Sibelius 7.5 released; some notes for early adopters

News

sib75-boxToday Avid released Sibelius 7.5. Announced last month, the release is the first major upgrade to Sibelius in more than two and a half years and the first update of any kind to Sibelius since September 2012.

Sibelius 7.5 offers improvements in the areas of navigation, performance, playback, sharing, and social media. A detailed overview of the new features is available elsewhere on this blog.

Generally, in the final testing build of 7.5.0 that I used, Sibelius was stable and works as advertised on my Mac Pro (Late 2013) running Mac OS X 10.9.2 (Mavericks). The font in the text menus (on Mac) is the normal Lucida Grande, and I had no problems running Sibelius as a ReWire slave in Logic Pro X.

Some areas of 7.5.0 are a little rough or could benefit from more explanation, and so I wanted to review them here.

Timeline

As I wrote previously, the Timeline is an excellent improvement and performs well when you want it, and can be closed when you don’t.

However, it’s not explicitly clear which items end up on which lane. I discovered that the lane in which system text appears in the Timeline is dependent upon its definition in Play > Interpretation > Dictionary.

Take the following reasonable music example:

timeline-example

By default, it will be represented as follows in the Timeline:

timeline-example-11

All four tempo indications were placed using the Tempo text style. Yet “Majestically” and “rit.” appear in Other Text, while “Slower” and “a tempo” appear in Tempo Markings. The reason for this is, of the four markings, only “Slower” and “a tempo” are defined in the Dictionary.

However, if I add a metronome mark to the text object, “Majestically” will now appear in Tempo Markings:

timeline-example-12

This is because the term “q =” is defined in the Dictionary as having a Metronome effect, and Metronome effects are set to display in Tempo Markings in the Timeline:

timeline-example-4

Here is a chart of the various effects as defined in the Dictionary and their corresponding lanes in the Timeline:

EffectTimeline lane
MetronomeTempo Markings
RepeatRepeats
Rhythmic FeelTempo Markings
Rit./Accel.Other Text
TempoTempo Markings
Tempo ScaleTempo Markings
Reset TempoTempo Markings

You may have noticed that, strangely, you can’t define “rit.” to both have a Rit./Accel. effect and also have it appear in the Tempo Markings lane in the Timeline. Yet “a tempo” will appear in that lane.

Hopefully a future update or upgrade will be both more sensible by default and give users the option to more easily control how items appear in the Timeline. For now, if you want, say, everything entered in the Tempo text style to appear in the Tempo Markings lane in the Timeline, you’ll have to define them accordingly in the Dictionary if they haven’t already been defined.

Playback

While we’re on the subject of the Dictionary, as I mentioned last month, you can set Rhythmic Feels on a staff-by-staff basis. However, if you have a swing chart and you wish to have a drummer play ahead of the beat by typing the Technique text “ahead”, you’ll also need to set Swing (ticks) to match that of your master tempo; otherwise, you’ll have a very square drummer (because by default “ahead” is set to have a straight-eighth feel).

This is because your Effect Values are an all-or-nothing affair. It would be better if the various Effect Values could be individually enabled; perhaps one day they will be.

Performance

Speaking of Rhythmic Feels: any Rhythmic Feel that is defined as System Text in the Dictionary will appear in the list of Rhythmic feels in Play > Interpretation > Performance.

You may notice some strange looking items in the list:

menu-feels

No, you weren’t asleep in music theory class the day they taught what “qaa z=[qp ]e” meant. These are actually plain-text renderings of the Opus Metronome font. Perhaps one day the menus will be able to render this properly, but for now, here’s a translation guide:

00-marks-for-blog-2

Another performance issue: In my review from last month I described how mordents, trills and turns placed as symbols now back correctly in Sibelius 7.5, and gave the example that a passage notated as:

sib75-mordents1

Will play back as:

sib75-mordents2

I believe the example I gave is correct in illustrating how the music should be played back; in the testing version of 7.5, however, Sibelius was reversing the mordent and the inverted mordent during playback. Strangely, the definitions appear to be correct in Play > Interpretation > Dictionary > Symbols. Hopefully this is a bug that can be easily corrected.

Other than that, the new performance features are certainly worth exploring and experimenting with. Avid’s Joe Pearson has a nice write-up, with comparison examples, on the official Avid Blogs Sibelius.

Exporting and sharing

With all the new playback and sharing improvements in Sibelius 7.5, there is one major problem that undermines these features for the moment. Exporting (and sharing) audio and video in File > Export or File > Share is happening in real-time, not off-line.

That means that if your piece is 20 minutes long, it will take 20 minutes to create the audio file of it, instead of a fraction of the time you were accustomed to it taking in earlier versions. I’ve been assured by Avid that fixing this issue is the highest priority, so hopefully it will soon be corrected in a forthcoming update.

Regarding sharing: In Sam Butler’s post from a few weeks ago, he nicely described the new sharing options to YouTube, Facebook and SoundCloud. When you share your music to those services, the file is transmitted directly to the respective service.

When you send an e-mail using Sibelius 7.5’s Send Using Email feature, the e-mail is sent using Avid’s servers. Avid’s Joe Pearson told me that “the connection is encrypted using industry-standard SSL.” In addition, Joe said that “we do not log anything unless something goes wrong (i.e., an error of some sort). In this case, we need to log the data so that we can fix it. The only time we store a user’s e-mail address is if they choose to be blacklisted. Their e-mail address is then stored in a list which is consulted every time someone sends an e-mail from Sibelius.”

Keep in mind that once the data leaves Avid’s servers, it is transported using whichever transport method your e-mail provider uses and could be totally unencrypted, just like any other e-mail.

Joe further said that “we’re very concerned about customer data protection, and of course we’re governed by the same rules and laws as everyone else. We never look at any messages that are being sent, nor do we harvest e-mail addresses.”

The e-mail you send will contain embedded links to the Avid home page, as well as product pages for Sibelius 7.5 and Avid Scorch:

sibelius-75-email-1

You might try sending a test e-mail to yourself to see if you are comfortable with how the e-mail appears, as well as the limited information that Avid may log, before using the feature to collaborate with others.

Sam Butler noted that “The e-mail address you enter to send from is kept in Sibelius so you don’t have to type that in every time; that’s local to your machine. It’s kept in the ~/Library/Preferences file.”

Speaking of the preferences (or plist), they don’t transfer to 7.5 if you’re updating from 7.x on the same machine, although the installer will copy over your supporting files like House Styles and Playback Configurations. I mentioned this in a recent post, but I’ll repeat myself here: Once I installed Sibelius 7.5, I quit it and then went to ~/Library/Preferences and deleted com.avid.sibelius75.plist. I then made a copy of com.avid.sibelius7.plist and re-named it com.avid.sibelius75.plist.

Although not officially supported, this seemed to work. Do at your own risk.

Sibelius 7.1.3 follow-up

Earlier this week, Apple issued Mac OS X 10.9.2, which fixed the performance issues when using Sibelius 7.1.3 in Mavericks. Avid senior product manager Sam Butler told me that there are no plans to remedy the cosmetic font display issue in the Ribbon and dialogs that affects Sibelius users running Mavericks on a Mac. The other outstanding 7.1.3 issue in Mavericks, ReWire compatibility, appears to not be a problem as long as the audio bus in the host is set correctly.

Conclusion and availability

The first release of just about any major update of complex music software like Sibelius usually exhibits a few issues that are corrected in subsequent patches. Early adopters are rewarded by being the first to take advantage of the newest features, but with those rewards comes some risks. In the case of Sibelius 7.5, the risks are relatively minor, and they are mitigated further by the option presented upon installation to allow 7.1.3 to remain on your machine.

Existing Sibelius users can purchase and download the Sibelius 7.5 upgrade from Avid’s site. Upgrade pricing is dependent upon the latest version of Sibelius you have and where you live. Sibelius 7 users will see a less expensive upgrade than users of Sibelius 6 or earlier (in the US, $50 or $150, respectively).

Users brand new to Sibelius can purchase the full retail version of 7.5. The discounted academic version is functionally identical to the full retail version, but proof of eligibility must be provided.

A 30-day trial of Sibelius 7.5 may also be downloaded if you don’t want to fully commit quite just yet.

Sibelius 7.5 is available as a download or on DVD media. Sam Butler said that Avid is still in the process of stocking up the online store in some regions. Users preferring to purchase the physical box and finding it’s temporarily unavailable should see stock appearing beginning March 3.

If you bought and registered Sibelius 7 on or after January 23, 2014 and are eligible for the free upgrade to Sibelius 7.5, or if you bought and registered Sibelius 7 Academic Student and are eligible for the 4 years of free upgrades, Sam said that e-mails will be forthcoming in the next few days.

Updated 12:38 pm with more information about availability and to correct some links to Avid’s store.
Updated March 3, 2014 at 8:15 am with more information from Joe Pearson about the e-mail sharing service.
Updated March 3, 2014 at 8:30 am to correct an error in the graphics about the Timeline.

Comments

  1. Ron Puente

    Thanks Philip. Your analysis is always on point, especially for a novice like me. I now have to give thought on upgrading my version.
    Best,
    Ron

  2. Bob Zawalich

    Thanks for keeping an eye out, Philip! Another great article.

  3. Stephen Begley

    I think evolution not revolution comes under the category of an update. I have just looked at the website offering the update and $50 is too much for work that should have been released in patches post Finsbury Park. I was one of the earliest adopters in my country, the Czech Republic, but to add insult to injury (I don’t think I am overplaying it) people who bought into Sibelius 7 after I did, get a free update. I’m sorry, I know you can’t please all the people all of the time but it would be nice if you could please some of the people, etcetera… For the minor improvements this upgrade is offering I don’t think I will be updating anytime soon. Sorry, my money is on Steinberg.

  4. Erik Gustafsson

    Hi! Sorry for cluttering the comments, but does anyone here know if this upgrade falls under the ” four years of complimentary upgrades from the time of software activation” for academic users, and if so, how do we claim it? (Contacting Avid is nowhere as easy as it should be)
    http://www.avid.com/US/resources/Academic-Eligibility

    1. Philip Rothman

      Erik: According to Avid’s Sam Butler, they will be sending messages abut the complimentary upgrades for Sibelius academic users in the coming days.

  5. John Erickson

    Hi, I’ve worked with Sibelius 6.2 for several years, like it except for playback. How much would an upgrade to 7.5 cost?
    Thanks!

    John Erickson

    1. Philip Rothman

      John, the upgrade to Sibelius 7.5 from Sibelius 6 is $150.

  6. Brian

    Has anyone else had this problem? I own Sibelius 7.3 and previously owned 6.0 – but it keeps telling me my serial number doesn’t qualify for an upgrade.

  7. David

    Hello,
    I’m sorry to throw a negative spanner in the works. This blog is clearly for the intellectual musician, but, qaa az=qaa.aa i leaves my brain zzzl’eed. Moreover after seeing the initial manuscript where “Slower” appears in bar 5 but in the timeline appears in bar 4 does not equate.
    I am clearly missing something. Please would someone explain in simple terms what is the justification for upgrading to 7.5?
    What sounds have been improved?
    What is going to make my writing swifter in this, already excellent tool, from inception through to 7?

    1. Philip Rothman

      David: Your comments are on point. This was what I was trying to illustrate with this post — Sibelius 7.5 has some rough patches that early adopters should be aware of, like the menu font display and the Timeline inconsistencies.

      Good catch on “Slower” — I think the reason that happened is because in my file, that expression is erroneously attached to the end of bar 4. So that one’s a user error! I’ve corrected the graphics. But the larger point remains that how an expression appears in a particular lane in the Timeline is not immediately clear.

      On the official Avid Blogs Sibelius, there is a good overview of the sound and playback improvements. I also covered this on this blog here and here.

      Probably the best thing to do is download the free trial and see if, based on the nature of your work, the improvements are worth upgrading for.

  8. vincent

    Hello, please make a tuto for rewire Logic pro -> Sibelius 7.5.
    thank you

  9. Ernie Jackson

    Excellent!

  10. Brian

    One thing struck me right away on the trial version. The “timeline” identifies a piece of mine as being in F# major…but it is, in fact, in F# minor. Doubtless to be corrected in time but interesting in that such an error should occur in the first place.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Brian: You’re right. For fun (?) I tested all the other keys. Looks like F# minor is unique in this bug.

  11. Mike Klinger

    Daniel must laughing aloud right about now as I believe this update was one he was working on before he left Sibelius?

  12. Brian

    Another interesting observation: yes, you can keep both 7 and 7.5 on the same machine – but using them both at one time appears to do some strange things with the ASIO settings in Windows. Essentially, the first version you open will work fine – but the second one will throw a “BAD ASIO SETTING” message – and if you attempt playback it locks up the entire soundcard – I had to reboot to get it back. Of course you don’t need to use both at once (you can’t copy between them anyway) and it perhaps is unique to the 64 bit version (on Windows 7).

  13. Neil Rolnick

    It sounds like the biggest problem with 7.5 is the real-time sound file export. Does anyone know if it’s possible to open a 7.5 file in 7.1.3, then export from there? That seems like a possible work-around if you’re working with long files …

    1. Philip Rothman

      Neil: That is certainly possible, but then of course you’d lose any of the playback improvements you may have taken advantage of in 7.5.

  14. Frank Torres

    Hi, I bought Sibelius 7 student edition on October 2010. There has only passed 3 years and a half and I’ve got 4 years of free upgrades. Will I be able to upgrade free or not?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Frank: Best to contact Sibelius tech support for this.

  15. Matt Berger

    WOW. I happily abandoned Pro Tools a while ago, but got back to the Avid world after getting deciding to dump Finale.

    What a crock of ****. I bought Sibelius about 9 months ago, and need to pay $50 to get the 0.5 update?

    Avid really sucks compared to the other available music software developers. Sibelius is a nice program, no thanks to Avid, but there’s no way in hell I’m supporting this pirate customer service.

    They go and leave a massive void in updates for several years, and then crawl back out and ask for rates due to minor tweaks to the software? GTFO Avid.

  16. Jean

    There is a big issue with the audio exportation on Sibelius 7.5 (Mac OS 10.9.2). Sibelius is completely freezing (spinning wheel) when I want to export audio from a score, and I have to force quit.. There are other bugs, but this one is really annoying.

  17. Alan Knight

    Slightly startling that having been notified of the bugs described in the post above by Philip, Avid didn’t bother to fix them but just released the buggy code unmodified.

    There are other plenty of indications of careless programming and non-existent testing. As a trivial (to fix) example, one immediately sees very visible character set issues on the ‘Latest News’ tab in the quick start window on startup. That’s not down to developers struggling to get to grips with a new code-base; it’s just straightforward incompetence.

  18. trust

    So, where to go now?

    Avid obviously is slowing Sibelius improvement and not continuing the great path it had before it got purchased by those fools.

    Where are you guys turning to? Back to Finale (where many of us came from)?

    Seeing Daniel is now working for Steinberg we can probably expect some pretty solid stuff out of Steinberg’s doors.

  19. Gary Smith

    A virus-removal process wiped out my Sib 7.1 as it reformatted my hard disk. With no serial number or paper work saved before the crash, is there any way for me to re-download my copy of Sibelius? I have used Sib since version 3. Also, why can’t I get anyone on the phone to discuss this?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Gary: You should be able to re-download 7.1.3 by clicking here, but unfortunately you’ll need your serial number or activation ID. Sibelius technical support can be contacted here.

      1. Gary Smith

        Thanks!. I am up and running again!

  20. Neil Rolnick

    Hi Philip. Thanks for your response to my question about non-real-time audio export in 7.5 … Since I’m working on some long (30 minute) pieces, switching to real-time could be a big problem. Do you have any idea from Sibelius about when they plan to fix this? Having held off so long to upgrade from 7.1, I’m inclined to wait a bit longer to avoid the time train for exporting in real time.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Neil: Avid hasn’t specifically said when an update will be released, but we know they are working on one. So probably best to refrain from using 7.5 for the time being if you work with export a lot.

      1. Neil Rolnick

        Thanks, Philip. Sigh. I do wish Avid were more responsive.

  21. Gary Smith

    Is it legal to use Sibelius on my desktop computer AND my laptop computer?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Gary: Yes, the license allows for two computers.

  22. Renato Sandrini

    If I buy the upgrade to 7.5, can I still use, activate and deactivate my Sibelius 7 along with the new version?

    1. Brian

      Renato,

      No problem I have both versions running. Just don’t run them both at the same time.

  23. Sebastian Brandmeir

    Hello Philip!

    I bought and registered Sibelius 7 after January 23 and the shop assistant asserted, that I get a free upgrade to Sibelius 7.5. But how? Where can I download the free upgrade? Can you help me, please?

    Greetings from Germany,
    Sebastian

  24. vincent

    Hello
    Rewire doesn’t work !!!!

  25. Mark

    Upgraded to 7.5 – I must say it is NOT a worthwhile upgrade – I use NONE of the new features – they are pretty minor or useless. Very disappointed – only reason I did it was because I wanted to avoid a big leap in price to the next version – wondering now if it was a waste of money – I will be going to the Steinberg offering as soon as it is out…..

  26. Tim Ferchen

    Greetings all,
    Does anyone out there have any opinion on this: I’m running Sibelius 7 on Lion and it’s working great. However I’m really wondering if I should update to Mavericks. Lion is now 2 OS’s down the road. Question is, if it isn’t broken should I still fix it. I hear all of the horror stories with Sib. 7 and OSX 9.2 and I really don’t want to update anymore to 7.5 since it really offers nothing I need. This is more of a question concerning how long it is wise to keep any OS before updating it. Thanks.
    Tim Ferchen

  27. Gordon

    Hi,

    Anyone else having reliability problems with 7.5? I’m on Windows 7, and 7.1.3 works fine, but 7.5 falls over fairly regularly and leaves an unkillable process lying about, still using 3GB of memory and with my keyboard attached to it. Reboot seems to be the only cure

  28. cathryn davis

    Hello I have an Academic version 7.5 that I have registered & activated on my desktop. I now want to put it also my laptop which I was told I could do. When I try it says it is already activated on another computer already. So how do I activate it on my laptop? The Sibelius support site was totally useless.

    Thank you,
    Cathryn

  29. Alex Semper

    Kan man scanne en node ind i programmet, ændre nøgle/toneart og printe det ud i flot udskrift?
    I f.eks. Sibelius First ?

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