PROS / This software has a navigable interface, and it is easy to use.
CONS / There is no virtual piano.
VERDICT / Finale PrintMusic 2014 is loaded with features that are useful to composers of all skill levels.
If you are looking for a high-quality notation product, Finale PrintMusic 2014 could be the best solution for you. This notation software offers all the features you would expect to find in a high-priced, professional music writing package, including real-time MIDI keyboard entry, manual step-time entry, guitar tablature, guitar chord diagram creation and percussion notation. Only the lack of a virtual piano for note entry kept this program out of the top spot in our music notation software reviews. Even though it didn't take the top spot, it still received our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award because it has high-end abilities at an affordable price.
PrintMusic 2014 is one of the few music notation software packages that can transcribe music played by an instrument through a microphone with the exclusive MicNotator. However, the instrument must play only a single note at a time, no chords, and you must be able to maintain a reasonably steady pitch as you play. This is an interesting concept, but unless you can play your instrument perfectly, you will need to spend some time editing the notation created with MicNotator.
PrintMusic includes an impressive set of note entry and editing palettes, yet it's so easy to use that you'll be composing quality pieces of music in no time. Each tool on every palette includes tooltips that activate when you place the cursor over them. The brief descriptions in these tooltips cut down the time needed to thumb through a thick manual, scan the online help files or complete one of the included tutorials.
Though this music notation software ranked well in the ease-of-use category, it could rank higher if it included a virtual piano for more precise note placement. While the software is very easy to use, a person who is not familiar with music notation software may want to watch the QuickStart Videos or complete the tutorials before attempting to create a score.
Like many of the music notation programs, PrintMusic lets you to enter notes using your computer keyboard; no external MIDI equipment is required. You simply press the Caps Lock key to transform your computer keyboard from a letter-entering tool to a note-entering tool. You can also notate percussion instruments and create guitar tablature.
You can use the built-in SmartScore Lite to scan hard copies of existing music and save them as TIFF graphic files. PrintMusic can then import the scanned TIFF file and transcribe the notes onto the staff. This lets you edit and add your own creativity to a previously composed piece of music.
One feature that sets this software apart from the competition is the exclusive MicNotator. The manufacturers, MakeMusic Inc., state that the MicNotator technology lets you enter notes by playing a woodwind or brass instrument into a microphone. However, we found that many users have had difficulties getting this feature to work properly and have reported that notes were not placed on the staff where they expected them to go. If you cannot play your instrument very well or cannot hold a steady note, MicNotator may not be much of a timesaver for you.
One feature that other programs had that we wished this program had is the virtual piano keyboard. We got so used to entering notes quickly with the virtual piano in other programs that we were a little disheartened by not having access to one with this software.
PrintMusic notates music in real time with the use of a MIDI keyboard connected to your computer. This is a great feature that allows you to see the music on your computer screen as you play. Another really nice feature is the Scroll View, which displays the score horizontally. This lets you see more of the score on the screen at one time, especially if you have a widescreen monitor. It also allows you to work seamlessly with the score without worrying about changing pages.
PrintMusic includes plenty of editing tools that you can access from the tool palettes and from several context menus. You place the cursor over the area you want to edit and click the right mouse button. This opens a context menu with options for editing measures, changing time signatures, transposing notes, changing the clef, copying and pasting, and so on. The tool palettes are placed vertically to the left and right of the main screen. This placement lets you see and work with more of the score because the palettes don't cover up the area you are trying to work with like the floating tool palettes we encountered in some of the other notation programs we tested.
After you place notes on the staff, you can easily move them with a simple click and drag if you don't like where they are currently placed. The copy and paste features are also very powerful, allowing you to copy and paste individual notes or entire systems. The eraser tool works really well and lets you delete all notes in a beat with a single click under the chord, or you can delete individual notes as you click them. The multiple undo feature lets you reverse any number of changes you make in the current session, even past the point where you last saved the score.
This music notation software includes a video tutorial and a searchable online manual. The manual is very detailed and includes information on how to effectively use the program and its various features. The manufacturer also provides phone and email support, as well as online forums, so you can correspond with other PrintMusic users.
Finale PrintMusic has just about everything you should look for in music notation software. You can input notes in a variety of different ways, as well as print and export sheet music in the form of graphics and MIDI files. This software is compatible with all computer operating systems, so you can add this wonderful software to any computer platform needed.