Steinberg Dorico for iPad review

The ability to plot notes on the move could be a gamechanger for many performers. Can the iPad with Dorico really score…?

  • £Free
  • €Free
  • $Free
Steinberg Dorico for iPad
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

Steinberg has ported the most fantastic facsimile of Dorico to the iPad, through flexibility of use and DAW-like tendencies.

Pros

  • +

    Incredibly flexible score package.

  • +

    It’ll do far more than simply print music.

  • +

    The free version has tons to get started.

  • +

    Note entry via onscreen or MIDI device.

  • +

    Perfect synchronicity across platforms.

Cons

  • -

    Basic Apple Pencil capabilities.

  • -

    iPad only, at this time!

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Steinberg Dorico for iPad: What is it?

For many years, iPad and tablet software has allowed the viewing of scores in PDF form, providing a useful substitute for the performing musician. Now Steinberg has ported its flagship notation software package to the iPad, having cut its teeth in a desktop format for two years.

The first inescapable point to make about Dorico for iPad is that it’s an enormous bargain. OK, it’s not available for other tablets at this time, but it is freely available via the Apple iOS app store. Once downloaded, you can take advantage of working with only two tracks or lines of music, with a doubling of track count by simply registering your email address with Steinberg. 

Beyond this, it’s probably fair to say that the prospect of working with a large score on a small screen will be less than ideal, so the iPad version will happily piggy-back alongside any desktop version, opening up greater functionality. It is however possible to view large scores with this free version, but you just won’t be able to do anything deep, such as editing.

Steinberg Dorico for iPad: Performance and verdict

While Dorico’s primary concern is music presentation, it’s far from lacking in the DAW department. It boasts a decent crop of usable samples, can speak with third party sample libraries in AU format, and provides MIDI connectivity and mixing capabilities, as well as editing elements familiar from desktop DAWs. 

Connecting a USB or Bluetooth MIDI controller can be cumbersome. Help is at hand, as a piano keyboard pops up from the lower part of the screen, but can be switched to a guitar fret or drum pad mode. Once you’ve entered your notes in real time, you can then present them on a pseudo piano roll/matrix editor – helpful for visually adjusting note lengths.

Also consider...

Avid Sibelius for iPad/iOS

(Image credit: Future)

Avid Sibelius for iPad
Very similar musical and printing credentials. It’s also a free download, with subs options.

StaffPad Ltd StaffPad (opens in new tab)
Differs by being a purchased product. A true Apple pencil drawing experience.

Many prospective users may be considering Dorico having explored other iPad scoring products, or as a possible switch from other desktop packages. In reality, Dorico can feel slightly different to other software, but it can suit most workflows. If you’re used to the step input ethos, it’s a very pleasant experience. The guiding cursor on the score invites the selection of a note value, awaiting an accompanying keypress on the piano keyboard. Working this way is relatively easy, with audio support along the way, from the onboard sound engine. 

All the usual notation elements are available, as one might expect, with key signatures, dynamics, articulation marks and the like, all entered with a predictable point and press process. There is provision for Apple Pencil use, but it feels more like a substitute for what you might already do with your finger. You cannot simply draw onto the score, but you can drag and edit using the pencil, if you prefer.

Final Score

Once your score has been inputted and edited, you can place Dorico in Read mode and use it much like a conventional piece of paper. If you want to use this mode for live work, there are probably better suited packages for creating entire set lists from PDFs, but Dorico scores high in its ability to share the score as a PDF, audio file or printed project. It’s capable of high quality output from a compatible wireless printer, and is fast, easy and very flexible, and that’s not something we thought we would say about a score package on an iPad!

MusicRadar verdict: Steinberg has ported the most fantastic facsimile of Dorico to the iPad, through flexibility of use and DAW-like tendencies.

Steinberg Dorico for iPad: The web says

"Despite its limitations — many of which are imposed by the operating system — Dorico for iPad is not a toy version of Dorico. It’s the real thing, and will be useful both as a standalone application and as a companion to desktop version."
Scoring Notes (opens in new tab)

Steinberg Dorico for iPad: Hands-on demos

Dorico

NYC Music Services

Robby Burns

Steinberg Dorico for iPad: Specifications

  • Available as a free app download from the App Store.
  • CONTACT: Steinberg (opens in new tab)
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