Extremely wide volume using HSO VST's

I’m working with the playback options right now, and I’ve just changed all of the instrument sounds from their defaults to the sounds from the HALion Symphonic Orchestra library. In playback, there’s a GIGANTIC difference in the volume level of some instruments. The flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, and tuba are all barely audible, and the trombones, tuba, and harp are extremely loud. All the sounds are from the same set, the HALion Symphony Orchestra library (except harp which is GM). When I open the HALion Sonic SE VST interface from the play menu and play around on the piano for each sound, the volume problem is actually not there. When I click notes in the Dorico score, or start playback, the massive difference is there.

Any ideas? I’d love to get a good handle on this and expression maps, so I can start importing other libraries and work with high quality sounds.


If you’ve manually changed the playback sounds in Play mode, then the issue may be that the sounds you chose before used a different approach to controlling the dynamics of the notes. HSO sounds use CC1, modulation, to determine dynamic, while some other sounds might use MIDI note on velocity. Dorico only knows what kind of volume/dynamic type to use for a given sound based on the VST expression map that is used to specify its behaviour in playback. You can choose a different VST expression map in the Endpoint Setup dialog. This video also shows you what to do.

Rather than changing sounds individually, it would probably be better to apply a different playback template, e.g. the ‘HSSE+HSO (Pro)’ template that uses HSO sounds automatically. Do this by going to Play > Playback Template, choosing ‘HSSE+HSO (Pro)’ from the list, and clicking ‘Apply and Close’.

Thanks Daniel for the detailed reply. I won’t ask anything else on the topic until I’ve fully studied the links you sent me.

I do have another question on a related topic. I have East West SO (Gold), and I’ve noticed their instruments are organized as multiple patches for different articulations. For example, solo flute long, solo flute long non vib, solo flute short, and so forth. To your knowledge is this something Dorico can handle with expression maps? Automatically choosing the correct sound based on the notation? I know some sample libraries are made more with DAWs in mind, so I’m trying to get a mental handle on how to distinguish that technically. And there is a “solo flute master key switch” which may be the sort of all inclusive patch. I just don’t want to buy high quality libraries like Spitfire if their utility in Dorico will be limited due to the libraries’ overall architecture. Thanks for the help, all the best.

Yes, you’d have to load each patch into separate slots in the Play interface, then devise an expression map that switches between the different patches as required by way of channel changes.

Beautiful. Possible is miles better than impossible. And I may find a situation where the tinkering is definitely worth it.

For the sake of anyone else reading this with a similar issue, doing this – Play > Playback Template, choosing ‘HSSE+HSO (Pro)’ – solved the problem.