Dorico making Motu soundcard volume jump


I’m using Dorico 1.1 on a Mac with a Motu soundcard (an Ultralite mk 3).

During the working day I often have other audio software running. Quite a few times, I’ve opened Dorico while sound is playing via other software and been knocked out of my seat as Dorico ignores my audio settings and forces the volume up to maximum (sometimes 40dB higher than I’m currently working). This happens when I open Dorico itself. If I then bring the volume down again, it happens again when I open a Dorico score.

Is there a way to fix this?

I do need to keep other audio files running when working in Dorico - if there was a way to open Dorico and close it, like other audio software, it would be much easier to integrate it into the working day.



A question, rather than a solution, Sarah:

Does the jump in volume occur when you open Dorico (the program) or when you open a file in Dorico?

If the former, why not leave Dorico open?

It is not the issue of Dorico but of its bundled program. More exactly, the CoreAudio2ASIO converter (included in the bundle) is the one to blame, if you have met exactly the same issue with Cubase and Wavelab on your system.

I personally think that it is totally ridiculous and insane if an audio plugin app refuses to directly utilize CoreAudio on macOS. All non-Steinberg audio-production apps for macOS (incl. AVID Pro Tools non-HD) utilizes CoreAudio directly.


It happens in both cases - i.e. if I open Dorico itself or open a file from within Dorico. Also if I close Dorico or a Dorico file.

I’ve double-checked this with a very low volume track - I’ve also checked what the Motu software is doing:

Motu’s Audio Setup has a tick-box marked ‘Enable Core Volume Controls’. It’s a though the Dorico software is over-ruling this, even though there’s no evidence in the user interface to the Motu software. I’ve checked the audio setup within Dorico itself and the tickbox is still ticked but the software is over-ruling this. When I press the buttons on F11 and F12, to rapidly bring the volume down again, I notice that Dorico has forced those core volume controls up to maximum (as seen on the Apple interface, with those horizontal squares and as heard in the room).

It’s pretty shocking if you forget that’s about to happen and you’re working on something. A fix or workaround would be greatly appreciated!


Please stop making these unfounded assertions. CoreAudio2ASIO is a very thin adaptor layer that allows the Steinberg audio engine to address audio devices using the ASIO abstractions, so that most of the logic can be cross-platform.

Guess what? If you are using Pro Tools then this is a cross-platform application too, and at some point in the application stack it will have a similar adaptor layer that converts its internal APIs into CoreAudio, WASAPI, ASIO or whatever. All cross-platform applications will have a layer which directly uses CoreAudio, and a layer where they have an internal representation, and Steinberg is no different.

Firstly, some context:

The reason for this is that Dorico uses Cubase’s pro audio engine, and the default setting for the audio engine is that if you set the output fader to 0dB, then the sound card output is at 0dB. This is very important in a professional context because you need to rely on the levels. Also in a professional context you never have the soundcard output connected directly to the speakers without some kind of volume control.

However, this can catch you out if you are not used to this of workflow. Fortunately there is an option: In Dorico / Preferences / Audio Device Setup press the Device Control Panel button and untick the option to ‘Set Device Attenuation to 0dB’. This is something that you should only need to do once and then and the setting is remembered for future sessions.

Hello Paul

I just sent you a friendly message about an issue I’m experiencing with Dorico. Perhaps you might want to read over and moderate your reply.

I’m experiencing daily issues with Dorico - as promising as it is, Dorico, quite frankly, still feels like a work in progress. I’m happy to give Dorico a try though - and give the team the benefit of my user feedback. Very often, items in Dorico are either not present at all. Some are spoken about but not yet implemented. Others are in the software but the documentation is incomplete so we don’t know they’re present. Hence writing to the forum - the problem I described doesn’t exist with any of the other software I’m using on a daily basis (e.g. Max; QLab). It’s disrupting my workflow - and in the wrong situation could also damage my speakers (or worse still, my ears).

The information you send in the second paragraph would have sufficed. However, instead of addressing this issue politely and promptly, you infer that I’m having issues because I’m not familiar with a ‘professional’ workflow. You’re also giving me a mini tutorial on levels. Is this the attitude Steinberg would like to project to all customers?

For the record, I have two degrees in engineering - one in electroacoustics - and am a professional composer, working in theatre houses around the UK (as well as New York). I know how to hook up my studio, thanks. I understand when I need to work with material set at a 0dB level and when I do not. I decide when I need to use Core Audio and when I do not. I have two deadlines looming: one for an opera, another for a major London theatre production. Right now, I’m wondering if I can even cope with using Dorico, if I feel I have to run the gauntlet and have my expertise questioned, just for pointing out such a problem.

Sarah Angliss

I apologise if you thought my tone was condescending - that was certainly not my intent. Dorico users cover a very wide base from those very familiar with a pro audio workflow to those who don’t use playback features at all. The reason for the context was that this subject comes up very often and the usual response is ‘Why isn’t this the default?’ and so I wanted to give the background to that reason. This was also to explain the convention used in Steinberg products where 0dB out = 0dB out, bypassing the system volume.


I found your initial response to Sarah both civil and informative. Her concern as a professional with Dorico’s lack of documentation is realistic (which I believe all of you on the Dorico Team have acknowledged), but your response itself was not the problem.

Thank you for your ongoing help informing us about the program.

I don’t think you were rude in your response, Paul. It was civil and informative, as Derrek said.

I will say that if you read your response back to back with your response to Shikisuen’s nonsense, one might think there is a sarcastic tone to it. But I did not get that from your serious post to Sarah.


Thanks for your clarification. You mentioned that all cross-platform applications, leading to my another question: What do you think of how Logic Pro utilizes CoreAudio? In the same way or simpler?

One more thing happened prior to your guys’ dismissal from AVID (not blaming or taunting you, just a timestamp): The speaker-blowing issue of CoreAudio2ASIO driver happens prior to “Cubase Elements/AI/LE 7.0.6, WaveLab 8.0.3 and WaveLab Elements 8.0.3”, according to Steinberg article:

I thought that this issue gets completely solved since then, until I read Harmonica’s complaint above. This issue almost made me deaf when I was using Apogee Duet with Cubase 7 on macOS Mavericks. I guess I am the first person to address that this issue could cause permanent hearing problems to users who uses digital output volume controlled by the macOS, and here is the article I wrote during that time to urge all mac Cubase users to perform the update (for their sake of avoiding hearing loss):

I thought you guys should have the responsibility to unckeck the device attenuation by default in Dorico, with ear health warning texts written clearly in the CoreAudio2ASIO driver settings window… until I read this:

Currently Dorico is not a pro audio workstation. Dorico is born for being a music typography software, not an audio workstation. Music engravers do not care about the audio summing precision cost caused by the lack of forced device attenuation normalization to 0dB. Are you guys expecting users to professionally do precise audio mixing in Dorico? If so, then why you guys sell Nuendo at the same time? for what?

P.S.: I don’t feel anything good from being toxic. However the biggest problem among Steinberg products are the overpursuit of product “completion”. Cubase is for MIDI arrangement, but it ships with too much non-important things, including its notation part which is pretty terrible to use. Dorico is the most comfortable music engraving software I am using, but your ambition regarding the completion of Dorico in pro-audio area is overflowing, pulling and tearing the balls of Dorico from running stable as a mere music typography software. I am afraid that you guys may need to make its VSTAudio app more standalone like the Vienna Ensemble Pro, for those people who don’t have that budget to buy a license of Vienna Ensemble Pro.

To say clear, regarding what I assumed ideal at this moment: Dorico does not access CoreAudio but only access CoreMIDI. Dorico sends MIDI playback and VST Expression playback data to a standalone Dorico Player (the VSTAudio app) and Dorico player handles the audio playback for composition demonstration purposes. If Dorico Player is down, one could just restart Dorico Player separately without rebooting the Dorico main app.

That’s blunt ShikiSuen, but all the points you raised are valid.

I love Dorico, and I feel thankful to Dorico team for their ideal design of this software (as a music engraving software). I see the trending that pretty much people’s comments are doting on Dorico (maybe due to their living background), leading to my worries that only blunt expression could get my points not flooded away.

Hello everyone

For the record, when opening a file or application causes a jump in volume level that can blow your speakers (and leave ears ringing), that’s a significant problem. Maybe some others here haven’t had this experience - perhaps my own professional workflow isn’t shared by others. I’m running Max and other software alongside Dorico, as part of my compositional workflow. I often have sounds playing in other software when I open and close Dorico files. I choose to use the Core Audio volume control for quick changes of volume - for instance when a client comes into the room. No other software here causes problems when I do this.

When the workaround for a problem this significant isn’t clearly signposted, it most certainly is condescending to suggest anyone vexed by it is simply unfamiliar with a ‘professional’ workflow.

Thank you for your apology Paul. I see from your apology that quite a few people have mentioned this to you before, some asking (quite reasonably - given the above) why the workaround isn’t the default. I’m afraid I can’t be accountable for these other people. I’m simply trying to integrate Dorico into my workflow, making do with limited documentation (and hoping not to be deafened in the process!) when deadlines are looming.

Sarah Angliss

Everyone working with music and audio should be extremely careful to avoid hearing damage, and music software should not introduce any risks.

I have to agree with ShikiSuen on this point, which, in my opinion, was already a problem with Sibelius: both programs are designed to produce music notation on paper and also to synthesize the notation. Both these tasks are sufficiently Herculean and they are quite independent in their aims. Thus the concept of two separate programs, whereby the notation program could feed the synthesizer program, with those of us who know what our music sounds like being able to buy just the notation program, has a lot of merit to me. Thirty years ago I used an excellent CP/M program for text writing that, because of the lack of addressable RAM (64k max) was divided into three separate programs: Writer, Formatter and Printer. It worked very well – I wrote my 600-page PhD thesis with it and still use the Writer part, in the guise of Emacs, for extended writing projects. Dorico, by dividing Write, Format, Play & Print has a similar admirable structure. The problem is that the size of the Play part is enormous and does not of itself solve the problems of balancing different instruments.

Because of the portmanteau nature of Dorico, users are inevitably left clamouring for feature additions that take a long time to implement both in the notation and in the playback modes. Good examples of this are the playback of trills, grace notes and repeats, that from a purely notational point of view are quite unnecessary additions. I hope that the full development of Dorico will not take as long as that of Sibelius did. I consider it far more important to develop the notation side such that a single Dorico file can provide a score for the conductor’s screen and parts to the players’ screens that turn pages themselves, are easily editable on the spot, and show everyone where letter A is to make rehearsals more efficient. This is a far more exciting prospect than the ability to make fully nuanced mp3 files!


Thanks for taking my idea. Unfortunally Paul is not in a listening mood, according to his limited respond to my complaints in the past 12 months. For example: Even if Metal (incl. Metal 2) is good for 3d rendering acceleration, it surely benefits the UI responsiveness and fluency of some famous 2d-only apps (like Sketch and Logic Pro X) on macOS (also the Windowserver of macOS High Sierra), and Paul ALWAYS refuse to admit that (but thinks that FPS is a game-only matter). Till now I didn’t see his idea gets changed.

PS.: Sketch is a famous app for 2d vector designs, and Logic Pro X has its own music engraving functionalities (not easy to use comparing to Dorico, but runs fluently).

As for not supporting Metal, you also have Apple to blame for that. If they would properly implement open technology like OpenGL and Vulkan then you wouldn’t have to write Mac exclusive GUI code. It is extremely arrogant of Apple that they expect others to bow for them, shunning existing standards.

And even more arrogant that they change some of their own incompatibilities with every new OS version.

I wonder if they will try pulling the same nonsensical trick if they ever start marketing driverless cars. “Hey, we think it’s a lot safer if all the passengers sit facing the rear, so to give you the full backward-facing experience we also swapped over the emergency accelerator and brake pedals, and made the steering wheel turn the opposite way to what you might expect. Our tests involving only fanboys totally committed to our marketing strategy have proved that it’s quite easy to re-learn to drive like that, and in any case you will only need to do it once or twice during the lifetime of the car…”