I know someone can explain "Layers."

Hi all - I’m coming from Kontakt, Omnisphere, Reaktor, etc as well as various scripting environments. I just got Halion 6 and am REALLY enjoying it. But, I’m hoping someone can explain the purpose of “Layers” in the object hierarchy.

I’ve been through a lot of the docs, including the chapter “About Programs, Layers, Multis, Macro Pages, and Presets” - and the actual purpose of Layers isn’t clear. It seems you don’t actually need to create a Layer in order to have Zones. I am able to add a seemingly unlimited number of Zones, Busses, MIDI objects, etc to my Programs without ever creating a single Layer. I can also select any type of object in the Program Tree, and it is immediately editable in the Sound Editor - it seems Layers are not actually needed to encapsulate other objects (they don’t intrinsically nest other objects “under the hood”). There is also no “Layer Editor” - nothing magically happens when you select one in the Program Tree.

The manual also says you are limited to only 4 of them – so, why use them at all? Am I missing something? :ugeek:

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As far as I’ve ever been able to figure out, a multi-layer program is then a collection of layers in a container object that also has a submixer (the Edit Program page, if you’re not in Halion SE). While each layer can stand as a program in its own right, the co-ordinated combination of layers might be easier to work with in some cases. Easier to save and load? Less cumbersome than a set of track presets in the mixer? Able to cram up to 64 layers onto a single instance of HALion instead of just 16 (if your CPU can take it)?

It’s a fair question. I wonder what others think as well.

You don’t need to use layers as you discovered.

They can be quite usefull for several things though.

Editing, copy and paste. You can load entire program into a layer and combine several programs into one program this way.

You need layers if you want to create instrument using key switches. Each layer becomes an articulation triggered by certain keyswitch.

Layer can have its own output buss, which a zone cannot. This way you can use different effects and processing for zones that belong to a layer. Think drum instruments (separate buss for kick, snare, hihat…)

Layer does have an editor. Select a layer and click on the sound editor tab. It looks similar to program editor.

The limitation of 4 layers is for Halion Sonic I believe. You can have as many layers as you want or need in Halion.

Thanks Colin - I just tried adding a Bus to a Layer (ignoring all the other objects), and it indeed created its own Bus that is separate from the other busses up and downstream. So there’s that!

But, I also found something else which helps explain why I’m confused - the docs say:

“Programs are combinations of up to 4 layers.”

…but, this isn’t the case. I just added 80-bazillion Layers and Halion didn’t even blink. I think the problem is - the docs are wrong :astonished:

This is from:
https://steinberg.help/halion/v6/en/halion/topics/introduction/programs_and_content_about_c.html

It also says:
“HALion offers 5 different layer types. You can choose between synth, sample, instrument, drum, and sliced loop layers. Each layer type is based on an individual sound architecture and has a dedicated editor.”

Lol, I’m not seeing this either. I’m not asked to choose a specific Layer type at any point, and I’m freely mixing sound sources within a Layer (Synth, Sample, etc)…and I don’t see any dedicated editor. I’m starting to think here that the documentation is just wrong, maybe lingering from prior Halion versions, or getting criss-crossed with Halion Sonic or something??

Might be nice if someone at Steinberg can confirm. Pretty please :mrgreen:

Thanks misohoza! That helps a lot. Since the docs are a little lacking here, that info would have taken me a month of experimentation.

Indeed that’s what I just discovered in my prior post - they’ve criss-crossed the documentation. Believe it or not, the “4 Layers” info I posted above was actually from the Halion 6 documentation…!

Thanks for this folks, understanding the object hierarchy is so important with complex instruments!

The 4 top level layers is a Sonic and Sonic SE limitation. You can have 4 top levels with macro tabs. Also, the Sonic UI has some limits on the size of the macro pages (since the Sonic UI is not resizable like the one in Full HALion). Each of these top most levels should in the least have a bus.

Deeper down you can have all kinds of layer sub-branches (even in Sonic) well in excess of ‘four’, but at the very top level, you are limited to 4 (for 4 macro pages, and the parts of the Sonic UI dealing with bus management). For instance, you could have 4 top most layers, each with its own macro page. Within each of those four TOP layers, you may have dozens more layers…

The full HALion UI doesn’t have the 4 macro slot limitation…it’s simply ‘recommended’ you keep it to 4 or less if you want to port those programs for use in Sonic, and be able to give Sonic users access to controls in said layers through the Sonic GUI.

Layers vs Zones…
For me, one of the biggest advantages to using layers, is that each fresh layer gets a fresh amp control level in addition to whatever you get for individual zones, along with the ability to drop in a bus for alternate routing. I.E. Each ‘zone’ of multi sampled instrument might have some dynamics envelopes applied, while the layer header itself also gets a dymaic shaping envelope that can effect ALL the zones and layers below it in the tree in mass. So, nested layers give you nested sets of somewhat relative parameters.

It also increases possibilities with the MegaTrig module. Each layer can also have independent arp engines. Also each layer gets a fresh set of QC controls (which can ultimately show up in your DAW’s VST automation lanes).

Thanks Brian. Since my original post, it’s become more clear. The 4 layers seem to be primarily a scalability / portability issue - since I’m putting together my own custom library for my sound design projects, and don’t really plan on doing a commercial release that needs Sonic, I’ll feel free to add a million billion :sunglasses: Of course they should really update the Halion 6 documentation to reflect the reality.


That was not immediately obvious - thanks!