A Comparison between MuseScore 2, Finale v.25, Dorico, ScoreCloud Studio, and Noteflight

Posted 6 years ago

For those who do not know who I am, my name is Elwin, I was more active a few years back, and some of you older members know my piece "The Clowns". A lot of things have changed since then. I have decided to post a comparison of MuseScore, plus a few known ones out there, including Finale, and the new software, Dorico. I have looked at these Softwares as best as I could, but I have not tried all features. The free software except for MuseScore had not been looked at as much as the paid ones. I do own Finale and Dorico now as well.

Finale v.25
(1) Start Up:
Finale was a little Slow starting up at the start, which might've been because my computer isn't used to running it, yet. It did speed up more, though.
(2) Ease of Use:
It is an accepted fact that Finale has a steep learning curve. In all honesty, the learning curve was not that steep. Its note input is straight forward, except other features are more "click-into-place", compared to MuseScore. Going from a MuseScore background to Finale made it a little harder, but within a few days, I got used to it. MuseScore did have somewhat of a steep learning curve as well, when I was first starting out as a sophomore in high school. Those that don't believe me could just look at my earliest forum posts 3 years ago.
(3) Support Available:
Finale also has a forum, as does MuseScore, the thing about MuseScore is that, you are able to rant about all of your problems and expect a response, maybe within an hour. That was my experience several times. Usually, the admin would direct you to a page in the handbook that explains how to accomplish that task you need help on. With Finale, I don't think that would be the case, but I haven't tried it. They do respond to your posts, though it takes longer.
Finale and MuseScore do have tutorial documents that do help, but in this area, MuseScore wins. The document is interactive, while in Finale, you read the tutorial manual on their website, and then edit the document as you read. Finale does have more tutorial documents, though.
(4) Looks:
I am not that much of a fan of Finale's looks, but they do have options on changing Music Fonts and all that. Though, I haven't tried doing this. There are people out there who give free Fonts for Finale, but I have no idea on how to install such fonts. Finale does look a bit more professional than MuseScore, but I still like MuseScore's looks. Not to mention, MuseScore has a dark mode which Finale lacks!! I'm at the point, by the way, that if someone hands me sheet music, I'm able to tell if it's made with MuseScore, or not.
(5) Sounds:
Finale does have better Sounds than MuseScore.
(6) Pros and Cons of Finale:
The main con of Finale is that it is a little confusing at times and a few tasks have quite a bit of redundant steps. For example, in MuseScore, if you want to change a time signature, you just open the pallate, then drag the time signature, voila! In Finale, you select Time signature tool, double click the measure, then select the attributes of the time signature, as well as if you want it to only affect that specific measure, or a wider range of measures, or even the rest of the document. To add to that, if you want the time signature change to be seen (mainly used for pick up measures), then Hit Okay. If anything turns out funky, recheck everything. If it turns out fine, voila! Both ways get the job done, but we can all agree MuseScore's way is more efficient. Finale's way of doing a few things can prove more effective in the more complicated tasks that need to be done as Finale is a professional software that's industry standard, but for beginning composers/arrangers, such precision in doing tasks might not be practical and can get annoying.

(1) Start Up
Dorico was a little quicker initially, but one thing to note, if you lack HALlion Symphonic Orchestra SE, it will keep reminding you to install and run those compartments. It is possibel to run Dorico without them, but there will be no playback.
(2) Ease of Use
Dorico mostly operates like MuseScore, in regards to note input. Except for one thing, the number values are shifted over by one unit. In MuseScore, the quarter note, is selected with a 5, in Dorico, it is selected with a 6. Coming from a MuseScore background, that switch is annoying as MuseScore's keyboard shortcuts have been Habitual.
The good news is, you are able to customize the keyboard shortcuts. Which, I did. I made them match MuseScore, and that made note input so much easier.
Dorico's setup mode, is quite astounding. It's easy to select instruments and all that.
(3) Support Available:
Dorico does not have a tutorial document, but it has a forum. Its forum is full of supportive admin, just like MuseScore's is. The people who are in charge of Dorico actually listen to their customers, which I appreciate. When I had issues with buying Dorico, as well as using a few features, they were there to respond to me. It does take longer, but I think that might have something to do with the time zone difference.
(4) Looks:
Dorico's looks and music font, which I believe is Brauva, is astounding. Even the way Dorico's tools are formated look amazing. It has a bolder look compared to MuseScore and Finale.
(5) Sounds:
I have not had a chance to fully evaluate Dorico's Sounds, so this category remains undecided.
(6) Pros and Cons:
The main issue with Dorico is that most of its features are still non-existent It still can not do, Codas, or DS al Coda, etc. This is a bit understandable because it is still a new Software, but at the same time, because of its lack of certain needed elements, this will be a major setback from many professionals who want to use it.

ScoreCloud Studio
(1) Start Up:
Scorecloud loaded just fine
(2) Ease of Use:
It was actually easy to use and very straight forward. I have not tried its transcription tool yet, as I am not near a midi keyboard. Its input outpout is pretty decent.
(3) Support Available:
I have not tried any support features yet.
(4) Looks:
ScoreCloud's looks are meh, in all honesty. They don't look bad, but I have a different preference in looks.
(5) Sounds:
I have not gotten a chance to look at ScoreCloud's sounds.
(6) Pros and Cons:
The transcribing tool of ScoreCloud is a feature that is quite coveted, I have not tried it yet, but it looks like it is a good tool. The main con of ScoreCloud is that it is a Freemium. They only allow you 10 storages in the cloud!

NoteFlight Free
(1) Start Up:
NoteFlight is different than all the other software above, as it is a website. I mainly used it if I had an idea for sheet music during school hours when I was a Senior in High School. MuseScore was at my house's computer at that time.
(2) Ease of Use:
I did not find NoteFlight easy to use coming from a MuseScore background. The input-output was quite clunky to work with. I had to select the note duration after I put the note down, and if there was a way to select it before, I did not know of it. It was quite hard to figure out.
(3) Support Available:
I have looked at online instructions, which did help, but that was it. I am unaware of any forums or documents.
(4) Looks:
Noteflight looked a bit "Generic" as if it was just drawn on in my opinion.
(5) Sounds:
NoteFlight claims high-quality sounds if you're on the paid version, on the Free Version, the sounds are just horrible.
(6) Pros and Cons:
I didn't like NoteFlight in general. I believe in the Free version, you only had limited storage. Its advantage is that it's online, and you don't have to download anything, but it would work better if NoteFlight was easy to use, Like MuseScore.

Closing Thoughts
You really only need a software that does what you need it to do. Finale, Dorico, or even Sibelius might be too much if you're not going into Composing/Arranging Professionally. For Finale and Sibelius, you won't have to worry about the softwares not doing anything, but for other people you might not need your software to do everything. From the looks of it, Finale is like Microsoft Word, Sibelius is like Pages, MuseScore is like Libre Office, and Dorico would be the 3rd-Party one that costs money, but is good, and will only get better.

Yes I'm aware I did not take a look at Sibelius, but it was a time issue.


Thank you for sharing your findings Elwin. A useful guide for us while developing the next major version of MuseScore.

To me, one of the things that stand out of MuseScore is the exellent support on the forum. I told someone about MuseScore the other day. One of his questions upon hearing it is open source was about support, "because that's usually where open source projects fall apart." That is not the case here! The community provides round-the-clock support. Honestly, MuseScore has some of the best customer support I have ever encountered. I would like to thank the community for this. It is a great apart of what marks MuseScore great to be able to sal a question and get an answer of ten with an hour. Thanks to everybody making this possible.

Thanks this is helpful... I'm curious? I play violin, trombone, basic piano, and a little bit of viola and recorder; however, I haven't had any experience or even knew what panning was or mixing instruments...and I'm still clueless as to how it all works together when it comes to mixing parts and what parts to mix for a song. Did you run across a music composition program that doesn't have a mixer and plays the instrument parts as is for other people who may have a similar background in music?

I have a purely Noteflight background and have learned to accept the quirks of it. After about a month, it becomes much easier. Though I will attempt to transfer some of my Noteflight scores into MuseScore. Should be fun ;)

I like LibreOffice! It even runs on my IPad!
As long as Musescore doesn't, I have to use Symphony Pro.)
And then I always miss the features of Musescore.
But as long as software captures my key-strokes and splits them correctly into left & right hand, I am happy.