Confused between 'players' and 'instruments' - not sure which version to buy

Dear Steinberg/all/whoever chooses to answer this dumbass question!

Just discovered Dorico (where have I been? Not too sure!) Can’t afford the full-on £500 version without testing another version first to see if I can handle it. So I was thinking about Dorico Elements 4, which says ‘write for up to 24 instruments…’ (I’m prettymuch a NOOB, be gentle!)

That’s when I fell over ‘what’s the definition of an instrument’. I’ve seen Kontakt defined as an ‘instrument’ but one instance of Kontakt can hold up to 16 sounds, can’t it. So could I theoretically have 24 instances of Kontakt with 16 sounds in each instance? Or only 2 instances of Kontakt with 16 sounds in the first and 8 sounds in the second? Can it hold 24 monotimbral VSTs at once?

Then I came across the Dorico concept of ‘players’ and got even more confused dot com! Does the word ‘players’ have a special definition in Dorico or is it synonymous with ‘instruments’? Going back to Kontakt cos I understand that thing (kinda!) It says you can have ensembles of up to 12 players. So is each player playing 2 instruments? Or if Kontakt’s counted as 1 instrument, is it saying you can have 2 sets of 12 instances of Kontakt?: Why would you be grouping your VSTs into sets?

I can read/write music pretty fluently - but I don’t know all the ins and outs of composer terminology, hence being a bit lost here! Right now I use Quick Score Elite Level 2 which is also notation software but I wanted to upgrade to use 64-bit VSTs (QSE’s 32-bit bless it!) I’m disabled - Asperger’s amongst other disabilities but that’s the main one, makes initial understanding of new things a little difficult till I get going, hence the above dumbass questions!

Could someone explain the definitions of ‘instruments’ and ‘players’ in this terminology? Final question coming up.

If 1 instance of Kontakt counts as 1 instrument, even though it can hold up to 16 sounds, could I download the free 2-player version of Dorico, put 2 instances of Kontakt into it and use 32 sounds at once?

I’m using Windows 10 on a PC, QSE’s using a Windows XP Emulator.

Yours ignorantly,


short answer is that players and instruments are not synonymous as players in Dorico can hold more than one instrument (maybe a flautist doubling piccolo for instance). In Dorico every instrument counts as one so your 16 instruments in Kontakt in one multi will be 16 in Dorico and need to be allocated to different channels. One VST instance such as Kontakt or Vienna Ensemble Pro does not equate to one instrument, unfortunately.

Dorico’s version comparison page says "Maximum number of PLAYERS in project: 24.

As @dko22 points out, Players in Dorico have a special meaning. “Single Players” refers to one human, who can switch between different musical instruments, like a percussionist, or a Flute/Piccolo player. The score and instrumental part will show just one staff, with instrument changes.

Confusingly, one instance of Kontakt, or other VST, is also some referred to as a VST instrument; each of which can have 16 slots containing different musical instrument samples…!!

You could conceivably ‘fake’ additional instruments in Dorico by giving one Player multiple instruments, and having them all play at the same time; but you couldn’t produce separate instrumental parts for each instrument.

It’s definitely worth buying Elements, and then if you find that you need the extra features of Pro, you can upgrade when you’re ready and able.

To be honest, on the page Dorico: Music Notation Software | Steinberg directly under the headline “Find the right product for you:”, the statements indeed use the word “instruments”: “Dorico SE: Write for one or two instruments”, “Dorico for iPad: Write for up to four instruments”, “Dorico Elements: Write for up to 24 instruments”.

I can see, why the OP got confused about this :wink:

@dspreadbury This could need some tweaking IMHO. Using “players” there would work both for people who already know Dorico’s concepts as well as for users that are new to Dorico.

I’m Chris, the O.P.!

Just to shut me up/make me understand/make me go away/whichever(!), if I get a copy of Dorico Elements 4, which says ‘write for 24 instruments’, could I choose 24 monotimbral VSTs and have them playing together or separately or in chosen groups (like, say, piano solo, then bring in strings so piano and strings, then bring in flute, so piano/strings/flute, then leave strings out so just piano/flute… and so on with the other sounds, I’m sure you get the idea, just clarifying!)

Or could I have 2 instances of Kontakt, one using all 16 sounds, the other using 8 sounds and play different sound combinations from each one? Like 3 sounds from the first instance together with 5 sounds from the second instance and so on?

In addition to those, can I mix’n’match? Like have 1 instance of Kontakt with all 16 sounds being used AND 8 monotimbral VSTs and play them in different combinations throughout the track?

And Estigy’s absolutely right - why I got confused was because under the headline ‘Find the right product for you’ the statements use the word ‘instruments’. So I checked and Kontakt’s called an instrument all over the place. So I didn’t know what the definition of ‘instrument’ was in Dorico, hence my original post!

Have I got it right now, in the first 3 paragraphs of this thing? Sorry if I’m being dumbass to you lot, just want to be totally certain before chucking money at this!

Yours still-a-little-puzzledly


If you buy Dorico Elements, then you can have a piece with piano, 2 violins, violas, cello, double bass, 2 oboes, 2 flutes, piccolo, 4 trumpets, 4 horns, 4 trombones, and Patagonian tooth banjo (if I’ve counted correctly) – and any combination thereof in different flows.

As far as I can see, there’s no limit to the number of VSTs you can use, so you could have 24 separate instances of Kontakt, each for a different instrument, or use 2 instances loaded with 16+8 multiple slots.

You can’t have one Dorico instrument sending to more than one VST (well, not without using different voices, but that’s another story.)

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@ulrichburke if you start the Dorico Trial you can test it in all three configurations Pro, Elements and SE to see the differences.

Definitely get the Pro Trial regardless of which version you think you will eventually purchase, since by pressing different keys at startup one can test all three versions, as Janus suggests.

That sounds perfect - I hadn’t realised that. Missed it in the website, that nugget!
Thankyou very much for pointing that out to me - I’ll leave you all in peace now!

Yours respectfully (wish I could say ‘harmoniously’ but I’m still working on that concept…!!)


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I think Dorico marketing plays down this facet of the Pro trial by not featuring users’ ability to try all levels of the program for 30 days free. It might lead to a few more upgraded purchases if those considering Elements could see what the Pro version could do.