It is ‘supposed’ to work like this…
If you have a Steinberg dongle, make sure it’s plugged in.
Make sure you don’t have any instances of a Steinberg host (Like Cubase, Nuendo, or Dorico), nor any instances of HALion ‘running’ anywhere on your system.
Perhaps even make it safer by starting the process just after a cold system boot.
This helps ensure that the shared Steinberg mediabay and what not doesn’t get corrupted during installation.
Open your Steinberg Download Assistant. The first thing it will do is make sure the old eLicenser is installed and up to date. Don’t try to bypass this thinking you don’t need eLicenser anymore. For a while yet it’ll remain a required component to support Steinberg products.
Take the Sonic 7 upgrade. If it’s not in your ‘update’ tab already, you can find it under any of your Steinberg host tabs (Cubase/Dorico/etc).
Accept updates for your HALion sound libraries. If you refuse this step things should still work, but your old eLicenser/dongle will need to be in place. The purpose of the library updates is to get versions that are dongle free.
Do NOT start any HALion instances while this stuff is still downloading and installing. Wait until it’s done!
At this point Sonic 7 automatically replaces any instances of HSSE in your projects (even older ones). Apparently Sonic 7 registers itself under two plugin IDs. VST3 compatible Hosts see Sonic 7 as SE AND as Full Sonic now. There will no longer be a separate ‘scaled down’ SE version.
Your old HSSE does NOT get uninstalled on its own. This shouldn’t be a problem with the latest versions of Cubase, Nuendo, and Dorico, as they know what to do if a vst3 wrapper is present on the system for both HSSE 3 and Sonic 7. End result…HSSE is ignored and Sonic 7 gets loaded…and it’s fully backward compatible with all the previous versions of HSSE.
Some older, or non Steinberg hosts will freak out if VST3 wrappers for both Sonic 7 and HSSE 3 are installed. Some will skip over HALion gracefully and list/load neither one (or even blacklist them both). Some might pick up on the duplicate IDs and ‘ask’ which you want to use. Some might straight up crash or hang.
In this case, either uninstall HSSE completely, or find your system’s VST3 directory and ‘move’ the HALion Sonic SE folder to a backup location. If for some reason you want to force a VST3 host to use the old HSSE, then you exchange the Sonic 7 and HSSE folders in your VST3 directory (On Windows it’s in “%SYSTEMDRIVE%\Program Files\Common Files\VST3\Steinberg”. I’m not sure where Mac OS keeps them, but it’s something similar in nature.).
Personally, unless you need a VST2 pathway to HALion for some non-Steinberg hosts…I’d recommend simply uninstalling HSSE using your computer OSes application manager. You can always reinstall it should you find some odd and desperate situation where it’s needed again.
Sonic 7 is really close in appearance to the old SE. It just has MORE features and abilities. It lists and plays all the same sounds.
If you keep HSSE on your system, you could leave the VST2 wrappers in place. It’s not really recommended if you’re on a Mac with Apple silicon (Rosetta 2 might be needed to get it working if you do try to use it), but on Intel compatible Macs or Windows it should be fine to keep it around just in case you really need it.
I.E. I also run some VST2 only hosts like Finale and Sibelius that I used HSSE a good bit. Since Sonic/HALion 7 don’t come in VST2 at all, I’ve kept HSSE 3.5.10 on my system so those hosts can still use the VST2 variant of HSSE (some of the newest sounds might not be supported there, but I still get the sounds I used at the time I made the projects). For new projects in these hosts, I currently use a VST2>VST3 bridge to get into Sonic 7 or HALion 7.
Note, if you do keep HSSE on the system…if you want it to work without a dongle, make sure you have version 3.5.10, and the system will need a qualifying host activated (Cubase/Nuendo 12 or Dorico 4). Also be aware that at this time some of the expansion libraries that work in HALion still need a dongle but should get updated for the new dongle free Activation system eventually.
The HALion content that ships with Cubase, Dorico, and Nuendo should all be dongle free provided you have the latest versions of the libraries installed. If you have Sonic Collections, or HALion 7, all of the content that ships with those is also dongle free now. If you have an Absolute bundle…it’s a mix-match. Alot of it has made the dongle free transition, but some of it is not yet dongle free.
Any versions of HSSE before 3.5.10 will always need a proper key on the old dongle or soft eLisencer. Full versions of Sonic or HALion older than 7 will need the old eLisencer as well.
If for some reason you have issues using all of your HALion sounds after upgrading to Sonic 7…
Open the stand alone version of Sonic, go to the browser tab, right click All Media, and choose ‘refresh view’.
Let it sit for a while, or even click around in the Browser a bit. It might require a little time for a fresh installation to build up the database for all of the updated sounds.
If that doesn’t work…reinstall the HALion libraries that came with each of your Steinberg hosts using the Download Assistant (SDA). You might need to ‘remove them’ in the Library Manager first…then redownload them from SDA.
Remove any HALion libraries that you don’t have a license for. I.E. maybe at some point you’ve installed a time limited demo for some version of Sonic or HALion in the past.
If you have any HALion libraries that were purchased separately such as Steinway Grand, Dark Planet, etc…they might still need the old eLicenser, so make sure your dongle or soft eLicenser is in place and has the license(s) you need. You might also check your My Steinberg account from time to time to see if any ‘vouchers’ have come in to upgrade such libraries to the new Activation System.
If you’re on Windows and have a host that seems to ‘hang’ or crash when trying to use Sonic 7 (I.E. Dorico 4)…I’ve found that manually starting the Steinberg mediabay server and leaving it running helps. Whatever is causing mediabay issues for some hosts should be fixed in the next service releases of the various apps involved.