Photoscore Ultimate update

Dear fellow Doricians,
Photoscore Ultimate has been updated yesterday (dec 17th) to 2020.1
The upgrade costed me 109€, which is not cheap for a “cosmetic update”. Granted, the display is now great on retina displays, it’s supposed to work with Catalina (I’m still on Mojave so I could not check).
My first feeling is that the real matter of it (musical recognition) has not changed much, and neither have the controls available (no customizable shortcuts). I already sent them feedback about all this, and also about the fact that NOWHERE in any stage of the program, they cite other programs than Sibelius or Finale… What about Dorico (or MuseScore)?
I’ll use this thread to keep you posted if they eventually update this 2020.1 version to something more worthy for real musician needs (I’m glad about the display update, but I’d rather have my slurs properly anchored…)
Yours doricianly,

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OCR and MIR research will eventually nail it, conceivably as tighter AI and Machine Learning set in, but the fact of the matter remains: the only “ultimate photoscore” around is the one playing through the trained eyes of musicians and copyists.

Thank you Marc for sharing! I think I’ll better wait for more than a “cosmetic” update.

Dear Josue,
To be honest, they say the reading is improved… I have only tested it on two files now, and it might be true, but nothing really impressive (I don’t get any cresco any more… so I have not checked if the find/replace feature has been debugged). Text seems to be better read. The display is really more detailed, which makes it really more pleasing to work with.

New year has brought a new update (after a enormous bug since dec 26th on mac OS…) : 2020.1.2
I was warned by mail, because I sent some feedback about the problems I was having. In case you did not receive any mail from Neuratron, use the upgrade function from within Photoscore (if you’ve upgraded to Ultimate 2020, of course).

…meanwhile the “Notenscanner”-App for mobile Apple user is a quick alternative.


True enough. It’s often faster and far more accurate just to enter by hand than to fiddle around with scans to get them right.

I’ll wait for the 64 bit version of Smart Score Pro that has been promised. I have found SS X2 Pro to be quite good but never used it as much as I thought. Perhaps by then Dorico’s MucicXML handling will be ready for prime time.

I’m in no hurry.

Do you recall where you saw such a promise? It has been 8 years since X2 was released. There have been some small “dot” releases but even they are several years apart. I’m not convinced they are developing anything.

At least the Photoscore people seem to have active development going on.

Information on the upcoming 64-bit SmartScore 64 can be found here:
It will apparently be released “early in 2020”. Although the article focusses on the mac OS version considering its latest incarnation is 64-bit only, the new SmartScore 64 will also be available for Windows and Linux.

Thank you. Perhaps when the new SmartScore comes out, this will be an occasion for some objective tests between SmartScore and Photoscore to see how well they recognize music in practice. I have SmartScore X2 and it is “just ok”, as in this AT&T ad:

It has saved me some time on a few projects, but really isn’t good enough to be part of my regular workflow. I do hope one of these products (or some other product) can move beyond the point that it is more trouble than it is worth most of the time. As AT&T says, “Just OK isn’t good enough.”

Dear Marc,
a happy new year!
I downloaded a demo of Photoscore Ultimate 2020 and did not notice any differences to the 32bit version I own, except a little different look of the whole thing.
But: the keypad does not work!
I can use the mouse to click the virtual keypad, but the keypad on my keyboard does not seem to be linked any more.
How is your experience in this matter?
I am also still on macOS 10.14.6

There is another alternative, in this case one by a group of Marc’s compatriots, PDFtoMusic Pro

Dear k_b,
You’re experiencing the bug that stroke on December 26th (hence the update and this thread)
Your best chance would be to ask Neuratron’s support for an update in the trial.
The graphic update is really welcome with this version (it really felt like a 1998 program), and although some progress has been made on text recognition (I don’t have any cresco markings any more), the whole output is not perfect. But better graphics make it easier to edit, so all in all a welcome update (although expensive)
António, I have not tried PDFtoMusic lately, but when I had, it was quite equivalent to Photoscore, and same price… Why should I buy it?

In my experience it actually worked better than the alternatives I tried, meaning Phostoscore and Smartscore, but I do appreciate your candid internationalism, Marc… Like I said, it’s an alternative. And to restate my view on this from a previous reply on this thread: all the alternatives in the market are very limited, OCR and MIR research is far from having nailed this issue…

I checked, and apparently, PDFtoMusicPRO is a little cheaper than Photoscore (199€ vs 269€) and all updates are (and will be, hopefully) free of charge. That’s already something…

It might be stating the obvious, but PDF to Music Pro and PhotoScore to some degree set out to solve different problems: PDF to Music Pro is optimised specifically to perform OMR on PDF files that have been exported directly from music notation software, and infers information from the font and line primitives in the PostScript instructions therein, while PhotoScore (and SmartScore et al) are designed to work by performing recognition on bitmap or raster graphics (which they can produce from vector PDFs, of course). Both applications have their strengths and weaknesses but they are not really equivalent.

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You’re right, Daniel, but in many instances they do intersect… Many of the scores in PDF format that end-users might be interested in importing into their notation software to work on, do come from other notation software.

I too decided to skip this upgrade version; there did appear to be too little that was new - and it is too expensive. Thanks for all everyone’s suggestions!

I found that PDF to Music Pro was useless at understanding keyboard parts with (correctly notated) missing rests showing hand crossing between staves.

Obviously it can’t “interpret” glyphs for rests in the PDF file that aren’t there at all, but the result was too much of a mess to attempt to fix it.

Yes. My experience is that some projects come across amazingly well. Others are a complete disaster. Those are less of a disaster if importing into Finale, but not useful in either case.

I have used PDFtoMusic quite successfully, for example, when buying music online which was scored for woodwind quintet, with the intention of setting for brass quintet. If there aren’t lots of crazy rhythms, grace note and other paraphernalia, the file might come across nearly perfectly.

But the world really needs a better pixel interpreting program. For all the talk of how AI (aka “machine learning”) is taking over the world, I won’t consider it a real thing until:

  • Mr. Musk is willing to sit alone, hands tied and blindfolded in the back seat of one of his cars driving from coast to coast with no human assistance,
  • My annual physical is conducted by a robot and everybody thinks that’s perfectly fine, and
  • Somebody makes a music recognition program that works as well as a musician with 5 years of sight-reading experience.