A few newbie questions about HALion Sonic 7

  1. Pretty sure this is a no, but just in case… Does it have a way to enlarge the GUI in macOS?

  2. When you browse presets, is there a way to quickly preview the sound? You know, kind of like Komplete Kontrol.

  3. If I load more than one preset, they all load in a different channel. I’m too new at this to know what are the advantages of that, for my basic usage, if I load more than one preset in a track, I need them all to play together, so I have to go into the MIDI tab and set all the presets loaded to channel 1. Is there a way to default to channel 1 on all the slots?

  4. These 8 knobs are great candidates to assign the 8 knobs in my NI S88 MK2 keyboard, but I can’t figure out what CCs they are on:

If I do a learn CC, that works for that session, but when I load HALion again, they’re gone. And as far as I can tell, they are assigned to QC1, QC2 and so on. And I assume in this case QC doesn’t stand for Quality Control.

I can set my knobs in the keyboard to whatever CC I want, I just need to know which CCs are those. If that’s possible to do.

You can check the factory midi cc assignments in the manual:

But you can also customize them and then save as default in the options tab.


Thanks, I went through that document and I created a template in the S88 MK2 that basically routes the knobs to the correct CCs.

Anybody else has any advice on the first three questions?

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Yes, there is! Create a “Multi-Program” and save this as default

  • launch HALion Sonic Standalone
  • make the changes you want to have as default ( e.g load programs, effects into slots, load / define Trigger pads and notes, …)
  • change the MIDI channels (see screenshot below)
  • use the context menu of the Multi-Program load/save dialog to save your settings as default (see screenshot below)
  • done!

In Sonic itself…not that I know of.

With your DAW’s preset browser? It used to work in Cubase, and some other DAWs as well, but at the moment it seems a bit broken (might still work if Sonic 3 SE is still on your system, but keeping both HSSE 3SE vst3, and Sonic 7 installed can lead to other hosts crashing on plugin scan).

If you’re in Cubase, then yes (still works for some users, might be broken for others who’ve removed or never had HSSE 3SE installed. In my case, I’ve moved the old HSSE3SE plugin out of the way so my non Steinberg hosts don’t crash! I can audition Sonic and full HALion presets, but the Sonic SE ones don’t work for me anymore).
Tap F5 to open Media/Media Bay.

Use the Cubase Media Bay to browse and filter through the HALion VSTsound libraries. they can be auditioned there without loading things into a track first (or it used to work this way before Steinberg broke it so the old Sonic SE presets aren’t working right for some users who might have uninstalled Sonic 3 SE…but it should get fixed soon, right?).

This isn’t limited to HALion sounds. Anything you save as a vstpreset might have the potential to be ‘auditioned’ here without setting up a track and manually setting everything up.

As for getting Media Bay to ‘filter down’ to only showing the presets you want…I recommend brushing up on it in the Cubase manual and practicing a bit. It’s a very powerful way to manage, tag, and find all your sounds, samples, loops, and more.

Others have explained a bit on how to manage ‘multi-programs’.

This is just some ‘extra information’ you might find useful if you want to do more with ‘layered’ sounds.

In the EDIT tab; if you click the ‘program’ button - Sonic 7 also adds the ability to work with ‘layers’. You can have up to 4 of them per instrument slot.

Quite a few of the programs that come with hosts like Cubase and Dorico are duplicated as layer presets as well, thus making it easy to build up multi-layer instruments in Sonic.

Once you’ve built a new program consisting of multiple layers, you can save that as a user program by right clicking in the main instrument slot.

You can also create a new ‘layer’ version preset of a program if one doesn’t already exist by right clicking it, thus making it possible to load it into new programs into these ‘layer’ slots.

The defaults are listed here in the User Manual. You can always get to this manual by clicking on the Steinberg logo at the top right of the Sonic 7 UI and choosing ‘help’.

You can also right click each encoder/knob to ‘learn’ any CC you like. You’d have to save a copy of your Program to remember those custom CCs in new projects though.


Thank you all for your replies, very useful stuff that I can’t wait to try this weekend.

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Forgot to mention…
Sonic is a true VST3 instrument. This means you can ALSO manage these controls directly as VST parameters in Cubase (and other VST compliant DAWs).

It can be a little confusing at first, but Cubase provides a set of static ‘Quick Controls’. These allow you to quickly snap a common set of MIDI faders/encoder-knobs to active tracks or VST instances (Instruments or Effect slots). VST parameters each get automation lanes for instrument tracks, as well as the various rack instrument and effect slots.

So, it’s possible to manage those controls directly via VST automation lanes. Cubase can snap your Quick Controls that’ll translate remote MIDI controller movements into these automation lanes for you when the R/W buttons are active.

Is it worth the bother to work in VST lanes instead of keeping MIDI CCs in the MIDI parts?

Maybe. It depends really. Personally, I still keep through composed stuff in MIDI cc land…right there in the MIDI parts. I like the Key, List, and MIDI Logical editors that Cubase provides too much! At the moment, doing script-like batch edits to a VST automation lane isn’t possible unless you bounce it back and forth to a MIDI track first; however, with traditional CCs kept in the MIDI parts, you can run those "Logic Editor’ presets on MIDI events in a snap! I.E. Raise all the ‘selected’ (in the MIDI key editor) CC11 events 4% higher. Match selected CC11 events to the key velocity of the nearest note. Make CC11 the same value as the MIDI note value, compress the dynamics to a specific range, then make it a few percent louder or softer (effect = louder with higher notes, softer with low notes), and so on. Stuff you can’t do yet directly in a VST automation lane with Cubase. So yeah, sometimes ‘old school’ methods still have way more ‘power user’ features than the ‘latest and greatest methods being pushed’.

In contrast, people who do a lot of ‘live controller manipulation’ in real time often prefer to keep everything on VST lanes.

If you use Cubase, it’s worth browsing the manual to read about ‘Quick Controls’. Get an idea of how to set them up, what they do, and how they work. In short, you get something like 8 CCs that you can instantly snap to whatever VST parameters you like on a track by track, or instrument/effect basis.

What are VST parameters?
Think of it as a huge bank of knobs that you can twist. In VST world, pretty much every ‘variable’ for the instrument is stored as one of these ‘knobs’. For many things the normalization/resolution of such knobs is still 0 - 127, but with VST it’s possible to have much higher, or lower resolutions depending upon what an instrument needs to do its job (and the plugins keep up with their own math in this respect).

Whenever you right click to ‘learn’ a CC for a control in most plugins…you’re simply telling the plugin to internally link the CC to that ‘VST knob’. Some plugins don’t list VST parameters and still do everything via old school MIDI, but HALion/Sonic most definitely lists scads of VST parameters that you can automate directly on VST lanes in modern DAWs.


I super appreciate your tip and detailed explanation on it. It’s something I’ll have to read a few times along with the manual to understand. To give you an idea, one year ago, I didn’t know anything about this. I had bought Logic Pro X in 2016 and mostly used it to capture my vinyl records. Then I started using it for music in September of last year and a month ago I bought the Cubase crossgrade and I switched to it.

So my experience with Cubase is rather new, and I know there’s MIDI CC automation, and then some other type of automation, but I’m learning this stuff as time allows, which is almost every minute I’m not working :slight_smile: