HALion Sonic 3 vs HALion 6 information (HALion Sonic SE)

I’m seriously thinking of purchasing one of these VST’s nothwitstanding (not) being able to download a trial however besides the difference in price and the fact that you can use your own sounds in HALion 6, are there any other differences?

Also, what is HALion Sonic SE?

I believe it can use the included sounds in Cubase and other libraries available for sale on steinbergs’ website but how does the feature to create sounds for other systems without HAL6/HAL Sonic 3 installed work, i.e. would I need HALion 6 to create these sounds and are they cut down in any way such as a lower bit rate?


Halion 6:

-Includes the Halion Sonic plugin and all of its instruments.
-Adds 5.1 versions of the pipe organs, nylon guitar with more articulations, and a few more ethnic instruments.
-270 extra presets, mostly using the Halion Sonic samples to demonstrate the basics of the MegaTrig feature.
-Much, much deeper editing, and workflow optimized for building and editing complex instruments fast.
-FULL access to all synth engines: Sample, Virtual Analog, Granular, Organ, Wavetable, and in the future, FM.
-Much more flexible effects routing. It’s possible to build an instrument where every note has its own insert and send effects.
-Advanced sample import and export functionality.
-Very advanced wavetable and sample editors, with automatic loop point detection and slicing.
-More flexible modulation through the use of multiple mono envelopes and LFOs, and MIDI scripting per layer.
-Extremely modular interface. Everything can be docked or undocked, made into a separate window or a tab, and you can save each window or the whole plugin interface as presets.
-Built-in Sample/Preset Library creator, and Macro Page builder with scripting support. You can make libraries for Halion, Halion Sonic and the free Halion Sonic SE.

Halion Sonic 3:

-Editing the stock presets is at about the same level as a hardware module like the JV-1080 or Yamaha Motif.
-Can load extremely complex instruments built with Halion 6, but several parameters can’t be edited unless they’re exposed by the macro page.
-Full access to the Virtual Analog synth engine. The Granular, Wavetable, and Organ engines are also available, but you’re stuck with the editing options made available by their macro pages and quick controls, and you can only use the samples provided by the library’s creator.
-Good enough if you only plan to use presets, or only make minor edits.
-Content almost completely different from the Halion Sonic SE included with Cubase.

Halion Sonic SE 3:

-Can load all libraries made for Halion Sonic, unless the library’s creator decides to make it exclusive to Halion and Halion Sonic users.
-Can use the Halion synth engines if they’re used by the library.
-Editing is limited to only what’s made available by the macro page and quick controls. This includes the preset’s insert effects and sends.
-You can only add effects to the Master output and the 4 Master sends. To process each instrument individually, you have to use one of the 16 outputs and route them to your DAW.
-The free version comes with no content, it’s only a player for libraries made by the users and Steinberg.
-The version that comes with Cubase comes with almost completely different content compared to the full version. Each Cubase “tier” adds more instruments and samples.

Thank you for the detailed and comprehensive reply.

Another question if you will,

There was a version of HALion called HSO, which I trialled previosly but I was not that impressed and was wondering if the strings are different, i.e. have they been updated for HALion 6.


Halion Symphonic Orchestra is a sample library for the Halion family. The HSO strings are generally well liked despite their age.

Nothing from HSO is included with Halion or Halion Sonic. There are multiple strings ensemble variations and they have either a pop or cinematic style sound. Skylab has a few variations that can be accessed by loading the Init Skylab preset.

Hi Romantique,

Thanks again for the reply.

I am currently using SampleTank, and in all honesty I think it is quite good, simply because I can use the sounds without any effects and they sound fine, if a little bland.

Subjectively, would you say that the orchestral sounds in HALion 6 are higher quality or would they in any way complement IK without sounding out of place (Maybe you have used SampleTank)?

I’m fine for drums and basses (Toontrack & Spectrasonics respectively), and as I say Sampletank works but at the price SB is asking I’m finding it difficult to refuse so while I can probably live with IK, I am looking for more depth.

For example, I was using the basses of SampleTank and they allowed me to program most 4 and 8 notes but when I started using Trilian, I found I could include a greater amount of rhythmic detail, and with HALion I am hoping for a similar situation, in that I will be able to hear more details and thus write more complex pieces but if it’s all just ensembles then I guess I may not be as interested because synths and things; people are always releasing VST’s for that.

I am not a great programmer and would probably just use HALion Sonic 3 to start with (it is on special as well) but I am especially interested in the feature of exporting instruments for other users with HALion SE because even if the sounds are only marginally better than IK Multimedia, the fact that I can create libraries for other systems is very attractive and from what I have read SB have opened up their sound format for developers of other libraries including Kontakt.

In the past I believe HALion SE contained content that was actually recorded at a lower bit rate, but I assume that content is now obsolete.