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

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.

Many sample libraries make it easy. Even for a “simple” situation like a solo piano, Pianoteq gives you the option to locate up to five different mics in 3-D space around the instrument (including underneath the soundboard or inside the lid), and a choice of mic characteristics, ranging from idealized frequency response and directional characteristics, to models of a dozen named real-world mics. It also has a convolution reverb with about 30 preset “spaces”, plus option of loading your own impulse files.

Orchestra libraries often have their own VSTs, with similar options to locate the players on a virtual stage in a virtual hall, set up the mic configuration, etc.

Dorico doesn’t need to “get there eventually” to handle VSTs with that sort of capability, but if you only use the samples and the version of Halion bundled with Dorico, you have to do it all the hard way. As is often the case, “free stuff” is worth what you paid for it.

Hey Rob and Wizard.,

The criteria on this one wasn’t a concert type three dimensional sound of the music, but for the music; to further the emotion of the scene without riding inappropriately on top of the dialog or any of the effects. Its not the same rules - Tire screechings, weapon loading, bullet hits need the space to express power and make you jump a little. I’ve heard some versions that did use that kind of reverb for example, and it sounds really weird in context - it makes the scene shift out of location, seem hollow like a play on the stage. IMO I probably should have made the sound more of a servant and less noticed. I’ve heard versions that sounded like you had the video sound turned nearly off and were streaming a different song or something while watching. Some whose bass made the engine sounds or explosions anemic.

Regardless, I really think any of that is (deservingly so) more a criticism of me. :slight_smile:

I found nothing in Dorico that limited me any of those areas. There is nothing that I could have done better in a DAW because its a DAW. Barring a few built ins, I had the exact same palette of plugins/processing options/instruments to choose from in either tool. I chose not to use premium libraries and multi-mic positions for this purpose as it wasn’t part of the contest criteria. Its 27 staves, so 27 * 7 articulation or so per template * 3 or so mic positions with convolution reverbs on top is - - more than I had memory for. That would just as true in a DAW, and I should have that fixed in a bit.

But as it stands (however self serving) I think its at least good enough to be worth challenging the 50% comment. And I’m standing up for Halion -I really regret not spending a BIT more time on the sound quality for this one as SE alone can do quite a bit more with some attention. I’m going to stop treating it like Sibelius sounds.

Thanks for not killing me - this one of those I wish I hadn’t said anything. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure that anybody has the question of whether you CAN do this sort of thing in Dorico alone after jumping through a bunch of hoops. I think the question is really whether doing it in Dorico is currently less work or more work. At the moment I feel it is still a lot more work. I’ve been a Cubase user since SX3 and I believe I have paid to upgrade to every single .0 and .5 release since then, because each one had some new features that would help me, saving a bit of time for each project or giving me some ability I didn’t have before. The user interface of the Cubase piano roll view is still light-years ahead of the Dorico piano roll view in all respects. Similarly, the Cubase mixer is still light-years ahead of the Dorico mixer, where it seems I cannot do my own group tracks among other shortcomings. I’m sure some of these will be addressed in future versions, at least I hope so. I don’t understand why the UI experience in both Play mode piano roll editing and the mixer has to be so different between Cubase and Dorico - why not work together on UI for those shared parts?

However, I’m also not sure how much DAW functionality is desired in Dorico. Does Steinberg really intend for Dorico to become a complete replacement for Cubase for up to 75% of Cubase users, so that they will not feel the need to buy Cubase anymore? Is it really the best option for them to make Dorico so powerful that, for people like me who buy both Cubase and Dorico upgrades religiously, that Cubase no longer has a reason to be there?

Don’t forget Cubase’s audio capabilities!
In Dorico I do not mix with the mixer, which I do not use at all, but I control (like a conductor the orchestra with the notation in front of my eyes or in my ear) everything in the notation or in the “lanes”. For my part, I “only” need an authentic sound without effects, it counts the musical substance.

Vergiss nicht die Audio-Fähigkeiten von Cubase!
In Dorico mixe ich nicht mit dem Mixer, den ich überhaupt nicht benutze, sondern ich steuere (wie ein Dirigent das Orchester mit der Notation vor Augen bzw. im Ohr) alles in der Notation bzw. in den “lanes”. Ich für meinen Teil brauche “nur” einen authentischen Sound ohne Effekte, es zählt die musikalische Substanz.

I find that the type of user and scope is different, in Dorico and Cubase. Cubase is meant for electronic/hybrid music production, with support of basic scoring needs to communicate with real players in a fast working environment, like cinema. Dorico is meant for producing sophisticate scores, with support for realistic sound prototypes for the composer’s sake, or as a guide for real players and members of competition juries.

Some of the more advanced features in Dorico’s Play mode might never be of use for a typical Cubase users. Think about the ability of having different voices in a staff play different virtual instruments. Or the separation between shown and played notes, going much further than the “interpretation” of a DAW.

As a composer in score, I find Dorico has already a degree of integration between music symbols and musical meaning for virtual instruments, that is not in any DAW. The importance of the written score is so high in Dorico, while being replaced by actual playing in a DAW, that there wouldn’t be any reason to do the same in a DAW.

I hope (and am sure about it) in further development of the Play mode, but I’m not sure the Cubase pianoroll can be entirely ported as it is in Dorico.


The internals of Dorico and Cubase are very different at every level. When we started working on Dorico many years ago one of the first technical decisions we had to make was about whether we would be able to build Dorico on the same shared framework as Cubase and Nuendo. (WaveLab was already independent, and like Dorico is built on Qt.) Unfortunately there were many fundamental things that were going to be impractical to achieve using the shared framework, things that would have potentially delayed Dorico by multiple years, so we made the pragmatic solution to use Qt, which is a decision we do not regret at all. But it does mean that there is very little in common between how Dorico approaches anything and how Cubase approaches it. Again, I don’t think we regret this either, as it has allowed us to build Dorico in such a way that it addresses its domain in the way we judge to be best, rather than having to try to squeeze everything through a Cubase-shaped hole.

The disadvantage of this approach is that it makes it quite difficult, if not completely impractical, to actively use bits of user interface from Cubase. So we do have to reimplement key bits of editing functionality like the piano roll and automation editors ourselves.

I am always very interested to hear from people with a lot of experience with Cubase or indeed other DAWs as to what are the main pain points in Dorico’s editors in Play mode. There are several very experienced Cubase users on the Dorico team, but Cubase is such a deep application that in my own experience I can get a very different perspective on what the best or most efficient way to achieve a task is by talking to each user, and that is true even of my colleagues on the Dorico team.

So if you have a hit list of specific improvements you would like us to make to the editors in Play mode, please let me know what they are. Although we do not have the ambition to make the editors as functional and multi-purpose as their Cubase counterparts, we do want them to work as efficiently and painlessly as possible.


What is your intention with the “power button” that appears next to the VSTi or MIDI instruments in the right hand side of the play panel? I’m sure you know better than anyone that lots of composers have monster Cubase templates so that they can quickly grab that Flute Flauntando or whatever that is their favorite when they need it - but they also don’t want the weight of the world on their systems, or wait forever for a project to load. “Weight and Wait”, I guess.

I’m thinking that “power button” could be used as a way to enable/disable instruments short of deleting and adding/recreate their configuration. With lazy loading - do not actually load them yet on startup if they are disabled. It would be a bonus if you can unload them when disabled, though I know not all of them will clean up their samples.

I’m sold on letting Dorico do things for me automatically wherever possible, and manually tweaking only when necessary. So while it appears that Dorico will eventually add more sends that can be used for grouping or whatever, I’d prefer just an option in the audio export to “export instrument groups as stems” using natural groupings or the instrument groups we’ve already made in setup.

I’m hoping those are bite sized enough to be reasonable to consider.

The button at some point will be a ‘Project Activation’ control similar to Cubase, where you can make one project active for playback and then swap to another project without all the VST plugins getting unloaded. We hope to have time to implement this in a future version.

Sounds sorta close Paul? The way you said sounds like its more global to the project but the buttons are beside each instrument. It would still be on a per instrument basis as that is where the buttons are now?

Ah sorry, I misread - I thought you were talking about the power button that’s on the toolbar at the top of the document window. The power buttons next to each VST instrument function as they do in Cubase - they just temporarily disable it, which you might use to reduce CPU usage. I don’t know whether that would prevent the plugins from loading their samples - I suspect that’s at the discretion of the plugin.