Orchestral balance during Halion Playback

Back in 1991, using the then fairly new Finale software (which I hated), I did an orchestration of the 1930’s Organ Symphony in G Major by the American composer Leo Sowerby. Recently I dug the old score out and saw immediately that if I wanted to re-notate it into Dorico I would have to do so from scratch, as the Finale version was pretty awful. So I am now doing that thankless task, and have run into a problem when playing the score back to ear-check my work.:

No matter how I tweak the balance settings in the mixer and regardless of how I mark the dynamics in the score, the string sounds are absolutely overwhelmed by the other instruments. For example, a solo oboe at mp can almost bust my eardrums, while the string section can barely be heard even at ff. Even if in the mixer I have set the oboe to some huge minus value and set the strings to the highest possible positive value. (And it’s not restricted to oboes. All the winds exhibit the issue to some extent.) So I have some questions:

  1. Is this my fault? Am I setting something incorrectly that causes this problem?
  2. Would purchasing Noteperformer fix the problem?
  3. Would graduating from Dorico 4 to Dorico 5 fix the problem?
  4. Is it necessary (in getting answers to the above) to post the score here, or at least a chunk of it? (The original organ score is still under copyright by Oxford University Press, and while I have permission from them to do the work, I have been told politely that I am not to seek or allow any performance of it, though not sure posting it here would violate that.)

Thanks in advance to anyone who can shed any light on this issue.

I should add that the instrumentation was created from scratch, not using one of the Doric orchestral templates. If that matters.

  1. I would suggest you try NotePerformer (for free). But honestly, this would be probably the best 129$ investment this year…
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I am glad you sought information on the copyright issue,

If you mean that you just added Players in setup mode, rather than choosing a template document, then No, that shouldn’t matter.

I would try re-applying the Factory Playback Template, for starters.

Almost certainly, but you should be able to achieve a better balance without it. HSO is ‘not great’, admittedly.

There are all manner of new features and fixes between 4 and 5; and if you intend to stay in the Dorico ‘eco-system’ for any serious work, I wouldn’t hesitate to upgrade. I would definitely look through the version 5 Version History and see all the things that have been added or improved.

Not least of all is the Iconica Sketch orchestral library, which might also fix your problem.

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