Dorico Stock VST Plugins in Other DAWS

Hey there,

Is it possible to use the stock Dorico plugins in another DAW? I would like to be able to have access to the plugins within Reaper. I am unable to find the specific folder containing any of the Dorico VST plugins, therefore I cannot setup a path within Reaper to locate them (if it is even possible).

I am a windows user.

Sorry if there is already a thread about this… Its challenging to find anything on the forums about VST compatibility that isn’t related to Cubase.


HALion Sonic SE should be possible to use, that is just a normal plug-in. It is located at C:\Program Files\Common Files\Steinberg\Shared Components\HALion Sonic SE
The other effect plug-ins that come with Dorico are from a special plug-in-set and are not available in other hosts.

You can use HALion SE 3 if:

  1. The target DAW is 64bit VST2, VST3, AU, or AAX. If your DAW requires a plugin type other than VST3, it might be helpful to grab the SE3 installer and run it to ensure you have all the necessary plugin types installed. You can get the latest independent installer for HALion SE here:

  2. You have the content libraries that came with Dorico, eLisencer, and the Dorico Key properly installed on the target system. Without such content, and keys to unlock it, the player can run with a free key, but SE has no sound libraries to play. SE 3 will always require eLisencer and either the key for a Steinberg host that ships with SE, or a free key, of which you can request from the link above (which doesn’t unlock content that ships with hosts). As far as I know, these are the HALion Libraries that come with Dorico:
    HALion Sonic SE Basic
    HALion SE Artist
    HALion Sonic SE Pro
    HALion Symphonic Orchestra
    Olympus Choir Micro
    Seems to be a Misc. vstsound archive containing various beeps and clicks for the Dorico click track.

You will NOT get access to the VST plugin Mixer insert effects such as REverence in a third party DAW. As far as I know, those only work in properly registered Steinberg Hosts. I have found in the past that ‘sometimes’ there are exceptions to the rule if you can find the directory containing the plugins and point your DAW into scanning it, and a few Steinberg effect plugins from things like Cubase and Dorico ‘might’ work in other hosts, but most of them do NOT (even with valid Steinberg host and keys installed). In Dorico’s case, I haven’t tried, but I kind of doubt it will work at all, particularly if your third party DAW isn’t true VST3 all the way through. I believe the directory holding the effect plugins (in a merged setup) is “%SYSTEMDRIVE%/Program Files/Steinberg/Dorico3.5/VSTAudioEngine/Vst3”.

VST3 protocol recommends that sharable plugins should live at:
“%SYSTEMDRIVE%/Program Files/Common Files/VST3”

Some Steinberg hosts might also include VST2 variants of plugins. They’ll usually place copies in one or more of the following places.
%SYSTEMDRIVE%/Program Files/Steinberg/VSTplugins
%SYSTEMDRIVE%/Program Files/VSTplugins
%SYSTEMDRIVE%/Program Files/Common Files/VST2

Thanks Brian, you are indeed right with your precise description.

I appreciate the thorough responses!

Out of curiosity what is the point of having the vast amount of well made stock plugins within a notation software? I am aware this is subjective, but I cannot imagine using the majority of these plugins within Dorico. There is no reason for me to add compressors, filters, limiters, etc. when I know I am going to get a real performer to play/record the music. (Though I do always add reverb.) The only situation I can imagine justifying the situation is with film scoring, assuming the composer is not having live performers and decides to do all of their mixing in Dorico. But even so, to me that doesn’t justify the situation.

Part of the reason I asked the initial question was because I was hoping to actually have access to these great plugins in a software environment where they can really shine. I also produce the recordings of others playing my own music so I would find it attractive to give Dorico users the ability to access the plugins in other DAWS.

If I am missing something here beyond my current grasp I would love to be informed so I can get a better handle on the situation.


First, one of the main reasons a lot of things Stienberg, in terms of effect plugins don’t work with other hosts, is because they are years ahead of the rest (not necessarily in how they sound, but definitely in how they work). Steinberg owns and controls the VST protocol, and the flagship for how all that ultimately works is typically done in Cubase, and works its way to other Stienberg hosts, and then all the third party dev kits from there. The latest versions of things Steinberg are currently FULL VST3, 64bit hosts, with insanely high potential in terms of bit-planes, floating point precision, and sampling frequencies. Plus, where possible optimized for cutting edge hardware (some that has not even hit the streets yet). Quite a few DAWs on the market are still not fully VST3 compliant, and there are also several who don’t mess much with VST at all (opting for primary plugin formats like AU or AAX instead). While some of them could theoretically be ‘unlocked’ to work in any host, there’s a BIG RISK that quite a few of them will not work in a host that isn’t cutting edge, and ‘fully’ up to date with every little VST3 specification and beyond that the Steinberg plugins might be leveraging. Among these capabilities are things like true side chain support, and more. It’s not uncommon for something like Cubase to be a good year or more ahead of the rest of the industry in terms of developing and implementing things VST. Another reason is that included plugins are typically one of the primary selling points of a given DAW suite…so some of it is also intended to be ‘exclusive’ to the overall Steinberg line of DAWs and workflows.

In short, in so far as I understand it, Cubase is more or less the initial dev platform and reference model for all things VST. From there it branches out into the rest of the Steinberg world, and then on to the rest of the world who wishes to implement VST technologies into their products.

A number of HALion and Groove Agent products however, have versions specifically intended to be highly portable. For a while, even those were exclusive to Stienberg Hosts, but product lines evolved to become portable. HALion 6 added the tools for third parties to develop libraries, add custom UIs, and package custom content, so a free player finally hit the streets with Sonic SE version 3. That upgrade to the HALion line came out around the same time, or slightly ahead of Dorico 2 I believe.

We still don’t have a free variant of Groove Agent, so the SE version of that is still limited to Stienberg hosts; however, the full Groove Agent 5 product line is portable. Perhaps soon that HALion based product will also get library creation tools, and a free player like Sonic SE is now.

Why did Dorico come with so many plugins?

My guess is simply that the Steinberg audio matrix, plugin management engine, HALion instrument engine, and more already existed in some form. It’s there in Dorico, Cubase, and Nuendo products. In contrast, suites like Finale and Sibelius have an underlying sound engine developed by Plogue (though it doesn’t typically include a suite of reference effect plugins that are highly visible to the end user, the concept of an underlying audio matrix, data streaming, and plugin management system is similar).

The Dorico team acquired the rights to use that base foundation of Steinberg audio and vst management tools, along with several of the reference plugins themselves, as the foundation for their scoring applications that are developed to ride on on top of it all.

Dorico can serve as a solid platform for hosting and managing VST instruments. While some of the UI and other code required to extend Dorico out into a fully functional DAW on the scale of something like Nuendo has yet to be developed, a framework does exist for them to potentially do so.

When Dorico first came out, there were not different levels such as Elements, SE, and so forth. Dorico Pro was it, and it was still missing a lot of very important (show stopping for many) notation abilities at the time, and the first version needed EVERY sales edge in terms of value for the price it could possibly get. It got a complete and robust selection of plugins that mirror much of the rest of the Steinberg line of hosts and DAWs straight out of the box. Why not? It was already included with the base engine, and easier to release in its reference state than to go in and attempt to separate and take things out. A big guess here, but I’d imagine the time it’d take to have someone on the team remove some of those base plugins was much better spent assigning guys to get HALion to choose and load a default slate of instruments for Dorico 1.

Speaking for myself…as a long time Cubase and HALion/Sonic user, I plopped down for Dorico Pro 1, in part because I also wanted a spare USB dongle (something like $40 retail at the the time) an extra HSO key (In the $100 to $120 neighborhood retail at the time), and looked forward to the potential work flow pluses of the Stienberg engine running underneath. The list of plugins and sound libraries, when sorted out and compared with their retail releases…well…it came out to be more to buy all that on its own than to simply purchase a crossgrade to Dorico! Yay! I got a spare dongle and more flexibility with how I use HSO, PLUS an entry to Dorico for slightly more money than just a Dongle and and an extra HSO key! Barring those factors, I might well have sat on the sidelines for a year or more waiting for Dorico to cut his version 2 and 3 teeth, rather than buying in when I did.

Over time Dorico Pro can and probably will grow into a one stop shop for a wide variety of projects that rely on VST and other technologies incorporated in that base Steinberg engine. As the expression map system grows and evolves, and the Play tab gets more precision features for shaping the overall sound of a score, Dorico could someday include complete sets of tools for synchronization with Game Development Engines, Video, Film, and more. In fact, with a little more open Mixing console, and some improved play tab abilities, it could eventually negate the need for a tracking DAW all together unless mics and audio tracks are required.

It remains to be seen if Dorico will grow his own wings, fork off, and do his own thing, or move more towards a sort of ‘shared integration’ with suites like Nuendo and/or Cubase. Either way, there is uniformity deep in the audio engine that will assist in tying things Stienberg together, or developing fresh “Dorico Only” options on top.

Many DAW users out there who will end up with a product produced entirely in a computer still crave and prefer working and collaborating through traditionally notated scores. Many more require a hybrid environment, where scores and parts will indeed end up going to live performing musicians. The thing is, you have to sell it to a publisher/producer/director first…or you’re not getting a budget to go hire an orchestra to record it. It can be a tough sell when your competition is turning in mock-ups that come really close to not needing a studio session with real musicians at all.

Personally, I DO use several of the plugins that ship with Dorico. Compressors and EQs are among the most used in the tool box for me. I do often want to master a mock-up for collaboration, and these tools significantly cut down on my need to port things over to a new environment to get the job done. I.E. The Maximizer and Dithering combo can be used to take out a step of manually normalizing a rendering in post, then manually re-rendering it to a lower bit-size and bit-rate for the web.

Taking advantage of the included reverb and stereo imaging plugins helps me make a warmer mix that I can sit here and tolerate working with for hours at a time. It’s rather ‘raw and harsh’ to my ears otherwise…causing serious listener fatigue, and ultimately a number of over or under compensating arranging errors.

Still though, my favorite multi-compressor and parabolic EQ of all time for the money is from the reaper team as part of their free reaPlugs package :wink: None the less, I can and DO use it in Dorico. I use them FREQUENTLY in Finale and Sibelius. In fact, the multi-compressor plugin makes quite a few percussion kits that are almost unusable by default in the Garrian sounds that ship with Finale QUITE NICE (can get the dynamics right in the mix with a few easy tweaks). In short, the plugins are very useful…even in a straight up Notation Package.

Case in point.
I want to burn a rendering of a marching band score for my color guard to begin rehearsing (long before I ever pass the stuff out to the band).
The snare drum isn’t cutting through the mix well at all. Turning up the volume for the whole drum kit destroys the mix. Redoing the velocities of all those drum hits could take quite a while, but all I need is a quick rendering for my color guard to get counts from, and be able to HEAR through a cheap boom box. Hopeless?

No…I just load up a multi-band compressor, isolate that snare drum line, and compress it dynamically to exactly where I want it in the mix.

Yay, now my guard can take my quick rendering and go build their routine. I now know they can hear the audio hints and cues from that snare line part that I consider important in building their routine.

While I don’t have a marching score rendering uploaded and handy to demonstrate the concept, I did make and upload few renderings once as part of a class using familiar scores that come with Finale. The point being that a multi-compressor and EQ alone can do a LOT of positive things for a mix. I did NOTHING to the mix other than applying a couple of these sorts of plugins, and rather sparingly at that. The goal here wasn’t to get a perfect mix or anything, but to demonstrate how easy it can be to isolate parts of the drum kit, tone down the boomy electric piano, fluff up the bass line, and come up with a quick rendering where things I want heard come forward in the mix.

Take one: Out of the box from Finale:

Take two: One instance of the freebie reaPlugs multi-band compressor applied to the drum kit, a second instance of this on the mains, and a parabolic EQ on the mains.

So yeah, these plugins can save a LOT of work if and when a situation arises that you need to teak your rendered audio results.

Apologies that I didn’t specifically use Dorico with Steinberg plugin examples above…but the principles still apply, and we do get compressors and EQs included with Dorico. I just happened to have this rough and quick demo left over from Finale days handy.


I am extremely grateful for your thorough and educational answer! I really appreciate you making sense of the situation and honestly, proving to me why I should experiment more with the plugins in Dorico for the sake of my performers. The A/B takes you posted are drastically different, the second obviously being preferred.

Thank you!

Gasp!!! How Dare you! :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

You already know mostly. Film or game composers can’t get by with hand waving and a piano reduction to sell their mocked up ideas to a director or supervisor any more. Expectations are really high and “don’t worry I can visualize it” hardly ever works. Timelines are tight. Lots of times some of the mockup gets into the final product even when it is someone famous recording an orchestra, though I admit from Cubase appears to be more common. If’n the director is spoiled by Thunder drums and larger than life 40 cellos - eh, probabaly it wasn’t all really 40 cellos most of the time.

No problem.

Since you’re a Reaper guy already, and are a bit in tune with they way their stuff looks and works I do recommend that reaPlugs pack, even with Dorico :slight_smile: I just find this one really easy to understand, experiment with, and conceptualize what you are seeing, vs what you hear.

You’ll have to white list it for Dorico since its an older VST2.x plugin, but over the years it’s become a staple in my tool box. That Multi-Band compressor in particular.

Thanks for the tip! I will definitely follow through with the advice, especially since I am already comfortable with said plugins!