Export from Dorico to Cubase, newbie to Cubase

Today I took advantage of the promotion that Steinberg is running and bought the Cubase Artist 10.5 Instant upgrade to Cubase Pro 10.5.

Maybe this was a GIANT waste of money, but something is telling me perhaps not.

Anyway, I do a lot of work in Dorico and would like to create very nice mockups for perhaps a website, so customers can hear the different compositions and arrangements. Perhaps jumping to Cubase was completely unnecessary, but does any one do anything like this? And if so, what is your method of doing something like this?

Some big questions I have:

  • Do I export as XML into Cubase?
  • Do I export as MIDI into Cubase?
  • Is there another method perhaps I am unaware of?
  • Is there anything to be gained from using Cubase over just making tweaks in Dorico?

Thanks for any input!


I would suggest going via MIDI to Cubase: this will bring all of the automatic playback control that Dorico produces, including manipulation of MIDI controllers, key switches, etc. into Cubase, though you’ll still then have to set up the same connections in your Cubase project to make sure that each track is played back by the same sound as it was in Dorico. In the fullness of time, of course, this kind of interchange between the software is precisely the kind of thing that we hope to smooth out.

Thanks for the suggestion Daniel! I will give it a go!


interestingly, I had considered with the current sale upgrading my Cubase 8 Elements to Studio which is where I used to be a while back! In the end I decided on a simple very inexpensive update. If the Dorico/Cubase interchange through MIDI was already at the sort of level that Daniel envisages, I’m sure I would have done the upgrade. In the meantime I personally prefer to do almost everything in Dorico itself but there are and have been many threads discussing just this question with sometimes strongly held opinions on either side.

My search of the forum provided no answers, at least not on the first 5 pages when I searched “Export Dorico to Cubase”. And “Cubase” said it was too vague to return results.

I have read thread after thread about Dorico and Cubase “working together” and I never understood what that meant, and in some ways still don’t. Like I said, I am “very” new to Cubase and DAWs in general.

So just to clarify, you use Play Mode in Dorico to everything you would in a DAW?


It’s an over simplification to say the Cubase is “Dorico play mode on steroids” but it’s a reasonable starting point for understanding what it is for. You can also combine live audio recordings with MIDI data and virtual instruments.

The basic idea of a DAW is that you manipulate the MIDI data directly, without any reference to music notation.

Of course Cubase does have a “score editor”, but it wouldn’t make sense to try to work in Cubase using the only the score editor, just as it wouldn’t make sense to try to create a score in Dorico by only using Play mode to add notes to piano rolls.

Ahhhh… Ok. Thanks Rob, that makes perfect to sense. I appreciate the information.


You are referring to an import/export for now? We don’t have a way to synch playback/record of the hosts (when one of them is Dorico) today do we? You can route the midi there, but recording is problematic unless you are doing it all in a “single take” with no edits or live instruments? I’d very much like to learn different. :slight_smile:

Even so, the other concern I see is the weight and uneasy truce of running two programs with their own audio engines. Is there a possibility at some point of Cubase and Dorico sharing a single instance of an audio engine? Not just sharing code, but a common service / VST Pool / IO etc? Has anyone else with both Dorico and a DAW up hit the “I’m sorry, but that file is in use by another application.” message?

IIRC one cannot run Dorico and Cubase simultaneously precisely because they fight over the shared audio engine.

No offense to anyone here… but I do not want this thread to be hijacked by people saying what they want from Dorico, from the Dorico team, etc. I am VERY new to Cubase, and I do not want to rehash the “Dorico should work better with Cubase” unpleasantness that I see from time to time.

I would like real world answers/solutions how I could use Cubase to my advantage while working with Dorico.

If you have solutions, or personal work flows, I would love to hear them. But I do not want this to turn into some sort of hijacked thread over “Dorico and Cubase should…” Those kinds of discussion DO NOT help someone in my position figure out how to better use the software I paid a lot of money for.


I use both programs. I think there are certain advantages and certain disadvantages to working in Dorico first vs. Cubase, or Cubase first vs. Dorico. In most cases I work in Cubase first and then move into Dorico.

When I work in Cubase first, it is typically because I can really quickly draft things, try various things out, without having to be super focused on the notation. I can just play things in flexibly. Another reason is when I need for the Cubase mockup to be very high quality - even if something is getting performed, if I want to have a really good mockup, I need to play in every line on the piano and shape every line with the modwheel. In my opinion, it is really difficult to get the same result when exporting from notation because you end up with this super-quantized robotic performance and you have to try to humanize it somewhat in terms of timing, and you end up adding shaping with the mouse instead of the modwheel. Sometimes it is even faster to just play everything in again into Cubase following the score as a model than it is to try to get a good result by manually humanizing rhythms and adding shaping. The biggest disadvantage of working in Cubase first, by far, is how poorly suited a DAW environment is to shed light on the vertical aspects of the scoring (harmony, orchestration). You work in piano roll, which tends to be linear - it is like wearing blinders that hide the vertical aspects from you, and so losing sight of the those aspects can be a real issue. I have used the Cubase score editor to shed light on this and make transition to a notated score less work (Cubase score editor MusicXML export into notation software, which I have done), but I wouldn’t say it is enjoyable - I’m rather convinced that you would have to be somewhat masochistic to actually enjoy working with the Cubase score editor.

Working in Dorico (or other notation software) first gives you that great birds-eye view of your harmony and orchestration, and certainly then, if your score is being performed by musicians, it is pretty much all ready to go (other than formatting the parts) once you have finished composing into Dorico. But then, suppose you want to do a mockup - now you perhaps export from Dorico to MIDI to bring into Cubase. Now you run into the issue I mention above - everything is super quantized and robotic sounding, and the shaping is not correct. So you spend hours potentially drawing in shaping with the mouse to try to shape every phrase like a performer would, and try to de-quantize the music using Cubase’s random quantize functionality to humanize it. The random quantize functionality sometimes ends up doing weird things - if the random de-quantize causes one note to sound very early and the next note to sound very late can just end up giving a “sloppy” effect that you have to try to manually correct, or you rerun the random quantize function again and hope for better results the next time.

What I might suggest if you want to work in Dorico first - consider playing all of the lines in with a MIDI keyboard instead of entering them with the mouse. You will get a natural humanization through your performance (Dorico saves your timing “errors” as adjustments to the displayed note), and this should be retained in the MIDI export into Cubase. You will still likely have to do some manual modwheel and other CC shaping, but it is less cumbersome than also having to de-quantize the entire performance.

  1. While in Dorico, go through your plugin instances and save their states. IE. In HSSE instance, you’d save a ‘muti’ vstpreset for the entire instance.

  2. Have Dorico export the MIDI file.

  3. Open an instance of Cubase. Tap F11 and Load an instance of HSSE into the rack (an initial end point for imported MIDI tracks). Import the MIDI file (there are many options in Cubase preference on how it handles the imports, experiment here).

In general, if you’re using a lot of multitimberal plugins in your Dorico sessions, you’ll want to have the tracks imported so they come in as track type ‘MIDI’, and either aren’t connected to an instrument at first, or just point to something like a single instance of HSSE in ‘rack mode’ as the default player (which you use as one of the instances you’ll put one of your multi vstpreset in right way, or get rid of later). In contrast, if you’re using setups that have a lot of single instrument plugin instances, you might opt to import as ‘instrument tracks’, and change the plugins they use from there.

Note, I think the defaults for Cubase are to assign imported MIDI files to the last plugin or MIDI port you assigned some ‘MIDI’ track to, or to import as MIDI tracks pointing to a single instance of HSSE in ‘general MIDI mode’. I forget exactly, but you do have several options in there. Once you get that sorted, save a Cubase project template that has this ready to go in future sessions; hence, you can begin Dorico imports with your template right out off that bat in the future.

After a few sessions, you’ll pick up on many of your favorite plugins and setups that you’re loading often. Take advantage of things like project templates, presets in the track inspector, or even save actual ‘empty tracks’ with your favorite plugins all set up and ready to go (It’s easy to drag parts from the generic imported tracks onto these sorts of imported tracks right away).

  1. Recreate the plugin instances you had back in Dorico. This where the things you did in step one come in handy.

  2. Connect your tracks to the instances you’ve rebuilt in step 4.

At this point, you should find that you’re picking up where you left off in Dorico, with a ‘frozen’ performance as Dorico virtually played it during a ‘silent rendering’ in making the standard MIDI file.

Maybe someday Dorico will be able to export ‘midiLoops’, as those include the end-point information for the tracks (and can be one-click auditioned in Stienberg Media Library, without having to load a thing into the DAW).

Until then, we have to walk through the hoops of recreating our end points for the imported tracks.


That is some detailed information!!! I appreciate every bit of it. As I am new to Cubase, I really didn’t know where to begin. Between Daniel, Brian Roland, and mducharme I think I have a pretty solid picture of how to do these things.

I really appreciate the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of everyone’s answers.