HALion 4 vs. Ableton 9 Live

Hi folks,

i have HALion Sonic (and Artist 6) and was thinking of buying some kind of sampling software. The obvious choice would be to upgrade to HALion 4 costing about £80. However, a few people have told me that they recommend Ableton 9 Live costing £80 (which is a scaled down version of Ableton Live FULL @ £499). They say the ease of use and capabilities of Ableton 9 Live is superior to that of HALion 4.

As a few of you will already know from my ARGEGGIATOR thread i am thinking of starting to learn about Dance music. My logic tells me that if i use Arpache, Cubase, and HALion 4 i will have less complications than adding another DAW (Ableton) to the mix simply because everything will already be configured to communicate with each other. i would guess that adding a second DAW could make things complicated (though of course i could be very wrong here).

i have checked out Ableton 9 Live online videos and it does look very good for what it can do. But i do not know anywhere near enough about it to form a proper opinion.

Do most members just stick to using one DAW or 2/3 for different projects and functions etc ?? To me, it would seem only natural to want to keep everything under the same umbrella as Cubase.



The advantage of H4 is of course that it implements nicely into Cubase, which makes automation and routing a breeze.
I believe Ableton has Rewire (but only 32 bit) so that would solve these problems, but that is a bit harder to set up.

I have experience with neither of these, but if I had to chose I’d go with H4 because of the aforementioned reasons and the fact that it’s easier to use as it’s ‘just’ an instrument, where Ableton does a whole lot more than that, most of which is a direct overlap with what Cubase can already do for me.

That is exactly what i mean about the fact it (Ableton) may not simply slot into place alongside Cubase. Obviously HALion 4 will be preconfigured to work with Cubase.

i don’t mind using 3rd party plug-in’s but to be running multimple DAW’s is something i think i should be avoiding.

My Live experience is with 8.3, not 9, but unless they’ve made great advances, the Ableton Sampler as an instrument isn’t as sophisticated as what you’d get in HALion or NI Kontakt. (And, again with Live 8.3, you didn’t even get the Sampler instrument unless you went for the full Ableton Suite package or bought it separately. Standard Live only came with “Simpler” which is single-instance-per-sample.)

The Live workflow can be very different from Cubase. Whether that’s in a good or bad way is really going to be a matter of preference. While working with samples and WAV files is a bit more seamless in Live than Cubase overall, Cubase is still a more full-featured environment, once you’ve chosen a sampler. (Also, if you work with hardware synths and effects units a lot, Cubase will give you far fewer headaches.)

My one complaint about Cubase as a sampling environment is that the act of recording samples isn’t very straightforward (even HALion and Kontakt have no way to actually record samples), and not all of the software samplers that do support recording are very easy to set up in Cubase. I ended up going with Native Instruments Maschine; sampling with it from within Cubase couldn’t be simpler. (That’s literally the only thing I use Maschine for, by the way.)

Thank you UO,

Thats a very informative reply.

To be honest, having slept on the situation i am 99% sure i am not going to bother with Ableton. For one, i don’t really want to be configuring and learning a second DAW. Also, i think a lot reasons as to WHY you want the software obviously influence which product you purchase. Having studied the Ableton videos it seems that it is aimed more at DJ’s and composers who use a totally different composition process to myself. i would even say that you don’t even need to be able to PLAY an instrument to compose music on Ableton (and i am far more of a musician than a technician).

The friends who recommended i bought it said its strengths were that it can perform/handle playing loops created from adding many samples in a stream and these loops can be manipulated in live performance. This is demonstrated in one of their videos with a live band, but how long this would take to set up and whether this is something i would ever use is another matter !! i am happy pre-creating my own backing tracks in Cubase, exporting them as Wav. files, and playing them in Winamp on my gigs. Call me old fashioned :unamused:

In my experience with using both Ableton Beta 8(64 bit) and 9, and comparing it to Cubase 6 and now 7, I prefer Cubase over Ableton. I do use the Halion 4. Our live sets are rather large with about 8 gb of orchestral VSTi’s loaded up, and other instruments too. I can say that Ableton has handled VSTi’s a little better with lower buffer latency settings for real time play. However, there is one thing in Cubase that won me over, and it was the ability to add VST Instruments, and the ability to mixdown midi and audio MUCH better. I could add one instance of Halion 4 as a VST instrument in Cubase and load up 4 banks A-D, making up 64 channels out of one instance of Halion.

I can load up our same set in Ableton, of course using Halion as the VST plugin, and the memory used up in Ableton is nearly 10.7gb, and when I load the same instruments in Cubase it uses only 8gb… much more memory efficient, and I suppose that is because Halion and Cubase are designed to flow with each other.

It’s been a long decision for me as to which I would use in live sets for recording, and the winner I believe is Cubase.

Why? Because neither Ableton 8 or 9 has a built in audio editor, and you simply can not edit audio or midi as smooth as you can in Cubase.

In regards to recording loops on the fly and choosing Ableton just for that purpose, I would not let that be a decision factor at all. I use the free Mobius looper in Cubase and it can do MANY things with audio manipulation for loops in real time. Mobius works great using the VST bridge built in Cubase and it just flows SO much easier to create loops with, at least for me. Ableton’s looper system needs some serious work, in my own opinion. Mobius can have up to 8 tracks and 8 loops per track. I use a keyboard to control Mobius for selecting tracks and for looping on the fly options. Works excellent.


Thanks very much Gary,

You are obviously a very experienced user and musician. i wish i had your knowledge as i would be a lot further than i am at the moment !! Seems to take me forever to learn about stuff :open_mouth: . i have never played in a band where a laptop has been used before. Everything i have done has been LIVE (except if i am backing shows on the cruise ships in which case our 7 x piece band will be playing along to a click-track, as if often the norm for production shows).

i do not really know any musicians who use the set up which you use. i would be very interested to befriend a band like yours so i could learn something about this kind of instrumentation.

i am pleased to hear you have HALion 4 as this is something i would like to purchase later in the year as an add on to my HALion Sonic.

i had never heard of the Mobius Looper so i will have a look in my Cubase for it. i have been that stuck on the basics for the past 6 x months that there is so much that i am not even aware about !!



HALion Sonic is like a player version of HALion 4 so save some money and upgrade instead of just buying yet another plugin. €300 for Halion 4 and €100 for the upgrade. What HALion Sonic can do HALion 4 can do in spades so in that case it’s better to just have one tool, at least to me?

HALion 4 vs. HALion Sonic

Mobius looper is not included in Cubase, you will have to download it here http://www.circularlabs.com/ and then tell Cubase where the folder is you’ve put the VST of Mobius. Install Mobius as an FX track and use sends from each audio track or bus outputs that you want sent to the looper.

You can also Rewire Ableton sounds into Cubase, allowing you to use Cubase as the host DAW, but using sounds from Ableton.


How do these sites make any money from giving away free downloads of soft synths ect ?? And so why do they do it ?? :question:

I agree with Ulven. Learn one set of tools better, rather than spread thin across many. :slight_smile: Also, $99US (whatever that translates to in the underworld) is a fair and cheapish upgrade, and then you can just disregard HS and concentrate on becoming a H4 guru. From my perspective, it’s hard to go wrong with HALion 4. :smiley:

I have the same transitional issues as many others in that I am slowly (VERY slowly) sliding over into the plugin arena. As my hardware synthesizers die and parts are becoming increasingly difficult to find, I simply have to arrange them into the hall of fame as museum artifacts, because I am not disposing of such heroes, just yet. :wink: Nah, most can actually be fixed fairly easy, it’s just a pain with locating some of the parts. In the end however, I do suffer from severe euphoria when playing most of them.

Halion 4 is a solid piece, I wish it would become the standard like the Kontakt player is, I would rather use Halion 4 for the majority of my sounds than using Kontakt.


Thanks for your opinion. i am quite certain that this is the route i will take.