Drum sounds


Is it possible combine several ( factory ) drumkits to one custom drumkit in Halion Sonic 3?

Thanks and sorry, English is not my native language


In full HALion 6, it’s possible to remap many of the kits and save a fresh preset (that can be used in Sonic), while some of the kit layers might be ‘locked’ so it’s not possible to easily remap them (though it’s still possible with some creative MIDI filtering approaches across different layers of ‘locked’ factory kit layers).

With Sonic 3 in stand alone mode, you cannot remap individual kit pieces into a new preset, however, you can load several kits into multiple slots at once, and save them as a ‘Multi’ preset. From this point you have a few options in terms of how to ‘meld’ the multiple kits into one.

Multiple Kits Over Independent MIDI Channels in Different Sonic Rack Slots

  1. You can address the different kits over different MIDI channels. If you use Cubase this is pretty easy to do, even from a single track with the ‘Diamond Drum Editor’ and/or the use of ‘Cubase Percussion Maps’.

Here you can see where I’ve done exactly that. This user definable Cubase “Percussion Map” allows me to remap the input of a percussion Track in Cubase, to any new instrument/note/channel output I like. (In this case I’m using ARIA Kits instead of Sonic, but the principle is identical)

The main reason for me to go to the bother in this case, is so I could borrow kit pieces from entirely separate drum kits (in some cases, even from different plugin instances) and get it all on the same track/stave for scoring purposes.

Note, if I didn’t need to get all this stuff to work from a single track for the purpose of scoring things all on the same ‘Stave’, then I’d just use multiple tracks to address my different kits as needed. I could easily ‘freeze’ the tracks, and then merge it all to a single track with its MIDI Channel output set to ‘any’ at some later point if I really want it all to live on a single track.

Filtering and Transposing Portions of Kits

  1. You can stack kits in Sonic slots that are set to the same channel and use the MIDI tab to filter out pieces of kit that you do not wish to play. With some creative thinking, depending on how large a kit is; you may be able to use the MIDI transpose option in the MIDI tab to simply filter out the top half of a kit, and transpose other kits up several octaves and get it all to fit in a single keyboard layout.

Here’s an example where one kit only uses keys up through B2 on the keyboard, so that gives me plenty of room to shift a second kit using MIDI Transpose so it begins on C3 and uses the rest of the keyboard.

a. I load a pair of kits, and in the MIDI tab.
I’ll set them to the same MIDI Channel in Sonic’s MIDI Tab.
Notice the grey keys…this means nothing is mapped to use them.

b. I transpose the kit in slot 2, -36 half steps, so it slides the entire kit to the right on my keyboard, and picks up where slot 1 runs out and uses the unused portion of the keyboard for my second kit.

In this case, my kit in slot 1 (a smaller kit that stops mapping anything above B2) uses the lower half of the keyboard, and my larger kit, in slot 2 uses the upper half starting with C3 upward. Had I needed (bigger kits), we could have used the transpose field to shift the kit in slot one down lower on the keyboard (As low as MIDI Note 0 if necessary), thus freeing up more room in the right half of the keyboard for more kits, etc.

It is also possible to filter out ranges of kits set to use the same channel to just get portions mapped out for playing.
Here is an example where I just need the toms from a secondary kit to replace the toms from a primary kit.

a. I’ll load my primary kit twice, with the secondary kit in the middle, and everything set to the same channel.

b. I’ll use the MIDI tab to filter out up to the point where my toms begin in the first copy of the primary kit.

c. I’ll filter out everything above and below my tom section in the secondary kit. Luckily, this time toms are mapped out to the same keys in these two kits, but if they weren’t I could shift them to the proper zone using the transpose field.

d. In the second copy of my primary kit, I’ll just filter out everything below D#2, to get back the rest of our Primary Kit.

In theory, to some degree you could use a combination of filtering and transposition to remap several kits into one using this method…up to the point where you run out of Sonic Rack slots to keep loading up kits.

Remapping Through The Host

  1. For live performing: Depending on what you host Sonic with, there may well be cases where you can teach the host to create virtual MIDI maps. I.E. You could do this with something like Plogue’s Bidule or Bome MIDI Translator quite easily (certainly worth taking for a test drive if you work with VST instruments in live settings). If you host things in a DAW (Such as Cubase), many of them have all sorts of track inserts that would allow real-time filtering and remapping, where one could load many kits somehow and remap for individual kit pieces. For example, I know that in the case of Cubase, we can drop a series of ‘MIDI Transformer’ inserts on a track (or just use the percussion mapping feature described here earlier), and remap individual notes to new channels/notes in real time through an ‘armed track’.

Many thanks for the detailed answer, Brian!