Two sound engines in the same Dorico project?

I’m using Dorico 5 with NotePerformer under Windows 10. However, as great as NP is for most orchestral instruments, its drumkit instrument is too limited for the large-scale pieces I write.

I’d therefore like to use a different virtual instrument / soundbank for percussion instruments, while retaining NotePerformer for all other players.

Is it possible for Dorico to to distribute performers across more than one sound engine in the same project?

Yes. You can add the drum VST to the Play mode manually and assign it to your drum staff(two steps & two tabs in Play), or you can create a template that assigned your non-NP VST for drums only and then assigns all remaining tracks to NP.

It sounds like this is a configuration you would like to use again and again, so I would look into creating a custom playback template.

It takes a bit of getting to grips with but it’s a very powerful feature and there are some good Steinberg videos out there to help you.

NotePerformer 4 handles multiple libraries simultaneously quite easily.

My computer isn’t QUITE powerful enough to really make great use of this, but I’ve mixed instruments from NotePerformer with mostly brass from BBCSO.

Thanks for the direction. I’ll give that a shot. I assume that I’ll first need to upgrade from NP 3 to version 4.

But I’m not clear, based on the multiple answers I received: Is it better to do this by means of a Dorico function in Play mode, or via a NP feature?

That depends whether the library you want to use is one that NP 4 supports. NotePerformer 4 can control some specified sample libraries from within itself, using the NotePerformer Playback Engine app. (Usually high-end ones, like Vienna Symphony, Iconica, BBCSO, etc.)

But Dorico also lets you use as many different VSTs as you want. You can have some instruments routed to NotePerformer, others to Groove Agent, others to Kontakt Player; SINE Player, ARIA Player, HALion, Spitfire BBCSO, etc, etc, etc…

In Dorico, you’ll have to configure the VSTs manually, but as said, you can create your own Playback template, if this is something you want in multiple projects.

No, you don’t need to upgrade NP to use a new playback template (although it’s a free upgrade, so you might as well).

As Benwiggy said, in NP4 you are limited to a short list of supported VST instruments, whereas using playback templates you can use any thing you like.