How Best to Use Halion in Tracks - Instrument Tracks or Rack


Long time Cubase user, but only really now messing with MIDI. Have done nothing but audio in the past.

I just picked up Halion 4, and have a couple of questions. I hope someone won’t mind helping a noob.

It seems like if I want to load only one instrument slot, I should create an Instrument Track, pick Halion, and add my MIDI. This also allows me to freeze the track. This seems to be the best way to keep things organized.

If I load Halion as a VST Instrument in the Rack, I can load tons of instruments in their own slot, but I then need to have multiple MIDI tracks assigned to each instrument slot. This seems to be messy, as you have to make sure you set up individual outputs, and get your MIDI channel mapping right. It seems here however, if I try to freeze, it only freezes the instrument in the 1st slot. So freeze doesn’t seem to work on let’s say a 1/2 dozen instrument slots.

So am I understanding this correctly.

It seems like I would be best creating instrument tracks with Halion in each, but is there a big downside to having so many instances of Halion, each with only one instrument in a single slot?

Thanks a bunch.


A one instance multi-timbral vs many instances mono-timbral… I am not sure I can answer which one is “best”, but I use Instrument Tracks instead of the VST Instruments rack, for convenience alone!

I think they provide both, for reasons of user preference.

Some people might need to have a preconfigured “rack” (both organizational and visually) in order to function the way they want to. I can see some old MIDI goofs (like myself) having a hard time adjusting to a dynamic set of Instrument available to them.

I do not think that you are painting yourself into a corner. After all, in your next project, you can do it “the other way” if you wanted. :slight_smile:

(Also long time “Cubase” user… since the Atari years! Pro 12 rocked to planet!!!)

Thanks for replying.

I am finding that I am going many instances of mono-timbral. As it is easier to work with the Instrument tracks in my particular situation.



I tend to use the rack. You can have a template set up so that all your midi channels and multiple outs are set up in your project. One thing to consider is that if you use instrument tracks, each track will open another instance of Halion and theoretically use more CPU.

I use the rack for multi’s. I even use the rack from standard VSTi a lot, as I like the flexibility of the MIDI track, audio track separation.

Personally I think the rack is the only way to go; instrument tracks are fine for simplicity but once things get any way complex then I find myself copying parts onto MIDI tracks and setting up the rack again.

I would go so far as to hope Steinberg eventually phase out Instrument Tracks altogether because if you look at the “LE” range, they’ve actually gone and removed MIDI tracks (!) and the rack altogether :open_mouth: so I hope this kind of thinking doesn’t spread within the marketing department … :unamused:

MIDI Tracks are awesome, because they not only fit external instruments, but VST Instruments (the rack) as well. There’s evidence of them staying a while, in HALion 4 (multi’s). Removing MIDI Tracks will only happen when MIDI is universally declared dead, and there are far too many great external MIDI devices out there for that to happen any time soon. Also, the combination of MIDI Tracks and VST Instruments makes for an easy transition of dying MIDI hardware to virtual replacements.

The Instrument Tracks are self contained, and I don’t see these as going away at all, since SOME day, MIDI will be dead and virtual synthesizers will rule the Earth. Though, this is not imminent. And who knows, maybe a better thing will emerge from Steinberg… :slight_smile:

On the Mac, using one instance of H4 per instrument track is more cpu efficient that running a loaded rack.

I’ve been slow to adopt this approach because there are layering benefits of using a rack, and I like having access to a bunch of sounds in one location. Plus it just looks cool. :wink:

But my VST Performance meter doesn’t lie. Same is true when using H4 in another DAW.

and what do we use on instrument tracks to drive those virtual synths? Oh yeah, MIDI message…

MIDI won’t die even if external instruments go away. When they finish allowing multis, allow cross track MIDI channel mapping etc… then there will be little need for the separate MIDI track.

Just for the record, my current position is based on the method that is most CPU efficient. Previously I used loaded instances of sampler instruments until I started reading reports of improved distribution of cpu load on all cores versus loading a single core when using a loaded instance of a multitimbral/multi output instrument.

I’ve been using MIDI since the daze of the Alesis MMT8/HR16 tape-synced to a 4 track cassette recorder. MIDI only seems to be getter better. It’s interesting to note that Steinberg is the only company at the cutting edge with new advancements in MIDI such as VST Dynamics, Note Expression, etc. VST Expression is going to be the wave of the future in MIDI whether using individual instrument tracks or VST Instrument racks. :smiley:

Absolutely, Dr. V, and in VST3+ they’ve put MIDI as a subset under an “abstraction layer” with other message types, like the technologies you mentioned. By adding to this layer instead of trying to stuff things into MIDI itself, it does appear to make MIDI better and better!!

Apologies to guitartoys by continuing this off-topic veer - but DEFINITELY continue to need midi tracks. Anyone using guitar synthesis or other non-keyboard controllers wants to be able to record their midi as well as audio performance, surely?


Of course MIDI (and the associated tracks) will stay for a long time still.

I think that someone got stuck on the “SOME day, MIDI will be dead”, which is naturally true because nothing last forever. “SOME day” means nothing really, since there is also no harm in continuing to support MIDI, even if a successor takes it place. “MIDI will be dead” could also mean that no new devices are created, maybe in favor of e.g. USB, which doesn’t mean old devices are going to die or otherwise not be useful.

It’s inevitable that some other interface/protocol or other scheme takes over at some point.

What I want is to have one instance of Halion so that I only have to keep one instrument open.
But I hate the fact that the midi channels and audio channels are seperated!
In a 16 instrument project this means 32 channels open that are closely related.

If I could assign instrumenttracks to the instrumentrack…

Then I have only one instances of Halion AND the midi and audio in one channel.

Not going to happen offcourse, I know that the architecture of an instrument track won’t allow it
but the routing is already possible in Cubase so maybe another sort of track in the future that combines
Midi in with any audio out?

Hi Guys , can some one pls differentiate the exact difference between instrument tracks versus the rack ??? i think midi track is the best way to start up , also , not all sounds In H4 , HS and HS se are there up in my browser … where exactly on my hard disk are the sounds , specially the H4 n HS new updated free sounds content …i downloaded … then H4 has 32 midi channels right ???, divided in to 4 parts A, B, C n D … so how do i assign midi channels for them , only 16 midi channels show up in the inspector section… forgive my being naive…
why the instrument track, so confusing , so many limitations???
basically how does any one start off normally ?? a midi track , Instrument Track or the Rack ??? I have a 3rd hard drive where i route all my C6 Vsti/s in a folder there , so is the media bay supposed to be there ???
then are the audio rendered files and edited tones also in media bay ??? i have a separate hard drive for C6 audio rendering , with a folder named c6 files … but i still see files scattered all around , there is a vst plugin also on drive C / programmes / steinberg , though i routed it to the vsti folder on on my vst drive… … i want to separate and organize all this … and should VST 2 and Vst 3 be in separate folders as well…
finally how many tones are there in H4 , HS HS se , and how many new tones are added in the updates … i just see afew , and they all sound and look the same to me… any light on these thanks…

Mate, you might want to separate your questions a little bit. It becomes cumbersome to answer with a mesh of statements and questions… (Just trying to help yourself getting better answers faster.)

A MIDI Track is a track that send its notes out on a virtual wire (Output Routing), either to a VSTi (in the VST Instruments rack) or a hardware device. So the VST Instruments rack sort of goes with the MIDI Tracks.

An Instrument Track is like an integrated track and a VSTi. (All-in-one, so to speak.) The Output Routing in this case is not a virtual wire, but an actual VSTi.

As you probably have seen in the forum, some prefer one over the other. I personally don’t think one is “better” than the other. It’s a matter of preference, how you intend to work and what equipment you are used to.

apologies , thought it was all relative …
yes its messed up , the media bay is messed up …or i am messing up to understand it …
just wanted everything to be organized …
i understand midi tracks perfectly.

  1. what exactly is and does the Rack do ? it flexible , or just 1 rack @ a time ?
    2.what does the media bay consist of ? vsti/s , audio rendered files and the pool ?

  2. how many media bays are there in C6 ? and H4 ???

  3. where exactly on my hard disk are the sounds / Tones , specially the H4 n HS n HS se new updated free sounds content …i downloaded ?
    5.H4 has 32 channels , i can see, and can only assign 16 channels in the inspector?
    6.H4 is divided in to 4 parts A, B, C n D … so how do i assign 32 midi channels for them to play 32 tones @ a time.

  4. where physically on the hard disk folder do media bay/ bays exist by default?
    8.can you cut and paste the media bay folder to your other separate drive you wish it to be , n will C6 access that , if i add that in plug in folder ?
    9.and should VST 2, 32 Bit and VST 3 64 bit plug in , be in separate folders as well… to work ??? or will it clash ???

  5. how many default tones are there in H4 , HS, HS se , and how many new tones are added in the updates … i just see a few , and they all sound and look the same to me , how can i tell the updated ones ???


  6. I have a 3rd hard drive where i route all my C6 Vsti/s in a folder there , so is the media bay supposed to be there ??? 12. i want the audio files rendered to a separate drive , and vsti/s another drive…

  7. but i still see files scattered all around , there is a vst plugins also on drive C / programmes / steinberg , though i routed it to the vsti folder i made and routed the vsti to it , while installing on on my vst drive.
    14 . why do i have to add VST / VSTi/s companies separately and separately the contents , files separately one, one at a time for some plug ins to work ??? why ?
    15.will the Daw be faster if i use a separate small hard drive to load all my Daw only, programmes , ( Not Vsti/s ) on this drive , n have Drive C only as an OS drive?

  8. . i want to separate and organize all this …neatly and should be easier to back up too.
    thanks would appreciate some advice relative to numbered queries. s

The VST Instruments rack has 64 slots. One VSTi per slot and 16 MIDI Channels per VSTi (if multiple MIDI channels are supported).

The Media Bay is a one-tool-for-all-your-media. This is your “raw” material, as well as stored VST Presets, etc.

One Media Bay, that can be used by VST plugins. (Sort of like the File Selector in an Operating System.)

VST Presets are stored in your Documents directory, in Windows 7.
A Project stores its work files (audio, etc.) in the Project directory chosen when you create the Project (the Pool, etc).

H4 has 32 Audio Outputs. All MIDI Ports have only 16 MIDI Channels. H4 as far as I know has (I don’t use the rack, so I don’t worry about this) four MIDI Ports, and therefor 64 MIDI Channels.

This is something you need to read in the documentation, because of the flexibility available in H4.

There is no ONE place “by default”. It is meant to become a hub where you can add your own directories of various media.
Like I said, the VST Presets are in the Documents area. (Some) factory sounds are connected under the VST Sound node (depends on the plugin, select the node and have a look).
On top of these you can add your own directories (like sample libraries on separate drives) so that when you want to choose a sound or audio file from anywhere in your libraries, you go to this one place (Media Bay) and simply drop them into your Project at various places (Pool, events, etc).

I am not sure I understand exactly what you are asking, but as mentioned, you can add any directories into Media Bay (using checkboxes in the Define Locations under Window Layout of the Media Bay).

When you save a program, even in a VST 2.4 using the Cubase Save Preset functionality, they end up in the VST Preset folder (mentioned above). If you use the preset management of the plugin itself, they end up where ever it saves it.

H4 has something like 1,600 or so I believe. HS a bit less, and HSSE a lot less.

If you want to. It’s a choice you have. There is no “supposed to” in this regard.

Create your Projects on this alterate drive and they will render under the Audio folder in the respective Project.

Because many companies have many ways of thinking and strategies on how to handle things, maybe.

Depends on your system I would say, on how to partition stuff. I myself, got no problems having all “bin” files (Cubase, plugins, etc.) on the C:\ (boot) drive with the OS, and another drive with libraries of all my wave files (linked into Media Bay), backups of Presets, Projects, configurations, etc. (not linked in MB), and a third drive for Projects (this is where all rendered and imported files for each Project ends up.
Some people go for an easier setup and some for advanced or to extreme measures to optimize.

My purpose is speed and agility in terms of administration of my computer. I do not want to spend time, when building a different computer. Install Windows with three drives (however configured hardware wise), add all applications (Cubase, plugins, etc.) with defaults on boot drive (some DO require a bit of extra manual work, like Zebra 2 for example, but I cannot do without it so it’s ok! :slight_smile: ), copy any projects that needs to be available on that computer to the second drive, and copy the “raw” libraries to the third. Good to go. Mostly! Ha ha ha. :wink:

Please note that these are just MY opinions and is not a one-size-fit-all thingie!

Hey thanks a lot … appreciate your time .
just this one small bit… Edit :
samwax wrote:4. where exactly on my hard disk are the sounds / Tones , specially the H4 n HS n HS se new updated free sounds content …i downloaded ?

VST Presets are stored in your Documents directory, in Windows 7.
A Project stores its work files (audio, etc.) in the Project directory chosen when you create the Project (the Pool, etc).
The big problem , even for my documents , i always cut n paste that in partition Drive d or another drive other than the OS drive. simply because , if win files r corrupted , registry issues, , or virus infected , requiring a fresh new install , no important Data remains on my C: drive , i can just reinstall , all my data is safe on the other drives …
adding drives isnt a problem ,always done that with SX 3 , no problems … so i was thinking now , cut n paste the C6 Vst plugin folders rather than make a new one , n search where the media bay is , and do the same like wise. i want my data / edited presets n tones / rendered files all other than the ones that can be reinstalled to be safe n easily backed up.
again thanks …sam

I am not sure I follow your point here, but as far as I understand, the VST Presets folder cannot be changed.

You could easily write a little script file that copies this folder to another drive. I have a script that does this on a regular basis, just in case I forgot to do it manually. :slight_smile:

The Project folder you designate when you create it, so you can put theme anywhere. E.g. on a separate drive.