Touch Sensitive Keyboards and Halion Sonic SE

My midi keyboard (Yamaha Genos) has weighted keys and is touch sensitive - can these features be used with Halion Sonic SE to give the VST instrument more expression?

Alan Russell

I assume that you’re referring to your keyboard being velocity sensitive. You just have to enable “Touch Response”/“Initial Touch” on your Genos to transmit keyboard velocity data.

Halion Sonic SE is fully velocity sensitive. However, most of the factory presets only have one velocity layer sample available. This means that most instruments will sound quieter and darker when played gently, but they wont switch to a different sample based on how hard you play, similar to the “Regular” voices from your Yamaha Genos.

Most of the instruments from Halion 6 and the full version of Halion Sonic 3 have multiple velocity layers and articulations, making them more on par with what you’re used to from your Genos. The expansions sold by Steinberg sound even better, and they’re also compatible with the free Halion Sonic SE.

Thank you for the information and explanation

As stated above, most (but not all) sounds in HSSE are velocity sensitive and behave pretty much according to the General MIDI I standard. Some will even allow you to alter the velocity curve, or ‘compress’ the dynamics within a certain range.

Some sounds you’ll find that ship with various Hosts for HSSE might be tagged as using the mod wheel instead of velocity for attack dynamics. I know a few such presets ship with the full retail versions of HALion (and will work in HSSE)…can’t remember if any come with the Hosts though…if so, will probably be part of the ‘Artist’ library. Such instruments tend to ignore key-velocity, and instead you establish attack volume/style with your mod wheel.

Some instruments, like HALion Symphonic Orchestra (Ships with Dorico, or can be purchased as an independent library) have a switch where you can choose between velocity, expression volume, or mod-wheel based dynamics (initial attack style and volume, scaled to expression volume, which is in turn scaled to the master channel volume).

Technically, HALion also supports note-off velocity, as well as individual note-expression events. I’m not sure if any of the ‘out of the box’ sounds that ship with Cubase/Nuendo/Dorico use it, but it’d make sense that some pianos might use it for various ‘damper noise’ effects.

HALion SE ‘can’ support aftertouch; however, not many sounds that ship with Cubase/Nuendo/Dorico use it that I am personally aware of.

Note, I don’t use many of the synth sound packs, and these days several of them come with Cubase for use in HSSE. Some of those programs/presets might use note-off-velocity, note-expression, and aftertouch to open/close filters, or modulate LFO, or ‘something’. Best way to find out is to simply explore them, lean into the keys and see if it modulates anything you can hear :slight_smile:

Owners of the full retail version of HALion Sonic 3 or HALion 6 can easily attach after-touch (and any other controller events your keyboard might offer) to whatever parameter one wishes inside the HALion engine. When building one’s own sounds with bigger brother versions of HALion, or tweaking existing sounds into ‘your own fresh patches’, it’s pretty common to have after-touch open or close filters, or fade in/out pitch or dynamic LFO (vibrato or tremolo effects).

I thank you for the extensive response that you have taken the time to write to me

While exploring in Halion SE I did get my answer, and it was kind of a hit or miss in loading different sounds to see how the Yamaha Genos would respond, and some of them responded nicely to the keyboard’s expressive facilities.

I arrange songs from the American songbook and not hip-hop and or rap, so simple quality sectional horn and string sounds is what I am looking for