PDF to Musescore/MIDI/XML

• Sep 14, 2022 - 23:08

I have a question which has baffled me for ages.

I am a longtime Musescore user and I love it and have produced some very good products with it. Recently, I have downloaded the Sibelius free trial ONLY because people told me it comes with an amazing add-on called Photoscore which can get a pdf/image and import it into Sibelius.

However, after two weeks of trying to use Sibelius everyday, I have concluded that I am allergic to it. Everything is overcomplicated for no reason. So cheers to the Musescore guys for creating a solid product.

So my question is: what is the BEST pdf to midi/xml converter?

Ive read a lot about Photoscore, Playscore, Scanscore, etc. and at this point im just confused

I would like something similar to Photoscore but which is compatible with Musescore. I do not care how much it costs. I just want something that works and that delivers a solid product.

(I have already tested the inbuilt Musescore "Import PDF" Function and unfortunately, I need something much better)

Hope someone can help. Tks xx


PhotoScore can export an MXL file that can be opened in MuseScore. It does a very good job.

I have used Sibelius and MuseScore for years.

In reply to by muzikaagency

I have PhotoScore Lite that came with Sibelius. It is made by a company named Neuration which sells it bundled with NotateMe. PhotoScore lite only reads PDF's with up to 12 staves. You can scan your own sheet music into it also. The full Photoscore is much better and much, much more expensive. Not worth it for me. I've have very good luck with the Lite version.

I know nothing about AudioScore. I have the lite version of it, also. It can only listen to one voice at a time. And not always great at that.

I'm not about to tell you what to buy. I don't know what your specific needs are. The Neuration site lists MuseScore as one of the programs that can open an MXL from PhotoScore.

In reply to by bobjp

In the past I have purchased two different optical music recognition (OMR) products:
- SharpEye: http://www.visiv.co.uk/
- PhotoScore: https://www.neuratron.com/photoscore.htm
They are both good, but in different ways.

a) SharpEye has an old-fashioned interface and it took me a long time to make it work effectively. It does not handle PDF format, and I only had success in using TIFF format images (one per page). I use 300 dpi resolution and black & white (not colour, nor greyscale). But SharpEye is very good at recognising music notation (though less good at OCR of the lyrics). SharpEye exports a file as *.xml (which you can rename later to *.musicxml). Development of SharpEye stopped some years ago.

b) Neuratron's PhotoScore has a modern interface and can handle PDF files. These two factors make the learning curve easier. PhotoScore seems to handle lyrics better than SharpEye and certainly attempts to interpret other features like tempo markings. PhotoScore also provides a split view of the two versions: the original PDF above and the generated music notation below. PhotoScore exports a file as *.xml by default, but you can change the suffix to *.musicxml before you export.

A word of warning. Any OMR system requires the user to learn all the shortcuts for changing and editing any errors found - and this knowledge takes a long time to acquire. With a large library of out-of-print music to capture in MusicXML format, I was motivated to persist. ;-)

Thank you all guys for your help. Very very helpful.
Before I make a decision, any thoughts on Smartscore? Does anyone find it better than Photoscore? (Always with the consideration that I would like to export to Musescore)

In reply to by bobjp

I have seen that.
To be fair, after trying the demos a little bit, I seem to be coming to the conclusion that Photoscore looks much less professional than Smartscore appearance wise BUT is a little bit better when it comes to recognising elements such as lyrics and tabs. So I seem to be preferring Photoscore.

I have not been able to test the export function on both so that is yet to remain a surprise.

If anyone has a different opinion, feel free to share it below. You will help me and others make good choices.

In reply to by muzikaagency

Well, I own Photoscore and Smartscore and I can tell you Smartscore is far better than Photoscore. Tired by Photoscore, I bought Smartscore (the light version limited to 3 staffs, enough for my needs).
Sometime ago I posted the results of a test in the French forum and it was ridiculous. The score was simple, melody and piano, no lyrics, very clean and readable: lot of mistakes with Photoscore, unusable without a lot of work, good results with Smartscore. I made some other tests: same results. So I do not use Photoscore anymore.

In reply to by MarcSwake

Thank you to Marc for the opinion about SmartScore 64. I downloaded and installed a demo version, and after trying a few pages I agree that the recognition is very good indeed. All OMR programs which I have tried seem to stumble over tremolos, but this was the only criticism which I had about SmartScore.

See the tremolos in the Piano bass clef:

In reply to by muzikaagency


I have retrieved my test!
In the attached file you will find:
- above the result of the reading by Photoscore
- in yellow the original score
- at the bottom the Smartscore result
The score is very simple and the difference is clear!
The link to the original thread (in French ): https://musescore.org/fr/node/332696.
May be interesting for you because some people propose other products.

Attachment Size
Photoscore vs Smartscore.pdf 142.95 KB

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