Quick question regarding Sibelius sounds from a dedicated non-DAW user

So I don’t buy notation software for the sounds, and they’re largely unimportant to me as a rule; the default sound library is almost always sufficient for any needs I might have when listening back to whatever I’ve written. However, at times I do need to produce what are increasingly inaccurately called “MIDI files” for other people who can’t read music as well, as demos or whatever for when a piece is being submitted to performers/a competition/etc.

I’ve run into an issue with one such file. It contains an extensive harp part. Dorico has no native harp sound. (I’ve always just used the piano sound to play back any harps.) The only other sound set I have installed on my computer are the Sibelius Essentials, which came with Sibelius 6 when I bought it back in… 2008 maybe? My first thought was therefore that I could use these sounds as an additional playback library. Apparently, it is possible to add a VST2 device to Dorico through a procedure described in a YouTube video (adding a plain text file containing a VST2 whitelist), but I can’t figure out how to actually make that work: /Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST does not include a “Sibelius Sounds” plugin, only one called “PersonalOrchestra.vst”, and assuming that’s it, it’s already whitelisted in Dorico but can’t be added as a new VST instrument.

I’m not particularly interested in buying new software or really devoting a ton of attention to this situation—demo listeners will just have to put up with the piano patch—but would appreciate if anyone has insight into whether this is indeed impossible or whether there’s a quick fix for it.

You don’t want to buy any new software, but the easiest no nonsense no trouble way to get good sound out of Dorico is using NotePerformer, for a mere $129. It includes a harp and probably most or all the instruments you generally use, and bonus is that you will actually get good playback without having to do anything.


I’ll bear the suggestion in mind provided that it really does work entirely out-of-the-box with no need to alter settings etc, but it may be a long time (more than a year) before I have the cash to spare for any new software, and that budget is already most likely earmarked for Dorico 5. (Still on 3.5 at the moment.) As such, the only potential solution I have right now and for the foreseeable future is the one I outlined. Again, if there’s no way to use the Sibelius 6 sounds in this case, I’m ok with reverting to my usual solution, but not especially happy with it given that it tends to annoy the people who ask me for MIDI files…

I’m pretty sure even the Elements version of Dorico has a Harp sound. The HALion sounds aren’t great, but there is a sound anyway. If you go to Play/Playback Template and select the HSSE template that corresponds to the version you have, a Harp sound should load.

After loading you should see this loaded when you click the little “e” in the VST Instrument box:


As previously mentioned, NotePerformer is a great upgrade for not a lot of $$$, but unless I’m mistaken, you still should be able to access a Harp sound in any version of Dorico.

Interesting. For some reason that sound wasn’t loading and didn’t show up in the list (none of the General MIDI sounds did), but since I just rebooted my computer as part of the VST2 whitelist instructions, it’s now there, and can be added, so that’s good to know. (Up until now, for whatever reason, the “default” sound was a guitar.)

That said, the Yamaha sound is preferable. The GM sound is unrealistically loud (and still sounds like a guitar), and would necessitate rewriting the whole score with hidden dynamics.

Just to close the loop: you can’t use Sibelius Sounds with Dorico. The sample player that is included with Sibelius is locked to Sibelius only and won’t load in any other host application.

1 Like

You can lower the volume of the harp in the mixer. No need to mess with hidden dynamics.

1 Like

NotePerformer has a demo you can download IIRC and can also be purchased on a monthly rent-to-buy basis.

Thanks, that does help. Turning down the “Tone Color” knob also seems to make a difference in at least making the sound less guitar-like.

I’m still not sure why the GM sounds didn’t appear accessible within Dorico for so long, but as far as I can tell, that problem can be solved by resetting the playback template to the default HSSE + HSO (Pro) and then hitting “Apply and Close”, since I’ve replicated that in a couple of other projects that had been missing harp sounds and it seems to work (and also simplifies my extremely messy assignation of VST instruments to mixer channels into something more logical). That does override any manual changes such as replacing section patches with solo patches for e.g. string divisi, but that’s easy enough to fix.

(This may or may not help anyone else.)

Don’t underestimate the HSSE sounds. Alot of it is the same stuff found in the award winning Yamaha MOTIF instruments.

Dorico doesn’t ‘stage’ the sounds for you, or do much with expressive controllers on his own, but in ensemble situations they aren’t bad sounds. The secret sauce is to open HALion SE in the play tab and stage the sounds where you want them in the mix. Alot of the sounds are a little overdone (too much reverb) or harish (really dry, with a lot of raspy overtones present) on purpose, because it’s easier to use an EQ or a notch filter to ‘take away’ frequencies than it is to ‘add/boost’ them.

Gain stage the instrument in HSSE itself (desired base volume, placement in the mix).

In HSSE, go to the Effects tab and drop in an EQ (to tone down or boost desired frequencies to the timber fits your mix better). You might also apply minor amounts of compression, reverb, or even chorus (for tutti instruments, or to just widen the stereo field a bit).

It’s a good idea to save a copy of your tweaks in HSSE as presets. No, Dorico wont load them automatically unless you do some custom instrument templates. Still, it’ll save you time to have some nice ‘reference presets’ to get things sounding like YOU WANT IT TO SOUND.

Plugin states do save with your scores, and if you share the score, should stick provided the target user(s) also have the sounds installed. If you are collaborating with someone on a regular basis, you could also zip up your custom user HALion presets and share those as well.