Printing question --> printer advice

Are there any preferred/required types of printer best for scores?

Presumably a good Laser/LED device (I’m thinking of a Brother), which has several types of paper feed??

Are there accepted specific for paper sizes/types, though?

After that, is it pretty much a better of preference?


Hi Mark,

I have a similar Xerox printer and only use US Letter size. That Brother printer has two things I consider essential: it will print 23ppm and it has duplex (automatic two-sided) printing. Both are huge timesavers.

When I need to print a score on tabloid-size paper, I take a PDF of it to my nearby Fedex Office branch and have them print and bind it.



Thanks so much! I think I can wait: 23ppm is fast, but I’d sacrifice speed over - presumably - versatility with formats/paper sizes. Would you say that model has enough options for paper weight and sizes?

Hey Mark

I have a Brother MFC-J6910DW. It’s ink, not laser, but it’s a beast that prints duplex up to tabloid sizes, handles heavier paper with ease and does double sided scanning. I think it has jammed on me once.

Hi vilnai!

Thanks. Yes, I’ve had good experiences with Brother… my existing one is very old.

When would a score need to be printed duplex?

Is tabloid useful/important?

I imagine you’d always print duplex (i.e. double-sided). I’ve used tabloid on occasion for large orchestral scores. I try and avoid it, since it’s unwieldy on the stand, but you can also print tabloid and then cut it down to a more manageable size (like 11x14). You can also 2-up on tabloid and then fold it into a letter size booklet.

Thanks. Helpful.

I’m new to having to print for actual performance.

I’d assumed that players would want as few pages which they actually have to turn completely ( as duplex); and prefer to spread and read?

It really depends. Orchestral players tend expect a booklet style part with page turns coinciding with decently long rests. Conductors will obviously read from a bound score. I’ve worked with contemporary music people that prefer to spread their part over several stands and read from that. One cellist for whom I wrote a pretty involved solo piece made smaller copies of it and taped them to an enormous cardboard sheet. Whomever you’re writing for, you should make sure you’re giving them what they expect.

Great advice, vilnai, thanks; the model I’m looking at can do duplex. Since Dorico has such a large range of printing options, I guess I’ll be OK all ways.

I would recommend this article for more information about printing and paper for parts:

10"x13" is the standard size for parts, but since it is nearly impossible to print that size at home, 9"x12" is an acceptable and common size as well. To print 9"x12" in a booklet, you’ll need a printer that can print 12"x18" sheets, and a saddle stapler to bind the booklet.

A popular printer for this is the old HP LaserJet 5200 series. They’re no longer made, but they can be found used for a reasonable price. I have one, and I highly recommend it. It can’t automatically print duplex at that size, but duplexing manually is easy once you get the hang of it.

9"x12" parts, stapled into a booklet, look more professional and are more practical than loose 8.5"x11" pages, somehow taped or spiral bound. Since a printer that can print 12"x18" doesn’t cost much more than a regular cheap laser printer, this is a reasonable way to go.

I probably went a little overboard in the printer department, but I wanted a laser printer that could print on 12x18 paper and could automatically print duplex at that size, so I ended up buying a Xerox Phaser 7500DN. It was kind of expensive (around $3500), but it sure does a nice job.

I just looked the 7500dn up and it specifies 12x18 only from the Multipurpose tray. Is that the case? And does it automatically duplex that size?

Sorry, Robert – That was a typo. It’s the 7500DT that I got. It has an extra paper tray that can hold the 12x18 paper, and yes, it does automatically duplex that size.

Thanks Howard. But I still wonder if the DN would suffice as long as the multipurpose tray sufficed. I imagine the DN is a bit cheaper than one with an extra tray.

It’s possible it would suffice. I didn’t want to be bothered with having to use the multipurpose tray, so I went with the DT. I also got the little storage cart that the printer sits on, just to raise it off the floor a little higher. And it gives me a place to store paper.

I think you may have to cut your losses for certain things… score sizes are standards within the music world but not to the rest of the world. Good luck getting your hands on any affordable 9x12 paper that isn’t for art purposes or unreasonably expensive.

Regarding ink vs laser, I’d go with laser every time. Here’s the real benefit: ink smears, laser printed parts are drastically less prone to smearing since the printer actually melts fine plastic powder onto the paper. Every musician who is worth their salt is going to mark up their scores and then have to erase from time to time. I have always been disappointed in inkjet prints. I’ve really beaten up a few laser printed parts and the integrity of the document has survived intact.

And inkjet is water-based and thus NOT waterproof. You may laugh, but I got caught in the snow yesterday and, despite my best efforts, a little dripped inside my bag. The music that was laser-printed is absolutely fine (if a little crumpled), but the few sheets that were inkjet-printed no longer have music on them!

I have a Ricoh AP2610 that is wearing out and not worth using. I have had to do my recent projects on a Brother MFC-J6710DW. This is a great, versatile printer that has served me well. The printouts are pretty good, but not as crisp as the AP2610 (when the AP2610 printer is working well).

I don’t want to have this as my primary solution because of the non-waterproof issue you mentioned. And the same issue (water-based ink) causes the print to gradually bleed as it is exposed to humidity over time. Basically, it is plenty good for one-time projects where the music will probably be thrown away within a few years. Many musicians like to use a highlighter to emphasize key changes, codas etc. This can be a real problem with some inkjets, although many of the inkjet printers use black ink that is at least somewhat waterproof. The black in in my MFC-J6710DW is pigment-based and does not smear when you lightly hit it with a highlighter. If I rub it aggressively with the highlighter, the edges get fuzzy, but my highlighter tip doesn’t pick up much of the black color.

So I have been on the hunt for a better solution. As we all know, there are almost no B&W wide-format laser printer options available below the $4000 level. There is the HP LaserJet Enterprise 700 Printer M712dn for around $2000. And there is the Ricoh SP 6430DN at around $1000. I’m sure both of these would work. Because these are mostly niche products sold in low volume, the supplies are very expensive. You are looking at $200-$500 to replace the toner and drum.

There may be another option. Epson has been promoting their DURABrite Ultra pigment ink.
They claim it is waterproof and makes a crisper image than the water-based inks. They position it as being very equivalent to laser in terms of durability and clarity. If so, then the Epson WorkForce 7720 might be a good solution. It is a multi-function printer that can print up to 13"x19" and uses the DURABrite pigment ink – for UNDER $200. The ink is more expensive than some other inkjets, but the total cost would be far less than the Ricoh laser if you aren’t doiong thousands of pages a month.

Does anybody have real world experience with these DURABrite printers? It is as good as it sounds?

question though: what’s the printing capacity of those alternative inks? inkjets typically have low volume and expensive ink. People balk at $100 toner drums, but when you get anywhere from 4000-8000+ prints per drum, it’s actually a good deal.

Epson says “High-capacity Black (T252XL120): About 1100 pages” That cartridge is available for about $20 so figure about 2 cents per page. You would need to buy Epson cartridges, not after-market stuff. These inks are getting pretty high tech.

I got good value from by AP2610 – probably had it more than 15 years. But these laser printers can develop problems where there are lots of artifacts. You shouldn’t have any of that with an inkjet technology.