The short answer (at this time) is that for fine control over many controller or VST lanes, YES.
Cubase 10 (yes, even the Elements version) has some of the best MIDI editing capabilities in the industry. In time, the Dorico play tab, in combination with lua scripting abilities may catch up, but for now, the difference is huge.
Imagine you want increase the velocity of every note that falls within half a second of beats 2 and 4, from measures 17 to 30 by a random amount between 10% and 20% of the current value.
In Cubase you can build a ‘logical editor’ that can do this in less than a minute. (Dorico will probably be able to do this someday, via lua, and tools added to the play tab, but it’s not there ‘yet’).
Now imagine you want to do a Trio section for a march where the melody will rise in volume as pitches to higher, and lower in volume as they go lower, and you also want to fire a couple of CC’s that will change the attack style on every note with a duration of less than a full beat.
Again…you can do this rather easily via automated processes in a good tracking DAW. Logical editors make quick ‘batch work’ of tasks that can take many hours attempting to do one note/event at a time with your mouse and keyboard.
The keyboard editor in something like Cubase is very advanced in terms of the ability to lasso and edit/scale/side/normalize/quantize/dequantize/etc. batches of events in one relative move. Dorico’s play tab isn’t quite up to that level yet.
The percussion editor in Cubase is truly amazing. It makes quick work of getting fine control over every event and velocity. Again, you can also apply logical editors to these tracks.
There’s a whole lot more as well…the ability to work with sysex data. Having fine precision control over things like rpn/nrpn manipulation.
I do understand that expression maps are one way in Dorico to sketch in some pretty good defaults for articulations and other expressive information…but every score is going to have unique sets of needs. What works great for a baroque concerto can sound like garbage with a Romantic Tarantella. So…until Dorico sends tempo information and such…and instruments come along that can get and use things like tempo, style markers, etc…and expression maps get smart enough to go there, it can require MUCH manual labor to fine tune expression maps to go well with different types/styles of music.
With Cubase Pro, you can also opt to keep your controller data in the form of VST Note Expression events that are ‘note bound’ rather than raw channel CC data. It’s pretty easy to convert controller information back and forth as needed. How is this helpful? Well, it’s easier to move notes around, do custom grooves, and more…if the expression data is note bound rather than channel bound.
Real Time expression control…
For some types of scores, there’s no substitute for just muting out whatever the score interpreter engine did to some phrases in terms of expression data (subtle dynamics, smooth crescendo effects, etc.), starting a new track dedicated to controller data alone, and recording that expressive data in real time…with a wheel, breath controller, whatever. A tracking DAW makes it bonehead easy to punch in/out and cycle takes…after a few passes your bound to get one that fits…and you can save your variations of expressive data, even cycle among them at random, and so forth.
In time Dorico will get smarter and smarter, and offer a wide array of groove tools and templates, but at this time, if you truly want fine control over the groove of a piece, or sections of a piece, a good DAW (and practice with its groove making/editing features) can make rather quick work of it.
If you also need to sync your music up to video, game engines, audio tracks, external hardware, lighting rigs…the power tools in this area for a high end DAW like Cubase or Nuendo are simply amazing. Cubase (and even better, Nuendo), has the tools to set cue points, and auto stretch-shrink tempo to hit cues with precision.
Monitoring and Mixing…
The audio matrix is far superior in terms of how you can hook things up…route signals…drop in plugins to get data about the mix to scientific precision, and more. Group buses, the ability to bind groups of faders together and automate those in real time, and more. The box of processing plugins is going to be more loaded as well.
Again, a good tracking DAW is more receptive to being ‘remote controlled’ using your favorite controller devices. Nice to be able to try things in real time…and keep up with all your takes of everything you do on the mixing consoled to later edit and/or choose the best one.
Cubase has been around almost as long as the MIDI standard itself. It supports hardware and sets of instruments going way back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. So much of what Cubase in particular can do, even today, on a modern PC or Mac…other DAWs and/or Notation packages never have been able to do, and never will.
If you require surround sound…again, Dorico isn’t ready to tackle that beyond some basics yet.
Finally, when it comes to doing the master mix-down, and even mastering an audio mix…the assortment of tools in a higher end tracking DAW are going to much more complete.
Don’t get me wrong, a rather large number of people don’t really need, nor care about super high quality mock-ups. If it’s good enough to compose with, and get the idea across…many will be more than happy.
For high end mock-ups, mixes, and mastering, it’s probably going to be a while until Dorico’s play back engine, mixing console, and editing page(s) catch to what a good tracking DAW can do with relative ease. I think we’re a few years away from Dorico being a true one stop shop for this type of user. The main factor being…how much is your time worth? Once the score is done and looking perfect…then the issue becomes…if a sound shaping task takes several hours in the Dorico, or Sibelius, or Finale, etc., but you can do it in 2 or 3 minutes in a tracking DAW…well, it’s worth it to move the project over and get to work.