Pan in Halion or in the DAW mixer?

I’ve always kept my panning on the Cubase mixer, as I felt it was a better reference to see my panning positions.

That was until recently I was mocking up a spread of classic instruments, some of them were layered unison patches, using (for ex) Violin A/Violin B, or layerings with expressive patches.

Either I was experiencing huge placebo, or during a mono check and comparison, I felt that panning IN Halion sounded a lot more seperate and clear, even definition between 4 layered brass sounded (for ex. Pan R80/R70/R65/R60) solid, as opposed to using the pan in the mixer which I though produced a bit more comb filtering.

I actually stopped what I was working on and had to experiment with this for an hour or so, until I convinced myself that I would pan in Halion from now on.

Anyone similar or am I crazy?

(To be clear, I’m referring to panning from the program list, rather than deep in the patch edit options.)

I do the same thing, but for me it is to conserve CPU on my really old PC.

If I’ve got a multi timberal setup in a single Halion instance in rack mode and split off every instrument slot to a new stream-output so I can process via mixer inserts and pan/mix each thing individually it puts a bit more load on my particular PC.

If I do as much as possible within Halion itself, using its own mixer/built in effects and whatnot over a single stereo bus I seem to get a little more headroom for other things across the DAW. I do set my Halion instances in rack mode to use all six of my Phenom II cores. I also get the added advantage of more easily being able to port project scores into other hosts (Such as Sibelius or Finale) and retain the bulk of my preferred instrument settings.

If I had a snappier and more modern PC, I’d probably go back to a DRY Halion setup with multiple outputs, letting the DAW do more things, but things being as they are I do as much as possible inside Halion with as few output streams as possible. Given a snappier rig, I’d also try using more ‘instrument tracks’ with multiple Halion instances as opposed to sticking the thing in the rack (so each instance could get a thread of its own for potentially better cpu core management).

So in my opinion, you’re not crazy. It may well be that there is enough difference in the efficiency of your two setups that one really does play back at a little higher quality and sound better.


I don’t think I’ve considered using the built in mixer to conserve CPU. I may try that to see if I notice any performance differences. I guess the main reason is that I usually have a few plugins on those individual channels… or automation and things like that, of course.

In my case I think it’s simply the practice of using fewer ‘streams or outputs’ that makes the difference in CPU consumption. No doubt results can vary depending on the type of project, your system itself, and what all else is going on. The effects in Halion are pretty much the same as the stuff that comes with Cubase…the big difference is that I’m processing upstream before it gets to the DAW. I automate Halion slot by slot instead of splitting off dozens of outputs and using Mixer inserts. This practice ‘might’ also help cut down on minor amounts of latency that would otherwise occur from having many multiple streams for the DAW to manage.

I use HSSE, but iI think both instruments are the same with regard to general panning and the interval vs. on the board mixing question. This applies to panning and any other similar production method using Halion or, really, any VSTi.

Here’s how I see it. Using the instrument’s mixing panel means you are essentially using the MIDI Faders, rather than keeping them “off” and invisible on the Mixing Desk. So, it can add to fader clutter, or it can make things more pre-arranged and ready to be introduced into your project. Is it clutter or is it greater precision and detail? You have to decide. If you pan, and the MIDI channel is assigned to Master Output, the Pan effects anything assigned to Master Out.

I don’t think one method is better or worse, but using the Instrument’s Mixer can hide what’s happening if you forget, for example, that Channel Two is panned Left in the instrument’s mixer, and then, in the mix, don’t see any panning on the audio Output to which Midi channel Two is assigned. “Why is that Trumpet panned so far left? Oh, yeah, the internal mixer pan.”

If the instrument is playing a Multi, one sound with multiple voices, and all voices are routed to Master Out, then, the internal mixer can be useful for creating that entire “voice.” Automating the internal effects and the preassigned Quick Controls can make using such “Multi” easier or neater.

If you’re using the instrument in a multi-timbral fashion – five piece band on five stereo audio output channels and any number of MIDI tracks; string quartet; brass section – those can be mixed and placed within the instrument and the outputs all sent the Individual Outputs, or that entire “Band” or “section” can be mixed within the instrument and then sent to Master Out. As far as panning, effects and so on, I think both are great and work in a complementary way.

It’s also sometimes useful to make Master Out the Master Effects channel, with the other MIDI Channels routed to Individual Audio Outputs and the Master Contains only the Effects from, say, a big voice Multi patch of some kind. Of course the instrument’s Aux effects can be routed to any audio output.

I think both, or all these methods work and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s all about the Ray Charles Method, which is, “yeah, but how does it sound, baby?” Which, as I understand the story, was Ray’s answer to an engineer or producer extolling the use of some new technology.

Good luck. :slight_smile:

My ears may not be as good as yours, but I really don’t hear much of a difference between internal mixer and the same material mixed on the Mixing board. I’ll look into it more. I posted some thoughts about this as much to help me think things out as anything else. Take care.