Playback engines - NotePerformer versus the rest

Fyi, a very interesting youtube video about the quality of playback engines in Sibelius / Finale / Dorico / Musescore, using Noteperformer versus proprietary built in playback engines and third party VSTs.

Which do you like best in terms of musicality, realism, timing? For me there is a very clear winner, but I do not want to cloud your judgment.

David Das is a friend and composer / orchestrator from LA. For test score, he used Rossini’s overture for The Barber of Seville, broken down by sections, and then tutti.



the BBC SO is by far the best library regarding sounding like actual instruments and that finally becomes clear when you hear the whole orchestra. However, this crisp fast music doesn’t show it at its best as, unlike NP natively, you need to put in a bit of work to assist the timing and articulation. NP has always been strongest on woodwind but the strings (particularly the lower strings) sound even in this piece nasal and artificial and NP is worse in slower lyrical music where the BBC can shine, For this demo, I’d have chosen a different NPPE library probably.

The other two libraries don’t really compete.

Personally, I wasn’t impressed by any of the four playback versions. As mentioned, each had different capabilities, or strengths, but my experience with creating audio performances from notated scores is punctuated with frustration. I finally determined that I would create three scores - one precisely for extracting player’s parts, another for the conductor, and yet one more purely destined for playback only. The latter is sometimes unreadable because of the editing involved in making playback as real as possible by literally editing note-by-note for dynamics, articulations, and balance. Some notes are truncated, others lengthened, …etc. It’s a painful process!

Thanks for presenting the comparisons. If nothing else, listening made me feel less ‘alone’ knowing that others experience the same kinds of pain - yet, because we are musicians, we endure and push toward our individual goals of hearing with our ‘real’ ears what we have already heard in our ‘mind’s ear.’