How good is Halion Symphonic Orchestra?

I really hope Noteperformer gets ported to Dorico.

It’s flexibility is unmatched - fluttertounged trombone gliss… with a mute? No problem.

True dynamics playback too - no “velocity layers” or “xfades” or any sample based tricks like that.

I haven’t got any other Steinberg products except Dorico so I might be missing something, but it seems that HSO only has one “basic” patch for orchestral instruments like oboe, etc. (The “GM oboe patch” doesn’t seem to have any articulations at all, so I’m not counting that)

That can be a limitation with a notation-based score where you have double (or triple or quadruple!) woodwind playing in unison - you don’t want to duplicate playing the exact same samples.

The Garritan libraries are pretty “cheap and cheerful” (and even smaller than HSO if you don’t count the fact that the string patches in GPO5 are effectively duplicated, by including all the GPO4 samples plus an earlier Garritan strings-only library) but at least it “fakes” multiple “players” from a single set of samples by pitch-shifting up or down a semitone, so you don’t get phasing artefacts etc when several instruments in a notation score are playing in unison.

Of course if you made a playback mockup entirely in a DAW, you could bypass the whole situation by having a single polyphonic “oboe” track in the sequencer, but Dorico is notation-based. Life’s too short to go through the notation bar by bar, and silence all the duplicated notes manually!

Are there any plans deal with this sort of thing automatically in Dorico + HSO? Having 57 varieties of articulation controlled by some VST3 magic linked into the score has got to be a good thing - but not if the basic requirements for decent quality playback aren’t there as well.

I am hopeful a timely upgrade will include a (friendly) way to use Garritan/Aria sounds in Dorico.

+1 for NotePerformer port.


I contacted Wallander myself (the maker of NotePerformer) and asked Arne if he was planning on creating a version of NotePerformer for Dorico. He said he wants to, but that Dorico isn’t evolved enough yet for him to be able to do it.

In another post Daniel also expressed that he will contact Arne about NotePeformer for Dorico when it makes sense.

I love NotePerformer. As a composer I just want the music to sound reasonably realistic. NotePerformer gives that to me in spades, with just the press of a button, no setup involved. Lazy, yes, but practical, moreso.
I even had a guy ask me, shocked, how I had managed to get an orchestra to play my score! :sunglasses:

it sucks. pizz has horrible backgbackground noises sounds like dog barking.
strings sound like an 80,s keyboard.
impossible to install half the library won’t load
you have to battle with elisence. No don’t do it.
check out Steinberg contact on the web site.
round and round. they don’t want to be contacted.
do you want any of this to be part of your music projects. leave it alone.

Your first post must be manually approved. This is just to keep the spam bots away. Most forums do this.
But it really sounds like you only registered to spew nonsense about the library just because you couldn’t get it to work. The strings aren’t among the most realistic available in the market today, but they were considered pretty good when they were originally released in the mid-2000s.

If you can’t load certain instruments, try uninstalling the library then reinstalling it again with any antivirus software disabled. It could help if you told us which OS and DAW you’re trying to run this on.

When hosted in HALion 6, I like HSO much more, as I can expand things and tweak it out more to my needs and preferences. With a little fine tuning one can get more value out of the included samples. I purchased HSO quite some time before Dorico came to be. I’ve gotten my money’s worth from it.

There isn’t much in that price bracket to choose from really. When it comes to the sub $200 orchestral sets, I see lots of strong and weaker areas in them all.

To me, some of the weaker points of HSO are:

  1. Not crazy about the Solo string patches, particularly the Viola. Perhaps it is subjective, but I have the hardest time getting them to mix and blend, or sound fluid and musical. They don’t really have a good legato implementation…every note sounds like a beginner ‘sawing’ on a ‘fiddle’ to me. I also find that they kind of cheat us on the range. Having said that about the solo strings, I really LIKE the tutti strings in HSO.

  2. No harps, choirs, nor a nice slate of organs.

  3. Some instruments really could use more range.

  4. Only includes the bare essentials for percussion.

  5. It doesn’t offer many variants to work with. I.E. You only get ONE solo violin. You only get one solo trumpet, etc. One can apply EQ, filters, detune, etc, to avoid phasing issues when stacking these sorts of patches, but it would be better if we got some variations in the samples up front…as in totally unique instruments, fully sampled at the extreme limits of professional players.

  6. If you want alternative tuning systems, you’re pretty much out of luck unless you have a full version of HALion to host the library, and spend a lot of time re-tuning things, OR, you happen to be running things in a host that’ll manage micro-tuning via pitch bends and such.

  7. Portamento implementation is pretty weak out of the box. Again, if you host HSO in full blown HALion, you can tweak it out to add more expressive potential, but out of the box…pitch bend is it for any sort of useful portamento.

GOS’s stronger point is in its simplicity. The Tutti patches are quite nice in my opinion. Most of what is included sounds nice and is easy to work with. It is what is is…predictable, simple, consistent, and easy to use. Many instruments do have sampled reverb tails (release triggered), and HSO comes with a kind of ambiance built into the default patches for the user that is fairly uniform across all of the instrument families.

Another library in this price range is Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO5). Again, it has weaker areas as well.

  1. Some of the patches are buggy (you can fix them yourself, as it’s based on sfz, but it’s annoying that in all these years MM won’t bother to fix some loop points and other minor issues). So, if you’re willing to tweak a few sfz files and fix some minor bugs…

  2. Some of the instruments with the most potential are pretty bad at their default settings. One really does need to spend time learning how to play each instrument in the library. You can get some great sounds from it, but it does require a lot of expressive controls on the side. One really does need to learn ‘how to play/control’ Garritan instruments, otherwise they can sound out of context, get lost in the mix, etc. This is NOT a library that you can just control it with note-on/off and velocity events alone. One needs to understand things like legato pedals, or how to shift an instrument between a monophonic auto-legato or a pedaled legato/portamento mode. One needs to understand the relationship between velocity and various CC settings to get the desired attack, sustain, decay, etc. Sadly, many of the ‘sound-sets’ that ship with various DAWs for the library are just a starting framework…one needs to add to those frameworks to get the most out of it. One will need to understand that settings that sound great in one type of piece or tempo might be horrible for another…so constant adjustments are always part of the process.

  3. The samples are super dry, there is no built in room ambiance or positioning inherent in the samples themselves. Some people love this, and some hate it. The good part is that you can easily apply them in any sort of virtual room or context you like using the included placement and reverb tools, or using your own 3rd party tools. The bad part is this takes a little learning and work, and some people don’t want to adjust anything at all. When they load up an instrument and hear it ‘dry’, in the center position, they just think it ‘sounds bad’, when the truth is, that’s what the instrument really sounds like without any room reverberation. So, one does need to build his own virtual room and roll frequencies in the EQ a bit…or it can sound quite strident and exposed. So, folks expecting the sort of library where you just punch in a preset and everything is already set up spacially in a preconceived room typically don’t like it much.

GPO’s stronger point is that you get a lot more instruments and variations to work with for the money. I.E. You get at least 5 unique solo violin sample sets…Stradivarious, Gagliano, Guarneri, etc. You get multiple ‘players’ for each instrument. It’s easier to build your own ‘custom tutti sections’ when there is no tutti variant, or the tutti variant isn’t expressive enough. You get a robust scala implementation that makes it easy and efficient to load up any tuning system you like (Equal @440Hz, Just @ 442Hz, Pythagorean @ 432, etc.). You get some nice harps, choirs, organs, and a lot more specialty percussion sounds.

I’m sorry you’ve had problems getting in touch with our support team. Depending on where you are in the world, you should either contact your local distributor for support, or our support team based at HQ in Hamburg. If you let me know which form you’re having problems with that is taking you around in circles, I will bring the problem to the attention of our web team.