Mahler 2nd Symphony with VSL Synchron-ized libraries

Here is a performance of the begining of the 2nd Symphony using VSL synchron-ized libraries with VSL expression maps.

I hope you enjoy it.

My experience with this library is quite good.
But there are also several inconveniences.

My feedback .

What I like

  • many instruments and articulations, with ready to use expression maps
  • beautifull sounds, espacially for flûtes, clarinets, Horns and strings
  • the synchron player is very powerfull and allows to modify every details of the instrument.
  • the builtin convolution reverb with presets wich allows to set the distance of each instrument

What can be better

  • VSL synchron-ized is sold as a “ready out of the box” library for Dorico, with well balanced presets. It is not so simple because Dorico overrides the default expression values (CC11) of VSL. The default playback is not well balanced and you have to do your own mix.
    I really hope this will be fixed in a next version.

  • I experienced difficulties to balance Trumpets with seeme always too weak or too far. Even with the brass dimension pack, it has been necessary to set the maxmium values for volumes.
    I also experienced inconstancies for trumpets patches with short note detaché wich is too loud.

  • for decent results, vel XF must be activated. But there is no global parameter for that in synchron player. You have to do for each instrument

  • I need a very strong configuration to work wih a full orchestra with vel XF and convolution reverb. My brand new i7 i7-1165G7 @ 2.80GHz with 16Gb ram is at its full capacity.

  • in play mode, ajusting dynamics is sometimes slow and painfull. I had also difficulties to change the dynamic for fp

Any other feedback from Doricians working with VSL synchron-ized SE ?


Just add CC28 > 64 to the INIT switch in each Xmap :wink:

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I enjoyed it very much. Well done.
(At fig. 4, you might like to reconsider the tempo changes - it trips over itself. But that’s just me being picky!)

I have all these vsl libraries and would be interesting in seeing more details about how you customized any of the midi, synchron presets, etc

That’s good but I’d also be curious to hear this with NotePerformer. I’m also a VSL user and started upgrading to synchron but am not convinced I’ll get much better results than I do with NP. My plan was to mix them when say a prominent solo needed a better sound.

honestly, I don’t disagree with you, but I still have much to learn about Dorico playback finessing. NP is shockingly good playback without ANY effort. its not as good as what can be done in a DAW with VSL libraries…not even close. But in terms no effort automatic playback…its really really good…and maybe better then VSL or other libraries might be without a lot of massaging…I’m not sure about that…

But I will say this, the latency in NP is unbearable in the early stages while I’m working on something and entering notes and building up the project. I’d much rather use built in Halion then NP during that phase…but Halion sounds terrible compared to both of the above. I want to setup VSL stuff perhaps for when I’m in that earlier phase, much less latency…but then can simply switch the playback template to NP to render it that way, presuming I don’t have custom playback techniques littered throughout the score to make VSL sound good.

There’s a lot that could be said on this and a few important points have already been made. I crossgraded from the VI Special Edition to the Synchron version a year ago. At that point I’d only been a few months with Dorico. Previously using Sibelius, I had converted most of the symphonies to NotePerformer as the results simply seemed more involving. Now, using my own Expression Maps, I find the results in Dorico and Synchron better than before.

The maps supplied by VSL have a few errors or dubious choices including failure to include spicc in the NoteLength automation but will work to a greater or lesser degree depending on the kind of music. Dorico overrides the CC7 (Master Volume) fixed setting and it may well make sense to do as @fratveno suggests and put in VSL’s default values for the individual instruments in the Init line as the same family seem to largely share the same values-- I haven’t fully tested this yet. Any CC11 override is irrelevant as you should be using CC11 in the secondary controller. For me a scaled mapping to CC2 of around 60-120 works quite well and avoids the problem of quiet notes being far too quiet.

Just briefly my take on the library. For me, it gives the most accurate sounds of the all-in-ones at a reasonable price. It is fairly notation friendly with a wide range of articulations so you should be able to get something close to the sound you want. Balances need to be adjusted in most libraries as there’s no such thing as perfect calibration between different dynamic levels and patches, esp. in starter versions where some compromises have to be made. I find it works well for somewhat chamber-like or classical instrumentation. The downside is that somehow with larger, more expressive forces, it doesn’t feel particularly warm or well integrated.

NotePerformer in orchestral music (forget solo instruments) provides a remarkable clarity of texture and is arguably the best for proofing orchestration. The sheer bite it can provide can be thrilling in very rhythmical music – and yes, its Rite of Spring isn’t bad at all. Ease of use is obviously a plus. But you can’t get away from the fact that the actual sample accuracy of NP is pretty low and the more focus there is on individual instruments, the worse it becomes.

The other currently most popular alternative seems to be the BBC SO Core. It is much warmer and characterful than VSL but has fewer articulations and needs quite a bit of work on the strings above all to make them flow properly.

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What I suggested was merely to put CC28 only in the INIT. This CC switches VelXF on and off.

( I’ve always used CC11 as general dynamics and CC2 (scaled) as the XF level. Those appear as defaults on my system, anyway. No one seems to have exactly the same view on what is the proper way to handle this, so I’m just sticking to what works for me… the VSL supplied material also requires a lot of modification, or is at best incomplete with regard to Dorico’s functionality…)

In case folks need more Mahler for testing orchestral libraries, here are the first and fourth movements of Mahler 9, currently configured for NotePerformer.


Thanks a lot Stephen, outstanding work you do.


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sorry, of course you did. I was referring to something else altogether and somehow misremembered your post! On the question of VelXF, I agree that it’s essential to activate. With VI, you can change one and the rest follow automatically but not the case with Synchron, alas. I thought in an update of the VSL template, they had offered a choice of selecting an ActiveX enabled version of the configuration but could be imagining things and don’t have time to check just now.

As for how to set the primary and secondary controllers, naturally it is down to personal taste and the specifics of the EM’s.

Those of you using heavy vsl libs, vepro or no?

Thank you very much, Stephen! It’s a joy to see how a true engraving master worked on a score!


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As an owner of Dorico 3.5.12 Pro, NotePerformer, VSL Synchronized SE Volumes 1 to 6 and BBC SO Pro., what an interesting discussion :slight_smile: !

As I’m going to start an orchestration project, I’m wondering about what could be the more fluid workflow…
Here are the steps I was thinking about:

  • Orchestrate in Dorico with NotePerformer (for orchestra balance accuracy)
  • Once done, set the Playback Template to another VI (BBC SO or VSL Sync SE) to get (most of the time) the right articulations
  • Export a midi file
  • Open the file into a DAW and extract articulations phrases in similar articulations DAW track and draw more CCs

Concerning the level differences using VSL in Dorico, here’s a thread on the VSL forum:

Thanks for your answers!

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Since @Stephen_Taylor invited us to try his Mahler with various orchestral libraries, I did it with the Adagio.

I didn’t touch his original score (all considered, Mahler indications are as detailed as an intricate series of CC lanes!). And Stephen’s engraving is perfectly accurate, up to page turns. I just selected the sounds, and did some balancing between the instruments.

Libraries used are all VSL. Synchron Strings Pro, SYzd Solo Strings, SYzd Woodwinds, VI Dimension Brass+MIR PRO, VI Percussion.

Obviously, only a very limited amount of articulations is used. Things like soft attacks and releases, and any vibrato intensity change and unwritten modulation change on long notes is missing. But should give an idea of what can be done out of the box.

(I used my own expression maps and presets, but they should be identical, as for the final result, to the factory ones).

Mahler’s Symphony IX/Adagio as edited by Stephen Taylor


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Thanks Paolo, this recording sounds great! I’m a little embarrassed that you gave me such a compliment, I’m just a composer who likes copying scores in Dorico! But I appreciate your kindness - and it is a real privilege to be on this forum with so many excellent musicians, engravers, and software engineers.


Hi Stephen what a great job you have done! Stravinsky and Mahler!!
I saw Schuberts unfinished 8
any chance of getting that too?
Kai Nieminen composer on Fennica Gehrman

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Outstanding job, Stephen, again! Thanks for sharing those, they would deserve standing in the example files Dorico provides!

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Hi ! I started this (probably using XMLs found on the internet) three years ago, feel free to finish it and engrave it properly :wink:Schubert-Symphony8.dorico (1003.6 KB)

Edit: I thought I started this, but now that Stephen posted it too, I might have found it on the forum at a time when I projected to do it… Apologies if I didn’t do anything to this file, I genuinely do not remember.

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Hi Marc
Many thanks!!!Kai

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