Recovering a File / Disabling VST

Hello, all.

For my latest project, I decided to finally make the jump to Dorico after using a combination of StaffPad (composing) + Sibelius (engraving) for years. Thinking that for all of the positive feedback, Dorico could put an end to my infamous 14+ hour continuous stretches of work resulting from Sibelius’ quirks and special workarounds, I took it to task with a freshly completed piano score for orchestration, engraving, and production.

I knew there would be a learning curve, but even after consuming approximately 60% of the user manual, boy did I underestimate the nightmare this program would be. In fairness, as much of the time I lost was due to my own stupidity (if only I had known Alt + Left/Right was a thing…) as to program bugs and errors (some MusicXML eight-note triplets would import as quarter-note triplets, shifting the music forward through a fixed meter and introducing other oddities along the way; maybe I just don’t understand the program well enough, but I don’t think there should ever be a 3/4 measure with four beats in it…).

But quirks aside, I’m here for a problem related to VST playback. I reckon it was simple foolhardiness that implanted the idea to load 20+ GB-worth of sampled sounds into the VST engine via Kontakt (5). The number of crashes I encountered before I was able to get Kontakt running with both of my MIDI keyboards working and recognized by the program (8!) should have been a red flag. (As an aside, why does the program have to be restarted every time you enable another MIDI input device? If you don’t turn a device on prior to launching the software, you should at least be able to refresh the device list from the preferences.)

Well, I did get it working eventually, and it was glorious. This is great, I said, without knocking on wood: it will be smooth sailing from here on out. I have not been able to successfully load up the project since. I’ll get the little dialog box indicating that Kontakt is loading the patches into the RAM, VSTAudioEngine2.exe hogs the appropriate amount of RAM to indicate that something is happening, but the plugin window never appears. Since it only takes a few seconds for the RAM usage to come sliding back down, I think the problem is that VSTAudioEngine is crashing silently, but I’m not certain.

Attempting to save the file also induces a program crash. (As a further aside, this means that if the autosave interval is shorter than the amount of time it takes to load VST patches ordinarily, the program will automatically crash.) Thankfully, the Dorico program UI is responsive throughout all of this. I have tried disabling/removing all VST plugins; saving still induces a program crash. For those among you who might be wondering what would happen if I left the program to “do its thing” for eight consecutive hours after opening, the answer is “absolutely nothing.” As expected, a fresh install did nothing to help either, but I felt like I was obligated to try it at least once before coming here. Another oddity: VSTAudioEngine continues attempting to load patches even after Dorico has crashed.

At this point, I’d simply like to finish orchestrating the piece without any of the VST sounds associated with the file. If I can do that without exporting to MusicXML and losing all of my Setup/Engrave mode project settings, that’d be great. Things I have not tried yet: temporarily relocating VST patches to force a “skip load.” If there was a way to (like in Reaper) open a file with all of the plugins automatically disabled, that would be fantastic - haven’t found a setting for this yet. Situation is ongoing and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance.

In the Play Mode under the menu item Play > Playback Template you can choose the Silence Template. That will not completely stop the audio engine, but it will not load any VST instruments anymore.
Regarding the crashing, that would be interesting to investigate further. Would you please choose from Dorico’s main menu Help > Create Diagnostic Report? That creates a zip file on your desktop containing the latest crash logs. Please send to ‘u dot stoermer at steinberg dot de’ and I will have a look as soon as I return to the office on Monday.
If you can’t open your project anymore, you can also send it to me, then I can delete the offending audio engine data from it.
Please have faith in us, I’m sure we will be able to sort this all out.

Rughe, welcome to the forum, and I’m very sorry that you’re having such a torrid time with completing your project. We are aware of a problem with auto-save where the program can get tied up if the time it takes to save the state of your plug-ins exceeds the auto-save interval, but this should only ever be possible with the most extreme project sizes and the shortest possible auto-save interval; we have fixed this problem in our internal builds.

If you have a saved version of the project, you can remove the saved audio data in the project using the procedure described here. Do it on a copy of your project for safety!

Before you reopen the altered project in Dorico again, go to the Preferences dialog and make sure you choose Silence as the default playback template so that when you then reopen the project, Dorico won’t attempt to start loading sounds into it.

Thank you both for the responses. The Silence Template did not circumvent the filesave crash, but the patch relocation was actually ingenious. I’ve recovered all of the data in a bugless, soundless filesave and used that as grounds to experiment further. (This was done prior to post regarding the ZIP method.)

Gratefully, I was intelligent enough to save my Kontakt multiracks prior to closing the one functioning instance of the project last night, so I’ve been loading these up sequentially, saving, closing, and reopening to find the offending module. I have a module containing 4.8 GB of Spitfire Symphonic Winds, one with 2.82 GB of 8dio Century Solo Brass, one with 0.72 GB of Spitfire Orchestral Percussion, and a NI piano (“The Maverick”) weighing in at 1.26 GB; all of these are able to load and save without crashes, provided enough time.

The massive module containing 8.08 GB of 8dio Anthology Strings is where things get fluky. Even loading this module without any of the others reintroduces the VSTAudioEngine crash/filesave crash bugs.

Just to be clear, all of the multiracks can coexist functionally in a single instance of Dorico. It’s only when loading the saved project up again that things start to fall apart, botching subsequent saves, etc. I was able to successfully load the project with all sounds but the strings, load the strings, unload the strings, save, and reopen without a hitch.

Either way, I’ll send the crash logs along to you in short order. I realize this is likely an isolated bug (I have a knack for finding those in time-sensitive projects) in an otherwise solid piece of software engineering, and will be happy to stick with Dorico for the foreseeable future. The prospect of writing, engraving, and producing in a single workflow is far too valuable to be abandoned to the inconvenience of loading/unloading a set of patches each session. That said, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for an update perhaps improving VST audio engine stability in the future.