I’ve never had problems getting third party libraries. They come with players.
I’ll concede that Halion might have shortcomings for doing a top notch super detailed drum set. What alternatives are there for similar money though, and how do they compare?
I’ve never tried to make a ‘super detailed’ real time drum set with things like realistic choking of sustained samples when the virtual head takes a second hit (is that possible in any sampler on the market?), squeaky pedals, and all the super detailed eccentricities of realistic drum playing may well require a custom engine designed specifically for percussion. I personally cannot imagine loading up such a program on my ancient PC and expecting it to work well ‘live’ without latency while other VSTi’s and stuff are also running at the same time in the same host. However, I have started with rather basic digital drum sets, and added some of those details in post.
For a super realistic and responsive real time drumming instrument…given the options I know of right now…I’d plan to serve such an electronic drum set from a dedicated PC (or isolate and run it discretely from the DAW on a high end PC), and sequence it using an old Atari ST (restored with a nice fresh cap job of course). I hate the latency issues with modern DAW systems…the Atari ST is rock solid and has superb resolution. They’re also pretty cheap.
Getting realistic ‘sounds’ spread across multiple triggers isn’t that much different from putting them all on the same trigger. I use four keys or pads instead of one, and integrate a CV foot pedal or two. I do NOT have a nice MIDI drum set though. I’ve got to use the pads and keys at hand. They aren’t sensitive enough for 24 velocity layers.
Yes, I’m aware that velocity can be edited in post, but I’m also aware that MIDI notes and crossfading layers can be edited in post. In post, or with ‘step entry’ style composing there’s not that much difference. When trying to play things in live, with cheap pads and keyboards…with minimal latency, while also tracking along with other VSTi plugins, all in the same host…the patch design needs to be different. MPC engines like GA4 are aimed at this sort of user. We ‘rough in compositions’ first, and if it sounds like a machine gun…we load and do the ‘detail work’ later. We don’t have a pro drummer at hand…so we rough it in and polish later. It’s not nearly as demanding on system resources as trying to load an instrument with gigs worth of samples (much of which probably won’t even be used during the session) and tens of thousands of potential triggers to track a ‘real time drumming performance’.
So I am curious of what happens if you load one of your super patches in Stand Alone mode and give the Halion engine access to all the cores. How much of your performance problems are due to the ‘host’ and the way it is managing resources vs the true ‘plugin potential’?
I’ve noticed that quite a few people are confused by the performance meters in Cubase and Halion. Those are NOT true ‘cpu’ meters. They are more of an indicator of relative performance within a specific time-reference…where everything needs to get done in sync to strict clock, etc. When things aren’t tweaked properly, I can peg that stupid performance meter in Cubase when my CPU is darn near idle (I can always get it sounding good again too…sometimes at a cost of latency…but then again I have cheap and ancient hardware…from CPU and motherboard to sound interface…so it works really well for what little I have invested in hardware here).
No doubt GA4 isn’t meant to go that far. Maybe it will be someday…
You’re correct that there is always room for improvement, and Halion does have a rather slow development cycle. The problem inspiring me to post here are claims that it doesn’t work, that it’s inefficient, or that it’s a waste of money, etc. None of that is true.
Third party libraries are an issue for some people, and that’s understandable. I didn’t get into Halion until version 5, and I KNEW it didn’t have many libraries for it. I wanted it to make surround sound stuff on the fly using unlimited numbers of DAW tracks to do multi channel samples at once…to integrate with Cubase and have FULL VST3 Expression support. At the time…nothing else on the market could do that, AND it was half the price of anything else on the market with as many features and synth engines.
I still contest the CPU/Resource efficiency thing. If there is anything heads above and better than Halion in this respect, with an equal or greater complexity and feature set, then it’s definitely in a much higher price bracket. I won’t argue that you might not find a more efficient ‘granular synth’ plugin…but how much does it cost? At some point it may well be more immediate (than waiting for future generations of software) AND less expensive to simply ‘use what we have’, and get one of the door stop PC’s out of the closet, and host some instruments on extra hardware? Ironically, hardware is cheaper than software these days…in fact, I’ve scoured enough stuff from people’s ‘garbage bins’ to make some decent pieces of music kit.
I think at least half of the issues some people experience with resource management are in the HOST, as there is a finite amount of time for plugins to get things done ‘in sync’ (between the clock ticks). Faster individual cores can help some with this, but in the digital realm, there will always be a finite amount of time…which is relative to the buffer size to your audio interface. At some point I hope more hosts will allow us to open a parallel matrix so we can get better use from multiple cores…but so far, none of the hosts in the consumer price range are doing that yet. So, essentially all the plugins are at the mercy of the host to a rather large degree.
On a PC as old and slow as mine…when I reach that ceiling with Cubase, I still have more than 40% of my CPU power free, so I can start moving VSTi plugins (where clock sync to the second with the rest of the DAW isn’t important) to a discrete Bidule and get several more instances going by using another 20% of the CPU.
If someone is on a budget and is looking for a well rounded set of sound scape tools with some of the best base content on the market, along with cutting edge psycho acoustic technologies, Halion packs a heck of a lot in the box for a fair price. I too wish Halion got ‘more love’ from Steinberg…but when I look around at alternative products, I see that the ‘love’ does come with a ‘price’ (and a lot of the ‘love’ projected by competing products is mostly sales hype and hot air…ultimately ‘paid for’ by the consumers).
Halion in its current state is more like an expandable Rompler. It is one heck of a nice bread and butter foundation for a workstation. One can make really nice projects, for all generas of music without having to buy a single ‘third party’ library. I wish I’d gotten Halion 4 back when I started moving over from racks and stacks to a software based DAW. I wouldn’t have needed at least three of the third party libraries I had purchased before H5 (Halion’s base content is better).
Having typed all this…I’ll be on my way from this thread. I apologize for approaching ‘rudeness’ in some previous posts. I don’t mean to be so impolite as to hijack a thread. I’m just dumbfounded at all the people who buy things without running the trials first, then claim it ‘doesn’t work’ and is a ‘waste of money’; or, folks who compare $200 options to $4,000 options; etc.