NotePerformer 4.4 adds support for sampled choirs and a free Iconica Sketch engine

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NotePerformer, the popular playback solution from Wallander Instruments for Dorico, Finale, and Sibelius, has been updated to version 4.4, expanding the capabilities of several existing playback engines and adding a brand new free playback engine to support Steinberg’s recently released Iconica Sketch, coming on the heels of Dorico’s bundling that library into its most recent version 5.1 update.

Since the release of NotePerformer 4 in May 2023, Wallander Instruments has maintained a steady pace of feature-rich updates to its new NotePerformer Playback Engine (NPPE) software, which has made it easy for users to connect their notation software with many of the most popular orchestral sample libraries.

NotePerformer Playback Engines screenshot showing Cine Series for Musio, HOOPUS, and Iconica Sketch
New libraries have been added for several existing playback engines, and Iconica Sketch has a new engine.

Two of the existing NPPEs have been expanded to include new options for strings. VSL’s Synchron Series adds Duality Strings and Elite Strings, while Spitfire Symphony Orchestra adds Spitfire Solo Strings (for Kontakt).

New libraries for existing playback engines

CineSeries for Musio and EastWest HOOPUS engines each gain support for their choral libraries (Voxos for Musio and Hollywood Choirs for EW). This represents the first time that choir samples have been available from NotePerformer 4, something that I suspect many users will be excited to try out. In each case, users can select to add “Oh” or “Ah” samples for each voice range. While Voxos and Hollywood Choirs each offer a text-builder tool in their own players, this isn’t possible from NotePerformer. Having said that, they both sound excellent, and users who need to have sampled choirs sing specific lyrics are probably already used to doing that in a DAW.

NotePerformer Playback Engines screenshot showing instrument selection menu for Cine Series for Musio engine.
Cine Series for Musio adds support for Industry Brass and Voxos Choir libraries.

In addition to choral libraries, CineSeries users also get access to Musio’s excellent Industry Brass, a very new brass library that was just released in 2023 shortly before NotePerformer 4. Industry Brass has a really huge collection of very well recorded instruments and articulation options, including a lot of jazz articulations; however, many of those — like growls, doits, or shakes — aren’t going to be used from NotePerformer directly. NotePerformer will, however, be able to drive some instruments in Industry Brass that notably aren’t covered by the previously supported CineBrass library, notably piccolo trumpet, Wagner tuba, and euphonium.

Likewise, in addition to Hollywood Choirs, the HOOPUS engine now supports EW Pianos, which have been among my personal favorite piano virtual instruments for a long time. These are deeply sampled, huge downloads (the “Platinum” Bösendorfer alone is nearly 80 GB!), but they sound great, and I’m very glad to see them come to NotePerformer.

Free Iconica Sketch engine

NotePerformer 4.4 now supports Iconica Sketch as a free playback engine. Sketch is the new entry-level orchestral library that Steinberg introduced at the end of 2023. Current Dorico 5.1 (Pro and Elements) users who have NotePerformer 4.4 will be able to start using it right away by installing the engine from NPPE and loading instruments.

What’s more, because the Iconica Sketch playback engine is free to use for all NotePerformer users, Sibelius and Finale users can use Iconica Sketch with NotePerformer in those notation software programs, as well. If you have Dorico 5.1 and also Sibelius or Finale, you’ll be all set; if you don’t have Dorico (or another Steinberg product such as Cubase 13 which bundles Iconica Sketch), you can purchase it separately for $119.

NotePerformer Playback Engines screenshot showing Cinematic Studio Series, Iconica Sketch, and and Nucleus engines.
Most other playback engines cost $69-89, but the new Iconica Sketch engine is free!

Whether this sounds better than using Dorico’s built-in Playback Template for Iconica Sketch will largely be a matter of taste. Notably, when a score calls for an instrument not included in Sketch, the default Dorico template will fall back to a HALion instrument, whereas NotePerformer will fall back to NotePerformer’s own high-quality sounds. When listening back-to-back, you can also hear a lot of the digital signal processing and mixing decisions NotePerformer is making differently from the default Iconica Sketch template.

In my testing, I found that I liked the smooth phrasing in the woodwinds a little better in Dorico’s Iconica playback template. I also found the overall sound to be soft and warm. But on the whole, I prefer the slightly brighter, more present sound of the NotePerformer mix, as well as the way it mitigates the slow rise time of bowed strings when played through NotePerformer. I could certainly adjust the default Iconica template in Dorico to suit my needs, but I appreciate that NotePerformer handles this on my behalf.

 

I suspect that there are many NotePerformer users who have yet to try any of the NPPE-driven sample libraries. After all, NotePerformer’s own instruments still sound great. Perhaps though, this free playback engine for a library that many users will already have may entice them to try NPPE for the first time. If one considers Sketch as something of a teaser for a larger Iconica library, perhaps the Sketch NPPE could serve a similar role for NotePerformer Playback Engines.

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.

The latest edition of the version history is found by scrolling down to near the bottom of NotePerformer’s home page, or you can download it directly from this link.

NotePerformer 4.4 is available now as a free update for all existing NotePerformer users. Individual playback engines can be downloaded separately from within NPPE. The Iconica Sketch playback engine is free, but others require separate purchases of $69-89, as well as licenses for those virtual instrument libraries themselves.

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.

Comments

  1. Rob

    I’ve been using NotePerformer (NP) since it arrived. I’ve yet to find an orchestral sound set that replicates most orchestral instruments as good. I’ve got VSL, and overall, NP is better, in my experience. The only instrument that has a poor sound in NP is the piano.

    I’d like to see a selection of solo woodwinds, brass and strings from varying suppliers. included in the NPPE, such as Auddict Master Solo Woodwinds. There’s a couple of sound sets out there that have the edge on NP.

  2. Bill

    Olympus Micro is also included with Iconica sketch

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