I used to use cubase before switching to Dorico but was never satisfied with the quality of the playback, even with NotePerformer. The main issue is about the dynamic playback automation which is too basic. I found a useful workflow and would like to share it with you.
1 - I first write my music with Dorico & NotePerformer, including all the dynamics markings : NotePerformer is perfect for quick check
2 - I import my score into my Dorico orchestral templates (based on the Spitfire libraries & proper expression map - Note that I am using a unique Expression map based on the UACC standard applied to all Spitfire libraries, far more simple and quicker than defining key switches library by library, and set the CC#1 for dynamics in the Expression Map).
3 - At this stage, I have two options (with a preferred one) :
Option 1 - I set the dynamic intensity curve to Zero (in playback options / dynamics) : this desactivates the dynamic markings to CC automation (because I want to directly record the dynamic with midi CC, otherwise you will have CC triggered automatically in addition to your recorded CC with annoying effects). This is the trick. Then I record my CC (dynamic CC#1, vibrato CC#21, etc.) live with my faders, this instrument by instrument.
Option 2 (preferred) - I don’t want to loose the dynamic markings in my score and the CC#1 playback automation, so I left unchanged the dynamic curve so CC automation is active (the dynamic is automatically played back). In this case I record the CC Expression (CC#11) for fine adjustment of the dynamic within the dynamic. And I record as well vibrato, etc.
5 - I make the final adjustments manually with the editor
The quality of the playback is then significantly improved.
Note after few weeks : I work increasingly without NotePerformer and am composing directly in my Orchestral Template : I enter my notes manually for an instrument, enter my dynamic markings (p,f, cresc., etc.), select then the first note of my new phrase, launch record (Command-R), move my fader CC#11 for fine adjustment of the dynamic and push the space bar for stopping the recording. Not possible when travelling.