Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
MusicTime Deluxe has many of the standard features you would expect to find in the best music notation software. Using just the note palette and the mouse, we added notes to the staff in mere minutes. The program includes a nice virtual piano. We also really like that you can access the computer keyboard entry mode from within the virtual piano.
Ease of use is the category in which MusicTime Deluxe shines. Without even looking at the manual, we created a simple score in minutes simply by pointing and clicking the mouse. This music notation software has a set of tool palettes that include most of what you'll need to create your compositions. Each tool palette is small and does not take up much space on the score-editing page, which is nice, but you may need reading glasses to see the items included on each palette.
While we liked the integration of the virtual piano and the computer keyboard entry, we sometimes had trouble with some of the keyboard commands. We expected that when the virtual piano is open and the QWERTY Keyboard Note Entry option is selected, the keyboard shortcuts would work as documented in the manual. For example, the manual indicates that you can press the right arrow key on the computer keyboard to move to the first beat of the next measure on the staff. But when the virtual piano is open, the cursor moves from the staff and selects the virtual piano window. This behavior was a little confusing.
This notation software includes sample files that you can use as templates to help you compose music. You can import MIDI and MusicXML files so that you can work with scores by other composers, but the limited number of staves per composition can be a disadvantage because some scores that we tried to import had more staves than this music notation software could handle.
You can add chord symbols and guitar chord diagrams to the score, which can give the guitarist in your band an idea of what to strum as you practice. MusicTime Deluxe does not include any guitar tabulation features, so you can't compose exactly what the guitarist should play in a particular part.
This program was designed specifically for music notation and does not include any functionality for recording vocals or instruments through a microphone. Entering notes with a MIDI keyboard in step-time and real-time is flawless. The notes appear on the staff as they are played on the keyboard.
You can also input notes through the computer keyboard. We really like that you can enter chords by pressing two or more keys simultaneously on the computer keyboard. This is the only product we tested that let us enter chords by pressing more than one key on the computer keyboard at the same time.
You can export your compositions as MIDI files, which you can then import into other MIDI and notation programs. However, you cannot export songs as MusicXML files. Importing MIDI files preserves all the MIDI information saved in the composition to ensure that a song is played back correctly through a MIDI device. However, the resulting transcription of the MIDI file's notation may need to be edited to make it look right on the score. On the other hand, MusicXML files preserve the notation information so that scores look exactly the same in whatever notation software you import them into, so you can share scores among different composers who prefer different notation programs.
This program doesn't offer punch recording, but it has excellent note-editing capabilities. You can enter the notes quickly and easily. There are enough palettes to get the job done, but not too many to overwhelm the screen or confuse you.
Overall, the help and support are very good. The program includes an extensive tutorial in the user manual, and there is a knowledgebase on the manufacturer's website that answers common questions. It takes up to two days to get login credentials to email a question to tech support, which could be frustrating if you have a question you need answered immediately.
MusicTime Deluxe is supported on current Mac and Windows operating systems.
MusicTime Deluxe is a useful product if you want to notate small scores, and it comes with a reasonable price tag. It has all the basic tools you need to create beautiful musical arrangements. If advanced features are your target, be sure to check out our other reviews of the best music notation software to find what you're looking for.