NotePerformer, the popular playback solution from Wallander Instruments for Dorico, Finale, and Sibelius, has received an update to version 4.2. The update also includes revisions to NotePerformer Playback Engines (NPPE), with support for four new sample libraries.
Playback engines were the (literal) headline feature of the NotePerformer 4.0 release in May of this year. It added the ability to leverage NotePerformer’s longstanding intelligent interpretation system with popular sample libraries, alongside NotePerformer’s own impressive sounds. At the time Wallander Instruments promised support for more libraries in future NPPE updates, and that promise has been made good in 4.2.
What’s new in NotePerformer 4.2
NotePerformer 4.2 newly includes support for the following sample libraries:
- Cine Series for Musio
- Spitfire Symphonic Orchestra
- Vienna Symphonic Library Synchron
- VSL SYNCHRON-ized Special Edition Volume 1 (SE1)
The addition of these new playback engines brings the total number to thirteen, and covers many of the most popular orchestra libraries. NotePerformer 4.2 is a free update to anyone with an existing NotePerformer license, and NotePerformer Playback Engines remain separate purchases, though there is a rather generous free trial for each engine that includes an unlimited number of one-hour sessions.
I want to make particular note of the Cine Series for Musio playback engine, as it is still a relatively new product from Cinesamples, having launched a little over a year ago in 2022. Musio is a subscription to Cinesamples libraries that also includes the new Musio player, rather than Kontakt. The subscription is reminiscent of EastWest’s ComposerCloud X and includes most of the Cinesamples’s well-loved libraries as well as many new ones that are exclusive to the new platform. The new Musio player requires the instrument libraries to be completely rebuilt, which is why it is a separate NPPE engine from the older Kontakt versions.
Musio’s new player is amazingly light and efficient, especially when compared to the Kontakt versions of the same instruments. Loading a large orchestra template in Musio’s NPPE engine consumes less than 13 GB of RAM for me. Additionally—and this felt pretty weird to me at first—Musio doesn’t expect the user to have downloaded an instrument before they start using it. When you select an instrument in Musio, or select a Musio instrument in NPPE, it is downloaded in the background, which means you may have to wait a bit the first time you load a large project on a new computer. (These download) You can download instruments ahead of time and manage your sample storage the way you would with any other sample library, but you don’t have to. In some ways, this is the perfect pairing to the set-it-and-forget-it paradigm of NotePerformer!
The Musio library and player are both works-in-progress, but Musio is pretty open about this, and you can see their roadmap of improvements. The complete version of CineStrings Pro was only released for Musio a few weeks ago, and many features like keyswitches and multiple microphone placements are still to come. Cinesamples hasn’t stated so explicitly, but I imagine that at some point in the future they will drop support for Kontakt in favor of their own player.
Reverb with verve
Another particularly notable addition to NPPE engines is the SYNCHRON-ized SE1 library. This isn’t the first Vienna Symphonic Library product to be supported by NotePerformer, but it is the first in VSL’s super-dry SYNCHRON-ized series. The other libraries in NPPE are wet—recorded in more live acoustic spaces—generally concert halls, and some amount of reverb is recorded along with them. Users can control the acoustic reverb by mixing the various microphone placements or using digital signal processing techniques. This makes it easy to create realistic performances, but can give up a lot of control of the overall sound and make it tricky to mix instruments recorded in different halls and with different mic placements.
Dry libraries, like SYNCHRON-ized SE1, are recorded in acoustically dead spaces (recording studios) and provide complete control over reverb to the user’s digital signal processing. With reverb power comes reverb responsibility, however. These dry instruments sound kind of terrible on their own! So implementing SYNCHRON-ized SE1, NPPE also adds a new system for imitating the mic placements in spaces that come with wet libraries. I hope that this is an indication that we will see more dry libraries—preferred by many users—added to NPPE in the future. It also strikes me that handling dry libraries would be one of several important steps toward supporting jazz and commercial music libraries, which tend not to be recorded in large acoustic cathedrals like orchestral libraries.
In addition to the attention-grabbing playback engine additions, there are a number of small but significant updates to things like panning, balance, and articulations. These small improvements are too specific to enumerate here, but it is worth mentioning them. Since the addition of NPPE, NotePerformer has to balance, both figuratively and acoustically, every combination of notation software, sample library software, and the samples themselves.
As is often the case with NotePerformer and Wallander Instruments, this is a quietly impressive update to a tool I use every day. It is exciting to see new libraries added to NPPE, especially newly developed libraries. I wrote in May that the most exciting thing about NotePerformer 4 “is the groundwork it lays for the future”. Just a few months after that, we are already seeing the benefits, and I suspect we will continue to see more.
Price and availability
NotePerformer 4 is currently free for all existing NotePerformer users, which includes access to all of NotePerformer’s own sounds. Current registered users can request a new download link at the NotePerformer web site, which will provide the user with the latest version of NotePerformer 4.
Current NotePerformer users will only have to pay additionally if they want to use one of the supported sample libraries listed above. For each of those, NotePerformer offers a one-time purchase of between $59 and $89 per playback engine. Note that this is just the bit that connects to that other library of samples, which you will need to purchase separately.
If you don’t already have NotePerformer, a single-user license is the same price as it’s always been: $129 for a perpetual license. That one license gives you the ability to not only use it in Dorico, Sibelius, and Finale, but it also allows you to use it on as many computers that you personally use.
Further, NotePerformer offers a rent-to-own option, where you can rent it for $10.75 per month, and, once you’ve forked over a total of $129, it turns into a perpetual license, making this effectively an installment plan for those unwilling or unable to commit the entire cost of the product at once.
Finally, there is a 30-day trial available, which runs for one hour. You need to restart your notation software to keep using NotePerformer after one hour, if you’re in trial mode.