HORRIFIC performance of Dorico 3

Hi all,
I’m relatively new to Dorico, but I was impressed enough with Dorico Elements 2 that I also bought Dorico 3. There are so many things about this software that I like, but there is one major issue that makes it a non-starter for any serious work. I’ve contacted technical support about this and they sent me here (why even bother with a Tech Support link if this is where we’re always going to end up?). But on to the show-stopping bug. If anyone has ideas about how to address this I’m all ears, but if there’s no way to fix it I’m going to have to go back to Notion 6 (which has it’s own set of issues, but at least it works).

Dorico is completely unusable for very complex work. I have a choral/symphonic work that is about 320 measures long (16+ minutes running time). Now I’ll admit that’s a significant load to throw at any notation system, but other apps (Finale, and Notion 6) have no trouble working with this same score. It takes several seconds just to tie two notes together or add a gradual dynamic, every…single…time…I touch the score. Basically any modification of the score is an exercise in watching the Windows busy indicator. While the problem is less pronounced with smaller scores it’s still there just waiting to interrupt the creative flow without warning.

I have been referred to the article about optimizing a DAW workstation (the closest document they have to this kind of a situation) and have followed all the instructions to the letter and it has made NO difference in this behavior. I am running Windows 10 Pro on a Core i7 with 16GB of RAM and a high end video card. GIven what other software vendors have been able to accomplish there’s really no excuse for this. I created a video of it because it was so ridiculous, but apparently I can’t upload those here.

So what has your experience been? What’s the largest score you’ve thrown at Dorico 3 and how did it respond? Any tips on making it actually usable?

Thanks in advance.

Welcome to the forum, ljo67. I’m sorry you’re experiencing bad performance with Dorico. Dorico is a demanding application, particularly when it comes to using features like condensing in large-scale works, and having a multi-core CPU and plenty of RAM can help; on the face of it, a Core i7 and 16GB RAM should be sufficient. It may also be that you are experiencing a specific performance problem with your particular project, so we might need to ask you to provide the project to us so we can examine it. Could you also do Help > Create Diagnostic Report, and attach the resulting zip file here? That will give us some diagnostics to look at.

ljo, I recently worked on a symphony that was 570 bars, 18 minutes long, with around 30 instruments. I experienced no lag whatsoever. My specs are in my signature; they’re faster than yours, but not enough that it should be a massive difference.

Daniel, one particular anecdote that might be helpful: DISK SPEED. Obviously SSD is a huge improvement from HDD, but there’s more… My new desktop uses an SSD with the new NVMe format instead of the older SATA. Basically, the SSD is connected directly to the processor (or something like that… I’m no computer expert). I have to say, the results are significant! Everything is faster than on my previous machine. Even condensing on a large score was not bad at all.

It seems to me that Dorico really takes advantage of this newer NVMe architecture. We may want to add that to the list of suggested specs going forward.

I would be surprised if the choice of SSD had any impact on score input, editing or condensing, since none of that touches the file system. I would expect improvements on startup time and for sample loading, however.

“Core i7” isn’t really sufficient information - how many cores? Dan’s laptop has four physical cores, and that’s quite possibly the minimum you can realistically get away with for longer orchestral projects.

Aside from an inadequate system or something like a MIDI feedback loop screwing performance, the most likely cause of “several seconds to do anything” is that you have the condensing option switched on, even if you are not actually viewing the condensed score. That will force Dorico to recalculate the condensed layout for every edit.

You can switch it on or off in the Edit menu, or assign a key command to do it.

FWIW my desktop PC has Windows and Dorico on an SSD but the project files are on HDD, and that doesn’t give any significant performance hit. The biggest project I’ve worked on (not lightning-fast, but perfectly usable) had around 80 to 100 staves and 4,000 bars of music.

My new one has 8 cores. To Paul’s point, I admit I don’t know the exact reason for the speed increase. All I know is that it’s like working on a next-generation device by comparison, and my laptop was hardly old.

The speed increase shows up in other smaller ways as well. For example, nudging lyrics is now instantaneous. The minuscule lag on my laptop used to be fine… Now by comparison I find it annoying.

Paul, are you sure that disk speed really wouldn’t be a factor? Seems like people are saying NVMe is a pretty big deal overall.

Thanks for the response. My system has two SSDs (1GB and 512GB). Both are fairly new, but I don’t know if they are NVMe drives.

Thanks for the response. I did have condensing enabled, but I’m relatively certain that I’ve seen performance issues with it turned off. I’ll leave it off for a while to see what happens.

There are many variables as to how Dorico will perform on a given system, but for a very rough rule of thumb, something like the Geekbench multi-core score should give a reasonable indication of perceived performance on larger projects. For instance compare your laptop and desktop:

Although there’s only a modest increment in the single core performance, the multi-core performance is 5-6 times higher. I’m sure the SSD speed is a factor in general performance improvements, but during regular score editing, Dorico will barely touch the disk, as it’s CPU-bound, rather than I/O-bound, so I’ll be very surprised if it makes any difference.

Intel Core i7 3770, peaks at 3.7GHz
4 physical cores, 8 logical processors

I’ll fall back on what I said earlier about other products being able to handle the same score with much greater ease. Yes, Dorico 3 is perhaps more advanced than some of the other products, but I would not expect there to be such a huge difference. I’m hoping that disabling condensing will make an improvement, as someone suggested.

Those programs aren’t condensing…

If you switch condensing off and Dorico 3 has significantly worse performance than Dorico 2, that would suggest there is something going on that is specific to your score, which the Steinberg team would probably be interested in investigating.

You can still run Dorico 2 with your Dorico 3 licence if you want to do a direct comparison, but you have to close one version before you load the other one.

Thanks for the response. I know my processor is several generations behind, but I had not considered benchmarking it. The results are interesting. https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/765463 (784 / 2988). Probably time for an upgrade for sure, but still it seems like there shouldn’t be such a huge impact. If the base specs should be higher then someone needs to officially publish those, even recommending a minimum benchmark score.

We cannot help you without the information that Daniel asked for: the diagnostic report and a project that is slow for you. Dorico has to do a huge amount of calculation - probably an order of magnitude more than older generation applications - in order to do the complex processing for collision avoidance, condensing and all the other features that are intended to reduce the amount of time the user has to spend tidying up the score. So it’s not particularly meaningful to compare the performance of Dorico with other applications.

However, we would usually expect performance on a moderate size score to be much better than you are reporting (there are many users who are editing larger scores without problems), so this suggest that there’s a specific problem with either your system or your project. There are number of known issues that we may spot straight away, or there may be some new performance problem that we haven’t yet encountered. We’re unable to tell without the project and the diagnostics.

Understood. I’m going to try working with it off for a while. Now that I think about it, the time delay when enabling/disabling condensing is very close to what I’m observing for individual edits once the score has condensing enabled. So there’s probably something to that.

TBH, if condensing imposes such significant overhead then it should be turned off (including recalculation) when I’m in Galley view. I’d rather pay that penalty when I switch to page view rather than incrementally throughout an editing session, especially since you can’t edit with condensing turned on (in Page view mode). It’s clearly intended to help readability of a score in playback (and print) mode, but if I’m editing I would not expect to have to bear the burden of keeping condensing in sync in the background. IOW, Write mode is not really write mode if I’m in page view and have condensing turned on.

I understand. I’ve been trying to generate the diagnostics report, but when I select that option in the menu nothing happens. Does it get generated silently and if so where is the file stored?

It should land on your desktop automatically, and yes, it’s created silently.

On this subject, since the order of magnitude of computing is so drastically different from its competitors, perhaps it would be useful to make a sticky post in this forum detailing this in full and some of the most common issues and tips for maximizing performance.

Whenever I see a performance problem, I wonder if removing the video dll would help the performance problem (at least somewhat).

See: https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=246&t=167430&p=895855#p895855