What makes Dorico different from other score programs like Finale?

I’m a Cubase user, and I had the intention to purchase Dorico 5 Pro that works well.
I tried the Dorico demo version first, and I see a big flaw.

  1. When running Dorico, the sound of other applications, including the web browser, won’t work. This appears to be Dorico’s fatal weakness.

  2. I thought Dorico would be as intuitive and easy to use as MuseScore. However, it was a bit easy to draw sheet music, but the menu was not easy to use. It is not much different from the finale.

  3. MuseScore is very easy, but there are still many inconveniences. So, I had high expectations for Dorico, which was more professional and linked well to the Cubase, but after experiencing the demo version, I immediately abandoned Dorico’s intention to purchase it.
    There was no reason to buy Dorico at a high cost.

Welcome to the forum, @ju_kim.

If you are using Dorico 5.1, you should have the Steinberg Built-in ASIO Driver available in Edit > Device Setup. Choose this driver as your output device, and you should find that you can hear sound from other applications while Dorico is running.

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Dorico admittedly has some learning curve that you have to climb. Its concepts are sometimes quite different, but overall yield better results.
Do invest more time before quitting. Have a look at the pile of their YouTube videos, work through the “Firs steps” tutorial from the online help.
It’s a sophisticated professional application that you should not expect to be able to fully get a grip of within a few days.


That’s inherent to music notation: it is not easy. It is a dedicated language, with a logic based on multi-dimensional symbols, each one containing several sets of information, and changing meaning when interacting with other symbols.

It’s a language that can be easy when the music to be notated is very basic. If it becomes a bit more sophisticate, or even a crafted work of art, it is very complex. Programs trying to be simple right from start fail miserably at the first complications.

Dorico asks one to think to what is needed in advance, and then greatly helps the musician/copyist during the work. And the initial settings can be changed at any time, if needed. Initial settings may be intimidating, for their incredible abundance, but they serve to make all the subsequent work easy and flowing.



I’m not sure what OS you’re running, but if you’re on Windows, in addition to using the ASIO driver, you should make sure “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device” is not checked for your device in System / Sound / Advanced / More Sound Settings:

I’ve heard this complaint before, and quite frankly don’t understand why anyone would think this. I never hear graphic designers complain “I thought Photoshop would be as easy to use as Microsoft Paint.” Dorico is a much more sophisticated program capable of producing output that is far better than MuseScore. (Even with the improvements in MS4.) I think the devs do a good job of easing the initial learning curve, but when I switched after 25 years on Finale, I still gave myself an entire month to get up to speed before attempting any paid work with it. It’s a very powerful and complex program, so naturally there is going to be a learning curve.

Inconveniences like the output still isn’t very good. I’ll grant that it made huge improvements with MS4, but Dorico is still by far the superior program. Dorico’s spacing algorithms are the best of the “big 4” notation programs IMO. If you just need a free program to play around with, MS is fine, but if you need to produce publishable output, it still can’t really compare to Dorico.


This right here.


It cannot be emphasized enough: you can’t expect Dorico to work this way. As @FredGUnn says, it’s a powerful program.

I admit I’ve tried this in the past with programs like Photoshop, Autocad, and some other niche professional programs like speaker modeling software. I got frustrated and quit every time. That’s because it’s the wrong approach. If I would have taken time to learn how those programs work, and started at the beginning with a guided tutorial, I would have been fine.


I deliberately left MuseScore in 2023 and started Dorico Pro 5 in September. In October I got Noteperformer 4 on board and I haven’t regretted both for a second.

Yes, in the beginning I had to get to know the different handling and I am still learning a lot, but it was and is worth it. I also tried Finale, but honestly, immediately uninstalled it because it looks like Windows 95. I use Dorico on Windows 11, 23H2, and as @dspreadbury mentioned, it now works well with applications using Audio and running parallel on Windows.

In addition, I have never had such an active and highly competent support team and forum as I have found here. They really give their very best and all to solve even the smallest questions quickly and well. Often enough it’s not the problem of the program, but of the user. Sometimes I am seriously concerned about the health of the staff, with such dedication and passion they are present here almost 24/7. I would suggest not to give up too early and to take a little more time to try it out. I only used one of the two trial months and then bought it right away, and I didn’t use the full trial period with Noteperformer either. Both convinced me. Not only the modern look, but the functionality. :wink:


I wonder if it might be because the default note entry methods in Cubase Score Editor and Muse Score are so similar and can be figured out in less than 5 seconds. People might be expecting at least some level of familiarity because it’s so common.

My initial experience trialing Dorico (v1 or v2) can be best described as disorienting because some familiar Cubase concepts were preserved and others were redesigned while retaining the same function. I wish there had been a guide back then for my trial version, like a start up diagram that would have explained how basic Cubase’s functions are reorganized in Dorico. It would have saved me a lot of time. But even though Cubase’s concepts are everywhere, I had to sit down and study the manual before I could actually trial anything.

You should have high expectations of Dorico. It is a truly remarkable program and if you give yourself time to get to know it, you will be rewarded many times over. Most people can probably point to a moment when things clicked for them and I’m sure the same will happen to you. You will get hooked.


The difference between Dorico and Finale could not be wider. Finale was created in the late 80s, and has since had numerous features bolted on, like a small cottage that has gradually had several extensions built around it, each with its own style, and not quite fitting with the original part.

It remains the only major notation app that still has no Vertical Justification, nor Collision Avoidance. Users must manually do countless numbers of tasks that in Dorico (and other apps) are automatic or effortless.

One of the things that drew me to Dorico was the amount of work that I no longer had to do: meaning I could get well-designed pages laid out quicker, with little effort.


People don’t really want to relearn and remove bad habits from other programs because of laziness.
I was once a Sibelius user for a long time, so when I transitioned to Dorico I knew I had to rewire my brain on many things, such as inputting notes with mouse meanwhile Icurrently use the keyboard more. I still don’t like how cutting ties work on a specific spot since it takes longer than necessary, but I can see that their implementation is to handle most case scenarios.


This. Many times this.

The amount of time it takes between finishing the score and having printable polished parts is astoundingly small compared to Finale.



Indeed it is😊

Remembering what a challenge I faced migrating to Finale from Professional Composer, I knew I had to get on the bandwagon from the beginning; and I consider myself lucky that I was able to read Daniel’s blog and get a grasp of Dorico’s very different semantic concept even before the program premiered. I was able to continue to use Finale while I learned the in’s and out’s of Dorico and waited for important features (and a manual) to supplement the original release.

Even then, the folks here on the forum (several beta testers, no doubt) were an invaluable resource, as they continue to be.


Another important point in the comparison with Finale: trustworthiness. Dorico is well-programmed and very robust. I learned very quickly to trust its ability to perform complex edits without any problems. Any user error or decision change can be solved using Undo. With Finale, I learned to save often, but while working on files I would regularly discover Finale’s having made random changes to a file outside of my field of view, too late to undo, requiring lots of extra work plus requiring checking everything repeatedly, while nevertheless experiencing the apprehension of having missed something essential. Regularly, undoing an action which had made a mess of things would undo useful work and the mess would remain, like having a series of notes changed into tied 128th notes, shifted by a random note value, or losing all my lyrics. Dorico has freed me of this waste of time and energy!


Don’t forget about cross grade discounts. They are substantial.

I.E. In the US Dorico Pro is something like $299.99 (where the full retail price is $579.99) if you provide proof of purchase for the full version of Finale or Sibelius.

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The crossgrade discount will stack with the educational discount too, potentially bringing the price down to $179 for those that qualify:

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