11. Independent editing in Linked Parts. The Special Tools palette gives Finale users powerful customization options for things like stem length and shape, notehead shape, primary and secondary beam angle and placement, and so on. Until now, edits made with Special Tools affected both the score and parts, regardless of which was being worked on. Certain other tools, like the Speedy and Simple Entry Tools, were completely unavailable for use in voiced parts. Most plug-ins were also unavailable while working in a part.
Finale 2014 allows for greater independence between the score and the part, and also makes plug-ins available for use while working in a part. Again, Jari has the details. Sibelius has traditionally had more flexibility while working independently in a score or part. Although there is no voiced part feature in Sibelius like there is in Finale, Finale users will be disappointed to learn that because voiced parts don’t take advantage of this independence, the spacing problem affecting grace notes in voiced parts has not improved in Finale 2014.
12. Updated playback engine and more Garritan sounds. Garritan and Finale are both products of MakeMusic, the former being acquired in 2011. Garritan sounds have been bundled with recent Finale versions. Finale 2014 sports a new playback engine and includes some new instruments. Sibelius 7 included an all-new massive 38 GB library that is extensive, a resource hog, and underwhelming in terms of sound quality. Finale’s Garritan sounds are more lightweight and sound reasonably good for everyday use.
Frustratingly, it is still the case in Finale 2014 that entering notes in a transposing instrument in a transposed score will give aural feedback as if the score were in concert pitch. For instance, entering C-D-E-F in a Horn staff in Finale will, upon entry, sound as C-D-E-F but upon playback will sound as F-G-A-B flat. In Sibelius, you have the option to input either sounding or written pitches, but you will always get consistent aural result upon both entry and playback.
Both Finale and Sibelius support the use of third-party sound libraries, though only Sibelius supports ReWire, a feature added in Sibelius 6. Keep in mind that in you won’t be able to use any 64-bit sound libraries in Finale 2014 without an appropriate bridge solution.
13. Product support and price. Not so much a new feature as much as a recognition of commitment to customer satisfaction, MakeMusic offers unlimited complimentary technical support for current versions of ts notation programs, both by phone and online. Avid offers complimentary technical support for 90 days after purchase of Sibelius. After 90 days, individual Sibelius users must purchase an authorization code for $30 per incident ($40 for institutions) or $100 per year ($250 for institutions).
With an ever-increasing presence on the forums, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, Justin Phillips deserves kudos for his quick responses and friendly customer engagement, as he has emerged as the leading official voice for Finale. Sam Butler is making a valiant effort as his Sibelius counterpart, but is surely limited by current circumstances, as well as by comparison with Daniel Spreadbury, who set the gold standard for customer interaction when he worked at Sibelius/Avid.Finale 2014 retails for $600, as does Sibelius 7. Discounted prices are available for academic users and current Finale users ($350 and $139, respectively). Registered Sibelius users (or users of other commercial notation software such, as Encore, Notion, Overture, or Score) are offered a $139 competitive upgrade price. (Avid offers a similar Sibelius crossgrade for $200, although other retailers offer it for around $160.)
Final thoughts. Finale 2014 is a big and welcome step forward for longtime Finale users, and MakeMusic seems fully committed to Finale’s success, which is a great thing indeed for users of any music notation software. One can’t help but wonder what Finale would look like today had Sibelius not been around to provide competitive motivation through the years.
Whether by coincidence or not, most of Finale’s new features are designed to offer functionality that largely compares with what has been possible in Sibelius for quite some time. That these features are now the chief selling points of Finale lends itself to various conclusions — one of which is a recognition of the incredible talent that Avid lost when they downsized and eventually fired its London-based developers last year. One cannot help but recognize the foresight and skill that the former Sibelius development team had in conceiving workflows and features advanced enough that it took its main competitor more than two years to match them.
Whether Sibelius will keep pace with, let alone outpace Finale remains to be seen. Be assured that any developments regarding the future of Sibelius will be reported on this blog.
Of course, the folks from the former Sibelius crew haven’t vanished; they’re working hard in their new positions at Steinberg. Anticipation is high and expectations are great that they will create a next-generation music composition and notation product that will rival, and perhaps surpass, both Finale and Sibelius. For now, though, users needing the most advanced music scoring and notation features have the two longtime-leading products to choose from, and the feature gap between them has considerably narrowed.
(Updated 1:58 pm with additional comments from Justin Phillips)