Dorico vs Cubase: what's the added benefit?

As ignorant it may seem, my question is dead serious. I just got Cubase 13 pro which does have all kinds of MIDI/staff/notation functionality.
I already have installed various sample libraries - so in theory, I could start right away and compose/arrange in Cubase, right?

That being said: What would be the benefit of having Dorico in addition to Cubase?
I am an amateur/hobbyist musician, doing small arrangements but wanted to dip my toes in some orchestral arrangements as well. In what way could I benefit from Dorico?

It really depends what you do, and whether your focus is on notation or MIDI. Cubase’s notation is generated from the MIDI, and from what I understand, it is universally acknowledged to be ‘not great’, in terms of the notation you can produce, and the quality of the engraving. (So much so that Steinberg felt investing in a notation app was necessary!)

The same is true for notation in Logic, FWIW.

Dorico works the other way round, generating MIDI from the notation.

So, if you are familiar with music notation, and ‘think’ in notational terms, then Dorico may be more useful.

If you expect anyone to read your scores and parts, then you’ll want to use Dorico at some point.

If you don’t expect anyone to ever play your music, and you’re one of the tens of millions of people who makes audio directly for film and TV :grin:, then Cubase is probably fine.


Maybe to add that Cubase/Logic have a multitude of grouping, mixing and effect features which Dorico does not offer (yet). Dorico has already added a lot to get an excellent playback result but you can in most cases get an even better result exporting all instruments as audio to DAW and do some further tweeking.

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I use both Cubase and Dorico.

I use Cubase for music where the score is not relevant or not important, and Dorico where it is. Dorico is far better in terms of the quality of score output, and the effort it takes to get there.

In addition I often use Cubase for mocking stuff up in the early stages, even if its going to end up as score, because of the arranger track and the ‘shared copies’ facility, where I can write a single chunk of music and have it replicated (including changes) to many points in the piece at different pitches, tempi and dynamics. These two facilities make it much easier to architect pieces quickly.

When things get very complicated, I find it easier to see what’s going in Dorico. The Cubase dcore editor is much less transparent.

In terms of playback, the gap is closing between the quality availability from Dorico and from a DAW. It’s much, much quicker for me to get very good playback from Dorico than from Cubase. A whole layer of mucking about with note velocities, lengths, positions, playing techniques and automation has gone for generating good quality playback.


Here a cumulative reply to all of you guys (benwiggy, mavros, RichardTownsend) who so kindly responded in this thread:
First of all: a big thank you for taking the time and explaining this stuff to a novice - this is so helpful and encouraging! Much appreciated!

I understand now that Dorico is superior whenever a project depends on traditional staff notation, especially if it’s supposed to be printed and handed out.
One of my potential use cases would be to import scanned notation/lyrics and use this as background MIDI accompaniment on top of which I would then play and record a melody or some solo part in a separate track. Eventually, I would export the new notation with all voices/tracks (with added own recorded midi track) as new notation sheet.
I will have to try this out with Cubase alone and then have a look how much Dorico would help in the process.