As you may be aware, Steinberg is currently developing a professional level scoring program which will compete directly with Finale and Sibelius.
If you are composing, arranging or orchestrating in Finale or Sibelius and have ever tried to incorporate any of the available high end third party sample libraries with the goal of achieving realistic, expressive playback from your notation program, you know this isn’t currently possible with the current crop of software.
There are already several professional level scoring (music notation) programs available. Some, like Finale and Sibelius offer decent playback using bundled sound sets, but while playback quality is adequate, it is nowhere close to the level of realism offered by sample libraries from VSL, EastWest, Project SAM, Wallander, Cinesamples, and others when triggered via a DAW.
Steinberg appears to be interested in raising the bar here; recently posting a survey on the topic of integration of sample libraries with notation programs. Their survey was titled, not surprisingly “Scoring software and sample libraries”.
Finale and Sibelius both allow the user to control (and save for later recall) parameters to control Instrument Techniques (in sample library parlance “Articulations”), Dynamics and Special Effects optimally configured for playback of a specific sample library. Finale calls these parameters Human Playback Preferences, while Sibelius calls them Sound Sets.
However, many composers, arrangers and orchestrators working in Finale or Sibelius have simply given up trying to achieve realistic playback from within their scoring program. The result is that their primary use of playback from the scoring software becomes checking for wrong notes and other mistakes.
For those professionals who need to produce high quality audio mockups for clients, the most intuitive and least labor intensive option remains a DAW sequencer (Logic, Digital Performer, Cubase etc), which offers much greater flexibility and ease of use to get realistic playback results.
Sibelius users should check out The Sound Set Project, which provides Sound Sets for a number of 3rd party sample libraries designed to facilitate realistic playback from Sibelius. If you are aware of any other resources of this type for either Sibelius or Finale, please share them in the comments.
Even if you plan to continue to work in Finale and / or Sibelius in the future, in a small niche market like notation software, competition raises the bar – so if Steinberg develops a scoring program with amazing playback of third party sample libraries, there is a greater chance that playback will improve in your scoring program of choice, too. Stay tuned….