UVI's Audio Engine VS Halion

So this really doesn’t matter because most people don’t sound design “in distress” (i.e. pushing the synth engine to the breaking point by utilizing extensive DSP and multiple layers/engines).

Sounds like a bunch of mumbo. Let me break it down.

Let’s say you Delta Meridian a sound. You have 7 layers that make up the sound. Possibly even 7 different synth engines! There is no limit. Anyway, if you PROPERLY apply EQ and EQ and even MORE EQ to those seven layers…you can get them to “fit” and sound like a single instrument. It’s Delta Meridian Sound Design. We don’t use brute force stuff like the filter. We build each instruments filter by a network of Equalizers.

The other bonus is that it’s much “louder” and “fuller”. You’re essentially using the additional audio bandwidth of Halion’s Multi-Timbrel engine to make a single sound bigger. In my testing over the last 7 plus years…NOBODY’s engine can touch Halion.

You can literally stack tracks on top of tracks and as long as you stay in the EQ bubble…it maintains total clarity!

So back to UVI. I’ve been toying making another super synth and UVI is a candidate. One of first things that I noticed is that the UVI engine is very inefficient compared to Halion. Halion has like a 3x advantage on putting DSP on the ground. It’s not even close.

The other thing is that if you layer a bunch of sounds together, the UVI engine ‘crushes’…i.e Distorts. Not in a good way.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell Steinberg/Yamaha good job. You do have the worlds most powerful audio engine!

p.s. Please fix the surround plugin! It’s been broken for some time. :wink:

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Numbers aside, do you prefer the sound of HALion or Falcon (regardless of the type of oscillator used)?

Hey Saint,

Great question. I would say this:

Halion seems to be sourced from 4 different vendors/sound designers.

  1. Yamaha itself.
  2. Steinberg
  3. Sonic Reality (OG Squids)
  4. Other.

The Yamaha stuff is the best by far. I currently own a Yamaha EX5 and a Motif ES. Halions core library seems to be the sample sessions “between” these two instruments. Not as detailed as the Motif ES, but more articulation and multisamples vs the EX5. So you’re getting a dated…but decent library (regarding what I feel is Yamaha’s sound’s. )

Problem one. Halions Yamaha sourced library suffers from some annoying, but fixable frequency problems. It’s mostly in the 100-200hz. Also the 4k and 8k ranges can be harsh. I’m gonna do a video on how to make your own Montage EX at some point.

The other 3 sources are hit and miss. For example…the “Hot Brass” instrument is truly awful. I have no idea how this was green lit. But, on the flip side- there is a Steinberg sound designer named…I think it’s Klaus? His stuff is good. I would chuck probably 60% of the library as being filler/close to not usable in my musical scenarios.

Now to UVI. They have different frequency problems and velocity problems galore. Compared to what I hear as the “Yamaha” sounds…UVI isn’t on that level. Not at all. Yamaha isn’t playing around when it comes to samples.

UVI…They don’t seem to have playing velocity’s figured out. Like you have to WORK to play the instruments and when there is velocity stuff…it’s’ very hard to control. It’s not a players library.

Overall, I would give Halion the advantage here. I don’t personally think it’s Omnisphere level…but definitely over KONTAKT. A step above UVI’s sounds. It’s a firm 2 on the dated, but in parts, decent library. .

The move now is for Steinberg to update the library. Yamaha could easily give them the MOTIF XF sample set as an upgrade for us. Charge $99.

This is what that looks like.

  1. Bring back innovation to Halion.
  2. Unify Yamaha/Steinberg’s Hardware/Software synth division into its own entity.
  3. Unify all sound sets. There should one no walls between Halion and the Montage. They are the the same audio engine at its core.
  4. Bring all Yamaha effects over to Halion as well.
  5. Have Halion be patch compatible with Montage software.
  6. Drop the “Halion” name. It’s such a strange name.
  9. Annual updates from here on out. Let’s do $49 one year then $99 the next. Let’s bring NEW SOUNDS to the table.

Hope that helps!

My copy of Halion is a little different from yours. Actually a lot. It has 4 Physics engines. I call it WARP technology. Whatevs…Steinberg should be giving me free licenses to EVERTYING after the swath of buttkick-age I’m about to release on the entire synth industry. Native Instruments is first.

Development and depth of library.

This is where UVI wins. Those dudes are literally sampling concrete. Also the new features they add are timely and usually free. We are on a literal hardware development cycle, which further substantiates that Steinberg and Yamaha are using the same core synth engine. I think there is some differences here and there. But the actual AWM2 engine is in Halion.

I assume that’s a marketing decision? I personally wish it was different but what do I know?

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Thank you for your reply! I agree with a lot of what you wrote.

Unifying Yamaha/HALion dev would be ideal and a game changer - and something I have been wanting for years! They have a wealth of instruments and FX they could integrate, it just seems like a huge missed opportunity to me.

Also, fixing the issues with the GUI should be a top priority as well.


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One last thing before the buzzer!

I would say that neither’s engine appears to be at the level of what we have with our DAWS. Like you literally can’t clip Logic. I just keep’s getting louder. Now you bounces will sound like poooo…but you get what I’m saying.

Halion actually “clips” and not in a pleasant way all the time. I haven’t found that UVI does that “clipping” as much…but I’m 90% Halion right now-so I can’t exactly vet that particular statement.

Going deeper…some tyπes of sounds give Halion’s audio engine a very hard time. It seems like the piano type sounds are very difficult for it to do at its loudest volumes.

Bass sounds are difficult for Halion’s engine as well. This is where the hardware seems to trump the software-BASS. Both the Motif ES and EX5 have an easier time with bass at their full volumes. I would say the margin is larger than you would think.

I wish we had control over that clipping sound if we could just eliminate it alltoether. Not even the limiting plugin can fix it.

Happy sound making!

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Compared to Halion, Falcon’s preset sounds are heavy on the Maximizer. That might be where you’re getting your crushing from. In general, Falcon’s factory sounds are over-produced and difficult to fit in a mix. Even the best libraries, such as Quadra Muted and Harmonics, have a certain sound, which I’m not altogether a fan of. However, the fundamentals of the instrument are superb, or at least they would be if it was multicore, which must surely be on the way. I do think Halion feels more detailed and ‘serious’, especially in a few areas such as wavetables and, of course, recording, and its factory library is full of hidden treasures; but, CPU drain aside, Falcon seems slightly more flexible and capable across the board (at this point in time).

Good stuff Mr. Peter R.

Yeah, I will have to say that I am using all the UVI libraries through the UVI player, but I assume that it’s the same engine as Falcon like we have Halion Sonic.

Ugh. I HATE the name “HALION”. In terms of UVI, I would say that I was astounded that you literally have no clue what synthesizer they used because it all sounds the “same”. Maybe that’s what you mean by over produced?

I was more concerned with when you have a sound with 3 velocities. UVI jumps very erratically. I would have to assume those dudes are using some kind of mechanical MIDI trigger device the way they are releasing those sounds.

And those SOUNDS! How are they releasing like 10x more content than Steinberg? I just don’t get it. Are they just little crack heads sampling 24/7 with no half steppin? :rofl:

One thing I think we need to discuss is LOW END capability. Halion uses whatever technology Yamaha has been refining since the EX5. That synth has low end like no other. Nobody really talked about that as a capability but it had bass powa!

Halion has it even more. You can actually even bottom out the audio engine with bass. That’s something you can’t do with other synths. Either they have some kind of inbuilt limiter or there is some aggressive EQ work behind the scenes that cuts low frequencies.

I think a testament to this is before I switched from Halion Sonic to full Hal, I had NO CLUE that those “instruments” were just macros built over the core engine! Specifically Voltage and Trium (can we get some new interfaces and content for these old gems please! Except Hot Brass. Steinberg, you can take that one back and bury it) :rofl:

Just by them setting the filter in a way, Voltage sounds VERY CLOSE to “Moog” county. Not as smooth as say DIVA, but closer to what a real synth would sound like. Bass sounds are just easy to pour out of this little gem.

Diva sounds like it’s using a slightly higher resolution DSP subsystem to generate its oscillators. It’s a step above Halion. Not by a lot. But a step above in regards to VA sounds. But again bass. You can EQ Halion to make your pictures fall off your walls. Diva and other VA’s won’t let you push things that far.


I am also hesitating between UVI Falcon 3 and Halion 7.
I would really like to find the sounds of my Yamaha EX7 (AWM, VL, FDSP and AN) into a virtual instrument…

If I understood correctly Halion 7 would be closer to EX5/7 sound engine compared to Falcon 3?

But not to the point I imagine to be able to load the banks of my EX7 directly into Halion?

Now I guess I’m dreaming a little too much!

Hi X,

Yes I would say that the Halion library in places-sounds like the Yamaha EX5/Original Motif “B” sides: the sounds that had problems and were possibly passed by for the hardware.

That’s my backstory at least! The quality is average to poor overall. The UVI libraries I have, with the exception of the new EFX library-isn’t as good on the bread and butter.

I like the overall sound of Halion’s VA as well. It’s actually very good.

Edit…oh the edit

If you are a person who likes to layer multiple sounds together, i.e: combine a VA layer with a this and a that and a smidgen the other-DO NOT GET UVI!

They have have a SERIOUS CPU PROBLEM…at least on the Mac M1 Max. I have no clue why this would be the case because all of the libraries that I own are sample based.

But as far as efficiency is concerned…running Halion is like having a 10x boost in CPU if you layer. I’m not even joking.

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June Update:

Ok. So got some more UVI stuff. The synth anthology 4 and whatevs. So this is my final verdict regarding Falcon VS Halion.

Halion Plus

Overall Engine Sound
The engine just sounds better. It’s clearer. Like the Montage M that it shares its engine with. Yamaha won’t say it…but we essentially got a more powerful Montage M…with a crap library.

I sound design in Delta Meridian. All the rules are broken. The Filter is of little use to me. I’m going to the MOON with DSP to scalp INSIDE the mixer. Not the synth. Anyway…my synthesizer SKYFALL would be IMPOSSIBLE with UVI. Like literally impossible. The WARP engine is 30 some odd process ALONE. Falcon is a choke artist in regards to DSP. I think that’s the benefit of having a VST “derived” from limited hardware…thus it has to be super efficient-vs a synth that was made in software only. Halion kills Falcon. Not even close.

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Falcon is a better synth and “Quick Sampler,” but HALion is a better multi-sampler.

If I were getting one or the other for synthesis or sample manipulation, then I’d choose Falcon. It also has better FX and MIDI Processor Scripts than HALion, and it can send processed MIDI out to the Sequencer (basically functioning as a MIDI Effect).

I think that’s why Falcon has basically zoomed past HALion in mindshare (and probably marketshare) despite being sold at the same price (though, more often on sale) and having a much weaker factory library.

HALion is great for Cubase users, though, because it basically plugs into the user experience there and its factory library covers a lot of gaps and presents everything conveniently in Media Bay. I’d go straight to Absolute, though. Pricing structure makes it kind of dumbo to get HALion 7 on its own.

I don’t have any issue with CPU in Falcon 3. Never saw that as an issue, but CPU problems depend largely on the CPU you have in your machine.

If you’re smart and go AMD - where you don’t need a new MOBO for every successive generation of CPUs, you can stay 1 generation behind the latest and upgrade your CPU for dirt cheap without having to pay much of anything once they go on sale. AMD is still making Ryzen 5000 CPUs, so people on 2000/3000 series can upgrade for almost nothing, and it’s drag-and-drop for a decent IPC improvement.

Some of the expansion pack patches stack multiple engines in Falcon and don’t have an issue on any of my machines (Ryzen Desktop & Laptop or M1 Pro MBP).

UVI does update Falcon much more regularly than Steinberg does HALion. They’re been fairly good about not raiding wallets for updates, as well.

I would choose HALion if you do a lot of Live Sampling or want to build and distribute multi-sampled instrument libraries, though.

I do think Falcon has a better UI for sound design, which is why a lot of people tend to gravitate to it over HALion, which can feel overengineered and cluttered to some people.

Good points Tren,

I will say that I don’t really invest in new instruments in Halion anymore. The last 4 have been UVI. I just feel like Halion is on the slow track for development.

Thats why I think UVI sailed past Halion: those dudes are HARD WORKERS. Both have pretty yuck sounds. Very dated.

UVI does have better effects. Halion’s sound like a 90’s workstation. I have a M1 Mac Studio so I’m not on the CPU struggle buss fortunately.

I’m running super deep DSP inside Halion to do some crazy stuff. UVI can’t do it. I’m talking layering 10 different engines, with 6 effects per layer. THEN 30 some processes that make up the WARP Matrix.

I figure why make a bunch of separate threads. Let’s compare Halion 7 to Roland Cloud’s Zenology Pro…shall we!

Zenology is liquid garbage. Like the whole thing. It’s pretty awful.

My Integra sounds surprisingly dated and awful-but this is worse. It sounds ‘similar’ to the Integra. Not better. Kinda dark sounding.

The library is about 90% filler. Really weirdo 80’s sample sounds that don’t translate well to the modern era. Very thin sounding. Velocity and aftertouch cause weird vibrato effects. Just awful. Halion is bad…this is AWFUL.

You get almost no effects capabilities beyond a Roland XP-30. It’s just weird to make a piece of software and completely cripple it head to toe.

I’m gonna post a comparison soon with Roland’s stuff VS SKYFALL. Yikes. Like super yikes. If you know anybody at Roland…tell them it’s going to be bad.

Roland’s Zenology Gets ** (two stars) out of 5. I’m being generous here. Very very generous.

Halion 7 VS Tone2 (Icarus,Electra2)

Tone2 has a really amazing sound. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes…but it sounds like a rudimentary version of SKYFALL’s Warp processing. I like!

Sounds very big (Icarus). Electra2 is a step back. Not. bad, just not big and bright like Icarus. Bass is a little lacking. Doesn’t do analog sounds well. Has smooth sounding ocs. Like Diva with the treble turned up.

I contacted Tone2 and told them I would not be comparing them to SKYFALL since they are kinda bowing out in a way. Great stuff. Icarus is a perfect companion to Halions sound.

What about Sampletank 4 :wink:

RAM Hog and the Libraries are designed for keyboard playback - even things like Philharmonik 2.

Mostly it’s the lack of Sample Purge and the long reload times that annoy with SampleTank.

I feel like you really need to put that content on an NVMe drive, otherwise it really, really gets annoying sitting through those progress bars.

I have had Total Studio for years (since v2). I would use Total Studio over the Libraries in Absolute, except maybe Acoustic Drums because I really just prefer an MPC-style instrument for Drums - Acoustic or otherwise).

If IKM would add Sample Purge so that you can only have the samples played/needed loaded, that would do a lot for that product. It sucks loading one instrument patch that uses > 1GB RAM to play only a few notes and there really isn’t anything you can do about it.

Beyond that, the Samples do sound good.

SampleTank doesn’t support scripting and the Editor Application/Plug-in is out of date, perpetually beta, and very unstable (crashes a lot when loaded as a plug-in). So, there are limits at the upper end in terms of what you can do with the platform for Library creation.

IKM does a lot of Piano, Mallet, etc. Libraries, which is probably the best segment for using SampleTank.

Total Studio is really valuable for the plug-ins, though, particularly T-RackS and AmpliTube.

SampleTank isn’t really a synth. Nothing to complain about its sound, since it’s predominantly used to play back sampled instruments (or sound design on top of your own).

Great reading. I have another one: melda msoundfactory. Very little talk about that one and is to my understanding more of a universal sampler/synth.