NotePerformer 4 connects your favorite notation software to your favorite sample libraries

Reviews

Wallander Instruments has released a major update to NotePerformer, its user-friendly solution for realistic-sounding playback of Dorico, Sibelius, or Finale projects. With today’s release of NotePerformer 4, it takes a huge leap forward, adding to its own modeled sound library the ability to play back many of the most popular, premium orchestral sample libraries from Vienna Symphonic Library, EastWest, Cinesamples, Spitfire Audio, and more.

NotePerformer: What’s great is still great

Sample libraries have been capable of producing realistic performances of orchestral music for over a decade, but the time, effort, and expense of creating a convincing digital performance with them is very high. For producing final audio for film and media, this cost is worth it, and specialists have gotten very good at leveraging these tools.

However, for many composers and orchestrators who simply need a good-enough demo to share with collaborators, the effort — transferring their work from scoring software to digital audio workstation (DAW), spending hours massaging MIDI data, and still more hours tweaking the mix — is simply not worth it.

That’s where NotePerformer shines. It is light-years ahead of the built-in sounds that ship with Sibelius, Dorico, and Finale, and it requires no additional effort beyond the initial installation. As I’ve said and written many times on Scoring Notes, the quality-to-effort ratio of NotePerformer is untouched by anything in its category.

A number of features make NotePerformer a little different than other playback options. First of all, it has a better sense of context and phrasing. Current NotePerformer users are likely used to the brief delay between pressing “play” in their notation application and hearing audio. This delay allows NotePerformer to look ahead, interpret the score, and make better choices about dynamics and articulation.

NotePerformer is also loved because it is so lightweight. Rather than relying on recorded samples of every possible sound an orchestra might make, it uses a combination of sample-modeled synthesis, and a very small number of recorded samples that are filtered and modulated. Because of this, NotePerformer requires very little RAM and storage. The entire download is under 1GB. For comparison, many orchestral sample libraries are hundreds of gigabytes or more. My favorite marimba library is nearly 4GB for a single instrument, which I consider to be relatively small.

All of this — the simplicity of use, the musical intelligence, and the computational efficiency — are all still there in NotePerformer 4. Apart from some small tweaks, this core of the application is mostly unchanged. As NotePerformer creator Arne Wallander told me, “We spent a decade carefully balancing these sounds and don’t want to gamble on making changes now.” Having used NotePerformer for a good portion of that decade, this strikes me as “sound” reasoning.

Enter: Sample libraries

NotePerformer Playback Engines (image from Wallander Instruments)

The headline feature of the latest release of NotePerformer is the NotePerformer Playback Engines (NPPE), which allows you to leverage the musical intelligence of NotePerformer with the robust sample libraries that are commonly used in DAWs and sequencers.

From NPPE, which opens as a standalone application, users can load selected instruments from a number of the most popular orchestral sample libraries. Users can select any set of instruments from any of their installed libraries to replace the NotePerformer sounds. It is not possible to use any VST3 instrument from here, as each has a custom-built integration.

NotePerformer Playback Engines start screen
NotePerformer Playback Engines’s start screen shows all the libraries it can interface with.

Here are the currently supported libraries:

  • Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra Core
  • Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra Pro
  • Orchestral Tools Berlin Orchestra Berklee Edition
  • Cinesamples Cine Series for Kontakt
  • Cinematic Studio Series
  • EastWest Hollywood Orchestra Opus Edition
  • Steinberg Iconica Sections & Players
  • Audio Imperia Nucleus
  • Vienna Symphonic Library Synchron Prime

This list represents nearly all of the highest-quality samples and playback engines in the orchestral space. Even so, Wallander has indicated that there are plans to expand this list going forward.

These libraries must be purchased separately and activated within NPPE (more on that in a bit), and it’s worth emphasizing here that they are not required to use NotePerformer. Each time you add a sampled instrument to the template, it replaces the NotePerformer synth. If you choose not to load a particular instrument, or if a library doesn’t have one, NotePerformer will gracefully “fall back” to its own sounds. (Side note: How is it possible that so many libraries don’t have a solo bass trombone but do have a solo cimbasso? I blame Hans Zimmer.)

You can also mix and match from different libraries:

NPPE current template
It’s easy to mix and match instruments from different libraries. Here I have loaded Iconica woodwinds and EW Hollywood brass.

The NotePerformer mixer — accessible in Finale and Dorico — outlines any track in white that has a sample player loaded in NPPE. Any tracks not outlined are using NotePerformer sounds. This quick, handy check is not available from Sibelius, where NotePerformer uses the built-in mixer. It’s unfortunate to not have access to that visual indicator at the mixer level, but it’s a more-than-reasonable trade-off for not having to deal with two levels of mixer interface — the scoring application’s and NotePerformer’s — as is the case with Finale and Dorico.

Users can also distinguish sampler sounds from the default by listening for articulation: sampled instruments played by NPPE will play as staccato when clicked in editing mode, while NotePerformer sounds will use the longer articulation.

NotePerformer mixer
Tracks outlined in white have sample libraries loaded in NPPE. You can see that I haven’t loaded most percussion and piano, and the library I’m using here doesn’t have a bass trombone.

To add sampled instruments, you simply open a library within NPPE, select Add instruments and load them from the list. NotePerformer automatically assigns library instruments to your score. Once the instruments are loaded, you can return to your scoring software and everything works more-or-less the same as NotePerformer has in the past. You can still open the mixer to make tweaks to balance or reassign playback to a non-default instrument (NotePerformer uses the built-in Sibelius mixer). For example, NPPE doesn’t currently support any choral or vocal libraries, so you might want a choir to play back as clarinets (my preference) or strings.

Once your instruments are loaded in NPPE, you can play them back as easily as you can with NotePerformer’s own instruments, which is to say, just as easily as your software’s built-in sounds. NPPE handles interfacing directly with sample libraries and players, so you don’t need to touch playback engines like Kontakt, HALion, Opus, or others. I can’t overstate how remarkable it is to have such a simple way to get such high quality playback.

To compare NotePerformer sounds to NPPE-driven sample libraries, here are two audio demos. In each case, you’ll first hear NotePerformer sounds (which again are the same as NotePerformer 3 sounds), followed by Steinberg Iconica and EastWest Hollywood Orchestra. Note that these videos have chapter markers in them so you can easily jump between sample libraries.

 

 

Of this small subset of the possibilities for NPPE, I generally prefer the EastWest Hollywood Orchestra sounds for their clarity and presence. The EastWest Opus instruments are also much better optimized. Loading the whole orchestra took less than 20 seconds on my Mac Studio (M1 Max, 64GB RAM, loaded from external SSD), compared to over five minutes for Iconica.

If you have any favorite VST instruments that are not currently supported by NotePerformer 4, you can still mix NotePerformer playback with other playback engines as you could before. You may need to spend a little more time adjusting the mix or reverb, but the timing is still spot on for all the other VSTs I tested.

For users who regularly move between desktop and laptop on a project, there is a convenient side-benefit to separating the NotePerformer plugin from NPPE: if you don’t ever load NPPE, you still get NotePerformer’s own sounds without changing anything in the file. So if you don’t carry your extra 490GB strings library around on your laptop or you forget your iLok at home (which I have definitely never done) but still want to work, you can do that without having to keep changing the project’s playback settings each time you move to a new machine.

Perhaps the biggest limitation of NotePerformer 4 is that getting a taste of some great libraries playing beautifully out of Dorico made me notice the handful of libraries I really like that aren’t there. Some of these, like the more boutique instruments from Sonic Couture, may never be included, and playing directly via VST doesn’t have quite the nuance that the same instrument can have with NotePerformer’s intelligence. Though if you have a small number of these mixed with an ensemble of mostly NotePerformer instruments, it doesn’t take a lot of work to get them to blend.

Speaking of VST support, all three of the scoring applications that can use NotePerformer also support VST plugins to varying degrees. The most robust of these is probably Dorico, and I asked Arne Wallander about the benefit of using NotePerformer to drive — for example — EastWest Hollywood Orchestra rather than connecting it directly using Dorico’s VST rack. Here’s some of what he told me:

“Without NPPE, most notes would be noticeably off in terms of dynamics, timing, and pitch because it’s following MIDI with no respect for the underlying sound. Even if you were to tweak the Expression Map individually for every articulation, we do that process per note. Unlike Expression Maps, NPPE is not plain articulation switching, but we convert the notation program’s MIDI into NotePerformer’s higher-level expression, which guides the NPPE instruments. We respect onsets and offsets of slurs, do volume envelopes and other audio-domain processing per note, and layer multiple articulations when applicable. We intelligently select solo and section samples and balance appropriately for the number of players. We support polyphonic legato for any sample library. We improve the intonation and have universal support for orchestral A4 tuning, and in Dorico, we have universal quarter-tone support. We have universal brass mutes working with any sample library. We have easy-to-operate managed multi-microphone support, which is cumbersome in a notation program since microphone signals have different volumes that must be carefully adjusted. Essential processing like EQ is readily available in NPPE for each instrument without manually routing to different ports and adding it as a VST effect. We bounce directly to stems very quickly in a single pass. We even bounce to individual microphones and process each microphone channel with an independent EQ. There’s also a workflow improvement to accessing all sounds through a common interface that’s fast to operate.”

NotePerformer has always included more small-but-impactful design decisions than most users will ever notice, which is one of the things that makes it so great to use. Universal support for orchestral tuning means that you won’t have to deal with the intonation problems that sometimes arise from mixing samples from different libraries and vendors (or even within the same library), and you can have (for example) 442 Hz concert pitch for any library.

I also want to bring attention to something Arne mentions in the quote above that is a good example of this: brass mutes. Many instrumental libraries include both muted and unmuted brass samples. However, some don’t include muted sounds or don’t include the full range of articulations for muted brass as they do for unmuted. Rather than falling back to NotePerformer sounds, which might be jarringly different from sampled ones, NPPE uses some clever filtering techniques to generate its own muted sounds, which are often better than the ones recorded by library vendors. Like so many other elements of NotePerformer, it is thoroughly considered and deeply practical.

NotePerformer Playback Engines (image from Wallander Instruments)

Price and availability

NotePerformer 4 is currently free for all existing NotePerformer 3 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 NotePerformer 4.

Current NotePerformer users will only have to pay for an upgrade 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 $69 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.

I really like this pricing structure, since it allows me to only purchase the add-ons for the libraries I have and use. And the base features of NotePerformer are not going anywhere. There is also a generous free trial of each library, which allows users to load all its instruments for as many one-hour sessions as they like.

If you’re new to sample libraries and you want to try out these new features of NotePerformer 4, I’d recommend EastWest’s Composer Cloud+ subscription, since you can try it out for a month without investing hundreds or thousands to see if it will work for you.

Of course, if you’ve never used NotePerformer before, you’ll need to first acquire it. 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. What a deal!

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.

Conclusions and next steps

Even with a relatively small number of supported libraries, NotePerformer 4 covers some of the most popular ones in use today. Arne Wallander tells me that once they’ve “settled in with the platform” they plan to add more, including choirs, pianos, solo strings, and more. Maybe the most exciting thing about an already-exciting release is the groundwork it lays for the future.

NotePerformer 4 is a remarkable achievement from Wallander Instruments. They have carried through all of the best features of NotePerformer 3 and added a new suite of tools for working directly with some of the highest-end virtual instruments in the digital audio world. In some ways, they have created a completely new application that integrates beautifully with the existing one.

I suspect there will be many users of sample libraries who already have clearly defined workflows that will probably always be better implemented in a DAW. However, I know there are many users who are more notation-focused and who rarely or never use sampled instruments simply because of the complexity and time-cost of learning to use them. In a practical sense, those users now have access to these sounds for the first time. There are many instances where audio directly out of a scoring application with NPPE will be perfectly suitable for media projects, and the difference between a temporary demo and the final audio will be negligible in many other circumstances.

The tag line in the NotePerformer 4 promo video is “Let technology work for you”. NotePerformer’s best feature has indeed always been its quality-to-effort ratio, and that extends to the new features in NotePerformer 4.

Comments

  1. Simon Cook

    Thank you for bringing us up to date with this informative review!

    Am I right in saying all these advances pertain to Orchestral libraries, suitable for classical music? Does the new version help those of us who want to use sounds more suitable for jazz, pop, rock etc., e.g. big band sounds, convincing drum kits, guitars etc.? I’m hoping I missed it when reading just now….

    1. David MacDonald

      You’re correct. NotePerformer is really geared toward orchestral music. It doesn’t do particularly well at interpreting other music genres, in part because this update didn’t change much of the score-interpreting parts of NotePerformer. It also doesn’t deal with sample libraries geared towards jazz/pop styles—so while it handles EW Hollywood Brass, it doesn’t handle EW Pop Brass.

      However, as I wrote in the review, this release lays a lot of groundwork for the future, both in a technological sense and in a business sustainability sense, since each library module is a paid add-on. And developer Arne Wallander told me that jazz is on his list of things to tackle after they “settle in” to this new platform.

      So short answer: It doesn’t do jazz/pop now. Longer answer: It’s a hard problem to solve, since a lot of the score interpretation intelligence would have to be redone from scratch, but it’s a need they’re aware of and hope to address at some point in the (not too immediate) future. (Arne, if you read this, feel free to correct me.)

      1. Simon Cook

        Thank you for your helpful reply, David. Good news that jazz/pop sounds are on the (albeit distant) horizon! If NP handles them something like as well as it does orchestral sounds, I am sure the punters will make it well worth Arne Wallander’s while. Meanwhile I will focus on enjoying the things NP already does so well.

  2. Michael Ware

    I may have just missed this in the article. Is NP4 now native on Apple silicon? Do you still have to run Dorico or Finale in Rosetta mode?

    1. David MacDonald

      It is! There was a way to download it for Apple silicon before, but it was a separate download (not a universal binary). NP4 is a universal binary, so if you don’t use any other Intel-based plugins, you can run your notation software in native mode!

      1. Philip Rothman

        I’ll add that, as far as I know, this only applies to Finale and Dorico. As of now, Sibelius is still a Rosetta app, and thus, if you wish to use NP4 and NPPE in Sibelius, you’ll need to run them in Rosetta as well.

        1. Philip Rothman

          I have a correction to my above statement from Arne Wallander: “In fact, NPPE runs in native Apple Silicon even if NP4 is in Rosetta mode. So with NPPE, the plug-ins are running with native Apple Silicon also for Sibelius users.”

          I stand corrected!

  3. Stephen Taylor

    Fantastic and informative article, thank you! And beautiful pieces in the demos. I admire Philip’s arrangement very much, and I’m guessing that What On Earth Was That is composed by David MacDonald? Nice piece!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Stephen! Yes, David’s piece was recently premiered by the Allen Philharmonic, and it’s a piece about an alien who finds his way to Earth and can only communicate through music. In other words, typical Scoring Notes fare.

      1. Simon Cook

        For a moment I thought you’d written the Alien Philarmonic there, Philip!

        1. David MacDonald

          It could really go either way!

          1. Luis Acosta

            Initially, I was very excited to read about NP4. Then I was disappointed about the upgrade because it really wasn’t an upgrade in terms of the sounds in NP3. It is an upgrade for people who have other libraries. I don’t. I just use NP3. In fact, I was hoping for an e piano addition to the sounds. And I perceived that the additions were ways to increase revenue. And I suppose if you can fork out thousands of dollars for sample libraries, then the price for the playback engine add-ons should not be a big deal. I suppose I would be much more excited about the upgrade if I owned some of these sample libraries. I was very happy with the sounds of NP3, even if I still wished for some improvements in some of the sounds. But the excitement about NP3 for me was and is precisely the fact that I didn’t need to get the so-called high-end sound libraries to get overall satisfying playback, zero sound loading time, and all for a decent price. Indeed, when I got NP3, it was on discount. Best $79 I’ve EVER spent.

    2. David MacDonald

      Thanks, Stephen! If you’re interested, the whole thing is here on my site: https://davidmacdonaldmusic.com/music/what-on-earth-was-that-2023/

  4. Jorge Grundman

    Hello David:

    You make my day! Many thanks for this wonderful news and share your knoweledge with us. Regarding the choir that Noteperformer library has, how could be the workaround to use EastWest libraries or Spitfire with the Noteperformer choir? Would you be so kind to advice me?

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Jorge. If you like the existing NotePerformer choir sounds, those are still available. Any instrument that you don’t load a sample library for will play back with the default sounds, which are the same as NP3. There are not currently any choir sample libraries available in NPPE.

      1. Jorge Grundman

        Once again, Thanks David!

  5. Keith Walls

    This is indeed a giant step forward! I see this statement on their website: “A powerful computer is required. Please pay attention to our system recommendations. They may be significantly higher than the manufacturer’s requirements” but I don’t see what those requirements actually are. It’s wonderful that someone has finally “filled the gap” between the convenience of NotePerformer and the sounds in these bespoke libraries.

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Keith. Good question about the requirements. If you download NPPE, you can see the specific requirements listed within the application. I don’t think they’re anywhere on the web or documentation. In the first NotePerformer Playback Engine screenshot in the article, you can see a list of the different engines to choose from, clicking on any of them brings you to a screen that has specific system recommendations.

  6. Bill

    If NP is VST3, why does it not create instances with more than 16 instruments? At least, that’s all I see in an instance of the NP mixer.

    1. David MacDonald

      Good question Bill! This is a resource saving technique that NotePerformer has used for a long time (maybe since its beginning?). VST instruments still use MIDI to communicate, so that limit is the number of channels a single MIDI device can receive. When you use a VST that doesn’t have this limitation, it’s likely because it is loading a separate instance for each instrument. So for an orchestra with 36 separate parts, NotePerformer only has to load 3 instances of NP instead of 36. It’s one of the things that has kept NotePerformer so lightweight. (It’s also the cause of some annoyances, but generally a reasonable tradeoff.)

      1. Bill

        You’re talking about VST2. VST3 can handle many channels. For instance in Kontakt VST3, you could have all those 36 instruments in a single instance. Or in VE Pro. Or in Opus.

        You seem to be ignorant of all this…

        1. David MacDonald

          Hello, fellow Dorico user!

          You’re absolutely right about VST3. NotePerformer still also supports Sibelius and Finale, though, so I assume it works within the limitations of VST2 for now.

          1. Bill

            Good point. Probably a majority of their customer base

  7. Peter Roos

    Oh wow, this is fantastic. Can’t wait to test it with EW Hollywood Opus.

  8. Martha Bishop

    I eagerly await choir and string sounds!

  9. Rob

    Nice summary, thanks.

    Apart from being able to add sound sets into NP4 via NPPE, are there any other new things in NP4?

    1. Robert Kennedy

      I noticed that there are additions to NP4 such as mic positions, but are these only available when using added sound sets and not in NP4?

    2. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Rob.

      The new sound sets are really the main thing. There are a few other optimizations, but they don’t result in any big user-facing features, just the application running more efficiently. If you’re a Mac user on Apple Silicon, you can run NotePerformer in native mode rather than Rosetta translation with Finale and Dorico (Sibelius is still not Apple Silicon native).

      Mic positions aren’t really relevant to the built-in NP sounds, since they’re mostly very cleverly impelemented synths rather than recorded. The handful of sounds that are recorded are (I think) only recorded at one mic position, which is part of how it can be so efficient.

  10. Mark Isaacs

    And if you do want to do a final mix in a DAW, it seems NPPE can export stems. For me, this solves the problem I have never been willing to invest in surmounting of integrating VST libraries with Sibelius, plus it adds in NotePerformer’s intelligent playback. Maybe the tools NP4 offers, like mic perspective, EQ & reverb options, will obviate the need to take stems to a DAW to mix. Especially using the Graphical MIDI Tools plugin for Sibelius to add shaping to the playback.

  11. Derek Williams

    Thanks for this detailed news of the Note Performer update, David. I’ll check out v.4.

    As incredible as it is, for all the reasons you’ve given, NP has never got détaché strings bowing right, and I have written to Arne about this in the past.

    I’ll try running something through NP4 to see if that’s been improved.

    1. David MacDonald

      I agree. I’ve always found it to play anything not under a slur far too separated for me. I wish there was a way to control this, but as far as I know there isn’t.

      1. Derek Williams

        My workaround has been to enter détaché as Technique Text, and then hide it.

        1. Mark Isaacs

          Another solution is to use NP’s own “Tenuto Always” plugin. From the User Guide “The Tenuto Always Plug-In forces all notes to be performed for their full written length, overriding natural interpretation.” I have found I like what NP natively does though, particularly for the brass.

          1. Derek Williams

            Thanks, Mark; I’ll give that a shot. Gosh, it’s funny to be talking to you from the other side of the world! I remember all your wonderful work from my Sydney days. Remember Dave Kimber?

  12. Mike Halloran

    There is an issue for some users of Finale/Mac crashing after an NP install. NP causes Finale to re-examine all plug-ins. If you have hundreds like I do, Finale will crash several times during the examination process. The workaround on the Mac is to keep hitting the Reopen button till Finale finally launches (only 4 times for me). Once Finale is launched, this nonsense stops.

    It was Arne who helped me diagnose this with Finale 26 over Monterey — many thanks for his assistance when MakeMusic Support wasn’t able to figure it out. I’m now over Ventura. Perhaps MM can do something about this before the next version of Finale—I’ll send it in again.

  13. Dan

    New to this… wondering if it can be used with Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra DISCOVER library (their free version) as another way of testing it out??

    1. David MacDonald

      I’m pretty sure it can’t be used with BBCSO Discover. My understanding is that when you load a library, NPPE assumes it will always have access to the whole set of articulations. I think the least costly way to give it a try is the EastWest ComposerCloud+ subscription, which gives access to the whole Hollywood Orchestra collection, and has a free trial available.

  14. Robert Ostermeyer

    Nice post for getting to know NP4 for the first time. I find a problem that an instrument loaded from an orchestra library can only be controlled together. With the instruments from NP4 this is possible individually, with NPPE only in a block. A problem for a solo concert. Solo horn and two tutti horns in the orchestra.
    To try it out, I use VSL Synchron Prime, which you can test for 30 days.

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Robert!

      The situation you describe is a way for NPPE to save some memory on your computer. However, you still can have a separate volume slider for your concerto soloist if you load a second instance of horn. Go back to the instrument selection screen, and just click horn again to load another one. They’ll load separately, and you’ll be able to control them independently.

      If you should ever need a lot of a single instrument (say writing for horn choir and needing 8 horn staves or something really big), you would need to so something similar, since NPPE has a limit of handling 6 staves per instrument instance. You can load more staves, but it requires having NPPE load another instance of the player.

  15. Dan

    David,
    This is such a helpful article- thanks!
    Now, a question I bet you can answer (?)
    My system: 27”iMac 3.8GHz quad‑core Intel Core i5; 24GB RAM; Mac OS 13; Finale 27.2
    I am working with the EW Hollywood Opus (per your suggestion… the cloud version) and am having a devil of a time getting it to work well. I’m hoping it’s something I’m doing wrong and can fix. I get lots of drop-outs and missing parts on playback, even with a very limited number of HOOPUS voices. I watch to see that the voices are loaded and no spinning indicators. I have the library files stored on a Thunderbolt/USB3 connected SSD. I have ordered more RAM (wow – so cheap since I last bought it :-) to get to 52GB. I’m hoping that helps, but I’m not convinced because the memory indicator never seems do go very high. I’m hoping it’s not the processor, because that’s one thing I can’t change right now. Any ideas? Thanks!

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Dan! A few things to check:

      1. Make sure you are downloading the “Opus Edition” of the libraries in EW Installation Center, rather than the older “Gold” editions. They’re actually very different, just branded the same. “Gold” has basically been discontinued, but it’s kept around to support existing users. NPPE requires the Opus Editions of all the libraries.

      2. Make sure the libraries have downloaded and installed correctly. You can check them by opening the Opus Player as a standalone application. In the Browse tab, select Installed, and see what’s there. I had some problems with EW Installation Center and had to delete and redownload a couple of libraries that didn’t completely download/install.

      Opus is _very_ memory efficient, and loads and unloads samples dynamically, so I suspect it’s not a hardware issue at all.

      1. Dan

        Ok… thanks for your suggestions. I think I’ve figured it out.
        The issue seemed to be that I was experimenting by adding individual instruments in the Opus app. This is one of the touted features of the EW ComposerCloud. It’s great to test out instruments, but NPPE didn’t like it. It was probably looking for parameters that were not present with just the individual sounds. It needed transitions and instrument techniques that I hadn’t happened to download. The fix: I made sure to download the full family of instruments. As soon as they were all downloaded…boom… everything is working as it should now. I’m especially pleased with the strings. A noticeable improvement over the NP sounds.
        Thanks again!

  16. Robert Ostermeyer

    Thanks David for the tip! The additional selection of instruments does not work with the trial version. It works in the full version.
    Unfortunately, the sample libraries are difficult to compare if you only have the demo recordings. I’m looking for chamber music and more classical. In VSL, the strings are treated oddly by NP4. Is that different with BBC or EW?

    1. David MacDonald

      Can you say more about what you’re hearing that is odd? I don’t think I heard anything too strange in EW, but I don’t have BBCSO or VSL to test with.

  17. Jim

    I find this whole update to NP4 underwhelming and disappointing.

    Where is the sound improvement or expansion of playing techniques?

    The selling point of NP was that it created decent-sounding playback without the need to invest thousands into expensive libraries and hours of midi massage.

    This update is a regression as it simply goes back to the old way of using expensive sample libraries, without much – or indeed any – thought given to improving on the fantastic concept that made the software as beloved and ubiquitous as it rightfully became.

    I see little reason to currently upgrade to NP4.

    1. David MacDonald

      I could maybe see an expansion of playing techniques. I’m not sure if there are limitations about what kind of playing technique data gets sent over VST/MIDI, so that could be a technological limit that is beyond NP. As far as sound improvement, Wallander has said to me and written elsewhere that he thinks he’s hit the limit of what NP’s synthesis techniques can achieve without become a sample library itself, which is a fundamentally different technology that would also lose many of the main benefits of NP (its lightness and efficiency).

      I think it is very unfair to say that “thought [was not] given to improving on the fantastic concept” of NP. Wallander is very smart and clever, and he has forgotten more than most of us will ever learn about digital audio, synthesis, and samplers. And this is expressly _not_ going back to the old way of using sample libraries, as I wrote about in the article. This combines NP’s intellent context parsing with the best sounds available from library producers.

      As far as seeing little reason to upgrade? That makes no sense to me. The upgrade is free for existing users (as all NP updates have been up to this point). There’s no reason to not upgrade. And in addition to the new features, there are lots of “under-the-hood” improvements to software efficiency which users won’t (and shouldn’t) ever notice. In particular, for users on newer Macs, NotePerformer runs natively on Apple’s M-series processors, which means if your notation software is also Apple Silicon-native, both NP _and_ your notation software can now be more efficient. (Sadly, Avid is dragging behind on this, but Finale and Dorico can see some improvements here.)

      Just because a piece of software (or feature update) isn’t for you in particular, that doesn’t mean it’s for no one or that the developers weren’t thoughtful.

      1. Jim

        Fair enough about under-the-hood improvement, I hadn’t considered that.

        However, I’m not suggesting that this isn’t upgrade for those wishing to incorporate sample libraries into notation programmes; fine, this is clearly an upgrade for those people. (Incidentally, I also could be such a person as I own and use many such libraries and know my way around them inside my DAW.) But should I want to get A1 results using, for example, VSL I will do that inside my DAW and not through Sibelius which I only ever used for sketching –  I believe a lot of users work this way also – not to mention all those composers for whom Note Performer was their sole and primary sound library.

        “I think it is very unfair to say that “thought [was not] given to improving on the fantastic concept” of NP. Wallander is very smart and clever, and he has forgotten more than most of us will ever learn about digital audio, synthesis, and samplers.”

        How much he knows or doesn’t know isn’t salient to any of this.

        “And this is expressly _not_ going back to the old way of using sample libraries, as I wrote about in the article. This combines NP’s intellent context parsing with the best sounds available from library producers.”

        The problem is that to actually appreciate and use NP4 in the intended way precisely requires the purchase of at least one of (a very limited number of) libraries and so it quite clearly IS a return to using sample libraries albeit with the exception that NP4 does the heavy-lifting with regard to midi manipulation inside Sibelius or similar.

        “Just because a piece of software (or feature update) isn’t for you in particular, that doesn’t mean it’s for no one or that the developers weren’t thoughtful.”

        I am not in a sample of size of one who holds these views.

        The USP of NP has been neglected in this update because, as I have said, what made the software excellent isn’t something that has been improved upon in NP4; there is no extra offering in terms of a greater number of instruments and playing techniques and the original concept and its execution could have been strengthened rather than leaving all the (apparently unimprovable) ‘stock sounds’ as they are and integrating a few outside libraries.

  18. Robert Ostermeyer

    The violins play piano spiccato in VSL, they don’t in NP4. Maybe it’s a bug in the plugin?
    The VST libraries are a nice but expensive extension. And unfortunately only suitable for large orchestral music. Many FVST libraries don’t even have a solo violin. Chamber music with strings or wind instruments will hardly be possible with this tutti sound. At least on VSL and Finale where I tried it.
    It’s interesting how all libraries advertise with John Williams’ large orchestras. The quality could be judged much better with chamber music. Perhaps one day there will be the possibility of transferring the intelligence of NP to the VSL Synchron player (or other players) without being restricted to an orchestral library.

  19. Joe

    It’s quite underwhelming to be honest. I hoped better sounds and maybe support for jazz bands from NP4. But isn’t NPPE just doing what StaffPad already did years ago? The difference is I guess, in StaffPad you could buy the third party libraries in a reduced price? Please correct me if I miss something.

    1. Philip Rothman

      It is similar to StaffPad at one level. But keep in mind, one purchase of NotePerformer can be used in Dorico, Sibelius, and Finale. StaffPad can only be used in StaffPad, and the specially available StaffPad libraries can only be used in StaffPad (hence the reduced price). The NotePerformer solution gives you a way to control the very same libraries that can be used in a DAW, notation software, or any VST-enabled application.

      1. Joe

        Thanks Philip for the clarification! I forgot the restrictions about the libraries bought via staffpad, my bad. I can see the advantages now of using NP4.

  20. Tamar Diesendruck

    I am not a power user of Sibelius, but I do use it… My query is whether NP ACCURATELY plays back quarter tone passages. Sibelius Ultimate is horrendous. Editing is not respected. Old playback instructions have to be manually
    deleted, and then it still doesn’t let go of old versions. I have not found a reliable way to delete all microtonal playback
    instructions and then use plug-in again “from scratch”. I will buy NP if this problem is taken care of with their playback.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. David MacDonald

      Thanks for reading, Tamar. I think the problem with your playback is a Sibelius problem, rather than a playback engine problem. Sibelius—as I’m sure you know—uses a very clever “hack” to play back microtones with all those hidden MIDI pitchbend messages. The microtonal plugin is really designed to be run one time and not edited much afterwards. If you’re doing a lot of microtonal work, Sibelius is just not a very good option. Of the Big Three, the only one that has tuning support at its core is Dorico (though obviously there are workarounds in the other two, as you have discovered). Here’s a Discover Dorico video walking through setting up and playing back 19TET in Dorico, using a variety of playback systems, including NotePerformer. https://www.youtube.com/live/QGQ0eq8fhRU?feature=share

  21. Tamar Diesendruck

    Thanks for your reply. I am not going to start learning Dorico now. Maybe in the future. But from your answer it sounds
    like NP does do quartertone playback. Is it able to do it accurately from a Sibelius score? I’m not a computer person and
    can’t tell from your message whether it can or can’t. I guess I assumed using NP would then avoid the plug-in with Sib.

    1. David MacDonald

      NotePerformer can do microtonal playback, but it won’t solve the problem you’re having with Sibelius. Sibelius is just not very well-suited to microtones.

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