When I started out writing this blog, one of my goals WAS NOT to make this blog focused on techy how-to’s or another Finale or Sibelius tips and tricks blog. There’s nothing wrong with those, and there are certainly plenty of great ones out there like Scoring Notes , Avid’s own Sibelius blog , and of course Robert Puff’s Of Note blog . I just didn’t feel there needed be another one of those blogs out there in the interwebs. That being said, I also reference these at times and certainly have learned a few things now and then from them.
My goal for this blog has always to been to tell the story of Engraver’s Mark Music, how it's grown, changed, and adapted, with a few fun stories from various projects thrown in there now and again. I knew that sometime along the way, however, I would have touch on some tech stuff. We do things differently at times around here; just part of our history and how Engraver’s Mark Music has evolved to meet the needs of our current clients and developing new offers for future clients.
And in that light, here’s a confession:
ENGRAVER’S MARK MUSIC USES PCs AND MACs!!!!!
There I said. Wow, that felt liberating!
I know many of you will scoff, gasp in shock and probably just go back to watching cat videos on youtube now that I’ve admitted such a shocking thing. Well, I got one more for you:
I ACTUALLY LIKE USING PCs FOR FINALE BETTER THAN MAC!!!!
Well, now if there’s any of you still out there still with me or have been revived with smelling salts, let me explain. In the music world, and probably many creative fields, MACs are all over the place. There’s a certain mystique about them, and everyone has stories for when they bought their first Macbook Pro and horror stories of updating operating systems. Its just part of the culture. Traditionally, MACs just worked better with the different programs we use like ProTools, Abelton Live, or for that matter Finale or Sibelius.
When I started Engraver’s Mark Music over 12 years ago, quite frankly, I didn’t have the $2k+ needed for a Macbook Pro, or any desktop Mac. And I certainly don’t now, when those prices now start at $4k or more for even a basic machine, that doesn’t even count the new iMac Pros (though I do drool over those). So, I had to make do with my old Dell PC. And you what, 99% of my clients never knew I was on a PC. It was actually a shock to them. Eventually, a Mac mini (I love these) made it into our arsenal, but primarily, the PC kept its place of prominence.
Why you ask, well here goes:
There are actually several advantages to using PCs with Finale and Sibelius, but I’ve found the differences in Sibelius between PC and MAC to be much more minor. So, read the rest of this with a open mind all of you and just you might learn something.
1. Price point entrance is so, so much better:
I know this isn’t exactly related to Finale specifically, but come on Apple. They force you to buy an extremely expensive premium product, won’t let you upgrade the hardware and are very heavy-handed with how they handle the OS updates and it could be years before the software you use to make your living will work or be stable on new OS. I’ve built my last 2 PCs here at Engraver’s Mark Music, they are smokin’ fast, run 4K displays on 50in monitors (now that’s something to drool over!) and cost me a total of about $1,500 each time and I can upgrade them in any way I want to at any point (and have). I’ve gotten over 6 years out of each machine and they certainly could have gone for months longer. I don’t have stability problems and generally speaking, have very few issues with OS updates ever affecting my workflow. I’m just not going to be constantly trying to keep up with Apple fashions. ‘Nough said.
2. Keyboard shortcuts in Finale on PC are vast:
One of the best things that can speed up your workflow with Finale is using key commands instead of constantly dragging the mouse all over the screen. Programmable meta-tools are a great example of this that can be used in Finale with either MAC or PC. However, what if you are in the Edit Filter menu and want to select a of series of different items using Finale with a MAC, you have to click each different option. Not so with PC.
Take a look at this screenshot from my PC:
Notice all the little underlines, like under the “u” in articulations. Guess what, all you what to is press the “u” key and it toggles the articulations. You change the filters all with a matter of a few keystrokes and in a menu like this with dozens of options and combinations, using the keyboard instead of the mouse is so much faster and accurate. Every menu, sub-menu and window in Finale on PC has these kind of interactive elements and can be triggered from the keyboard. Mac does not. This kind of function is also extremely valuable when programming Finale Scripts or different macros, as simulating a keystroke is insanely fast, while getting a machine to move a mouse cursor is much slower, less accurate and at times more difficult to program or control.
3. Remapping and creating new keyboard shortcuts:
Honestly, this might be the most important feature that keeps me using my PC more than my MAC when it comes to Finale. There’s this wonderful little tool in the TG Tools plugin called “Menu Shortcuts” and this tool can allow you to program new key combinations to access any of the tools, menus and functions in Finale. Its so powerful and flexible.
Check it out here:
This is only available on PC. I’ve used this to remap tons of keystroke combinations to access different tools and functions I use all the time without even having to change my hand position on the keyboard, granting me major time savings and I hope keeping the dreaded affliction of carpal tunnel syndrome at bay.
Now, before you get all in a huff about all the various different programs one can purchase on a MAC that might provide some of the same functionality, I know they exist and have used some of them, i.e. Keyboard Maestro (which I do think is a great program). The major disadvantage to all these additional programs, besides the initial setup and learning curve which can be steep, is the risk that all these different layers of programs have to all work seamlessly together or its all for naught. That can happen, but not always. What if just one of these doesn’t work with the latest MAC OS update? Well, you’re back to doing everything by hand again. And then, there’s the cost of all these additional programs and hardware. One major advantage to a smaller overall operating budget here at Engraver’s Mark Music is a direct reduction in our fees to all our clients.
Will this ever settle the great PC vs MAC debate, nope. Will you think less of me since I kinda like my PC more than my MAC? Well, hopefully not. Just some food for thought. I have an orchestrator I work with frequently who has 3 programs running simultaneously, and his iPad setup as an extra controller to achieve the same functionality I can with just my PC and Finale. I bet you can imagine the good natured discussions we have over a pint or two at the end of a long day of working together!
Engraver’s Mark Music prides ourselves on the flexibility we offer to all our clients. We can operate in any system or structure or workflow you need us work in. Even better, we can design one for you at the same time we transcribe and engrave a simple PVG project or prepare a major film score for the studio, that will give you all the advantages of our experience and variety equipment. Just know that Engraver’s Mark Music is here to serve and we have all the tools to make your music a success.
Sammy Sanfilippo, CEO of Engraver's Mark Music