsung) curls them up and down, and they've curled right off the music stand a couple of times.

I'd personally recommend HP products. Even though they aren't as far ahead of the competition as they used to be, they still represent the best quality for an average consumer.

December 15, 2014 at 01:07 AM · I feel it necessary to reiterate:

curling is an issue - make sure to find one that doesn't curl or curls in the correct direction.

laser printers (toner printers) are cheaper to use overall, and don't have problems with the ink drying up etc.

December 15, 2014 at 02:58 AM · I rarely post, but feel compelled to weigh in on this. Unless you're only printing a very few pages at a time, or you absolutely need color, get a black ink only LaserJet. There are inexpensive ones -- the last I bought a few years back was an HP for $300 or so at OfficeDepot. The toner ran $80 a cartridge, BUT, LaserJets print thousands of pages from one cartidge. They print quickly, they print cleanly. I now have an InkJet - initial cost was very low but it needs a $22 ink cartridge every time I turn around, the printer speed is excruciatingly slow compared with a LaserJet, and the print quality is much lower, too.

December 15, 2014 at 05:42 AM · What would be the size of the music? Most sheet music is 9" x 12" but most economic printers only print up to 8.5" x 11" or 8.5" x 14". If the width of 8.5" is acceptable, then pretty much any inexpensive monochrome laser printer will do, otherwise you will need a wide format printer (11" x 17"), and your best bet would be an inkjet printer given the price range.

December 15, 2014 at 08:00 AM · An HP LaserJet Pro P1102w can be had for less than $100 most places. If you can find them, even used HP laser printers are excellent deals, as are comparable offerings from Samsung and Brother.

While the toner appears to be expensive, they print thousands of pages and companies like LD make compatible refill toner for much less than HP, and they work quite well (although YMMV, I've gotten one or two bad ones out of several dozen over the years).

Avoid inkjets for music printing. The quality is not up to the level of laser and the cost is just ridiculous when you factor in the cost of those little ink cartridges.

If you must produce more professional-style booklet or spiral bound parts, I'd suggest using an online printing service like

December 15, 2014 at 02:59 PM · Here in the UK we have something called the Consumers Association, and they print a magazine called "?Which" and also have a website . Membership is £1 for the first month, rising up to just over £10 monthly thereafter. They buy all the products they test, including printers, so they are fairly unbiased. I have been a member for years.

Not all inkjet printers are more expensive to run than lasers, especially if you buy third party inks (also reviewed by ?Which).

One thing you don't appear to have considered is whether it is worth buying a A3 printer capable of printing on both sides, so that you can print 2up landscape, the size of each column then being A4. This enables you, for instance, to staple 4 sheets together down the centre, giving you 16 pages of music in each copy. Of course, you have to think carefully which page goes where on which sheet, for instance, for the outer sheet you'd have page 1 on the left hand back, page 2 on the left hand front, page 15 on the right hand front and page 16 on the right hand back. That is, of course, if you have SPACE for an A3.

December 15, 2014 at 03:26 PM · Lydia, model numbers change so fast that looking in "leading consumer magazines" for recommendations is almost pointless, but Brother, Samsung, and HP printers seem to rank highly with some consistency. If I were buying today, I would probably get one by Brother. Definitely get a monochrome laser printer. Ink jet printers are slow and the cartridges are very expensive, as others have pointed out. You can do this for $200 easily -- depending on what you want. Features to look for are whether the printer can print on both sides of the page, cost and availability of the toner cartridge, and whether the printer has wireless connectivity to your home network (you might not need that, the alternative will be a USB cable), whether the printer can additional scan and make copies, and whether it's color.

For example, Brother HL-L2340DW Compact Wireless Mono Laser Printer with Duplex - 27 ppm, 250-sheet Tray, Mobile Printing. Available at Tiger Direct for $140.

If you want a color laser printer, then Brother HL-L8350CDW Wireless Color Laser Printer with Duplex - up to 32 ppm Black & Color, 250-sheet paper tray, Mobile Printing, $400 from Tiger Direct.

And if you want "all in one" capability (that is, the printer can additionally function as a copy machine and a fax machine) then there is: Brother MFC-8910DW Wireless Mono Laser Multifunction Printer - 42 ppm, 1200 x 1200 dpi, Ethernet, USB 2.0, 128MB, Duplex (2-sided printing), AirPrint, Print from Mobile Device, $449 from Tiger Direct.

If you want both "all in one" and color, then you're probably going over budget, but printers like that are available.

Look for 28-pound paper, that'll be much nicer than ordinary "copier" paper especially if you are printing on both sides. I use Hammermill 102467, it is about $10 for a ream.

December 15, 2014 at 04:17 PM · I use 24 lb. ivory color paper for printing music parts. Much nicer than the standard 20 lb. white copy paper. :)

December 15, 2014 at 04:34 PM · Like you, my main reason for printing is music. When/if I get another printer, I was considering the possibility of getting one that handles 11 x 17 paper. Merton Music Publishing has now added its collection to IMSLP for free download & a lot of their stuff is in booklet form.

December 15, 2014 at 04:47 PM · Go to Staples or Office Max, where you'll find Brother or HP or etc.. Then go to the shelf where they stock the toner cartridges and see which ones cost the least to replace and which fit the most types, or which ones are offered in a competing or generic toner cartidge

Buy one of the those types. In other words, don't pay $25 less for a laser printer if the toner cartridges cost a lot more and are hard to find.

December 15, 2014 at 05:07 PM · I recommend a brother MFC 7440n or 7460 dn, which is a laser printer and fax printer suitable for a small office. The cartridges save money over the long haul, and $200 - $249 is a nice price point for this type of machine. My 7440 has been maintenance free for 4 years.

December 15, 2014 at 11:24 PM · You do NOT need to pay $250 for a laser printer. My Brother HL-2040 was about $70 and has been chugging along for years.

December 16, 2014 at 01:36 AM ·

A laser printer that prints double-sided is the way to go. I've been using the Brother HL-5470DW for a while now and it works great for printing music. This one is wireless, so I just have it plugged into the wall. You can print from iphone/ipad or laptop over wifi. Haven't had to change the stock toner yet after hundreds of pages. Use a 3-hole puncher and put music in a thin binder and you're set.

December 16, 2014 at 02:08 AM · This is a great deal

$100.oo for 3000 page toner.

compared to the HP printer

$104.00 for 2100 page toner.

I use 28lb white copy paper.

December 16, 2014 at 08:35 PM · Hi Lydia,

I will agree that laser is the only way to go. I used to have a Laserjet 1200 with about 65,000 pages printed. Very durable. But if you are buying a new printer I highly recommend duplex wireless ones from Brother (I have two). The builtin scanner is useful when needed.

I have two of these>

But it looks like this is a newer model that might be replacing it.

The non scanner version is this one.

Toner is much cheaper than $100 btw. $50 tops for toner made by Brother, but much cheaper for OEM equivalent.

Good luck!

December 17, 2014 at 12:15 AM · Everything written above is good advice.

One other thing to look at is an all-in-one-machine. A machine that will allow you to enlarge or reduce copies in increments of 1%. I have used this feature extensively for the last five years to enlarge music to fill the page in order to read it more easily.

Duplex printing is a feature that I wish that I had.


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