Dorico surround sound


It appears to me that Dorico is aiming to add many future sequencing/playback features to aid wonderful expression. I use Vienna Ensemble Pro to host all my VI plugins.

If scoring for film/video, I would like to use a surround setup with LFE and center speaker (dialog) during composition.

Consequently, it would be wonderful if a future version of Dorico could:

  1. Play videos with embedded 5.1 (or 7.1 etc.) surround sound.
  2. Host Surround Sound plugins (such as VE Pro 7)

Big Smiles


Thanks for your feedback, Leif. At the moment we have no plans for surround mixing in Dorico, but we certainly don’t rule it out for the (long-term) future.

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If I understand correctly, at the momento Dorico doesn’t allow surround sound.

When using Vienna Ensemble Pro, is however still possible to mix down all the audio channels to stereo, to prelisten them in Dorico while playing the score back?

And then, if exporting the project from Dorico, and then importing it into a DAW, will it be possible to reuse the data for mixing in surround, without having to recreate the VEP surround project?


I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to these questions, but my assumption is that since Dorico only provides a single stereo output, you won’t be able to hear any surround mixing you do in VEP when running it in Dorico. but provided VEP automatically mixes surround configurations down to stereo, I would imagine that you could then use that surround configuration in a host that does support multiple outputs.

That sounds right, Daniel. As soon as I can try it, I’ll report if it actually works.

To be honest, I’m not mostly interested to surround sound for cinema scores, since in any case the music track is usually printed either in stereo, or in stereo “stems”. It is then mixed in surround together with the other audio contributions to the movie.

With the pervasive presence of surround, I might however have been left back, and what was in the older guides to mixing may no longer be correct, and music is now asked in Dolby Atmos right to the composer…

What I’m really interested into is multichannel audio for scores with space placement as a basic element of the score. Think to Stockhausen’s Gruppen, Maderna’s Quadrivium, Boulez’s Rituel or Répons, or Berio’s Formazioni. Or the Renaissance double-choir music. Or Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passio. All pieces that we have recorded in stereo*, but would be great to make in multichannel. Not to think to our own compositions.

(* But then: the magnificent King’s College’s 1615 Gabrieli in Venice can be had multichannel. Shame not to have been able to listen to it in this version, due to my listening system still only in stereo!)


Interesting thread.

Question for Daniel and Ulf: how does video playback in Dorico work? Does it use the Dorico playback engine?

The Dorico playback engine right now only has two outputs (stereo). Theoretically, if the playback engine would support multiple audio outputs, assuming you have a sound card and speaker setup that allows for 5.1, you would be able to e.g. play back a video file in 5.1 surround format, and then have Dorico output to e.g. front left and right channels, and perhaps the rear channels.

The reality is that most music for movies is still stereo, and most music for movies does not come straight from an engraving program like Dorico but from a DAW and live recordings.

Dolby Atmos is a whole different ballpark. With 64 or more discrete audio channels, this is really the territory of dedicated re-mixing engineers, using Pro Tools in a $$$ studio with dozens of speakers. Even Hans Zimmer is not asked to deliver Atmos mixes.

I’m not sure to exactly what extent multi-channel audio in video files is supported (you can read here for all the gory details) but in the end the audio will be mixed down to stereo for playback in Dorico.

Okay, so this is an undead thread thing - but it seems to be the most recent thread on the topic and I wanted not to lose the previous comments.

Turns out with VEP Pro 7 you WILL hear the surround mixes from VEP in Dorico folded down to stereo in Dorico… though arguably with a couple of quirks.

If I use multiple outs from the VEP VST3 plugin in Dorico, I will hear whatever is on Out1/Out2 in Dorico and it will be controllable by the fader and solo/mute buttons in the Dorico Mixer for that instrument. For me that’s the L/R, which is what I expected.

What I didn’t expect was that the remaining VEP outputs EX: Out3/Out4 (surrounds) and Out5/Out6 (Center and LFE) are ALSO heard - but the Dorico instrument fader has no effect on them, and there isn’t any additional instrument fader to control them inside of Dorico. So for example should you solo any instrument in Dorico, it will mute the LR’s but it will NOT mute the surrounds for other VEP instruments you might be using. It doesn’t seem to matter how many audio outputs you define in the endpoint config for the VEP VST - the behavior is the same.

I pretty carefully confirmed that it is not going out or through any of the other channels on my audio interface. All the channels do go through and are under the control of Dorico’s master output fader.

Not a major deal - I can mute in VEP, and I can accomplish the goal to create stems for surround mixing for use by another engineer in different tool. I don’t HAVE to hear anything but the stereo fold in Dorico most of the time. But if I may, here is a +1 for Dorico having more than two outputs at some future date.

Hi @gdball , the audio engine as such is already capable of any output format, we are just lagging the infrastructure to configure an set things up properly. But even adding that is already a major task, so it won’t happen in the near future.

But could you please provide a sample project, which exposes the mentioned routing behaviour? From the project data I should be able to figure out what is coming out from where. Thanks

I wouldn’t recommend it. We’re working in ATMOS in Nuendo - it’s a complicated beast. Not the least of which is reverb, there are few true surround reverbs - Cinematic Rooms pro is what we use but note it’s a convolutional (I’m not sure an impulse is possible to get good results, or at least it’s not easy). Further no sample libraries I’m aware of are surround, they all record in mono/stereo AFAIK. Further - surround what? Quad, 5.1, 7.1 - those are bush league these days, anybody serious works in ATMOS which will render to all those formats (and binaural).

And for what? It would just muddy up the system with a really complicated system, and without the DAW around it (e.g. bussing, surround aware plugins, etc) it’s little good and you’re going to a DAW anyhow.

My advice - Keep Dorico Stereo! Don’t try to turn it into a DAW, it’ll just dirty the clean waters we have here (/my two cents). At any rate I think it’s a moot point, this would be such a big undertaking I doubt the team will be taking it on.


Sure Ulf… I lost of track of how many beverages I owe you. Can I open a tab? (828.4 KB)

Hey Dan… I appreciate the different perspective very much.

Here’s another composer’s take: Christian Henson has a clip about dis-satisfaction with the standard practice of film engineers taking the stereo music/stems (when that’s all that was provided), throwing a plugin, bit of delay and/or reverb on them and sending them to the surrounds. At its best it’s not the best; at its worst you get flutter stutter on percussion meant to be dry, odd phase issues, etc.

He doesn’t use surround reverbs - I think because (while they might be cool at the sweet spot of the listening position) they don’t really work for the large “barn” of a theatre where you might be seated wherever. He’s just sending the reverb he has for the front L/R to the surrounds. And he is sending the reverb he has for the surrounds to the front L/R.

Sample wise, he commonly sends the outrigger mics and such to the surrounds, with the closer part of the tree to the L/R. For electronic sounds, he is making what he wants using multiple instances with a duller sound on the surrounds. Keeps dry percussion out of them as I mentioned.

As far as format - as a composer he says he doesn’t care about anything but Quad really. The real purpose of the center is so that when you are sitting on one side, there is not one actor who is really loud and another on the other side that you can’t understand - and that supervisor/engineers hate music in the center and the first thing most of them do is mute it. LFE is rarely for anything but explosions and such.

So that is him. For myself personally… what I really like is the sense of space (and clarity and control) of some of those techniques when folded into stereo. Being able to provide the other stems is a bonus… I feel like the stereo result is “right” in a way that a lot of other (reverb techniques especially) I’ve battled with are messy and washy. Having the SR fader is extremely efficient for me to open things up or rein them in without thinking “mics, pre-delay, tails etc.” again.

So I’m not really fussing at Dorico at all - but it would be nice to check if the stems seem to make sense without any extra steps. I leave effort and priority (or no priority) to the Dorico Team. I did suspect that the audio engine was already there.

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Hi @gdball , no worries, let’s wait until it’s worth building a pipeline :wink:

And looking at the project, something is fishy there. According to the project data, there are 2 instances of each, VEPro and HSSE, but the VST Rack in Dorico only shows 1 instance each. Plus, the project data show a BioTek instance, but Dorico does not show it at all. Where does this discrepancy come from? I have no idea what so ever.
Furthermore, each VEPro instance has 16 stereo ouput ports and for each the Dorico mixer creates a return channel, but by default Dorico only shows the channels that it thinks are in use and hides all others, though they are still there. If you click on Unused in the lower mixer pane in Play mode, then you can see all available channels. Do you then see and can control those other channels? Unfortunately I don’t have VEPro, so can’t try it out myself.

As far as I know, all multi-mic libraries are surround-ready. Some makers, like VSL or Spitfire, also declare them as surround libraries.

Surround will not muddy things. On the contrary, will make an orchestral mix airier, due to the wider space to place the instruments.

If using VEP, surround bussing and plugins are native. So, there would be, at least, the basic ones, plus some luxury ones.

Surround is no longer a curiosity, but a standard format. With the most recent TV sets and soundbars, it is likely the most common way of listening to music at home.



It’s really a shame the Dorico team doesn’t consider VEP an integral part of the program itself. For people wanting to make mockups of their scores, it is an essential part of the arsenal.



Don’t confuse the processing chain here. They are indeed mono or stereo, because it is expected that you will then place them virtually in a room with a reverb plug-in. Inspirata has support for surround sound and with the top tier you can virtually place each vst in the room separately and move them around and hear them change in real time. It is quite something.

Just to correct this, most of the orchestral sample libraries include multiple microphone positions - the idea is that you can place them in different speakers for surround mixing.

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I believe this is actually to give you a different tonal color because different styles of mics at different heights and distances give different impressions of the sound. In cases such as the one your referencing, the idea is to have a choice so you can pick which ambiance best suits your needs. The hall is part of the impression of the sound, which is why they brag about where they were recorded. This is distinct from placing the recordings in other virtual rooms or messing around with panning techniques. And as it happens, orchestras aren’t surround sound, in the traditional sense. Yes, there is a sense of space with an orchestra, but the only thing you’d mix to rear channels is the ambiance levels of the room.

Differences in the sounds and the placements of the microphones are of course important as well, I was just trying to point out that the orchestral sample libraries usually try to replicate the same recording setup as with a real orchestra. If you take the time to route these microphone signals to different submixes (for example front and back speakers), then you have a similiar surround mix to what would be produced from a real recording session.


This is so true!

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Yes clearly which is the point I’m making, Dorico is early in the chain of making a mastered output stem, why does it need to be surround at this stage? Just produce stereo out and put that in your surround mix in the DAW. But surround is much more than a surround reverb of course, especially if you work in games as we do.

This is correct. The only way I’m aware of to record surround is to use what I have which is a surround mic. I have the Sennheiser AMBEO mic, which is four capsules and produces an AMBISONICS output. You can also get a Binaural head like the Neumann (which we’ll probably get at some point too). As Romanos says the multi mics are just for how you want to mix for a stereo bus.

We use the ambix mic to record field sound FX.