The brand-new, much-revamped Sibelius 7 is now available from Avid. I just started looking at it today so I can’t tell you much except that the interface has been radically redesigned, but in a good way. It looks much more “ribbon-like” now (for you Office 2010 users), which is actually a good idea, I have found the (Windows) Office 201o ribbon interface to be very usable, and a lot better than the multiple-pull-down-menu style that has become the norm in most apps. (Which is, in turn, better than the old nested dialog box style, like real old Finale.)
The new Sibelius has a 40 GB sound library that installs with it – the whole install comes on four DVDs – and according to the information I read it was all recorded especially for Sibelius. I listened to the demo recordings through my MacBook Pro speakers and they sounded better than the old library by far, and pretty much as good as the Garritan orchestra library. (The couple of examples they had that used jazz or funk-type brass I thought didn’t sound as good as the Garritan Jazz and Big Band library, but I don’t think the performances were tweaked very much, so it was hard to tell. I reserve the right to change my opinion of this after I get a chance to use it a while.) There are some demo sound files on the Sibelius site for you to hear.
One thing for those of us who do jazz writing: finally, brass falls play back! (As well as other brass effects.) This is a big deal for me! (OK, I’m easily pleased, maybe.)
For marching brass and percussion sounds, the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps was recorded at Skywalker Sound in Marin County. (For those of you away from drum corps for a while – about a decade ago the corps switched from G bugles to traditional B flat and F marching brass. Not bad! There is also a state-of-the-art set of samples of the E.M. Skinner Pipe Organ from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Chicago. The pop sounds were prepared by the Pro Tools Complete Collection and Expansion Pack. Leveraging the resources of the parent company, Avid, seems to have worked out well for this version of Sibelius.
Two other big features in this version: it’s optimized for 64-bit operating systems, and can use more than 4 GB of RAM directly; and the designers optimized the interface for single-display use, since so many users have laptops or single large displays.
I’ll update after I have a chance to work with it a bit. I can already tell you that if you have Sibelius, you need the upgrade; if you have Finale, you should do the crossgrade.