Which sound library to choose with Dorico?

I have bought Dorico in October, one of the first since it came out. After 2 months working with Dorico I’m switching back to Finale for production. One of the reasons is the sound / playback in Dorico. The Halion VST sounds bad in my opinion. Setting-up an score for marching band or concertband give’s me totally different soundcolors. The saxophone sounds very loud and total different than other instruments.
In Finale I’m working with Garritan COMB2, EZ Drummer, Trilian and the Finale instruments. I can setup those in Dorico but it sound so different.

Which VST library’s are you using for writing for small concertband (reed, brass, percussion), bigband (sax, trumpets, bones, percussion) or marching band (small concertband)?

The saxophones are in need of some volume control and we’re working on that, although some might say it’s quite realistic (I’m a sax player).

See this post for how to fix up sax sounds: https://www.steinberg.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=246&t=115412 (this will be fixed in the next update).

If other sound libraries do not sound as you expect then that suggests that you haven’t set up the expression maps for them.

Is there something special that users need to do to set up expression maps for the included HALion sounds?

No, if you use the default HALion mappings then you don’t need to do anything (apart from the above problem with saxes that will be fixed in the next update). If you change the sounds though then you may need to choose an appropriate expression map as Dorico doesn’t currently know what you have changed the sound to.

If you want to do Wind and Brass Symphonic/Marching/Jazz bands, HALion has potential but it’s not in the most obvious places with currently existing HALion libraries. You get some options in the box with Dorico that are worth exploring but they’re not exactly obvious to anyone that hasn’t been using HALion over the years.

I can show you a few tricks (but probably not today) to start milking HALion for surprisingly NICE sounds. Knowing where to look, and tapping into the effects are a BIG game changer. Even the slate of GM sounds can be quite convincing (and in my opinion as good or better than Sibelius Sounds 7.x).

Hint: For tutti work take advantage of some the more generic sound Patch Names in the SE Baisc and Pro content packs such as a general “Brass” patch, and keep an eye out for the ‘wheel’ patches which are going to use the Mod Wheel for dynamic control instead of velocity. Also keep in mind that a touch of the right effects (either in HALion itself, or on the Mixer Insert chain of Dorico) can go a LONG way to shaping up more realistic and pleasing solo brass and wood wind sounds.

When it comes to HALion SE, think it more like a Yamaha MOTIF Rompler (really nice Keyboard Workstations). It’s highly capable of producing really nice sounds…it’s just important to think of it differently than a ‘sampler library’. It’s a general purpose ‘stage instrument’, or ‘composer workstation’ synth out of the box :slight_smile:

I’ve gotten some great professional and polished sounding results with HALion SE and the Basic SE and Pro SE content packs over the years.

If you’re still not getting closer to what you want after getting to know HALion better…until we get more Wind/Brass band kind of ‘Sampler Style Libraries’ for HALion…

I can recommend Garritan Concert and Marching Band, and Jazz and Big Band. There are indeed some more polished and professional brass and wind libraries out there if you’ve got the bank-roll for them (and a dedicated hard drive, as they tend to get very large and otherwise resource demanding), BUT, you’ll be very hard pressed to find one that covers so many families of instruments (even halicons, susaphones, euphonia, mellophones, flugal horns and cornets…in both solo and tutti configurations…and if you need marching battery percussion, and an even more robust set of symphonic percussion (school bands often call for more crazy stuff than one can shake a stick at, and COMB has a good bit of it), COMB has you well covered there as well!). It’s also dongle free, so that helps out if you want to host this stuff on a portable rig! The libraries are small and lean in terms of system requirements, so you can even put them on a laptop or high end tablet and run with them! Garritan Libraries are quite inexpensive as well (given the sheer number of instruments they come with, plus the quality of the sounds is quite good if you bother to tweak them a bit in real time with expression maps).

Currently, you’ll probably need to do some of your own expression map work with ANY libraries on the market (including HALion stuff). Just start with a clean slate on your first project, and keep adding on with each new project. With each and every ‘technique’ you enter in Dorico, you have the potential to reshape nearly every note in your score. It just takes a little awareness and practice of what your plugin(s) are capable of, and how to teach Dorico to talk to them.

Here’s a quick and dirty rendering of a Fusion piece for Trumpet and Bone (Not my score, but it’s rendered with HALion Sonic SE content that is included with Dorico). It’s mostly General MIDI patches!

When I can find more time next week, I’ll try to do some Big Band, Jazz, Symphonic and Marching stuff and share some of the tips on how to get there (simpler than you might think).

Nothing beats Sample modeling in occational combination with VSL… if you have basic engineering skills and a good reverb…

Thanks to take time to write all this information. I will look to all of this. I hope also that Dorico can handle drumset notation and explode music as soon as possible. This is also an reason to switch back to Finale.

Oh, since you have Finale, it’s also possible to use the sounds that come with it in Dorico.

For winds, brass, and bowed strings, you’ll typically just use the modulation expression map to begin with. Add the nuances to a copy of that and build.

For percussion, pianos, percussive and plucked strings, etc…you’ll use the Default Velocity based expression map to begin with, and of course you can add your instrument specific nuances to a copy of that as well.

I have the Aria Player set up in my Dorico file, and I have loaded the Garritan Instruments for Finale sounds.

I want to add the expression map that allows for dynamics…so where do I find the “modulation expression map” that you mention? And where is the “Default Velocity based expression map”?

Thanks for helping with this…loving Dorico graphics, trying to get to a sound as good as I got in Finale.

You can find these two Expression maps and assign them in the Play Tab once you have loaded an ARIA Instance:

Dorico already has some basic Expression maps for “CC1, or Velocity” based instruments. You’d simply need to scroll through the list of available maps and select them for the relevant channel(s).

With Garritan Instruments you’ll typically want to use the CC1 style dynamics for Winds, Brass, and Bowed Strings, while Keyboards, Harps, Percussion, and plucked strings will typically use the “Velocity” style dynamics.

For a bit more detail on Using ARIA in Dorico see this thread.

I’m not sure exactly what ‘key-switches’ are supported by Instruments for Finale (for things like pizzicato), but if you can’t find it in your Finale documentation, I’m pretty sure the instruments are a sub-set from GPO4 (And the latest version of Finale also includes some things from GPO5), and like named instruments (I.E. Violins 1 KS) will have the same key-switch layout. That documentation can be found here. Another way to find out is to check out the Human Playback “Instrument Techniques” in Finale itself.

Thank you! I’ll try this.

I have a GPO5 expression map you can try if you want too.
GPO5 Wind Brass Strings.doricolib.zip (3.49 KB)

Once I download your file, where do I park it for further use?

Unzip it anywhere that is convenient for you. I like to keep mine in a directory I’ve made, “Documents/Expression Map Libs”. You’ll import them into Dorico from inside the Expression Maps editor.

Unless you save some empty scores as a template with all your ARIA stuff set-up, you’ll probably need to import the maps each time you work with
a new project, so keep them somewhere handy.

Thank you. I looked to see if Dorico had a default location for such .doricolibrary files but could not find one, so I thought I’d ask. Your solution sounds as good as any.

It is ‘unofficially possible’ to merge your own expression maps into the default “ExpressionMapsDefinitions.xml” file located in Dorico’s home installation directory to save a few clicks in the future. Here is a thread that touches on the possibility. Note it’s a thread for people who are comfortable with, and know their way around an XML editor. It’s not a sanctioned/supported adjustment, so back it up if you try, and please revert to your original “ExpressionMapsDefinitions.xml” file if you get ANY problems in Dorico before seeking any support directly from Steinberg.

Sorry, I thought there was an instruction pdf file in the zip file - it wasn’t!
Here’s a new version with the pdf details file included.
GPO5 expression map.zip (206 KB)

Thank you for the PDF. The list of which Expressions Maps to use with each GPO5 instrument speeds up selection. Your file does not say where the library file should ideally be saved. I know I can retrieve it for installation from just about anywhere on my drive, but I wonder if you have any recommendations that would allow for consistency in the future.