Halion Sonic SE2 inside SE3

As the screenshot shows, the HALION SONIC panel presents different versions of SE: ‘SE3’ in the title and ‘SE2’ inside instrument editing panel.

Is it normal/expected?

Igor Borodin

I suspect one is the Player and the other is the sound set (which has not changed).

Yes, your assumption is correct.


Quite normal.

Over the years things “HALion” have worked pretty much like this:

Until very recently, HALion plugins with “SE” in the name shipped ONLY with various Steinberg Hosts (Cubase, Nuendo, Dorico, etc.), and they only work with such hosts. The only way to get the Sonic SE player, was to use a Steinberg host. The central plugin and synth engine is typically the same across all Steinberg Hosts. Newer versions are generally backwards compatible with any content for all older versions. I.E. SE 3 will have no problems running content from SE 1, or 2, as well as the majority of content that happens to ship with full versions of Sonic or HALion (I.E. As a HALion 6 user, I can load and play the vast majority of the extra content packs that come with it in Sonic SE 3 as well, including my own user custom presets).

Each host usually comes with an assortment of ‘content packs’. Usually, any updates or additions to those ‘content packs’ are a part of the host packaging, and each ‘content pack’ has its own name and version. Examples are things like, “HALion Sonic SE Basic”, “HALion SE Artist”, “HALion SE Pro”, and “HALion Sonic SE Hybrid”.

In short, Cubase Pro might come with ‘more’ or ‘different’ content packs than Cubase Artist. Dorico comes with all of the ones mentioned above but the Hybrid pack. Instead of Hybrid (Pretty much fat synth sounds), you get the Symphonic Orchestra content, and I think there might be some other smaller specialty packs for things like a custom Dorico click track as well. Etc.

Sometimes when you ‘update’ or ‘upgrade’ your central DAW, it can include changes or additions to old content packs, and thus alter their version number somewhat. It might even give you entirely NEW content packs after a major upgrade in ADDITION to what is already there. If there are no changes to the content pack, then it’s still going to have that old name. So, Sonic SE Basic 2 is still unchanged…nothing new about the ‘content’…just a new SE3 ‘player’.

In general, anytime you move to new generations of HALion products, or ‘step up the ladder’ to a bigger version, any ‘old content’ in the product line will always still be there…even if you buy HALion 6 today…you get content going WAY BACK to version 4, which also includes subsets to earlier content (sometimes you have to look for alternate installers, or download the ‘really old stuff’ in formats other than vstsound, but it works, and you are usually entitled to it at no extra charge). Major upgrades often include quite a lot of ‘new’ content that uses the latest new technologies of the synth/sampler engine, but you always get the older content from previous versions included too. This is so whatever projects you have made with HALion, no matter how old they are, should always just load up and play for you…no need to go back and reinstall really old HALion plugins and stuff. Just load the project and it should sound as it did the last time you worked on it…even if it was way back in 2016, using older versions of pretty much ‘everything’.

If you buy something like the full version of Sonic 3, or HALion 6, of course you get pretty much the entire history of content of the HALion line for that product, as well as any leaner versions of it (not counting specialty packs with their own key and installers like Steinway Grand Piano). I.E. HALion 6 comes with everything that’s in the latest distro, as well as all previous versions of HALion (2, 3, 4, 5, etc.), plus all versions of HALion Sonic, and the latest HALion and Sonic plugins. Full versions of Sonic and HALion have always been able to work in any DAW of choice, and all the keys to unlock the included content are included without needing a Steinberg Host on the system.

Sonic SE 3 is a bit different in that now you can install this plugin/player and use it with ANY host you like. If it has any content to play or not will depend upon whatever content packs you have installed on your system, and if they have the proper keys in place on your eLisencer. So, with SE3, as long as you’ve got Dorico installed on the system, and your Dorico Key in place via eLisencer, you can run SE3 in say, Sibelius or Finale, and access all the HALion content that came with Dorico.

The Sonic SE 3 Player also adds a stand alone mode, and the ability to import third party content packs that are created with HALion 6. I.E. I could create content here in HALion 6, and package it in a way that I could share it with you so it would work in any DAW you like via the free SE3 player. To play this kind of ‘user content’ with SE3, you’ll either need the key for some Stienberg Host on the system to unlock the player, OR, you can apply for a free SE key via email at this link: https://www.steinberg.net/en/landing_pages/halion_sonic_se_3/halion_sonic_se_free.html

Sonic SE 3, as far as I know, only comes in a 64bit format, though it does support most if not all of the most popular plugin formats (au, vst2, vst3, atx, etc).

Without some kind of bridging (jbridge, or possibly some form of rewire, or external hosting), or rolling back to the HALion 5/Sonic 2 generation of plugins, HALion isn’t going to work in 32bit hosts anymore. If you need to run HALion in old 32 bit hosts, a hardware dongle is required. One can apply for a special liscencer key via support ticket from your Steinberg Account to roll back for that system free of charge. Anything HALion 5 or Sonic 2 and earlier MUST have a USB dongle, as those versions never supported the software eLiscenser…thus the need for a special/second key on a dongle if you need to ‘roll back’ for some reason.

If your version of Dorico is still using SE2, you can optionally upgrade to SE3 simply by downloading it from the link I provided above and run the installers. It will replace SE2, and things should seamlessly work in conjunction with Dorico as they always did in SE2. The only obvious differences out of the box will be your new ‘stand alone’ version of SE that gets his own executable installed, a new Library Management System for third party content (again, a side-app that work independently of your DAW’s plugin system), and of course, the version numbers. Provided you’ve got your ‘other DAWs’ configured to look in the place(s) SE put relevant (plugin type) copies of the plugin, you should notice that HALion Sonic SE now shows up and works in your ‘other DAWs’ as well (So long as that Dorcio key is on the system). You’ll also be able to install and use third party content developed by HALion 6 users/content creators and packaged for the free SE player.

Fantastic and thorough response Brian - many thanks for your explanation and clarity!