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Finale vs. Sibelius

Everett

Hello fellow notators...
I'm trying to decide which notation is best for me: Sibelius or Finale. A lot of the feedback about the 2 that I have read (on other sites) has not been helpful. Someone would write in and say "________ is so cool!!! You can write notes with it!" It's like asking "Which is better? Logic or Digital Perfomer?" and everyone answers "Audio recording is so cool!" I'm looking for more meaningful insights.
I had the opportunity to work with Finale the other day, and I have to say I was very dissapointed: it took a long time to do simple tasks, and the actions I needed to perform were buried in obscure menus. Yes, this was my first time using the program, but I did not get a sense that it was structured in a good way.
Some other composers I know find Sibelius to be much easier to work with. Is there someone out there who has worked with both programs and knows the advantages and disadvantages of each? So far, I'm thinking Sibelius might be a lot easier to use: there are a LOT of newsgroups and sites out there for frustrated Finale users, and very few for Sibelius users, so I have to draw the conclusion that the Sibelius users are having fewer problems.
Any thoughts, experiences, or hard core data?
Much Appreciated,
Everett
February 10, 2003 @12:55am
cmchamp

Everett:
I had the opportunity to switch from MOTU's Mosaic to Finale for free. Didn't do it because of the learning curve. I don't want to through another option your way (If you're a Mac user) but I have not ever had a notation that I couldn't do with Mosaic, and I have scored for some contemporary band composers.
If you are able, download a demo version of each. I know there is one for Finale.
Cory
February 10, 2003 @03:59pm
Avrora

I do not know much about Sibelius but all my friends from Russia keep telling me that Sibelius is the best program to work with, instead of Finale. I'm working with Finale and I found lots of gaps in thi program. Wish to switch.
March 7, 2003 @05:39am
dnino03

Everett,
Go with Sibelius. It is really the best.
dnino
March 9, 2003 @01:36pm
retro-g

This is my first post, and although a bit late for the original poster it could be relevant to others following the thread.....
I tried Finale 2000 and 2001 at school and found the interface to be counterintuitive. Finale required me to think like a programmer and not like the pencil and paper musician that I am. You shouldn't have to go on a fact finding mission just to line up lyrics on a lead sheet, use four voices, or get decent looking hardcopy. Back in the day, I don't think Finale did much "useability" testing with new users before releasing a their product. I'm no marketing guru, but it seems that as a manufacturer, one probably wants to attract, not repel, beginning users who could potentially be future customers. A lot of the students complained about how weird Fianle behaved when we trying to edit some basic stuff. Go look up "ergonomics".
Until version 2004, it seemed to me that Finale ads were always talking about piling on more advanced features, while never addressing the issue of interface design. Further, the Help was not arranged in a "How do I...." type of format. As a student, and now a band leader and arranger, I refuse to waste my time trying to figure out basic editing functions. Of course, I would expect to put in some time learning how to get MIDI playback to sound more realistic, how to do fancier engraving, etc
As a Sibelius user since version 1.0 (now have 3.0), I am generally pleased with its "useability". I was able to make lead sheets with lyrics in about an hour after installing the program....within an afternoon, a big band chart with individual instrument parts. A quiz, and lessons for my grade schoolers were easy to do. Very intuitive!
Sibelius better approximates using "pencil and paper" than Finale and most of the objects that appear on the screen are accessible and editable with a few clicks of the mouse. Best of all, the way most things are accomplished in Sibelius makes sense to me. Further, I have noticed that over the past four years, Finale is becoming increasingly more Sibelius-like.
Well, this is a forum and that's my opinion.
May 28, 2004 @10:57am
Everett

Wow... my first post was a long time ago. I've since had to work with both Finale and Sibelius for various composition projects and I must say that in my opinion, Sibelius wins by far.
We use Finale 2004(b) and Sibelius 3 in our lab. Finale has copied some of Sibelius's interface design, but it is still an awkward, clunky program. If you are working with a orchestral score of even modest size, Finale takes a LOOONG time to load, and a LOOONG time to render it for playback. Its screen refresh rate is still miles behind Sibelius.
In contrast, Sibelius 3 is loads fast, responds quickly to playback commands, and if anything, the newer version is more intuitive (yes, they even borrowed a few features from Finale). While Sibelius plays, you can grab the score and move it around like a pdf... Finale is far more rigid -- you can barely touch it while it plays back.
Both of them have new features to let you save directly to an audio file (the Mac versions do, at least... presumably Windows versions too). And I can't help but rub this in: the 2004 version of Finale was premature... even though it took them forever to release a version for Mac OS X, when it came out, it still had a lot of bugs (they should have waited longer). 2004b fixes only some of the problems. The founders of Sibelius first wrote the program in low-level code whereas I think Finale must have just copied what they saw Sibelius doing. I think the coding skills of the Sibelius folks are far superior -- their OS X version came out well over a year before Finale's and more importantly, it worked well the first time around.
I've asked visiting composers to our university (the professionals) which program they use, and again, Sibelius seems to be the winner.
Thought I'd share...
Everett
May 28, 2004 @01:44pm
Everett

I hope others find this helpful:
http://www.fireproofsocks.com/finale_vs_sibelius.html
Some related docs are included re MIDI playback in Finale and Sibelius
August 21, 2007 @09:02pm
michaelhoddy

I like things that are intuitive, and Sibelius works well for me as a result. Finale is at least as powerful if not a bit more so, but the learning curve negates this for me.
Like some others here, I was up and running on Sibelius in about an hour.
Arranging or writing is (or at least should be!) a creative process. I feel Sibelius does a better job of facilitating creativity rather than impeding it.
August 21, 2007 @09:31pm
dunky85

Unless you are intending to do publishing then I would go with sibelius. The patches for the midi playback are some much easier to install, the interface with sibelius is so much easier to use than finale. I have used both I greatly preferr sibelius. If you are worried about money I believe that both companies offer discounts the longer you are with the company. Also I think that the photoscore program and the whole package that comes with sibelius 5 which is what I would hope that is what you are looking at because its not like finale and have a release every year that is pretty much the same, with sibelius everytime they re release the software there are a bunch of things that are better. It comes with online support. I think the best way to describe the two programs is Finale is designed by computer engineers that wanted to write a computer program to notate, sibelius is designed by musicians that want to use the computer to notate. I really think that unless you want to go into the business of publisher scores you should go with sibelius 5
October 4, 2007 @05:03pm
pianomanbob

After reading the different comments about Finale and Sibelius, you know I will be changing my notation software to Sibelius very soon. I started with Finale2000 on a orchestral project and Finale was recommended. Boy, what a mistake! My days with Finale are over. I read somewhere that Finale is for Techies and Sibelius for creative musicians. Thanks for the important input.
October 9, 2007 @05:12pm
greatzot

I've tried Sibelius and Finale briefly. I hated both. They were difficult to work with and required all kinds of keyboard "shortcut" memorization to notate efficiently. Needless to say, I didn't use either very long. The main advantage of Sibelius is the scanning software you can use with it. But don't expect it to get all the notes right. Expect to do significant cleanup in the score, especially if the original's faded, wrinkled, or irregular in any way.
I found that GVOX's Encore was far easier to use for general composition that doesn't require tablature, and very flexible. You can do 8 independent melodies on one staff, specify the number of measures per line and adjust as necessary after you've written parts out, move things around for printing, etc. It's the most intuitive and has the simplest user interface. That's what good software is to me--it lets me do the job with the least amount of effort and frustration.
If all you need is tablature software, PowerTab is by far the easiest to use and one of the two best, along with GuitarPro. GuitarPro has some capabilities PowerTab doesn't, but I still rely on PowerTab for most of my tabbing purposes because tabbing is so quick and simple with it. Coupled with the Yamaha SYXG50 midi driver, it rocks. The main advantage of Guitar Pro is it's more adaptable for non-guitar instruments and is capable of more voices and staves.
October 31, 2007 @03:21am
radial

Even though everyone here is favoring Sibeilius, I actually much prefer Finale. I really don't find it that cumbersome as everyone here is suggesting and the reason why I prefer it is really because it just sounds better. The Garritan string library that Finale uses has a better capacity of rendering more realism in it's playback environment. I found two samples from their sites that you can listen to and hear the difference. I think that in this arena, Finale is definitely by far much stronger. What do you think? Maybe that's why it takes longer to render a playback because of the Garritan samples.
1.listen to Finale
2.listen to Sibeilius
April 18, 2009 @01:48pm
NEcomposer

I'm about to begin notating a rather large project. I have experience with Finale. However, I am not pleased with it's limitations. I feel quite handicapped. There seems to be so many steps to do a task I feel should be done in a near instant. So thanks for you post in 2002 and following up with it. I'll be sure to look for your name on these posts if I have further questions.
-Nick
Wow... my first post was a long time ago. I've since had to work with both Finale and Sibelius for various composition projects and I must say that in my opinion, Sibelius wins by far.
We use Finale 2004(b) and Sibelius 3 in our lab. Finale has copied some of Sibelius's interface design, but it is still an awkward, clunky program. If you are working with a orchestral score of even modest size, Finale takes a LOOONG time to load, and a LOOONG time to render it for playback. Its screen refresh rate is still miles behind Sibelius.
In contrast, Sibelius 3 is loads fast, responds quickly to playback commands, and if anything, the newer version is more intuitive (yes, they even borrowed a few features from Finale). While Sibelius plays, you can grab the score and move it around like a pdf... Finale is far more rigid -- you can barely touch it while it plays back.
Both of them have new features to let you save directly to an audio file (the Mac versions do, at least... presumably Windows versions too). And I can't help but rub this in: the 2004 version of Finale was premature... even though it took them forever to release a version for Mac OS X, when it came out, it still had a lot of bugs (they should have waited longer). 2004b fixes only some of the problems. The founders of Sibelius first wrote the program in low-level code whereas I think Finale must have just copied what they saw Sibelius doing. I think the coding skills of the Sibelius folks are far superior -- their OS X version came out well over a year before Finale's and more importantly, it worked well the first time around.
I've asked visiting composers to our university (the professionals) which program they use, and again, Sibelius seems to be the winner.
Thought I'd share...
Everett
December 9, 2010 @03:03pm
pebberbrown

I have both - Sibelius 5 and Finale 2011
Finale is such a rich, huge, massively feature laden program that I think all the people
who dogg it and say Sibelius is easier to use just dont have the patience or the ability to sit down and learn how to work with it. Finale's interface more resembles a desktop publishing program like PageMaker or for those who remember Ventura Publisher. If you are used to desktop publishing programs and want to use Finale to make charts or create graphics to include in articles or books, then Finale is by far the best. However, sound in Finale is terrible (they cant seem to fix ONLY ONE CHANNEL working when an ASIO driver is used) - I am tired of tech support people telling me "well it should work - I dont know why its not we will have to get back to you" SO FINALE has some major flaws - although the interface is more like a desktp publishing program, what has happend over the years is that they have added, and added and added and added features over the years to the program like bandaids and the interface is all add-ons and submenus nested within more sub menus. They need an entire re-write of the the interface like SONAR did with X1 when SONAR 8.5 got too cluttered.
SIbelius 6 is next for me - however Sibelius 5 works just fine (except on Windows 7 it doesnt run at all!!!!!!) BAD one Sibelius! The interface of Sibelius is straightforward for musicians who have no experience with desktp publishing but for peple who want to create more adbvanced publications, then Finale may be better overall. Sibelius has much better audio than Finale - My guess is because the CORE programming of Sibelius was done AFTER ASIO was created and Finale doesnt have the ASIO driver functionality embedded in the source code very well - with Sibelius its embedded and works great. SIBELIUS has a couple of flaws - yes - NO ERASER liek FInale does. You have to get around it by multiple "undos" - AGG Irritating! Finale you just click on the eraser icon and click the eraser over a note just that easy. Sibelius is also written in Visual C++ so it loads its runtime libraries resident in memory before the appilcation will run. More serious programmers would compile it as a standalone instead. Even better programmers would code it in Assembly language.
Both programs do the job. Finale is a Bitch to get down with a CAPITAL B but it does more **** than Sibelius. Sibelius is easier to figure out if you are not a computer hacker but if you ARE a computer hacker the interface is weird!!!!!
I also use NOTION 3 - it has some great sounds and very nicely done features as well - dont forget that one - its right up there in 3rd place but many like it better than the other two - Jack Jarrett did indeed create a masterpiece of software programming .
My 2 bits
pebberbrown@gmail.com
Hello fellow notators...
I'm trying to decide which notation is best for me: Sibelius or Finale. A lot of the feedback about the 2 that I have read (on other sites) has not been helpful. Someone would write in and say "________ is so cool!!! You can write notes with it!" It's like asking "Which is better? Logic or Digital Perfomer?" and everyone answers "Audio recording is so cool!" I'm looking for more meaningful insights.
I had the opportunity to work with Finale the other day, and I have to say I was very dissapointed: it took a long time to do simple tasks, and the actions I needed to perform were buried in obscure menus. Yes, this was my first time using the program, but I did not get a sense that it was structured in a good way.
Some other composers I know find Sibelius to be much easier to work with. Is there someone out there who has worked with both programs and knows the advantages and disadvantages of each? So far, I'm thinking Sibelius might be a lot easier to use: there are a LOT of newsgroups and sites out there for frustrated Finale users, and very few for Sibelius users, so I have to draw the conclusion that the Sibelius users are having fewer problems.
Any thoughts, experiences, or hard core data?
Much Appreciated,
Everett
January 3, 2011 @09:39pm
Howard Whitaker

First, remember that everybody tends to love the program they use and hate the other one. Not many people have experience with both, though I know a few, and they favor Sibelius. I don't know anybody who has happily switched from Sibelius to Finale...But that's just my experience.
Finale has been there since the beginning, so it should be (and is) good. Armed to the teeth.
Sibelius has caught up with Finale in sales in a relatively short time: that tells you something.
MY EXPERIENCE: I teach composition and, over the years, have worked with lots of students using both programs. Finale might have a slight edge if you want to do really strange, creative things with curved staves or whatever. But the most telling thing to me is that most of the most common operations require fewer steps in Sibelius. I get tired of waiting for my Finale users to go through the hoops to accomplish what one click would have done in Sibelius.
I doubt that it's true any longer that Finale has an exclusive hold on publishing. So many people use Sib now that publishers (my impression) work with both.
January 3, 2014 @07:04pm