Earlier today, Presonus introduced Notion 6, its latest version of the Notion music notation program.
Over the past few years, Notion has become a key program for me for a number of reasons:
- iOS version
- Excellent sounds
- Easy audio export (with an embedded DAW)
- Ease of making ukulele charts with embedded fretboards
Remember: I am a Finale-first user, as I have used Finale for over 20 years. I will do much of my raw editing in Finale, and then bring the result (via MusicXML) to Notion (either on my Mac or on my iPad–note: the iOS version works on iPhone, too).
Notion has never balked on my “old” 2008 MacBook, and it has run just about any sort of MIDI connection I throw I at it (I cannot say the same for other programs). If I had to, I could potentially move to Notion as my single notation solution.
“Big” news items for Notion 6 include a new integration with their DAW, Studio One (ver 3), a new visual interface, and the official statement from the PreSonus website:
Notable improvements include: cross-platform handwriting recognition; new layout control and features for professional score output; drag to respace measures and systems; new instruments from Soundiron; new video window controls for faster scoring to picture; the new Notion Scores library, with over 100 great works; updated Music XML support for seamless transfer with other apps; MP3 export; MIDI over ReWire for improved integration with leading digital audio workstations; and unprecedented side-by-side workflow integration with Studio One Artist or Professional on the same computer or between multiple computers on the same network.
I don’t do that much work with DAWs, so whereas I understand the desire to have DAW integration with ReWire, I don’t personally use that feature. ReWire compatibility was also included with the new Finale 25.
The upgrade price to Notion 6 is $50; the purchase price of Notion 6 is $149. Incidentally, if you want the full library of sounds for Notion 6, that is a $299 investment. That may seem like a lot, but that includes ALL of the sounds, where $299 just gets you going with the deluxe libraries of Finale and Sibelius. The purchase of Studio One that works with Notion represents another $100 (minimum) investment.
Should you purchase Notion? If you have an iPad and want to write music, Notion is still the best option, and it works with the Windows/Mac version. The iPad version, while it does not have all the features of the Windows/Mac version, can display anything that the Windows/Mac version can created.
If you want to work with software that is directly created in connection with a DAW, Notion would seem to be a good bet.
If you do any sort of work exporting audio rehearsal files, or want an easy path into notation, Notion is a good purchase. If you are a high-level notation user that needs custom control over every aspect of a notated score, Notion isn’t the program for you.
If you are a MuseScore user, it might be worth the purchase of Notion just to hear your scores from a better quality playback option (admittedly, the iPad version shares those sounds, just with a smaller expressive range with a nod to the storage space on a device). As you know, no software program can compete with the price point of MuseScore.
However, if you are a Finale or Sibelius user, you will need to look at your workflow and decide if another application makes sense for you. The price of the software is certainly enticing, as the purchase price is that same as an upgrade on similar platforms.
Again, Notion has become a major tool in my toolkit, and I certainly feel safe recommending it to others. Like every notation product, it isn’t perfect, and they are always working to squash bugs. But it is a program that I would recommend (just as I do MuseScore and Finale).
Addendum: Apparently Notion for iOS is on sale (thanks, Paul Shimmons) for $8.00! That’s a must-buy. You can also read Paul’s thoughts about Notion 6 on his blog at ipadmusiced.wordpress.com