Worth the switch from Sibelius?

Long time Sibelius user here. My Sib’ renewal is due soon which would come to £201 for 3 years of updates/support or I could cross grade to Dorico for £230. Is it worth jumping ship?

I’ve watched the Tantacrul videos but - probably for fear of seeming biased - he doesn’t overtly push the viewer into saying Dorico is hands down the better of the two.

I know Sibelius has a whole load of stuff wrong with it but I am used to the programme so not sure if I need the headaches with learning the ins and outs of a brand new piece of software if the gains aren’t a massive jump up from Sibelius.

Anyone else made the switch? Anything Sibelius can do that Dorico doesn’t or vice versa? Many thanks in advance for any help.

Welcome to the forum, tripalreno4. Thousands of Dorico users have made the switch from Sibelius, and on the whole I believe the vast majority of them have been glad they did.

My suggestion would be to download and use the 30-day trial version before you make a decision. Try to accept that you will very likely find working in Dorico slower than Sibelius to start with, because you won’t have any of its idioms internalised yet, but as you become more comfortable with the software, you’ll very likely find that you can work more quickly and efficiently in Dorico. I would suggest you start with a small-ish project, and take your time. There is plenty of help available, and I commend the FAQ thread to you as it has lots of advice for new users.

I will also drop a slight hint and say that there will be an opportunity to crossgrade from Sibelius and Finale at a lower price than £230 later in the summer, so I would certainly recommend taking full advantage of the 30-day trial version in the meantime.

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tripalreno4, I used Sibelius starting from version 2(!). Once Dorico became mature I switched and couldn’t think of going back. It’s a little more complex sometimes, but there’s a logic behind every feature, since it’s been re-thought from ground up. On a broader level, I feel more in control of my scores with Dorico than with Sibelius, partly because of the multiple-flows-in-one-project paradigm. Sibelius, in retrospect, always felt a bit chaotic to me.

Sibelius’ future is likely one of minor incremental gains. The core “idea people” behind that software all departed and ended up creating Dorico.

I made the switch from Sibelius to Dorico when Dorico came out. Have been using Sibelius since version 5, created lots of video tutorials and written tutorials for it over the years, so I was deeply connected to the program. However, now I know Dorico well, I would never go back to Sibelius and when I need to do some work in it, I feel very frustrated about especially creating good looking layouts, something that Dorico does from the start automatically.

I used Sibelius from 2002 to 2017, when I switched to Dorico. I still use/used Sibelius because it was the program at the university where I taught. I would not go back. The output is superb, and once you get the hang of it, it is very fast and reliable.

There is a learning curve - many things are different, from concepts to implementation. And forget the word intuitive - unless you are a machine…Give it time, and you’ll be well rewarded. I wouldn’t dream of going back, and I quite liked Sibelius!

What might help you decide is to post a few questions about the types of things you write/compose/arrange, as that may influence your decision. The more focused the question, the more specific the answer from someone who is using the program the same way.

I also switched from Sibelius—albeit right when Dorico was first released. I do not miss Sibelius in the slightest. I liked Sib (and even the commonly abhorred ribbon!) but after the whole Avid debacle I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. As others have suggested, the switch will be shocking at first because the working paradigm of this program is totally different. The good news is there are LOADS of professional how-to videos on the Dorico YT channel (thanks Anthony!), there is now a relatively mature manual, and this forum is VERY active. Ask away here and someone will be sure to answer within minutes. It never fails, although people may warn you to search through old threads first. :wink:

In the end, all I can say is that I love working with Dorico. I have had my days (especially in the beginning when I had to retrain my brain) but once you work out your patterns and learn where certain options live, you should be totally fine.

I just switched over after using Sibelius for a long time. I’m happy with the decision, even though it’s taking a while to get used to the new software. I like the “look and feel” a lot more, among other things.

here is now a relatively mature manual, and this forum is VERY active.

One of the best community features of Sibelius was that you could post a question in the forums and Daniel Spreadbury would personally answer. Dorico has replicated this functionality. :slight_smile:

Dorico now has an upgraded Daniel Spreadbury.

<Avid.exe has thrown a fatal error>

I have used Finale since v2.2 (1993?) and onward (only keep it for publishing work for a small publisher I work for - however, slowly but surely I am moving all of our catalog to Dorico) and used Sibelius since v1.2 (1999). Towards the end of my time using either 2 programs I was using Sibelius 95% of the time. I switched to Dorico and refuse to work in the other 2 programs.

I would do as Daniel suggests and get a demo. But I would also spend the 1.5 hours or so, and watch the MOLA video on YouTube from May 2016 when Daniel introduces Dorico for the 1st time. In that video, you get to hear Daniel explain how the program works, and why certain things were done certain ways. To me this video is PARAMOUNT to truly understanding Dorico. Daniel explains a lot of the fundamentals. This video allowed me to ‘switch’ to Dorico with very little trouble. Every now and then, things come up. But as others have alluded, this forum is an invaluable tool. Also, Anthony does terrific videos explaining how the specific tools and functions work. Not to mention John Barron and his Discover Dorico live YouTube events the last Wednesday of the month.

Welcome to the community!


I started with Sibelius in the late 1990s, on an Acorn RiscPC, and stuck with it through to late 2016 (though I do nip back in occasionally to do quick edits or revisions of old scores).

“Intuitive” is a term that seems to come round again and again, and it’s one that I have trouble with. Dorico is not a simple iPhone app. It’s not possible to figure out how all the functionality works in an afternoon. It’s professional software with an extremely broad feature set, and software of this variety is always going to take acclimatisation time. On the other hand, it’s laid out in a consistent fashion, so once you’ve got to grips with where things are likely to be it’s not difficult.

I think it took me a couple of weeks to get generally comfortable with it, though of course at v1.0 there was less to learn. As a working whatever I am (engraver? arranger? copyist? pianist?) Dorico feels like a much more comfortable creative workspace than Sibelius ever did, and the printed output requires much less tweaking in order to look balanced on the page.

The switch will go easier if you can leave everything Sibelius has taught you at the door, and go back to thinking semantically. For instance, if you’re looking for a Line, what kind of a line? If it’s an ottava Line then it’s in the Clefs and Octave Lines panel; if it’s a Pedal marking then it’s in the Playing Techniques section; if it’s a first time bar then it’s in the Bars and Barlines panel. Why? So that Dorico can automatically take the notes up or down an octave, or give you a semantically appropriate Pedal line that can acquire retakes wherever you want them, or automatically give you a repeat barline and a second time bar.

Good luck, and welcome to the forum.

I used (and really liked) Sibelius for nearly 20 years, beginning with v2. I started with Dorico when v2 of that came out, and gradually moved all my work over as I became acclimated to the program. Now I abhor going back to Sibelius for trying to do anything (tweaking old files). I find that I’m exporting projects into Dorico because I can get better results faster than trying to stumble through Sibelius again. And I enjoy the elegant workings of the program SO much more – I actually look for projects to engrave!

What Leo said about this being “professional software with an extremely broad feature set” is absolutely true. Don’t start some huge project right away; dabble with little ones first so you can find where options are (and learn the shortcut keystrokes). (That took me the LONGEST time coming from Sibelius – I knew what I was looking for, but didn’t know where to find it).

Watch the introductory videos before you try to do anything. Something simple like enter a note or adding bars is easy… once you know how to begin. The first few attempts will be excruciatingly slow… but you’ll get faster the more you do. Then watch the videos again. :wink:

This forum (and Google) are your friends. I’m on Dorico for good, and never looking back!

sort of off topic, but how do you export the files from sib to doroco? Export as xml and then open that in Dorico? This is an area I need to explore soon. Wondering what the best approach is.

Yes, musicXML is the way. Import (and export) have improved in 3.5 but it still might be useful to know that there are two ways to export xml from Sibelius. The native way, and the free dolet plug-in. When the first way is not satisfactory, try the latter.

thanks. I’ll have to get to this soon. Will keep the two options in mind.

Definitely worth the switch. Be prepared for a learning curve but there are plenty of resources available.

I started with Cubase until I thought it was really time to use proper notation software. As Overture was the first to really support VST’s I used that briefly then in was Sibelius from v5 until a mere 9 months ago when Dorico reached v. 3, I realized it was feasible to make the switch. As 90% of my work is/was still Sibelius, I still go back from time to time for small updates but around half a dozen works have already made the transition plus three completely new ones – would have been more had I not spent so much time with Dorico’s Expression Maps.

Would I go back? Well Dorico’s engraving is automatically so good that I have scarcely needed to learn the details. Playback is rapidly improving and it’s far easier to control this side of things than with Sibelius. I don’t believe it’s that easy for a Sibelian to pick up right at the beginning and there are still a few things that leave me scratching my head. But a couple of weeks into the trial, I realised that the thing had potential. And I got to understand the logic in the modular concept which really makes sense.

Last but not least, Daniel, who I tormented often enough at Sibelius has now switched and together with the excellent team gives me confidence that the parts of Dorico which I am still relatively clueless about but need to become a bit less clueless about will fall into place thanks to the level of support here.

In other words, make the switch.

Can we add Mensch to the list? Seems like that should come first!

Having dedicated and generous users, as well as the folks who actually developed the program weighing in is invaluable.

I started using Sibelius in 1999-2000 just to escape from the madness of Finale. Back then Finale was a pain.
Sibelius came and everything was simple and easy.

Of course I saw the limitation of Sibelius and the fact that was bought bu Avid it was the worst movement ever…

When I needed to write serious scores I went to Sibelius previously I was writing score on Logic which somewhat OK especially for the sake of hearing proper sounds that was one of the problems.

The last years I have lots of orchestral projects and I had to use Sibelius but for many things it pissed off.
All the Sibelius users know to write a simple drum set score is a hack that was never fixed on Sibelius.

Playback capabilities are very bad on Sibelius.

One day I decided to check Dorico. I downloaded the demo
And I realized that this is a serious program and the people who are developing the program are very serious also.

I liked everything about Dorico and mostly the playback capabilities that finally someone can use good libraries with key switches and articulations etc.

Recently I requested the Dorico team to go more towards DAW than going towards engraving sort of program.

The updates of Dorico are very very often than Sibelius.
Lately Sibelius updated the program and put some funny colors and MusicXML functions.
Anyway MusicXML is another joke like midifile maybe better but Dorico even on that does a better job.

Dorico is the way to go…