Can I Use HALion Sonic SE as a VST With Other DAWS?

Hi All,

WIN10, v1909.

I own Dorico Pro 3.5.x and as such have access to Halion Sonic SE3. Can I access said Sonic SE3 as a normal VST from within my other DAWS (Studio One, Pro Tools)?

I found what looks to be the appropriate .dll (“HALion Sonic SE.dll”) and moved a copy into my C:\Program Files\VstPlugins folder. The .dll gets scanned in by Studio One (4.6.x), but doesn’t seem to get loaded properly. And it doesn’t show up in Pro Tools (2019.12) either.

Danny V.


Provided you have your HALion content keys on the eLiscencer of the target system.

In short, most Stienberg Hosts come with some content libraries for HALion SE. You’ll need the dongle or soft-eLisencer with applicable keys installed on the target system to use that content in another DAW.

Dorico comes with several HALion libraries. If your Dorico key is on the system with your ‘other DAW’, then YES, HALion SE 3 can be loaded and use these sounds.

Cubase comes with several content libraries. If your Cubase key is on the system, then YES, SE3 should run happily in other DAWs, and be able to play the HALion sounds that came with Cubase.

You’ve purchased a HALion Library such as the Steinway Grand. If you have the key to Stienway Grand on the target system, and either a Steinberg Host that came with SE, OR, the ‘free HALion SE key’, then SE3 can play this from any host.

You have Dorico, but your Dorico key isn’t on the system (Dongle, or soft eLisencer).
In this case, another DAW can NOT load HALion SE unless you have the free SE key installed there.
The content libraries that came with your Stienberg host(s) will not show up or play, as those require your Dorico key to be unlocked.

Here are some other related threads on things “HALion”.


Does Pro Tools use VST or something else (such as AAX)?
Is your VST DAW fully VST3 compatible, or is it a VST2 setup?
Either way, as long as your ‘other DAW’ is 64bit, you should be able to get SE 3 up and running.
If your DAW is an old 32bit one, it might be possible, but you’ll need some form of ‘bridge’ to get it working (I.E. jbridge).

HALion SE does come in all of the most popular plugin formats (VST2, VST3, AU, AAX - 64bit only), but if you got it from installing Dorico (A VST3 host) it’s possible that it didn’t include all of the plugin options?

So…if you’re trying to use SE with something that prefers a plugin type other than VST3, I suggest grabbing the SE3 pack from here and running the installer. That should insure you get ALL of the plugin types installed on your system. You can run the installer on top of your current installation, it will scan and offer to update anything that needs it, and provide options for other features/options.

You can find the download for SE 3 here: HALion Sonic SE: Download for Free | Steinberg

Run that installer, let it clean up and update your installation (and perhaps add the AAX plugin).

Do you need the free key?
If you have a Steinberg host that includes HALion SE, and the respective eLiscencer keys on the target system already, then no. You’re already covered. It won’t hurt to get and register the free key, but it’s not necessary.

The free key is for use on a system that does NOT have a Stienberg Host’s eLiscener key(s) with SE already installed. The free key will not unlock content unless it is prepared to work for the free player (so no, it won’t unlock the content that comes with Cubase/Dorico/Nuendo/etc).

A third option for an older 32bit DAW, or one that does not accept HALion as a ‘plugin’.

Install a set of virtual MIDI ports. If you do not already have some, loopMIDI is a good free option for a Windows system. Streaming MIDI over your LAN using rtpMIDI might come in handy if you’d like to sync multiple computers instead of running everything on the same one.

From there it is possible to assign the stand alone version of HALion SE to a set of audio ports, and use the virtual MIDI ports to direct the MIDI output of tracks in your DAW to the stand alone HALion instance. Possible options to route the audio of a stand alone HALion instance back into a DAW will be addressed last in this post (jack2/ASIOALL/etc.).

If your old 32bit DAW supports rewire, you could grab the early bird demo for Bidule, host HALion a 64bit bit instance of Bidule, and connect that to your DAW via Rewire.

Tips for audio routing among different applications.

This scenario almost always works. You could hard patch it with actual patch cables (connect the respective Audio outputs back into the desired audio device inputs required to get a signal into your DAW and on its mixing console). This is the easiest and most reliable solution I know of. Personally, I like to take advantage of the SPDIF ports on my audio cards in cases like this.

IF your DAW supports ASIO audio drivers:
AND your audio device supports ASIO,
THEN jack2 can allow you to reroute your audio matrix through an ASIO backend. In short, you can build a kind of virtual patch bay for your audio signals. Establish a bus in the DAW listening to a given set up inputs in your jack2 matrix, and have the audio from the stand alone Instance of HALion routed there. Jack2 can also be taught to stream audio over your LAN.

IF your DAW supports ASIO
AND IF your audio card does NOT have native ASIO drivers
THEN ASIO4ALL can be used in place of the generic Steinberg ASIO backend to get a more flexible ASIO configuration, including but not limited to aggregating audio devices into a single ASIO driver. This also allows jack2 to work with audio devices that do not natively support ASIO. It can also come in handy if you would like to ‘aggregate’ a number of inputs into a single driver back-end (I.E. Merge your USB mic into the DAW, while still being able to use everything on your other audio devices). While possible, I do not recommend aggregating ‘outputs’ if synchronization is important (outputs will drift out of sync over time if they are not sharing the same audio clock).

For a non ASIO setup, other virtual cable options such as (VBA and VAC) exist for WDM, MME, and other types of Windows audio drivers.

Cubase installer doesnt install standalone versions of Halion SE and Groove Agent SE by default, so to make it available to other DAWs you’ll have to download their installers and check “standalone”/“AAX” checkboxex.

Hope it’ll save somebody some time!

P.S. Even though the original question was about Dorico, this is the first link in google that you get, when you search for why other DAWs doesnt see your HALion and Groove Agent

Surely the “Standalone” version is the application that runs by itself, not the plug-in that DAWs use?

Most DAWs will use the VST plug-in (which Cubase is definitely going to install); except for ProTools, which uses AAX, and Logic, which uses Audio Units.

Well, for me default Cubase 10.5 Pro install didnt provide VSTs for Halion and Groove Agent. I could use them inside Cubase, but I couldnt add them in Reaper (though at the same time Reaper found other VSTs from Steinberg, along with Padshop and Retrologue).

They only appeared after installing standalone apps.