Playback Issues

• Nov 26, 2023 - 21:24

In my humble opinion, the new-ish Muse Sounds are wildly variable: they're either very good or very bad. For example, the grand piano sound is exquisite, while the choir sound has so little attack that it's virtually unusable for anything that requires rhythmic clarity.

As an example, here's part of a piece I'm writing for strings. Notice that the balance is way off: the Violin 2 and Cello are completely overpowering the Violin 1 and Viola. Moreover, when we get to the eighth-quarter rhythm that begins in Bar 4, the playback is simply inaccurate: it actually begins each eighth-note late, almost making it swings. This isn't a notation issue; when I change the sounds to MS Basic, the sounds aren't as aesthetically pleasing, but the playback is clear, balanced, and accurate.

To be clear, MuseScore 4 is an outstanding piece of software, and the concept behind Muse Sounds is terrific. I just wish they worked a bit better, and that they resulted in playback that more accurately reflects the score.

Thanks for listening.

Attachment Size
Example Score.mscz 37.13 KB


I will be the first to agree that Muse sounds have a ways to go.
In your case, there are some things to consider.

The solo violin 2 font does seem to be louder than solo 1. However 1 and 2 don't refer to desks. They refer to playing styles. 1 tends to be more expressive. So you have two things you can do. You can switch both parts to the same font. Or you can boost the volume of violin 1 in the mixer. That's what the faders are for. Boost the viola, also.

On my system there is no lag anywhere. Everything is spot on as far as the playback of measure 4 and beyond.

Check your computer specs against those listed on the download page. There are also some audio device setting that might help that are listed in the "How to" section of the manual page.

In reply to by bobjp

The lag on choral parts is evident all the time on my system and makes it impossible for me to send pieces of music to anyone else, let alone work by myself and judge the quality of what I've done. Certainly MuseSounds has a way to go in terms of choral accuracy. The other thing that is preventing me publishing my works on Musescore is the interference when the dynamic of f or ff is reached. I know I have mentioned these issues before in the main support forum, but I would just like to sympathise with chrismassa1 and ask the team: do these problems have to be reported on github before they are paid attention to by the development team, or are the musescore forums read by that team? I have tried all the system sound adjustments that have been suggested many times in this and other forums, but I feel that it comes down to the nature of the MuseSounds Choral sound itself. (Partly because other instruments don't seem to have a particular problem)
Thanks so much.

The answer is probably no, but I figure it's worth asking. Does anyone know when/if some of the problems will be fixed? I gather that although MuseScore is open source, Muse Sounds isn't (either the player or the samples). But is there a roadmap? Has anything public been said about future development? I assume the Muse Sounds developers must communicate with the MuseScore developers somehow?

In reply to by peastman

AFAIK, things are always being worked on. But remember that your system must meet certain specs in order to playback properly. And there may be a few settings in your system that need to be changed. Playback is fine on my computer. So it is possible.

In reply to by peastman

FWIW, here are my observations.

Yes, in your score the 1st violin and viola are almost inaudible. That's a font problem. So until it gets fixed, you can use the faders to deal with over all volume problems. That's what the faders are for. Should you have to do that? Just depends on if you want to use those sounds. Some of the solo sounds still have odd volume changes. And even more odd depending on the dynamic you are at.
Sounds are being worked on. Believe me they tend to be better than they were 6 months ago. But it is slow. They just added pause playback, finally, for example.
I still don't experience problems you pointed out in measure 4. Nothing late on my system. Or slow, if that is what you mean. Since I don't have your system in front of me, I can only speculate based on my experience with several different computers.

In reply to by bobjp

I can only guess about what the original poster meant with the rhythm, but here's an example of something similar. It has tenors singing a short line. To my ear, it sounds like a bad chorus with sloppy rhythm. Some notes are early, others are late. Of course, MuseScore is really playing every note for the same amount of time. But the lengths of the attacks vary between notes, which makes them sound different.

Attachment Size
test.mscz 16.52 KB

In reply to by peastman

I would agree with what you are hearing. To the untrained ear, it may not appear to be such a problem, but to a sensitive musical ear it is like a badly trained choir.
I added a piano part (which seems to playback really accurately on its own) and it confirmed that most of the time the tenors were slightly ahead of the piano, but on one or two notes the reverse was the case.
In more complicated examples, I find I just can't listen to voices and piano together; and with voices alone, different voice parts are not together in faster parts.

In reply to by bobjp

Well, I'm sorry but to my mind its not good - it starts off slightly out of synch, then the staccato bar is fine, then it gets pretty bad in the last 2 or 3 bars, wouldn't want to demo to friends or "customers".
However, very nice harmonisation! :-)

In reply to by Ali Wood

So here we have two completely different sounds pitted against each other. The piano has a hard attack and fades quickly, The tenor attack is much slower and doesn't fade. So the beginning and end of the sounds are very different, The tenor seems like it is a tad late because of the way it sounds against the piano in the first measure. The next two measures sound together because the tenor staccato hardens the attack and shortens the release, so that it doesn't sound like it is late.
Play around with the score. Slow it down. Or change the piano to tenor and balance the volume.
The other problem is that recorded sounds don't mix the same way real sounds do. They can't. A real choir doesn't sing every note the same way. Like a font does.
I compose for play back. So I have several tricks I use to get notation software so sound like I want. But there are also times when I can't write something because the software can't do what I want. And just because I get something to sound good in the software, doesn't mean it will work with real players. Composing is a skill, no matter what.
Thanks. That was just something off the top of my head.

In reply to by bobjp

I have to agree with Ali Wood on this. In a notation program, the purpose of playback is to let you hear what you've written. It doesn't need to be a particularly artistic performance, but it does need to be very accurate. If you write a piece for piano and voice and hit play, it should sound like the pianist and the singer are in time with each other. If it sounds like the singer is constantly behind the piano, that's a problem. It keeps you from getting an accurate idea of what you've written.

For comparison, switch the tenor part in your score to MS Basic Choir Aahs. Now it sounds perfectly in time. You can hear exactly what it's supposed to sound like. It's a less realistic, less pleasant choir sound, but it's more important for it to be accurate.

Now, if your goal is to get a beautiful performance, that requires different tools. When I want that, I export my score as a MIDI file, load it into a DAW, and tweak all the timings and velocities and instruments and envelopes to get exactly the sound I want. I also use an instrument library that gives me precise control over attack rates and marcato strengths and so on. But I don't expect a notation program to do that. It just needs to give a very clean, accurate performance so I can hear what I've written.

In reply to by peastman

I'm not saying the Muse choir is anywhere near perfect. Far from it. I'm only suggesting a reason for why it sounds like it does. When I mute the piano and turn on the metronome, I then can make a recording that I can put into Audacity. There is a delay of about .015 second after the metronome click is at the loudest, before the choir note starts. There is also a .01 second delay in the Basic choir. As well as French horn. I think the Muse choir sounds worse because of reasons already stated. And, yes, I agree that make it undesirable sometimes. I'm not saying otherwise.

I know the purpose of notation software playback. I've used various programs for some 17 years. But a DAW? A real DAW with proper (as in not free) sound libraries? That's above my paygrade. By a lot. You need libraries specific to the type and style of music you write. As well as for each different style you write. Even paid notation software has some limitations.

In reply to by bobjp

It sounds like we're all pretty much in agreement. And please don't take any of this as criticism! Really it's a sign of how excited we are about Muse Sounds. There's some beautiful raw material in the samples that just needs better scripting to be more usable. If it were open source, I bet a lot of people would be interested in helping to clean it up. I certainly would! But since it isn't, all we can do is cross our fingers and wait, and hope someone else is working on it.

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