Why I am downgrading to 3.5 (a reluctant rant)

Please forgive this rant. But frustration has got the better of me.

I have decided to revert to D3.5. Why?..

D4.1 is (often) ridiculously slow. Though the biggest problem is that its behaviour is unpredictable (and I have neither the time nor the patience to unpack what is going on systematically).

What I have learnt is that, if the start up is slow, then using the program will be slow. So it’s best to abort and try again.

Here are some symptoms (non exhaustive):

At start up: Loading D4.1 is definitely slower than D3.5. D3.5 would whizz though the start up steps, whereas on D4.1 (sometimes) I see each step, such as “Initializing UI”, for many seconds. The frustration is that it is sometimes, not always!

Sometimes I get the Steinberg Licence Activation window appearing for a while (which I have learnt to ignore). Other times it can hang at “waiting for Audio Engine” (I’ve learned to End Task Dorico and any instance of VstAudioEngine and try again… but honestly this should not be necessary).

New with D4.1 I get hang ups with the Hub. Try to create a new project from a template and the wheel of death (sometimes) appears. Not a crash, but a hang. Again, this is intermittent, but seems to be independent of a PC restart or what other programs are running.

Loading an existing project (qualitatively) takes longer in D4.1 (I don’t know what tools to use to benchmark this). Load a second project (don’t activate) and Windows often shows the Application Unresponsive window. Which will sort itself out in the end…

Once loaded (and on a bad day) , the simple note entry operations take way too long (in comparison to D3.5).

This is not a problem of project size. I’m dealing with small projects: Usually just strings, chamber groups or small orchestras. 3 or 4 flows, perhaps 500 bars in total. No heavy VST demands (Halion or NP, though I do have many other VSTs on my system, they are never used for Dorico projects).

And no condensing. Though if I do start playing with condensing, or using moderately esoteric options (like big time signatures) – things rapidly slow down…

I know that I have a relatively modest spec PC (Win10, 4-core Ryzen5, 30Gb), but it copes perfectly well with D3.5 and other resource intensive programs (such as Resolve, Blender, or even Cubase)

I recently had cause to use Sibelius again (for a collaborative project) and for the basic note entry I’m sorry to report it was a joyful experience, solely because the response was instant!

What really concerns me is that these observations are inconsistent. Sometimes, D4.1 behaves well. More often though, it does not. By comparison D3.5, on my PC, is reliable and relatively quick. Hence my reluctant decision to downgrade.

My experience on Mac is similar. I still use 3.5 for professional work so far.

The application log files will show you times of each operation in milliseconds. These are in the same folder as the user preferences, scripts, etc.

If you have LOADS of VSTs, I’d certainly suggest testing Dorico without them, and seeing if there’s any improvement.

While I have seen some relative slowness in D4, the notable ones, such as Select All, and changing VST settings, have been addressed in updates, and I would characterise my experience neither as unusable nor as inconsistent. So something must be going on.

Janus, it would be helpful if you could provide both a system report (using msinfo32) and a set of diagnostics (using Help > Create Diagnostic Report) so that we can take a look and have a think about what might be going on.

There are some reasonably significant changes under the hood in Dorico 4, but none that should really impact application start-up time. There are many new user interface elements, using a newer UI framework that is part of the Qt framework, which interact with display drivers in new ways compared to the older framework that we have historically been using, and it’s possible that there is also some overhead in the initial setup of these UI components, though I’ve not noticed it myself.

The fact that the performance is inconsistent on your system also suggests, of course, that there are some local factors in play, perhaps an interaction with another application on your system, but only some of the time.

Janus, I don’t think that your experience is normal. Not to rub it in, but I haven’t experienced any of what you are mentioning. There has to be some peculiar cause, as Daniel says, coming to bear here… some unstable driver or too many vst’s in your folder (this has caused issues for others, which is why Ben mentioned it).

Just a few thoughts/suggestions:

  1. You are/were using 4.1.1 right, and not 4.1? 4.1.1 is way faster than 4.1 for me at certain tasks, so you might want to try it if you weren’t previously. One of the channel change tests that had been discussed on the forum took over 27 seconds in 4.1, over 4 seconds in 3.5, but under 1 second in 4.1.1 for me.
  1. I’ve learned to live with this too unfortunately, but I honestly don’t find 4.1.1 much different than 3.5 in this regard.
  2. The intermittentness makes me wonder if it could be a swap file issue. In the Task Manager performance tab, what percent of your memory is being used when you experience slow downs? If Windows is running out of memory and resorting to using the swap file then of course it will be way slower.
  3. I assume you’ve probably thought to check this, but just wanted to confirm you have plenty of storage space on the drive with the program, the drive where you keep your projects, and the drive with your backup project folder. Are any of those locations cloud-based?
  4. Have you blocked all the VST2 plug-ins you don’t intend to use with Dorico? I seem to recall some others with large numbers of plug-ins experiencing slow downs, but I personally haven’t encountered this. (Perhaps this was fixed in 4.1.1 too.)
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Thanks for the ideas

1 Version 4.1.10 Yes, The latest.
3 Memory usage around 6/30Gb
4 All drives less than 50% full. No cloud storage.
5 Most unused VST2s are blocked (but that was never a problem for me on 3.5)

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Slow? mode operations:
notifyPostCommandExecute: NoteInput.Pitch?Pitch=F (329 ms)
notifyPostCommandExecute: EventEdit.MoveLeft (325 ms)

Normal? mode operations:
notifyPostCommandExecute: NoteEdit.PitchDownOctave (122 ms)

Those times do seem pretty slow. Here’s what I get in D411:

The NoteInput command seems especially slow, 329 ms vs my 6 ms. I wonder what could be slowing things down with that? Is MIDI input equally as slow?

Don’t forget that the size of the project, whether condensing is enabled, how many windows/tabs/layouts are visible, etc. can have a big impact on the time it takes an edit to complete, in addition to the relative power differential of different hardware.

And processes unrelated to Dorico that are running in the background (visible or invisible) on the individual machine can also affect performance.