Sibelius is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in notation and scoring software. Avid have announced the latest version of their entry level version called “Sibelius | First 8” with a really annoying vertical line between the words, which we’ll ignore from now on.
Sibelius First 8
The idea is to give you a flavour of Sibelius. It gives you many of the same tools and the same environment but in a simpler format that’s quicker to access. There are a lot of differences between this version and the full version. You’ll find a comparison table here. But to highlight some of the key differences you should know that Sibelius First supports only 16 staves. It’s not really setup for publishing, with many of the engraving and layout editing tools striped out. It comes with an impressive 10GB of sound library compared to the 36GB that comes with the full version. There’s no ability to edit MIDI data. There’s 38 included plug-ins as opposed to over 140. On the exporting side, there’s no MP3 option and graphics can only be exported as PDF.
In reading through the features, Sibelius First appears to be a very capable score writing program. It supports high resolution displays, has enhanced ribbon and floating window toolbars. The magnetic layout automatically repositions rests optimally in your score. It includes the “Espressivo 2” technology which offers a high degree of expression in playback. There’s support for writing with the digital pen on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 – although it’s really odd that they don’t mention the year old Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. You can export your scores online to ScoreExchange.com or as audio or video. And you can send it to an iPad to transform it into an interactive music stand. There’s a lot of good stuff in this “entry level” scoring software.
Love it or hate it, Sibelius First comes with a subscription option of $4.99 pcm for a year or $5.99 pcm month-to-month. However you can actually buy the software out-right for $119 which gives you a years worth of upgrades. A special upgrade price of $39 is available until the end of the year to anyone with a previous version.
More information on the Avid website.