Sibelius 7 musings

Sibelius, the dear notation program that I love and spend many hours of the day writing arrangements and orchestrations, released a new version last week, Sibelius 7. It may be the first time I won’t rush for an upgrade.

Check out the new features for yourself here:

The immediate feeling I get is the same feeling I got after the release of Sibelius 5, which also came with many gigabytes of fresh sounds.

Almost every new version of an Audio/Video sequencer these days comes with one or two DVDs of fresh sounds, but sounds are not for me — when I make demos, I prefer that they do not approximate the sounds of real instruments closely, so that more can be left to the imagination of the listener, and real players are not expected to sound like a synth mockup. I hardly if every use sampled instruments in a project, so as a result, all of these gigabytes of free sounds are sitting on my shelf.

While every one of these audio programs gives you many options for playing with these sounds and exporting them, Sibelius’s own Audio Export features are painfully underdeveloped.

With Sibelius 7 (on a Mac), you are only able to export to an AIFF file at 48khz. You cannot export at another sample rate, or in another format. The file that Sibelius exports is super quiet – you’ll need to take it into another audio program, normalize it, and only then you’ll be able to hear the sound.

And the audio does not start at 00:00:00 but at 00:00:05, meaning that if you’re trying to sync your sound to a film, you’ll be half a second behind, unless you erase that half-second time in another program.

The sync is an issue critical to film composers; the ability to export to other formats is of concern to professional composers & students alike, who simply want to export a quick mp3 demo, with the ID3 tags all filed in.

I have been mentioning this to Sibelius for a few years, and it’s a pity this still hasn’t been fixed.

The other updates in Sibelius 7 seem to contain a complete redesign of the User Interface, which makes it look more like Microsoft Office. If you like Office, you may like the new “ribbon” interface, but if you’re a user of OpenOffice/NeoOffice, you may find it initially confusing. I can’t judge whether it’s better or worse – having used Sibelius for over 10 years, navigating the menus has become second nature, and re-learning where things are will slow me down for no necessary reason.

Sibelius 7 now runs natively in 64-bit mode, which makes it run faster, but, to be honest, I always thought that Sibelius runs fast enough. Everything is always immediate, even when working on a 200+ page orchestral score.

There is a nice new feature that’s helpful for automating the extraction of PDF parts & scores. This is very useful – but is it worth the upgrade?

I love Sibelius and may upgrade simply to support the program that has saved me years of time on countless projects, but there’s little in this upgrade that’s for me. Jean Sibelius didn’t get to finish his 8th Symphony – let’s hope that Sibelius 8 is not too far away.. and an iPad version, too.

1 Comment

  • admin says:

    Lukas, I’m not a tech guy so I can’t really answer you – but my 2010 (or is it 2009? I forget) MacBook runs Sibelius 7 fine, and I’m able to export audio. Sounds like you’re having a ram or memory issue..not sure which – can’t help! email


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