Modular structure for Halion synthesizer

After watching the videos for Halion 6 multiple times there was only one idea left for me.

I think that Halion 7 (in a few years) would profit a lot from becoming a fully modular synthesizer - where you can draw wires between functional blocks.

After that I guess the VST world has been won forever. :laughing:

I’ve been trying to figure out the structure of HALion for some time, and it occurs to me that it’s actually pretty modular by nature. Anyone who knows more, please correct me if I’m wrong:

  1. HALion is primarily a framework for layering synths. It’s set up like a mixer. There are 16 programs. Each of these has up to 4 layers and 4 effects buses. There are effects sends and a suite of effects to insert.

The programs themselves are modules within this framework. Some of these programs can be loaded as VSTis in a regular Cubase instrument track. HALion Symphonic Orchestra, for example. Others must be loaded within HALion. Trip, for example.
2. HALion also contains a sample-based softsynth. The documentation speaks of a “sample zone”. Programs created with this component of HALion can appear as:

  1. Part of a HALion library (Such as HALion Sonic Basic SE)
  2. Part of a collection based on a synth simulation, such as Auron. These are macros within HALion, I suppose. That’s why they can’t be loaded directly as VSTis on a Cubase instrument track.
  3. HALion also contains a subtractive softsynth. The documentation speaks of a “synth zone”. As with the sample zone, there are programs directly written in this zone that appear in libraries such as HALion Sonic Basic SE, and there are programs based on a HALion Macro, such as Trip or Voltage.

Now it’s probably true that HALion expansions such as Dark Planet and HSO are HALion based, and the only reason they can be loaded directly into instrument tracks is because they are sold with the HALion subset they need. Thus they can run “independently”.

OTOH, something like Spector cannot be loaded in HALion – only as an independent instrument in a Cubase instrument track. This tells me that it doesn’t share much (if any) of the HALion codebase.

In conclusion, I’d say HALion is a modular softsynth development platform, with 3 main aspects. (Framework, wavetable synth (including granular), and virtual analogue synth (apparently excluding FM).) Any softsynth based on it can be used in the framework, others cannot. HALion 6 seems to facilitate the creation of more programs, and offers ever larger program libraries.

It seems Steinberg wants to encourage more people to add to those libraries, which is a good idea because any platform thrives in proportion to how much it’s used. Going more “open source” with it allows users to add value to HALion at no cost to Steinberg. And we get a chance to be sound designers, which can’t hurt.

I think that the Zone parameter named Type gives a lot away: Synth, Sample, Grain and Organ. (I am still awaiting a FM8 entry here, team HALion! :wink: )

I am pretty sure someone from Steinberg at some point replied that Retrologue and Padshop are modified HALion extracts. Probably the same could be said for HSO. Anyways, the point is that R exemplifies the Synth type, P (and PP) showcase the Grain type, and so on.

One can also see the repeated modularity by looking it some of the other combo components, such as the B-Box and the MIDI Module named Drum Player, which I personally like, being an old fart from the era of MIDI hardware modules.

More and more I turn to HALion, rather than the breakouts, simple because I can do more, when needed. The interface compared to the breakouts is generally more involved, but that’s the price for great flexibility.

+1 :smiley: