Cubase 12 - No license for Halion 6

So I’ve installed Cubase 12 on my second computer (laptop) and it starts up OK without the USB dongle.

However, I have a license for Halion 6 but it appears that I will need the dongle for Halion 6? This somewhat defeats the object of being “dongle free”.

Also…once again Steinberg haven’t predicted the load on the licensing server…which is pretty much useless at the moment…again.

HALion will transition to Steinberg Licensing in the future. I believe there was mention of an upcoming new version of HALion in the Steinberg Licensing announcement. Steinberg employees posting in the past 48 hours have mentioned a 12-18 month period to transition all products to Steinberg Licensing, starting with the release of Dorico 4 in January.

The overloaded licence server is the old eLicenser server, which is needed to carry out a one-time transaction for those upgrading from an eLicenser version of a product to Steinberg Licensing. When the next version of Cubase releases, those upgrading from Cubase 12 will not be using that old eLicenser server for that upgrade.

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I thought it was common knowledge that this is just a Cubase update and not plugins.


Thanks for the clarification.

However, it’s not good enough and it feels like Steinberg have rushed this out somehow.

I also feel that Steinberg have been slightly economical with the facts.

It should be more obvious on the New in Cubase 12: Time to Embrace a New Era | Steinberg page that a dongle is required for everything else including Steinberg products.

There should be additional comment at the bottom along the lines of:

** Please note that ALL of your other dongle protected software products (including those from Steinberg) will STILL require a dongle.

Thinking about it. how hard can it be to transfer all of the Steinberg licenses from a USB dongle into the cloud now? I would think most Steinberg users have already uploaded their licenses onto the Steinberg license server). Mind you the license server does seem pretty slow/crap.

Additionally, I’m getting this error with unlicensed content. All I have done is install Cubase 12 and Halion Sonic SE with the recommended content.

It’s not good enough. I feel like I’m part of a beta program.


I’m sorry to hear that we didn’t meet your expectations in this transition. We’ve tried to be as open and transparent as possible about the transition. Here’s the relevant section from New Steinberg Licensing FAQ | Steinberg

The tricky bit is making the software that we shipped a number of years ago aware of the new licensing system. The dependencies within our large software portfolio are complex, and migrating everything in one go was ruled out quite early on in our planning.

Nevertheless, we are still working on a number of options that would allow users to free themselves from the dongle. Please bear with us - these transitions take time!

I appreciate that the screenshot you shared has an implication that you can immediately stop using the USB eLicenser, but that was not our intention. I’m sorry about that.

Thanks @Ben_at_Steinberg
It does defeat the purpose of being dongle free a little, especially of users of Absolute instruments. I do hope you let your superiors know that many Steinberg fans would like past instruments dongle free too not just updates (i.e Absolute 2,3,4,5 etc.)

Hi @Duncan_McDonald - welcome to the forum!

Retrofitting a new licensing system to our complete back catalogue on a technical level is extremely challenging and probably won’t really solve the problem completely anyway. Nevertheless, there are a number of other options we’re investigating to help speed up the transition away from eLicenser across to Steinberg Licensing and allow people to ditch the dongle.

We hear you!


A little perspective maybe.

When most people think about the way software is created, they imagine that there are people who speak the language of “code”. Perhaps it is the movies, or Sci-Fi where some Lt. Commander La Forge is tasked with completely rewriting the ships operating system in an episode while under attack from aliens. Even then, the discussion that the ship would have to revert to the old system and that engineers would spend months rewriting systems for every ship in the fleet is only something you read in the novel. Not something you see in the show.

Reality is far from that. Just because you can think it up, doesn’t mean it can be coded. Or rather, it doesn’t mean it can be coded so that you would get the desired result in your lifetime (or, in fact, the lifetime of the universe). Even when it is possible, without a lot of abstraction and structure, changes in one place can have unforeseen ramifications in completely unrelated features. That abstraction and structure takes time and ingenuity. Add to that the need to support already existing customers, and not create too much upheaval, and the distributed nature of some systems, and the reality that older systems were probably not created with the intent of allowing for easy transition away from those systems, the time it takes is compounded.

No one expects an older operating system to properly run on new hardware. No one expects a browser from 1995 to run modern web pages. One would not expect brand new software to run on a Mac from 2007. Indeed, one would not expect that a petrol car would be able to plug in at electric charging stations. Expecting old versions of software to work with a new licensing system is sort of like this.

In the leadup to the release it was made very clear, many times, that as new versions of software were released, that those new versions would be using the new licensing system.

It is truly amazing how seamless the transition has been given the high complexity of the problem. Though a fictional character, I am certain that La Forge would be well proud of this achievement. I believe that we should all be very proud and grateful of what Steinberg has accomplished.


Plenty of information has been communicated by Steinberg about the transition of products to the new licensing system. The “Goodbye Dongle” clipping clearly applies to Cubase 12. If the reader can’t understand the words written or just doesn’t bother to read the words, what good will more words do?

Missing Persons earworm engaged

“What good will more words do”…I feel a song coming on…probably been used before…but will use it anyway and share the royalties…

As the instigator of this topic, I feel obliged to reply to comments.

As a software developer myself, I totally get it. Writing software is bloody HARD and I applaud Steinberg for the software they have released over the years. I’ve been with Steinberg for longer than I care to remember, starting in my parents loft in my teens. I’ve been with Steinberg from the beginning.

Cubase 11 has been extremely reliable for me over the years (probably the most reliable version) and I hope that Cubase 12 proves to be the same.

But, I feel that transition to cloud based authorisation has been too slow. Other companies ditched the Dongle years ago.

I read somewhere that the integration into the dongle from Cubase was literally all over the place in the codebase. I guess dissecting/removing this has been challenging.

Hopefully removing this dongle calling code will result in a more responsive Cubase and free up the developers to focus on the job in hand.

There seems to have been a lack of coherence/strategy at times with Steinberg and their products but hopefully this will get better.

At the end of the day, the more you try to protect code from hackers, the more of a challenge you create to crack it.

It’s no secret that that software is a profitable business. The owner of said that “a lot of people use cracked versions…but plenty of people buy the software too”.

Indeed, using cracked versions has been the only affordable way into making music on their computers in many cases. I’m sure a lot of current Steinberg/Cubase users have used some cracks in their time or indeed…still do.

It’s a bit of a balancing act in some respects I guess.

I would like to see other Steinberg collections like “Absolute” and sound instruments sets moving over to the cloud authorisation quickly though. I can’t open projects on my laptop that use these unless I plug in my dongle. Very frustrating and far from being “ditch the dongle”.

Another trend I’ve noticed is being able to download software legitimately without having a license? I think the Steinberg Download Centre should more clearly identify which products you are licensed to use prior to downloading and being presented later with a “you aren’t licensed message”.

I would like to see a CI/CD approach from Steinberg with more frequent bug fixes/releases for end users. Other products I use receive far more frequent updates.

I hope that other companies (refx, vsl ) follow suit quickly too with the dongle.

Let’s save the planet from plastic!


Correction to previous post.

I’ve just discovered that Nexus 3/4 are now dongle free and authorized via reFX Cloud. I must have missed this one…just assumed I needed my dongle.

Why can reFX do it (and many, many others) and not Steinberg? Sorry guys but you’re slow off the mark here.

I’m probably being more “transparent” than I’m supposed to be, but just to give you an idea of a (greatly simplified and abridged) chronology of the licensing transition project so far:

  • Jul '20: project team established
  • Aug '20: requirements gathered
  • Sep '20: market research undertaken
  • Oct '20: vendors long listed
  • Nov '20: vendors interviewed
  • Dec '20: vendors shortlisted
  • Jan '21: vendors selected
  • Feb '21: proof of concepts built and evaluated
  • Mar '21: implementation team assembled
  • Apr '21: initial architecture outlined
  • May '21: initial UX mocked up
  • Jun '21: Business process changes identified
  • Jul’ 21: Licensing transition project becomes #1 priority for all teams in Steinberg
  • Aug’ 21: All hands to pump on Steinberg Activation Manager and integration with Dorico, Cubase and other dependencies and all the supporting business processes and services
  • Sep '21: Implement, implement, implement
  • Oct '21: Dorico 4 beta
  • Nov’ 21: Cubase 12 beta
  • Dec’ 21: breathe, observe, listen, improve
  • Jan’ 22: Dorico 4 launch
  • Feb’ 22: Observe, listen, improve
  • Mar '22: Cubase 12 launched

For a licensing transition as complex as this, I would not characterise this as slow. Late to start? yes. Slow? no.



“late to start” yes

“slow” - not sure what that means ? how can we, on the nuendo/cubase side the communication is so poor…and communication is a TWO WAY thing.

We understand it’s been a massive undertaking and on an individual level I’m sure you have personally done an amazing job…but we are customers, for many of us there is no real benefit to you changing your anti-piracy protection. It’s ‘housekeeping’. Why should we be inconvenienced ?

Let’s be honest, it’s clear that it hasn’t been a stellar rollout…but we know, Steinberg doesn’t do ‘humility’.

Your viewpoint on our transition has been well made in many threads and doesn’t really need reiteration here.

I can assure anyone reading this that this transition will provide the foundation for significantly better customer experience for everyone in the future and isn’t about anti-piracy protection in the slightest.


I think Steinberg have been very humble in their openness and transparency in this process. We don’t claim to have all the answers and are honest about that, apologising when things don’t work as they ought to. We listened when users gave us feedback on our initial proposals and will be equally responsive in the next phases of the transition to Steinberg Licensing.


I’m going to close this thread now, as I think the points have been made.

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