NotePerformer vs. Other VST Plugins with Dorico

So, I’ve been a near full-time Dorico user for a week now, after having transitioned from Finale.
I currently have NotePerformer 3 Trial Version, and I think it’s better than Dorico’s default sounds. In all honesty though, I’m rather unimpressed with NotePerformer 3’s sounds. The interpretation is good, but in all honesty, are the raw sounds quite realistic themselves? Also, I am not a fan of the Choir Aahs. They sound okay if I am using them in a fully harmonized choir, but as individual solo voices, they are not so good.

I am looking for a VST Library that is the most realistic for the money. (Or provides the most bang for the buck), that works well with Dorico. I was thinking of Miroslav Philharmonik 2, but I am not sure if that is realistic.
Are there any realistic VST Plugins out there that work with Dorico?
One more thing to add, I have know knowledge about tweaking all the fine little knobs that do whatever they do, so I will just hear the sound without any tweaking, so that being said, there are many VSTs out there according to my knowledge that require tweaking to sound realistic, but I am looking for one that would sound realistic without tweaking.

I am intending to buy one soon, and I want to make sure I get the most bang for the buck. I appreciate all of you all’s feedback. Thanks!

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A forum search will turn up quite a few threads about this. Basically any VST will work with Dorico (pretty much). But every one will require some expression mapping. See the sticky thread.

Not sure what you mean by “bang for the buck,” but Spitfire is basically the best IMO, but too expensive for me. Iconica is pretty nice but it’s $700.

If you want a top-shelf VST to work with no tweaking, you’ll have to wait for expression maps to get fleshed out a little more.


For the money? I don’t think there is one. I’m not a NotePerformer user, but I recognize that Arne has made a commendable compromise between size, scope, price and usability. One thing that NotePerformer has over other libraries is that it was made to be as invisible as possible, whereas any library you’ll get will demand more controller information to spring alive, as well as more command over the mixing, custom expression maps and so on. If you’re not familiar with these already, be prepared for the slight upwards slope you’ll experience at first.

That being said, good introductory libraries are VSL’s Special Edition (it might be starting to show its age, but it’s still pretty great) and now Steinberg’s Iconica (which seems to directly compete with VSL SE, but which I haven’t tried yet). And it depends on what you’re trying to achieve, I guess. Vienna is (used to be) more “neutral”, while a Spitfire library is meant to be already an instrument, something with a specific sound and parameters in mind, as well as something very “playable”.

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Keep in mind that NotePerformer is not up to full usability in Dorico - there are a number of things it does that aren’t worked out, yet: harmonics, solo voices, and so forth. It might not change your initial opinion, but for the money it is a very good value. And - so far - each new version has been a free update. Also, Arne is very responsive to any problems.

I have found that it helps to play around with the settings - I did this with NP in Sibelius, and do so here (limited at the moment).

R Pearl, which settings? I’ve looked for things to tweak but have come up mostly empty.

NotePerformer3 is the best option if want to “notate and play.”

If you want to engage in a DAW-like rendering, which includes of ton of MIDI CC and other tweaking, NotePerformer cannot compare with the better, more expensive VI’s. And even then, Dorico is not yet fully prepared for all your efforts. Like others said, you have to create Expression Maps for things that NotePerformer interprets for you.

NP3 is what it is, and it’s Dorico support is still in beta if I recall correctly. Nothing else does what it does. But it does not have all the capabilities of a full-fledged DAW/VST environment. It is purposely designed the way it is.

So you need to decide what you want. Easiest with acceptable play rendering, or max-effort DAW-like rendering. If the latter, Dorico is continuing to improve functionality with each release, and it’s VST support will improve and become less problematic.

@Dan - the settings to play with using NP are mainly the Duration (the documentation says leave it at the default of 85%, but I found 99% much better) and the Reverb, as you can change the individual instruments. That’s why I said “limited,” as I hope that will change in the future.


Without taking anything away from NotePerformer, which as DaddyO says is best for notate and play in Dorico, I find that _Finale’_s Garritan with Human Playback currently produces better sound output than Dorico absent (as Dan says) some work with Expression Maps. I look forward to Steinberg (and perhaps some existing VST publishers) providing more pre-configured Expression Maps (or for me to find time to learn how to configure the maps myself) and for the Dorico Team to expose more techniques for mapping. I am pretty sure that this will happen (to whatever extent) down the road.

As much as I like Dorico’s visual output and as upbeat as I am about the future of the program, I still depend on Finale for audio demo files.


I really didn’t like Dorico’s default audio with HSSE. But are you comparing Finale GPO to Dorico NP?

I’ve used the former since it was first released (maybe 2004? And every update since). I liked it, but I now prefer my NP demos. With a couple exceptions, like occasional note durations (thanks R Pearl), I like NP’s “out-of-the-box” results so much more that I’ve been re-bouncing audio demos that had previously been rendered with GPO.

I am comparing HP with NotePerformer, which I usually use for Dorico playback but would not (yet) use for important audio demo exports.

Just to be clear, do you mean the bundled subset of the Garritan sounds that are “free” with Finale, or the paid-for full Garritan libraries?

From my experience, GPO is “good value for money” (at the cheap end of the sample library price range, of course) but the “free” Garritan sounds in Finale are significantly worse than the full library - they use far fewer samples, and my ears at least can “hear the joins” rather too easily.

Finale did have better sound, of course. Even Finale’s SmartMusic Soft Synth fared better than most GM sounds I’ve heard.
Derrek, what’s HP?

Human Playback. Finale’s interpretive engine.

I use more than the included Finale Garritan sounds (as listed in my Signature).

This has all been covered in this thread already, but basically in my opinion you’ll not find a better solution than NP3 for fuss free, fire and forget writing unless you’re prepared to do a tonne of tweaking to the playback after the fact.

I personally just finished a film score in Dorico and the vast majority of it was composed using NP3 plus a few additional Kontakt/Play/Engine VSTs for percussion/effects, I simply accepted the fact that the sounds from NP3 are what they are (which is good enough for rough mock-up purposes) knowing that I would be able to improve on them once I got the MIDI exported into Cubase and ran it through my dedicated VSTs.

Compared to trying to do the same work with soundsets in Sibelius for years I’m already way happier with my current situation in Dorico. :slight_smile:

Wonderful thread everyone… thank you. Are any of you aware of how to get—or use (when writing, not mixing) a different reverb sound/room other than the default using Noteperformer 3 with Dorico?

Noteperformer is blessing and curse at the same time. There’s no easier way to get good results just by written notation. The problem starts if you want to tweak them. You can level down the reverb per instrument in Noteperformer’s mixer but you can only replace it for a whole section of instruments in Doricos mixer because Noteperformer automatically spreads instruments into 16-channel blocks routed to a single Dorico mixer channel. I tried different reverbs by exporting NP’s audio into my DAW for mixing. At the end I decided that it’s not worth the effort. For writing it’s more than good enough and making convincing mockups is a completely different work.

For some instruments I replace NP’s sounds mostly by a dummy sound. For vocals I use an e-piano (Rhodes) from another VST. Same for lead sheet parts.

What I would really like from Noteperformer are a few different interpretation sets for classical (the current set), pop/funk and jazz. Note lengths, dynamics and articulations are interpreted rather differently in those three styles.

Thanks Saxer… Very helpful.

I urge you to 1) check the inserted plugins of the master output bus through the mixer of your Dorico project and then 2) replace the “Compressor” plugin with “Maximizer” plugin (40% amplification, modern mode). Both plugins are shipped with Dorico Pro 2, and it is a problematic default setting to use “Compressor” (a plugin designed for a single instrument) on the master output bus. By replacing the plugin, you can fell that NotePerformer sounds better in most cases.


Even just turning the compressor off is generally an improvement.

One real advantage NP has is support for practically all of it’s techniques in virtually any possible combination.

For instance, with brass, most libraries will only include mutes in basic legato and maybe staccato patches (and probably only in the trumpets and horns). Whereas NP will happily play back a bass trombone w/ mute GLISS - many libraries don’t even have glisses, period.

Similar with muted strings.

Another big advantage is having full dynamics… most sample libraries only sample at somwhere between 4 and 8 dynamic levels, and any sampled crescendos will be at specific tempi.

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