Sibelius 8 is here: The new Sibelius looks a lot like the old one

News

sibiconToday Avid released Sibelius 8.0, or what is being called the “next generation” or “new Sibelius”. Various license plans are available for purchase, and a 30-day trial is available. A full review follows.

When it comes to software updates, what’s in a version number? There are updates to desktop browsers and mobile apps, which most people don’t concern themselves with (Quick: which version of Facebook is your smartphone running?).

Operating system versions are equally curious. Technically speaking, desktop Macs are still running version 10 (OS X), meaning that students will be writing their college application essays on the OS that was born at the same time they were. On the PC side, maybe Microsoft saw an opportunity to catch up to Apple in version numbering, or maybe they were just in a hurry when they breezed past 9 on their way to Windows 10.

In the world of music notation applications, each numerical update has historically represented significant new features and a new file format. The recently released MuseScore 2 came five years after version 1, and its myriad new features are true to what one would expect after such a long period and a doubling of the version number. Finale released yearly updates for over a decade corresponding to the next year following the release, until abandoning that plan with Finale 2014. Like new car models that follow a similar schedule, each update offered up a few new important features but, owing to the short development cycle, progress was more incremental.

Sibelius users have generally come to expect major new features and engraving improvements once every two years. Devoted users still have their favorite versions, recalling the highlights and quirks of each one like the personality traits of close friends. After all, some of us spend more time with Sibelius than with anything, or anyone else!

Each major release brought with it a bevy of changes. Sibelius 6 introduced a whirlwind of upgrades in 2009 including Magnetic Layout, Versions, playback upgrades, ReWire support, not to mention vastly improved engraving features with slurs, articulations and chord symbols seeing marked improvement. The 2011 release of Sibelius 7, love it or hate it, was equally significant, not only with its change to the Ribbon interface but with a complete 64-bit rewrite and impressive advances in type and typography features, a brand new heavy-duty sound library, and a number of other things.

So when Avid announced Sibelius 7.5 early last year, it was a break from the reliable release cycle stretching back to 1999. Not only was the release more than 6 months later than usual, it was a more incremental evolution of the software. Since the well-known corporate and personnel changes within Avid in 2012 left many wondering if there was any future at all for Sibelius, even a modest release such at 7.5 was a welcome sign, and understandable given the circumstances. The version number seemed to be an acknowledgment that users should not expect an upgrade worthy of being called “Sibelius 8”. Appropriately priced at $50 US, once the 7.5.1 maintenance update came out in July last year, it has proved to be a solid upgrade.

One had to wonder, though, if the “.5” release was a temporarily hiccup owing to unique circumstances, or a harbinger of things to come. Would Sibelius 8 return to the pattern of impressive new features and notation improvements? Or would future updates take a more of incremental approach? And if the latter, how will Avid charge for such updates?

800-1

Avid answered those questions in April of this year, with the announcement of “the new Sibelius” along with new licensing options that included both perpetual and renewable licenses. We’ve already covered that announcement, and in May, senior product manager Sam Butler posted FAQs to further address questions and concerns about the new plans.

While those FAQs and license plans are important to understanding Avid’s new strategy, they have been widely discussed already and we won’t spend more space dissecting them here. Briefly, though (all prices USD):

  • If you already own Sibelius (any version), the annual fee for a perpetual license is $89 which includes one year of updates
  • If you’re new to Sibelius, you can pay $689 for a perpetual license which includes one year of updates, and $89 per year thereafter to keep it current with updates
  • Whether you’re new to Sibelius or not, you have an alternative option of paying $20 per month for a renewable license ($240 per year)
  • Educational discounts, as well as crossgrade discounts from competitive products are available
  • With a perpetual license, the software will continue to work even if you stop paying for updates for as long as your operating system will support it — you just won’t be eligible for any further updates
  • With a renewable license, the software will stop working at the end of your renewable license term
  • All previous versions of Sibelius will continue to work just as they do now; current licenses are unaffected by whether or not you update

Even though the “new Sibelius“, released today, bears the version number 8.0 under the hood, it’s clear why Avid is keen to avoid using it: Sibelius 8 is the thinnest release ever for a Sibelius product that turns the left-most column on the odometer.

The new features in Sibelius 8.0 are:

  • Annotations
  • Support for Microsoft devices that use pen-and-touch
  • Pinch-to-zoom and other touch gestures for touch screens and tablets
  • Support for DPI scaling on Windows

Annotations

Sibelius 8 will be most appealing to users whose primarily computer is a pen-and-touch tablet PC like the Surface Pro. The annotation feature, found at Review > Annotations > Annotate, can be switched on and off. When enabled, you can draw on the score using your mouse or pen, although drawing using the mouse is all but impractical.

Drawing with the pen generally works well. Even if you lift the pen, any marks you make within a second of each other are grouped together into the same annotation, making it relatively easy to select an annotation and delete it or move it around, without having to, say, individually select each letter of a word you wrote. Note, though, that if you’re super-fast and annotate in many different places in the score without waiting a second between each one, those annotations will be undesirably grouped together.

annotations
Annotations in Sibelius 8.0

Annotations can be colored by selecting the annotation and choosing Home > Edit > Color > Choose Color. As of now, you can’t adjust the width of the pen stroke.

Annotations are staff-attached, not system-attached, and, once an annotation is selected, the attachment line will indicate the staff and bar to which it is attached. Like other Sibelius objects, they can be copied and pasted using the clipboard or by holding down Alt on PC or Option on Mac and clicking the destination. Annotations appear in the parts as well as in the score.

annotations-part
Annotations in a part in Sibelius 8.0

Annotations are cousins to comments and highlights in the Review category, and like those objects, they won’t print unless you have checked View options when you print your score. Unlike comments, however, annotations don’t appear in the filter, and there is no plug-in as of yet to delete them the way one can with highlights. So deleting many of them at once could be cumbersome unless a solution is invented.

Comments and highlights are valuable tools in certain workflow contexts. One can imagine annotations becoming useful in classroom or collaborative situations, or even when one is composing and wants to mark up a score in a handwritten fashion. Keep in mind, though, that annotations are “dumb” in that Sibelius won’t automatically turn your scribbles into text or music notation the way StaffPad or NotateMe will.

Other pen-and-touch enhancements, pinch-to-zoom, etc.

Rounding out the balance of the new features is support for pen-and-touch PCs. It works as you’d expect: you can select bars, objects, menu items, notes and just about anything else with the pen, and you can input notes by tapping on the screen with the pen the same way you can with a mouse pointer. Using your pen’s eraser, you can delete just about anything you ordinarily would by selecting and pressing the Backspace or Del key.

You can move around in the score by simply touching any blank area in the score and moving your finger around the score. It’s not a terribly efficient way of navigating compared to, say, swiping or touching to turn a page on an e-reader; it’s more like clicking in the score and using the hand-grabber to move around. If you’re in Annotate mode, you’ll need to use two fingers to move around the score in this way.

Pinch-to-zoom on both the screen and the trackpad mostly works. However, instead of zooming where your fingers are, like just about every other tablet browser and application does, Sibelius always focuses the zoom in the center of the screen regardless of where you pinch on your touchscreen, which is disorienting. There seems to be a bug right now where pinch-to-zoom in the parts works only on the trackpad but not directly on the touchscreen.

Sibelius 8 takes advantage of DPI scaling on hi-res Windows displays, although the proportions are off in most of the floating windows, palettes, and other GUI elements. Fortunately, the Keypad has been appropriately resized and updated with a new look. The Transport has also been modestly refreshed.

keypad-transport

Installation

Installation of Sibelius itself is familiar enough.

install

There is an option to copy supporting files from 7.5, and it does a good job of transferring over all of your House Styles, Playback Configurations, custom shortcuts and menu items, as well as most of your preference setting, so that Sibelius 8 looks familiar when you run it for the first time. In my testing, custom shortcuts transferred over, but the Current feature set in File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts was reset to the default Standard menus and shortcuts. So if you have any custom shortcuts and want to use them, you’ll need to toggle this setting to select your custom set.

As mentioned, while this is technically version 8 of Sibelius, it’s only referred to as “Sibelius” in your list of applications. All your previous versions will remain undisturbed and will continue to work for as long as you like — despite rumors to the contrary, they are unaffected by any new license you purchase. However, since Sibelius 7, 7.5 and 8 all look alike, take care to make sure you’re working in the version of the software you intend.

versions

Sibelius 8 is the first version to use the new licensing scheme and to make use of the Avid Application Manager, which is a separate application that is installed on your computer along with the Sibelius installation. Because I was working with a pre-release version of Sibelius, the process may slightly change once made publicly available, but I found it it rather straightforward. You purchase your upgrade or new license through the Avid store, or, if you buy from a reseller, you’ll get a card with a redemption code.

Once your product is purchased or redeemed, you install Sibelius and the Application Manager. Activation should be as simple as clicking Activate when Sibelius prompts you to so, which will in turn bring you into the login screen for your Avid Master Account through the Application Manager. Once logged in, wait for the activation to happen.

license2

Sibelius will see the activation and will start automatically from there. It wasn’t more or less difficult than the previous system of copying and pasting system IDs and activation keys initially, although theoretically it should be easier in the long term: As you upgrade and install Sibelius on different computers, there shouldn’t be a need to deactivate and reactivate it; you’ll simply log in to your Avid account.

Finally, once you get up and running, you’ll notice that the startup music is from the first movement of Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 6. Will we be working backwards through the symphonies now? Only time will tell. As before, you can disable this music from playing, or (unofficially) change it, should you wish.

File compatibility

Interestingly, if you work on a Sibelius 8.0 file and save it, you can open it straight away in Sibelius 7.5 without needing to export it first from Sibelius 8 as a 7.5 file, as long as there are no annotations in the file. This seems to work even if you have added annotations and deleted them later. You can, of course, use File > Export > Previous Version to export a Sibelius 8 file to 7.5 and earlier, all the way back to Sibelius 2.

If you do try to open a Sibelius 8 file with annotations in Sibelius 7.5, you’ll get an error message:

open

The file compatibility may have been a happy accident for the time being, because Avid has said not to rely on re-opening a Sibelius 8 file in Sibelius 7.5 in this way. Although it may work today, it’s likely to change as Sibelius is updated in the future, making exporting necessary. This is unfortunate, since there will now be three versions in wide use that all basically look the same — 7, 7.5, and 8 (with 8 not even clearly identified as a new version) — so if you collaborate with others, you’re going to have to take special care to keep your file formats straight.

Should you upgrade?

The focus on features and improvements that take advantage of the Surface and similar Windows devices will be welcomed by those users, and coincides nicely with a general resurgence of interest in Microsoft products and Windows software. But rather than being designed from the ground up for these newer technologies, Sibelius 8 is retrofitting older software to use them in ways that have yet to prove useful for its workflow. Ultimately, you’ll still need a decently powered computer with a full keyboard to truly make the most of Sibelius, just as you did before. Whether this is merely a toe to test the waters of the Surface or part of a larger effort to continue to develop Sibelius for these machines remains to be seen.

The only actual new feature when it comes to how your scores will actually look is the annotations feature. The rest of the program appears to be basically untouched, save for the optimizations necessary for the Surface and other Windows high-DPI displays; the playback options are exactly the same as Sibelius 7.5 and the notation options are exactly the same as they were in Sibelius 7. In fact, other than the improved graphic support and the text overhaul that were introduced in 7, the music engraving features themselves basically haven’t budged since Sibelius 6. So if you are happy with 6 and were unconvinced by the workflow and interface improvements in 7 (even with a transition guide to help), you will not be persuaded by Sibelius 8.

There are a couple of subtle but important changes to system requirements in Sibelius 8 from Sibelius 7.5. Sibelius 8 is 64-bit only, which means that if you are accustomed to running it in 32-bit mode so that you can use any 32-bit audio plug-ins with it, you’ll need to replace them with 64-bit versions. Likewise, Sibelius 8 will only run on 64-bit versions of Windows 7 (SP1 or later) or Windows 8.1 or higher.

Sibelius 7.5 on the left, with 32-bit support, and Sibelius 8.0 on the right, without it
Sibelius 7.5 on the left, with 32-bit support, and Sibelius 8.0 on the right, without it

Also, on the Mac side, Sibelius 8 will only run on Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or higher — no more support for 10.6 through 10.8. If your Mac still runs one of those earlier operating systems, you’ll need to stick with Sibelius 7.5.

At $199 for a crossgrade, Sibelius 8.0 is still a fine product when compared to its current competitors — but not when compared to the most recent Sibelius upgrade. Paying $89 for hardly anything at all, especially on the Mac side, makes the $50 upgrade to Sibelius 7.5 from Sibelius 7 seem like the deal of the century, although it is worth noting that the all licenses also now include support (unlimited online incidents and one phone call per month), previously a $29 value, plus any software upgrades that are released during the license term. I’d suggest that Avid at least make the medicine go down easier and offer the first year of the perpetual upgrade to 8 at a special price of $39 for any existing users of Sibelius 7.5.

Assuming that Avid doesn’t take that advice (but hey, you never know), you’ll have a full year — through June 30, 2016 — to see how development progresses before you’ll no longer be eligible for the $89 perpetual upgrade price. At that point you’ll have to choose between a new full-price perpetual license or renewable subscription.

Even then, though, no existing Sibelius user should really ever need to pay the full $689 price for a perpetual license, as long as Avid and its competitors continue to offer a crossgrade option. See, you could crossgrade to another program — Notion offers a crossgrade for as little as $69 — and then crossgrade back to Sibelius for $199 for a total of $268, save more than $400, and own more software, besides.

Conclusions

When 7.5.0 first appeared, it was rough around the edges. It took another four months, but when 7.5.1 came out it was a very solid “point” update, and it is the most stable version of Sibelius. Sibelius 8.0 builds on that stability, and that’s a bright spot. Perhaps 8.0.1 and future more solid updates will follow, in time. But right now, Avid is essentially asking customers to pay them now and trust them to develop the product in a way that makes annual license and support fees worthwhile. At least the perpetual upgrade offer for existing users doesn’t expire until the end of June 2016, so if you currently own Sibelius, you have a full year from now to see what transpires.

Sam Butler has said that Avid has “a strong plan for the next few years… We’re aiming for a steady release of features for Sibelius itself, including some much needed technical work under the hood as well as some attention to the notation and user experience side of the application.” Sam referred to the 7.5.1 release as a “‘get healthy’ release by hardening the code and fixing some really important stability issues that had been in the program for several years.”

That stability was welcome, and indeed necessary. No one wants to work in fear of their essential software crashing regularly, which often happened when using the first major release of a new Sibelius version. But Avid must make sure that code-hardening doesn’t become code-ossification. Whether future updates will similarly be built on top of existing code without adding new engraving features is a legitimate question right now, especially for users deciding to commit to one of the license plans.

The current state of Sibelius reminds me of what Leonard Bernstein said when asked about Aaron Copland’s music: “It’s the best we’ve got, you know.” Whether or not the compliment was intended to have a detractive element — as if better music might come along from someplace else — has always been up for debate.

One could say the same about Sibelius, when talking about desktop notation-based scoring programs. It is still a remarkable program that can do a staggering number of things, and does them mostly very well. Yes, there are other applications with which you can write music, produce published-quality engravings, churn out lots of commercial charts, work directly with video and timecode, use ReWire and third-party AU and VST samples, play and create realistic audio demos, and export files into a variety of other formats. Sibelius is the only one with which you can do them all, and in a 64-bit application to boot. That’s quite a feat.

Yet the increasingly gnawing feeling is that the vision, pace of innovation, and (crucially) the sheer available man-hours that made all of those things possible are gone from Sibelius’s development. I will be more than delighted for it to be proven otherwise as the new subscription and update scheme gets underway, especially if significant new features improve the scoring and notation experience. Or perhaps something better than Sibelius will eventually come along.

For now, it’s the best we’ve got, you know.

Comments

  1. Bob Zawalich

    Thanks, Philip. This was a great review and answered a lot of questions I had.

  2. Bernie Cossentino

    Thanks for the review Philip,

    Just as I suspected.
    I’ll wait a year, then we’ll see…

    Bernie

  3. Brad

    “Yet the increasingly gnawing feeling is that the vision, pace of innovation, and (crucially) the sheer available man-hours that made all of those things possible are gone from Sibelius’s development. ”

    sadly… I agree. I doubt I will be upgrading for the cost of what I receive in return..

  4. Kevin

    not an upgrade as such then?

  5. Alex

    It’s always interesting when the whole 64-bit “feature” is touted as much of a special commodity. I mean, I understand that in certain VST-related cases why it’d be desirable for the application to be able to use 64-bit address space, but it’s still a feature that should have less priority than engraving and user interface related upgrades.

    To put it simply, with support for ReWire, most of the people who would really need the extra memory-handling capability have a better solution anyway. And I personally don’t think any notation/engraving software should need access to such swaths of memory (4 gb of allocated memory for any one application indicates general inefficiency, save for handling complex media like video editing).

    So while I know it’s in vogue to tout the 64-bit capabilities of software like this, it’s often at the expense of more useful improvements.

  6. Rob

    Hey there, just wondering where you found that year deadline to get a support plan for current owners and if that applies to owners of Sibelius 7.

    Thanks!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Rob, it’s in the FAQs posted by Sam Butler in the forum. I believe it applies to anyone holding a valid Sibelius license from 1 through 7.5.

  7. Gerard

    did i misunderstood the annoncement since the beginning ? that the pen / touch feature is not to write in manuscrit like it’s with a real pen, but just using the tablet pen feature like a mouse ??? i’m trying the trial with a Wacom Pen & Touch, and see nothing different as before on this matter. i tought they implanted something like notate me or staffpad but just for the writing note feature. did i misunderstood since the beginning ?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Gerard, that’s correct. Sibelius itself will not recognize handwritten notation with this latest upgrade. You can use the recently released NotateMe and send its output to Sibelius.

      1. Agustìn

        LOL. That’s a Sibelius classic fake feature. Like crappy rewire.. you can connect sibelius to your daw but the only thing that is useful for is sync the playing bar..

  8. Vince

    At some point, it seems that we will have to make an upgrade decision. …if not now, later. The real question in my mind is why anyone would ever do # 1 below, when #2 is far cheaper:

    #1) pay $20/month to license software and risk loosing all access to it, it they unsubscribe.

    #2) pay $89/yr and at some point if you do not want to pay anymore, you get to keep & use the software.

    ………..or did I misunderstand your financial comparison?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Vince, you’re generally right, except that if you pay the $89 for the year and then stop paying, you won’t get future upgrades, and, if you don’t renew your upgrade plan after a grace period which Avid says will be about a month, you won’t be eligible for the $89 plan again — you’ll have to move to the $20/mo subscription (or do the crossgrade dance as I described).

      For now, all existing license holders have a year — until June 30, 2016 — to decide whether or not to get on the upgrade train.

      1. Vince

        Hi Philip,

        I was assuming that once you started paying the $89/yr, then you would continue unless you decided to jump off the renewal chain (not to return). …meaning that you felt that your current version was as far as you needed to go with that software, so why bother spending more money. …in the case of the $89 choice, one can do that since the software would still work.

        I did not think someone would say renew for a year or two and then take a sabbatical for a while and try to get back in the zone renewing again.

        1. Philip Rothman

          Right, I think that’s what Avid is planning on. But there are people who skip versions, and, after next year, they will be no longer eligible for upgrade pricing the way they used to be.

          1. Terence Jones

            Well I’m afraid I’m going to be playing the waiting game on this one. I’m pretty happy right now with 7.5 and can see no reason to pay out £89 for what look like minimal improvements.

  9. Bob

    Thanks for the review, Philip.

    I’ve been with Sibelius on the Mac since version 2. I’ll renew next year before the deadline unless something useful is added sooner. Hopefully Steinberg’s application will be released before too long. I’m sorry to see what has happened to Sibelius, and plan to cease doing business with Avid as soon as practical.

    1. Engela Fullard

      I think a lot of loyal(?) Sibelius users share your sentiments, Bob!

    2. Darian

      Same here. Using Sibelius on the Mac since version 2. Currently switched back to V6 (can’t stand this banner thing at the top, coming from Windows) and for sure not going to a sub model to use a piece of software.

      Sad to see Sibelius die for me. But alas, there are alternatives. Like the already mentioned application from Steinberg.

  10. David

    It’s bizarre, I’ll give it that. In 20+ years of purchasing software, I’ve never come across anything close to this: It’s Sibelius 7.5 with a crude way of drawing on it like MS Paint from the 80s. That’s it.

    I like Sibelius, really. I don’t want to change to the new product or the “other” product. But c’mon. “Wait and see” doesn’t apply anymore= we did that and got a way to scribble. “Underwhelmed” doesn’t apply, it’s the same exact product with a mandatory $90 fee. Based on what they have done since the “underwhelming” 7.5, I’m expecting nothing more in the next 365 days, and hope I’m proven wrong.

  11. Christian

    Is it still possible to update to Sib 7.5?
    I don’t want to use Sib8, because it needs OS X 10.9

    Very sad what’s happening with Avid.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Christian, you can still purchase a Sibelius 7.5 upgrade from Amazon, and probably other retail stores as well.

  12. Gerry

    I am disappointed of version 8 new features, I was expecting much more important notation and formatting features options. The Sound Library and the play back are still using the same sounds set 7. The new scheme to get us to pay yearly with for very deceiving tech support program does not make me

  13. Michael Kummer

    No surprise. With the demise of the London Sibelius team, this stunning program lost every focus and Avid obviously has no real interest or the expertise of developing the thing further. Lets hope and see what comes from Hamburg in the future.

  14. Bob Ross

    The demo for the current Sibelius (8 or 2015) is not very responsive to the Surface Pen for note input on my Surface 3 (4G). The program itself seems to install and run fine (including playback) but the only reason for me to upgrade now would be if the pen input was an plus…right now I don’t feel it…
    Of course current Sib doesn’t have handwriting recognition, the pen just can be used positioning selection.

    Erasing with the pen isn’t anywhere near what it should be. Face it, fixing things in Sib is a pain…it wants to do what it wants to do… I would rather be in charge….

    I usually have to delete the whole measure and start over…those damn greyed out rests drive me crazy!!!

  15. Peter Roos

    Thanks for the review Philip, this is very helpful.

  16. Julian Brown

    The Sibelius 8 trial for Mac doesn’t seem to work. Downloaded to try out and just crashes as soon as I click ‘Continue Trial’ :(

  17. Madelon Michel

    I still use Sibelius 6 and as it does everything that I need I will not upgrade. I’m still sorry the “siblings” Ben and Jonathan sold out their wonderful program. But I can understand it after all the hard work they put into it!

  18. Ranger the Arranger

    Just played around with Sib 8 for a bit, not sure if it’s just me but it seems like it’s a bit more responsive. It could just be the clean install. Did anyone else notice this? I’m wondering if maybe it’s the fact that it’s exclusively 64 bit now – maybe they did some under the hood optimizations.

    Also, I love the new keypad – the design of the old one always annoyed me…so antiquated!

  19. Matt Smith

    seems like Avid’s doing the same exact thing to Sibelius as they did Pro Tools. Frankly, I don’t see how it makes any sense to lock their own customers out of an upgrade for missing a yearly deadline. I’m just glad that it’s an ~$89 upgrade as opposed to a ~$600 upgrade. lol

  20. Jorge Grundman

    Did you get notice than now you can install Sibelius 8 on as many computers you wish instead the old two installations scheme for Sibelius 7.5 and prior?

    For me this is a very good news

    1. Jorge Grundman

      Finally the FAQ from Sibelius 2015 is wrong. You only have two activations as ever. They must fix this misinformation.

  21. Andy

    Typical Avid, don’t be fooled by them, the whole thing is a con… They will steadily increase the price each year, you keep paying more for less.

    1. Jeremy

      No improvements to the interface. Still didn’t fix glitches that we’ve found workarounds for… The only major change is the new ripoff pricing SCAM. Pathetic…

  22. Cat

    Sibelius user since 1.0, upgraded to V2 V3, & recently V7.5 after years away. Sadly after today I think Sibelius is finished and Avid are cutting their own throats!! RIP Sibelius :-(

  23. Cat

    The big hole in Avid’s thinking is that why should anyone fork out for a new licence if they decide they don’t need to upgrade that year after owning a perpetual licence. People may get involved with other software like I did on other types if projects and not need the scoring facilities of Sibelius and decide at a later date when projects dictate to upgrade.
    Maybe Avid believe people in this situation will be forced into the subscription option, but they also could just as easily walk away altogether to another program and there are quite a few!
    Avid seem to have a short term focus that’s what my intuition is telling me, make profit now at the risk of losing long term customers. Maybe that’s the way the CEO’s want it but it won’t last.
    Make a quick buck vs losing the goodwill and loyalty of your kong term customers isn’t the way to go!
    Yamaha the owners of Steinberg must be loving this!!

  24. Andy Power

    Sibelius R.I.P.
    Have also been a user since version 1.
    I really am beginning to understand why so many people use crack copy’s of software, especially when company like Avid treat their customers like shit.
    Great policy – buy our software and then keep paying for it every year?
    yes, Yamaha the owners of Steinberg must be loving this!!

  25. Stan

    I have been a user since Sib 2 and have loved using it through 6. I have 7 & 7.5, but not really liking them. Now 8 has zero additional features except if you run out and buy a Surface tablet. Even then, VERY limited features. Now we are getting Avid holding a gun to our heads.

    Rooting for Daniel Spreadbury and team to hurry up and get their product out soon!!!!

  26. Ray Mizzi

    So in simple terms, what is the update giving us? Why did I pay 89$ ?

  27. oddy

    With AVID everything is about more money .. just like my 11Rack .. no more updates or support whatsoever .. pathetic company run by greedy people ..

  28. Christian

    Well, I upgraded and have messed around with it a bit. Save for the iOS-style updates to the Keypad and Transport pallets, you’d really have no clue that you weren’t simply working with v. 7.5. It *might* be a little zippier with large scores…but that could be my imagination.

    The Avid Licensing Manager, while not horrible, seems unnecessary. I really think that this is the major new feature…for Avid, though, not the users: a DRM tool and the subscription model.

    I guess the most compelling reason to upgrade at this point is that (presumably) Avid will keep this version regularly and promptly updated with new releases of OS X? And perhaps the next incremental updates will include something more compelling.

    So, unless you’re a stickler for having the absolute latest, or unless you’re a Surface user, this is essentially Sibelius 7.5.5.

  29. foss

    OS X spotlight / finder preview of sibelius files is broken. Avid, pathetic as usual. Can’t wait for Steinberg to get into the notation game and show Avid and MakingMusic Finale how it’s done.

  30. David

    I still could not see the big difference. I don’t mean the format. Hopefully it is not changed. However, apart from some new windows and the capacity to export video, I still find all the old bugs that we the users have been for years trying to fixed. To may big disappointment, now in Sibelius 8 I cannot “select” a series of note with the funtion SHIFT and the mouse, it simple does not happen. I have avoided to update sibelius in my lapton, I think the previous version is still better. Now, could someone tell me how to select partcial notes with the shift + righ mouse click?

    1. Wuiyeon

      Do you use mac? Then hold down command and click the notes with mouse.

  31. Jamal

    I was a Sibelius user until version 6. I became more and more disappointed so that I never upgraded. Two years ago, I heard about a new software called Notion. Though I think Sibelius is superior I decided to switch and I suggest every one does so. It lacks many of the Sibelius features but it is so visual and convenient to use that I forgot Sibelius for good. This Version 8 brings nothing new for me.

  32. Composer

    As I explained to AVID previously, I only have a small Download capacity, so my friend kindly offered to Download from My account the two Installation files for Sibelius 8.0.1 + the large ‘ Sound Library ‘ (some 23+GB) so I can back them up on a USB (32GB)

    She has tried several times, but when it got to 99% Downloaded of the Sound Library, it crashes!

    How the hell can I reinstall if I have a major system crash when the Download keeps failing?

    She even uses a Download safety program that carries on from where the Download fails, but it doesn’t work when trying to download that Sibelius Sound Library as after 3 times trying it gives an error ‘ cannot resume ‘ at 99% of the Download!

    Does any one have an actual ‘ direct email ‘ address as their website sends you around in unhelpful circles!

    Any helpful solutions please?

  33. Robert

    I’ve been using Sibelius since version 6, with gratitude for its beauty and usefulness.

    Software developers have families and bills too. The money we pay allows Avid and companies like theirs to plan staff and other costs with greater confidence.

    The very freedom we as users had in the past to buy or skip an upgrade meant that the company often had no idea how much would be coming into their coffers, and thus couldn’t plan effectively.

    Some of those upgrades were pretty expensive, too, with not everyone able to lay out the price all in one go. I see the new subscription model as an attempt to try to establish the business on a more reliable footing.

    It is, after all, a business. Heav’n forfend that a business should not just be able to pay its staff but should also – cringe – turn a profit!

    I was very angry when Adobe went the same way, with their ‘Creative Cloud’ business model. But now I’ve come to accept and even to appreciate the new model.

    It’s the way all high-end software is going. As developer time becomes more expensive, the products will follow suit, eventually making it impossible to put the stuff out at what most of us would a reasonable price.

    I came ’round to it in the end; perhaps some of you will too. Change isn’t nice but it is inevitable.

    (written while downloading Sibelius Sounds, could’ve gone on for four hours…)

    1. Cat

      Change isn’t nice but it is inevitable.

      I disagree, changes may happen, but this model is not inevitable…..

      Something will always evolve to compete…..just look at the dollar and BRICS etc… Rome….etc..

      1. Robert

        Thanks for your comment, Cat.

        I think you’re saying that Change itself is inevitable but that the subscription model now adopted by Avid, Adobe, Microsoft and others was by no means inevitable and that, therefore, some other model was available to them; a model they chose to leave aside in favour of the current one.

        If that’s what you mean, then you are correct. I believe that this model itself will evolve into one in which all major software will be delivered by subscription, and that the option to ‘purchase’ a license will be removed. The current system is transitional.

        Thanks again; you gave me pause for thought! Now installing Sibelius Sounds… (sigh). Why can’t they give it to us on a pen drive or something?

    2. Cat

      If a small company like Ableton can produce such a cool piece of software and survive for over a decade without a subscription model then so can Adobe and Avid.
      This isn’t about families of employees it’s about shareholders and CEO perks etc.
      It’s happening everywhere even in safety critical industries, profit, profit , profit…until something goes tits up like with NASA on two occasions?

  34. david

    No one wants the Avid Application Manager to open when they start their computer, c’mon Avid.

  35. Jackie Robertson

    Most of my Sib6 .sib files have disappeared! How can I find them again, please? (PLEASE!!)

  36. Composer

    Perhaps you could contact AVID and ask them?

  37. HeroicOnes

    Thank you alot for this review! Very well written and informative. You stay on the subject and are critical without being cynical – reading this had me nodding in agreement throughout!

    Personally, I feel that with Sibelius 7, we have pretty much reached a pinnacle of notation software – there is not a whole lot in terms of features you can actually add that would revolutionise anything. Features like the Annotations seem like re-inventing the wheel at this point, it is not like I could just use the existing text features to leave notes for collaborators.
    What I would like to see is improved play recognition. Every tried actually recording midi from your master keyboard to speed things up? Even if you get the latency callibration spot-on, fixing the midi Sibelius writes is almost as much work as writing it by hand int he first place. New Algorythms that enable it to pick up on your playstyle, perhaps even improve as you go along – THAT would be a reason for me to upgrade.

    Another point where AVID could really make some users happy is external connectivity; Many people dream of hooking it up to their Cubase or Logic and write notes that can then trigger their high-end libraries in a production DAW. And while it IS posibble to do, it is a pain-in-the-butt to pull off and even once you get it right, you have no easy way of let’s say, hook up expression text to trigger a keystroke in a Master sample loaded in your cubase track. Giving us a simple grid to programm what text sends which midi command would be incredibbly useful (and I bet it is not hard to implement). I hope someone at AVID does read this and take it into consideration; Team up with Steinberg and the other major DAW studios, collaborate and give us easy plug n’ play ways to hook Sibelius together with their DAW’s and I guarnatee you, people will gladly upgrade to Version 8 ~

    1. Cat

      I totally agree with your comments those kind of features would be great.
      Trouble is I don’t think Avid will do anything like this?
      Something has to be done though, either way push will come to shove when Steinberg release their offering.
      Hopefully Avid are working on developing features like you highlight.

      Whoever has the greatest vision for their products either Avid, Steinberg or someone else will reap the rewards and those with the least will and vision will perish commercially.

      1. HeroicOnes

        Thank you! I am glad I’m not the only one who would cherish such features.

        I cincirely hope that the Sibelius production Team will come up with something truly new and helpful, regardless of what it may be in the end. At this point, I feel eerily reminded of a another big piece of Software from AVID that failed to impress in recent updates *caugh* Pro Tools *caugh*.

  38. Stubby

    Hi
    This is all because the Sibelius owners sold out to Avid.

    What’s to stop the Sibelius production team selling out to somebody else.

    Finale is laughing all the way to the bank.

    stuby

  39. John

    Looks like I stick with Sibelius V 6.2 until it dies or I do. (Coming up 82).
    Current version running on Windows 10 sometimes sound cuts out during playback. Reboot gets it up again. Could be the size of the score running out of instruments, or maybe the sound card not good enough, but I think I will put up with that rather than try an upgrade.

  40. Harry Harrison

    The more probable reason for Microsoft going straight from Windows 8 to Windows 10, is to avoid confusion with the much older Windows 95 and 98 operating systems, often grouped as Windows 9x.

    1. Justin

      That’s almost it, Harry.

      Microsoft skipped over Windows 9 because programmers used to search for the version of Windows by looking for “windows 9” to match both 95 and 98 because the underpinnings were so similar (where the alternatives may be 3.1, Me, 2000, and so on).

  41. Andrew Broadbent

    Sibelius 8 is great, but have discovered a problem with exporting audio. All the forum advice so far hasn’t given me the answer / HELP! I am running it on WIndows 10

    1. Composer

      Why not contact AVID directly as all else has failed?

  42. Dr Michael Thompson

    Interesting debate and comments and observations above, and very much what one would expect; but the question remains, WHY WHY WHY have AVID made their whole system so opaque and impenetrable, and expensive! The website is unnnavigable, downloads including free updates are awkward and slow, it’s as if they really don’t want to know unless you are willing to spend a ton of dough. In conclusion, I started using the original and genuine SIBELIUS almost from day one when the brothers were in control, and it was friendly and helpful and accommodating. And now it is not. Sad.

  43. Carol Matthews

    I have lost the Status Bar on my first piece on Sibelius 8. Can any one tell me how to get it back? Please?

  44. John McFarling

    I just bought the Siblius 8, and now I am reading these comments. Is there any reason to upgrade if the program is working fine for you? I have got many programs that are old versions and still due what I bought them for. A few of them crashed due to Microsoft upgrades but most are still working fine like Cakewalk. Cakewalk still makes music with out upgrading.

  45. Amadeus

    I appreciate almost all the reviews and comments especially since I was about to upgrade fm v7 to v8. I’m fine staying w 7 thru perpetuity but will pay the fee for the upgrade if there’s good substance to be gained.

    Many years ago I purchased two twenty-year licenses for some chemical engineering software. I paid about $18,000 for each license. A few years later the pricing policy changed such that perpetual licenses were grandfathered in and only annual fee payers of $20,000 could get the software. It truly gave me a competitive edge.

    In this case, I’d be tempted to pay $89 per yr if there was something unique to be gained in future upgrades. I tend to use Sibelius mainly for big scores and have written 6 symphonies for large orchestras. Since generally the comments suggest nothing to be gained from going to v8, I will wait until there is a worthwhile upgrade of substance. I realize then that Avid will likely require us to pay for every year we have skipped in order to get the sought after upgrade at that time. Pay me now, pay me later: I choose to maybe pay them later.

  46. Wendy simpson

    What does it cost to upgrade to sib 8 from sib 6
    How do I install

  47. Wendy simpson

    I just need a single license and one off payment . I’m a teacher

  48. Michael Caldwell

    All this saddens me. I have 7.5 and will probably keep it for as long as I can. I jumped on Sibelius at version 3. I was a frustrated Finale user, and found out that every time they released an update, not only did they want a lot of money for the update, but that the update was adding features that already existed in Sibelius. I jumped and was happy. Then Sibelius was sold to Avid and I could see the writing on the wall. Big company wants big money whilst putting as little effort as possible in improvement. I get how company’s are going to subscription. However, you have to make it worth people’s while or they are going to bolt. I will use what I have and not upgrade. Personally, I have all that I need.

  49. roger

    One word (or two perhaps): musescore.

    I can no longer tolerate Sibelius. It is not the programme it once was. It has become like every bad word-processor programme or bloated, unmanageable DAW. And the pricing is obscene.

    Of course they’ll argue it’s because they cater to the professional media market, but that’s not the bulk of their users.

    I just want a programme to work, not need to have a terabyte of sound files for rendering or need a minicomputer to run it. At this juncture I’ll pit free soundfonts used in musescore against Sibelius+noteperformer any day of the week. The difference is negligible.

    Avid can whistle.

  50. Jale Dee

    Help!!! Can someone help me on how minimize my manuscript a Large A4 Paper to a standard Marching Music size part, Many Thanx

  51. Jale Dee

    Can someone help me on how to minimize my instrumentation parts after Extracting parts from the Score ? I am finding difficulty in trying to align and minimize spacing to be able to fit an Instrument Lyre when Marching

  52. Ronald Parker

    Why so many links to get a NEW password? Isn’t one enough? Just more help for those who lost/fotgot theirs!

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