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Reinhold H. 03-05-2018 01:41 PM

Notation Composer ranked by Top Ten Reviews to be the worst Music Notation Software
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Top Ten Reviews (TTP) published a test report about the "Best Music Notation Software of 2018" in February. Notation Composer is ranked on the last position to be the worst software (overall value 4.65 out of 10) with a significant distance to the next higher ranked software (9.2). Please see the ranking and the complete test report here. Please also see how TTP made their tests and what criteria TTP applied for their ranking.

Their ranking is based on Notation Composer 2.6.1 which was released ~10 years ago. TTP did not even updated the screen shots completely (please see below). Given all the work which we have done in the past years including the last version 3.1.0, it is very frustrating seeing such a judgement based on version 2.6.1 distributed by TTP all over the world due to their high ranking in Google.

Today anybody can post whatever is possible, but we as Notation Software will not tolerate that somebody distributes such a ranking based on an article which is copied/pasted from the past of a product which was launched 10 years ago, and says it is a brand new test report.

However, on the other hand "marketing wise" it is sometimes better to have the worst ranking which is obviously wrong than being ranked somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And, the 10 years old Notation Composer 2.6.1 still made it to a 4.65. :)


dj 03-06-2018 12:37 PM

Re: Notation Composer ranked by Top Ten Reviews to be the worst Music Notation Softwa
Hi, Reinhold:

I have Sibelius 7, MuseScore, Lilypond, Personal Composer, Crescendo and Finale on my hard drive.

With the exception of Personal Composer, I have never accomplished any serious work with any of them -- including the vaunted Sibelius (as I understand it, now deprecated and replaced by Dorico). Personal Composer I used from DOS 3.0 days -- until Mark Walsen asked me to be part of the Composer development testers.

Dollar for dollar, feature for feature, Notation Composer (since the days when it was Midinotate Composer and even earlier) has always run leaps and bounds around other notation software. It's like the old navy saying that the best ship is "faster than anything more powerful; more powerful than anything faster". Substitute "economical" for "faster" and you've got Notation Composer.

The site you've mentioned seems to call Notion the best software. I tried Notion for about an hour -- once -- and walked away.

For, as your banner says, "the everyday musician", I don't believe that Notation Composer can be beat.

How's that for a review?


Reinhold H. 03-06-2018 03:21 PM

Re: Notation Composer ranked by Top Ten Reviews to be the worst Music Notation Softwa

Thanks for your supportive words. I do not have any fear that any of the other programs will beat us from a feature perspective. The issue here is that this Top Ten Review is distributed all over the world and Top Ten Reviews are very highly ranked in Google. People who may look for a notation software will simply not even take a look to Notation Composer and will not try it after they have read this review. If people see a rating where 7 products are on 9-10 and one is on 3-4, they will not even try it.

Many genius inventions failed not because others were better but simply because people did not spent the according interests on these products.

From this perspective it is not tolerable at all for us that somebody posts these statements based on something which is wrong and does a sloopy job by copying/pasting a review of a product which is 10 years old. Even the screen shot of the front page is faked from Notation Player and Composer added. Not acceptable.


ronaldstone 03-06-2018 09:16 PM

Re: Notation Composer ranked by Top Ten Reviews to be the worst Music Notation Softwa
Having read the post of how good or bad Notation Composer is, I need to post and share my thoughts in response. I have loved and played music for most of my life. I do not consider myself a professional musician. I started music lessons when I was in my early teens. I am now in my 80's. I have also been involved using computers for most of my life. During all this time I have been searching for avenues that would enhance my love of playing music.
On Sept 12, 2017, I posted a song that I had a lot of fun arranging and setting up strictly for me to play along with, on my keyboard. The name of the song is Bye Bye Blues. For most of you that are reading this, you most likely have never heard of it. If you were to listen to what I put on the site, you should go back first and listen to a recording of the song, so that you would have some idea of what is melody and tempo etc, then listen to what I wanted to hear and play.
I have various pieces of software on my Windows computer. Some of the competition to Notation Composer that I have struggled with over the years is Scorewriter (several versions), Finale Note Pad, Finale Print Music and several others that I have tried to help me in the pursuit of what I was trying to achieve.
If I were to rate of a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, Notation Composer would be about a 9.8 where everything else would not go above a 4. When you see how difficult it is to use the other marketplace software out there and you compare that to the platform of "Composer", the comparison isn't even close.
How sad, that there are forces out there to convey erroneous reviews on work that has been meticulously done and is in the price range of competing products.

Reinhold H. 03-07-2018 01:26 PM

Re: Notation Composer ranked by Top Ten Reviews to be the worst Music Notation Softwa
Hi ronaldstone, hi David,

Thank you very much for your support in this subject.

Today, Wed. March 7th, 2018 I sent a letter to Mr. Greg Mason, CEO from Purch ( which owns "Top Ten Reviews" and objected strongly to an assessment of Notation Composer which is based on Notation Composer 2.6.1 from almost 10 years ago.

I took the liberty and mentioned your statements here, too.

Again thanks for your supportive words. We try to do our best to meet our customer needs from all over the world.


rrayner 03-08-2018 02:47 PM

Re: Notation Composer ranked by Top Ten Reviews to be the worst Music Notation Softwa

That Top Ten Review is truly a travesty, an obvious miscarriage of public trust.

I have included below the text of the message that I sent to Mr. Mason. Perhaps if enough people complain about the unfairness of their review, they will revise it.

Ralph Rayner


I would like to contact your CEO, Mr. Greg Mason. In your recent Top Ten Reviews of the Best Music Notation Software of 2018, you ranked Notation Composer very poorly. I understand from Mr. Reinhold Hoffman of Notation Software, Inc. that you reviewed a very old (in PC software terms) version of the product. I attended Berklee School (now College) of Music and spent 3 years on the Arranging Staff for the USAF Band, based in Washington, D.C. in the early '60s, under Sgt. Floyd Werle and Col. Arnald Gabriel. I have used Finale, Sibelius and MuseScore, and by far, I have been using Notation Composer for well over eight years now and find it to be the most user-friendly music notation application available, and with the exception of the free MuseScore, the most cost-effective means of creating music on a PC. Ease-of-use and intuitive usage compare very favorably to Finale and Sibelius (I have licenses for these products), which I find very difficult to use. Please consider redoing your review of Notation Composer with the current release, 3.0.6. Mr. Hoffman has made considerable advances/improvements on the product in the last few years, since he purchased the product. Certainly, release 3.0.6 would compare much more favorably to the competitors than did the old release you reviewed. I would be happy to send you a pdf/mp3/mid/html of some of the arrangements I have created with Notation Composer, if that would help you to see the value of the product. Please feel free to contact me. Thank you.

dj 03-08-2018 04:35 PM

Re: Notation Composer ranked by Top Ten Reviews to be the worst Music Notation Softwa
I sent this to Top Ten Reviews today:


I see that you have rated Notation Software's Composer at the bottom in your roundup of music notation programs. As a long-time composer for theatre (with more than twenty musicals to my credit), I must disagree vehemently with your appraisal of the program.

At the very least, you have used a more-than-10-year old version of that program to compare to much more modern versions of other software. I have no idea where you got the example that you tested. I have been a beta-tester of that software for longer than that software has existed and even I don't have a copy that old in my archive.

The latest version, Version 3.0.6, incorporates features such as MusicXML import and export, export to PDF, audio export to .wav, .mp3 and more, onboard configurable software sound source, and much more that did not even exist 10 years ago.

However, even from its first incarnations, Notation Composer (then Midinotate Composer) has been dedicated to, and has incorporated, an intuitive, easy to understand and easy to implement human interface that has made it a joy to use -- and not just by myself, but by many others. That approach to music notation has been developed over the years and is now very inclusive.

I have, on my hard drive, Sibelius 7, MuseScore, Lily Pond, Finale and numerous other notation programs, NONE of which have allowed me to accomplish any serious work.

I suggest you apply the 80:20 rule: 80% of the features for 20% of the price. Sibelius, the doyen of music notation software, costs (in my country) as much as $1,000 when all the tidbits are added in; Notation Composer less than $120. And yet, I have never run across a feature that I really needed and lacked in Notation Composer that was available in Sibelius. Other than, perhaps, the nice "parchment-y" background available in the expensive program.

Notation Software's corporate mission is to provide music programs for "the everyday musician", not those composing operas, film scores or (in my case) stage musicals. As testified by many glowing comments I have seen over the years on the company's forum, it does just that admirably -- and I also happen to know that at least one opera, one film score and (in my case) several musicals have been created using it.

A fair review of a modern version of the software is in order.

David Jacklin

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