Dual monitor setup?

Hi all! I’ve been sorta absent around here the past couple of weeks because I decided to get my woodworking chops back up and build myself a large cherry studio desk before the semester starts. I’ve been very jealous of Dan’s awesome oak desk since he posted it, and as I had almost no performing gigs in July figured it would be a good project. (It’s almost done, I’ve been posting pics of the progress on my FB page.) I’m now realizing with all the extra workspace though, this might be a good opportunity to move to a dual monitor setup.

I’ve seen quite a few pics here of folks using dual monitors for Dorico. Do most use one in portrait orientation for parts/scores and one landscape for writing? My current monitor is a BenQ SW2700PT. Should I just get another one? As I’ve never really used a dual monitor setup before, I’d welcome any advice before plunking down the $. Thanks!

If you can swing it, get a 40+" 4k monitor. It will change your life.

I hadn’t really considered that option, but am not necessarily against it. Do you have one you would recommend?

My previous dual monitor setups had been mix and match, using an older monitor with a newer, better one. For me it was visually confusing and less than fully effective. This spring I upgraded to a 27-inch 4K monitor, which I have really liked. A couple of months later a little windfall allowed me to get a second one just like it.


If you go with a two-monitor setup, I cannot express how much better it is that both monitors are exactly the same. The eye travels much easier from one to the other. There aren’t vertical jumps because the screen sizes are different. In fact, there is no distraction to the eyes because even the peripheral-vision look is the same.

Two good-size monitors vs one that is much bigger?

Sure there aspects of management and use where the one is simpler. But there are plenty of times where I’m really only using one monitor, and for me in such situations one 27" monitor is better than one 40" monitor. I can simply ignore or even turn off the second monitor if I want.

Of course all this depends on one’s personal preference. Hope you end up happy with whatever choice you make.

Yeah, that’s one reason I was just gonna get another BenQ. Do you keep both of yours in landscape? or one landscape and one portrait? A 27" with 16:9 ratio seems quite tall for a portrait, so I’m just trying to imagine the best layout. My current monitor is also 27" (although not 4K) so I would have a similar layout.

I have a 40" Philips which is no longer available; they now offer a 43":

This Acer is less expensive, but should be a good piece of gear

Hmm, maybe I will go with a single ultrawide monitor … is there anyone that’s a huge fan of the dual monitor setup that’s convinced it’s a better way to go? Other than web and email, my most used programs are probably Dorico, Pro Tools, Lightroom, InDesign, and Premiere. I’ve been in a ton of studios that have a dual monitor Pro Tools setup, with Edit and Mix windows in separate monitors. Would it be more efficient for Dorico? Or would just one big ultrawide work better?

Landscape, with each slightly tilted towards center.

Although I had been warned that 27" 4K was rather ludicrous, I have found that with some scaled resolution (not too much!) I can still get noticeably improved resolution with more actual screen real estate because of the 4K. Otherwise, with no scaling, things would be too small for these 65-year old eyes.

I think a lot of it becomes personal preference. I understand the single-monitor point of view, but I considered it and chose a different direction. I’m perfectly happy with my choice. My guess is the single-monitor people feel the same way.

I think questions of efficiency also become personal preference.

I should add that if I had the choice of two 27" 1080P monitors or one large 4K I would go with one monitor.

My opinion: 4K all the way. I have a single 4K 32” on a monitor arm, and I love it.

More opinion: 1080 is just not acceptable for large scores.

I used two monitors int he past and kept getting pop-up panels that split between the two screens (bummer).
I got a 4K 42" monitor and would not go back for the world.

It depends on your definition of “large”. If large means say 100 staves, a 4K monitor doesn’t solve all the problems either.

Yes, that’s it exactly; wouldn’t go back for the world. Used 2 monitors for many years.

I didn’t say 4K would solve all viewing problems, but the comparison in clarity between 1080 and 4K is huge. I can easily view 20 staves in 4K, but 20 staves in 1080 is just fuzzy lines.

I use my second monitor entirely separately, as a ‘reference’ display, while I do my work in the main one. It shows manuscript PDFs or other source material that I’m copying into Dorico in the main window. It also has iTunes, my Font manager, and various other tools that I need to access or refer to,so that I don’t have to leave the ‘working’ app – be it Dorico, Affinity Publisher, etc – on the main display.

Clever people can do that separation all on one display, but I like the hardware division. Conversely, others will use Dorico in two separate displays, with a window in each showing different modes or layouts.

I guess it depends on your eyesight I find 25 staves on a 23 inch 1920x1080 is perfectly legible (wearing glasses - I’m a bit long sighted plus a bit of astigmatism). And it is just “whatever fairly cheap display the nearest high street store had in stock, when my previous one started producing smoke and died” - not something carefully chosen.

Note, the above is in landscape mode, not portrait. Scaling by 16:9 would be around 40 staves in portrait mode.

Same here, except that I might drag the engraving options windows etc onto the second screen temporarily if I want to leave them open.

But I keep other apps out of the way on a second Windows “desktop” (similar to Mac “spaces”) rather than having a task bar overflowing with icons.

With everything on one monitor, I find it’s a pain to be careful resizing windows so they don’t overlap, etc.

Thanks all for the advice. If I duplicated the 27" monitor I have now, I would need to leave one permanently in portrait to make it fit, which might look sort of odd. My wife just has a 24" so I think I might give her the 27" and just get something bigger instead of a dual setup. Thanks for helping me think it through!

Me too. A 27 inch (or is it 28 inch?) 4K monitor scaled to 125%, and a 27/28 inch 1080p one right next to it with both angled in. Having the 1080p as a reference monitor is really, really useful. When I use my Macbook I plug an old 2nd monitor into that too. The 1080p monitor swivels so can be set to portrait mode but I haven’t tried it.

A second monitor is so liberating somehow, not just for Dorico but all computing tasks - and especially handy for watching tutorials on one screen with the subject app on the main screen.