extensive sound library expression maps vs. just using Note Performer (opinions sought!)

Just about everyone who has heard my output from NotePerformer is impressed. The reason is the clarity and inner balance which does indeed bear a reasonably close resemblance to a real orchestra even if the actual instrument quality is still a bit on the crude side which makes it a dubious choice for chamber and instrumental music.

The obvious Holy Grail might be for something that uses Note Performer-like automatic interpretation but with larger and fuller sample libraries. Right now it feels like working with my existing samples in Dorico to achieve DAW-like mockup results might take just too must programming time and muscle vs. just doing it in a DAW for realism and the using Dorico with Note Performer to check things (as I typically have been doing).

I did use Note Performer/Dorico as my actual mockup demos for one orchestral project but otherwise have been sticking to Logic when I need to please a client. I would LOVE, though, if more people might be willing to share how they’ve used more extensive sample libraries and Expression Maps (combined with any Dynamics or cc tweaking in Play Mode) to produce DAW-level Dorico demos and - if so - what their process was and whether they thought it was worth the investment of time to setup and implement.

  • D.D.

I’ve moved to Dorico+Noteperformer for some projects that previously required Logic or DP mock ups using EWQLSO. The approach I take is to switch out the bits that don’t sound right to EW. The switch outs take work but it saves time on the whole.

Thanks. Anybody doing full-on DAW-like mockups using larger sound libraries, completely with Dorico? What is your process? How are you fairing?

  • D.D.

Every music sample I’ve heard from Noteperformer makes me think it needs heavier samples, more Mbs per sample to give it more realism.

I don’t think that would keep the cost down though. And it certainly would cost more CpU and memory, but that’s not so much of a problem anymore.

Speaking of auto-interpretation, Spitfire’s libraries ship with some nice scripting embedded in them for making playback more realistic. I’ve been so pleased with them that I use their samples almost exclusively, now, and combined with Dorico’s superb playback capabilities (especially since version 3.0), I’ve gotten to a point where I’m really happy with what I can do in Dorico alone, with almost no tweaking, now that I’ve gotten my Kontakt multis and expression maps just about where I want them (after much toil).

Here’s an example of something that I composed recently, played back in Dorico. That’s almost entirely with expression maps, with very little tweaking in Dorico’s Play tab. As Dr. Walmsley mentioned, one has to be the judge of whether what can be done in Dorico is good enough; for my purposes, it certainly is.

Here’s playback by Dorico:

Here’s the original track in the DAW with the same libraries and live soprano.

For the moment there’s no fine grained option in Dorico to adjust playback as easy as you could do in Cubase or alike. What I mean is, if you want to change the playback sample of a single note it will take you considerably more time.

I know both. For me this is practically at least as fast and precise in Dorico as in Cubase, but in my opinion it is much clearer in Dorico 3.5 than in Cubase.

What would be a fast why to change a repeating staccato note with another staccato sample to avoid the machine gun effect?
The new condition rule will trigger always the same staccato sample. The only way I see is to create a custom playback technique and assign it to this note.
I would like a faster, easier way to do this, so this is way I’m a bit disappointed with the new expression maps evolution.
For sure the rule conditions and dynamic lane will result in better defaults, but fine tuning is still much work. I expext this to be easier in Cubase?

For example, the Libary can support this with automation (layers).

For me the question boils down to:
Do they have plans to make Dorico playback as flexible and powerful as any other programs (Cubase inclusive)?

That’s what I was hoping for when I switched to Dorico because it was looking promising.
Now I start to feel a bit different because of the Cubase integration plans.
I understand that selling 2 programs could also be a plan.

It’s still absolutely our goal that you should ultimately be able to produce a great-sounding mock-up in Dorico without needing to send the project to Cubase. But the two programs are starting in very different places, with Dorico having the added requirement that the notation must make sense, whereas in Cubase no such requirement exists, and if you want to have every single note being played back by a different plug-in assigned to a different track, you can do it. Notation software necessitates additional layers of abstraction between the music notation and the resulting MIDI, which I think is always going to be perceived by some users as awkwardness or lack of flexibility. But there is a lot more we can do to develop the software in this area, which we will do, but it cannot and will not come at the expense of balancing the development of features that address other use cases. Playback is just one facet of Dorico’s feature set. We cannot do everything at once. But you can expect every version of Dorico to take significant steps forward in the area of both automatic playback and providing more tools for you to shape playback as you wish – just as you can expect it also to include features to improve workflow, make the notation more beautiful, and make it more efficient to produce publication-quality graphical output.

Most sample libraries have ‘round robins’ for getting over the ‘machine-gun’ problem of re-sounding the same sample. Is this what you mean or something else?

Thanks Daniel, that’s the answer I was hoping to hear.
I understand that Dorico is first of all a notation program and that not everything can be deliverrd at once.
Playback is just one of Dorico’s feature set, you say , but it seems to me a popular one if you look at the views.
I also belief it’s one of the features where you’ll outperform the competition.

I’m just re-visiting a Suite for Wind Band that I wrote in 2006. I penned it in Sibelius 5 and have never heard a live performance. I downloaded ‘Note Performer’ demo a few days ago and apart from a few things I’ll have to tidy up (mainly percussion parts) Note Performer is doing a pretty good job of interpreting the Dorico score I did sometime when Dorico Version 1 first appeared. I think the crux to the question ‘Note Performer or sample libraries’ ultimately depends on what you’re working towards. If it’s a pitching job for a film or TV ad, I’ve found that directors and producers are people with limited musical imaginations where soundtracks are involved. It only needs the instrumentation to be off, and they won’t be able to hear the great melody you’ve assigned to the heroine and hear the canonic treatment of it just as she saves the day. They might just hear a naff synth sound. You might have been better leaving the idea just as a piano track and telling them it will be scored for orchestra. If you get the gig, depending on the ‘readies’, you might be able to employ an assistant to do the orchestral mock-ups, before recording it with live players. I think we’re some way off being able to reproduce even 50% of what’s doable in a DAW, simply because mixing and placing of instruments in a sound-field is as much a part of the whole thing as the notes and the genre.

My ears tell me that “what is doable in a DAW” and “what many people actually produce using a DAW” are two very different things. If NotePerformer can beat the “average DAW user,” either on quality of speed, it is a viable commercial product.

Hello Wizard! Can I respectfully disagree?


The majority of this is Halion SE of all things, and all of it is mixed exclusively in Dorico…

I did have to export the two tracks of audio from Dorico and combine with video in another program. I felt handcuffed from using the libraries I wanted to the full extent, as my emergency purchased laptop still has criminally little RAM. (See me inserting various excuses here)

Blame me for whatever inadequacies the piece has, and I’ll agree its not as realistic as I’d like - but it really was RAM and of course, me the user. :slight_smile: With identical libraries and ample hardware, IMO I’d put what Dorico’s audio is capable of against any DAW.

Of course you can disagree gdball with me… that’s what makes it interesting.

I just listened to the link and I think it kind of confirmed what I meant about the mixing. Mixing for me means having three dimensions to a sound. I was listening on reasonable headphones. I could hear the panning aspect(stereo / LR) of the mix, but the depth (front to back usually defined by different reverbs and eq) and the height of the mix (the frequency range) sounded limited to me by possibly the available parameters of control provided by Dorico (or the ease by which you can ‘get at them’). I’m sure Dorico will get there eventually, and maybe you can now (with an awful lot of programming in ‘PLY’) but I haven’t heard anything yet that sounds like a ‘mastered’ track.