Where did I get Halion Sonic 7 from?

Sorry, this must be a stupid question, but having not used Halion for a year or so, I was surprised to see its version 7 and not the version 3 that I purchased a few years ago.
Even the app name states 3.
It works fine, but im just a bit confused.

It’s a component of the full Cubase 13 installation.

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Thanks. So does that mean v3 has been updated to v7 because i brought 13?

Depends on what you are starting with. Sonic is the stripped down version of Halion which is included with Cubase. So if your v3 is Sonic then yes it is upgraded. But I suspect it isn’t because you said you bought it and I don’t think Sonic was ever available to purchase, although I’m not sure about that.

Anyway you need to figure out exactly what your v3 actually is to sort things out.

Yes, i purchased Sonic 3 a few years ago. This was an upgrade from 3SE that came with CB 11 (IIR). The download manager is also showing Sonic 3 as being upto date, but i cant find a way of running it. Obviously im happy if 7 works the same way, just a bit confused.
I was using it as a stand alone. Now i can use S7 the same way.

Sonic 3 could be purchased. It came packed with several content libraries (Very Yamaha MOTIF like). Essentially it has something like 95% of the content that came with HALion, but you only got the Sonic Plugin/UI (not the full HALion plugin that can deep edit/sample/etc).

Sonic 3 SE came with Steinberg hosts, and the player (minus any content in the download itself) could also be downloaded for free.

Content (libraries) for SE typically came with Steinberg hosts (Cubase, Nuendo, Dorico, etc. Need a key for one of these hosts, or a full Sonic/HALion key to unlock and use the sounds), but it was possible to buy libraries independently that require a Sonic or HALion player.

The free download of Sonic SE was intended to be used with standalone HALion content libraries (I.E. HALion Symphonic Orchestra, Steinway Piano, Dark Planet, a number of 3rd party libraries, etc). Anyone could grab it. Just needed to click a link to get a key via email (that registered to eLicencer [soft or on a dongle].

With Dorico 4/5 and Cubase 12/13, Sonic 7 replaced previous versions of Sonic SE. The ‘SE’ version was dropped. The Sonic and Sonic SE players have always been quite similar but full Sonic has a few more features (layering sounds), and some program change options (via MIDI) that come in handy in live playing situations. Now all of those extra full Sonic features are ‘just there’, for everyone.


It won’t be long until Steinberg takes the old eLicensing severs off line. So, if you plan to keep using older versions of their stuff, get a dongle (if you don’t already have one) and put your keys on it!

Since Sonic 7 was released, I believe you have a few options.

  1. Upgrade your license to Sonic 7 Collections!

This would be the most reliable thing to do if you intended to move into the ‘dongle free’ Steinberg world. You’d also get some new libraries along with the upgrade. I can’t remember them all, but a couple that stand out for sure are the FM Lab, and Tales acoustic guitar.

If you use the latest versions of Steinberg hosts (Cubase 12-13/Nuendo 12-13/Dorico 5), I highly recommend upgrading your Sonic 3 key to Sonic 7. It will save you a lot of headaches (and get you off the dongle).

  1. You can try Sonic 7 (just grab the plugin itself, without any content changes) with your old eLicenser content, but I’m not positive that it works these days?

If you want to ‘try’ the newest versions of Sonic 7 plugin and content downloads with an older Sonic 3 license you can, but you may well have problems getting it unlocked and working properly. Without doubt the newest content that shipped with Sonic 7 Collections will not work with your old Sonic key. If the rest of it works somehow, you could use library manager to get rid of problem libraries that you don’t have keys for (FM Lab for instance).

If your Mix-Match of Sonic 3 and Sonic 7 worlds collide…just remove all traces of Sonic 7, all the HALion/Sonic content libraries, and start over with a fresh installation of Sonic 3 from your original installation media (or the Steinberg support web page). Avoid ‘updating/upgrading’ anything Sonic/HALion from that point forward.

  1. You can always roll EVERYTHING back to the latest version of Sonic 3. If you’re not using Steinberg hosts, or newer instruments/libraries from Steinberg, you might never notice much if any difference. In this case, I recommend using the support website instead of Download Assistant. Remove traces of Sonic 7 and content from your system. Grab all the Sonic 3 bits and install them one by one the old fashioned way. link: HALion Sonic 3 updates and downloads | Steinberg

Make sure you have your Sonic 3 key on the system (Dongle plugged in, or the key in your soft eLicenser).

If you roll back to HALion 6/Sonic 3 libraries or earlier but intended to use Cubase 12/13 or Dorico 5, be careful about updating the Sonic Player (skip installing Sonic 7) and updating content with Download Assistant. Over the years some people have had issues mixing and matching the newer dongle free content with the older plugins and vice verse. Sometimes it just borks the Steinberg Mediabay database all up if you try to mix and match pre-dongle releases with the new stuff! It might well be that Steinberg has sorted it all out by now, but it’s something to be aware of.

I.E. The content that ships with Cubase used to be several smaller libraries (Names like Basic, Artist, Pro, etc). Now it just shows up in Library manger as one big combined library named, “Sonic Selection”.

If you do roll back to Sonic 3/HALion 6 and before, be aware you will most certainly need Steinberg eLicenser installed, and have your key on the system.

Reminder (posting twice on purpose)
It won’t be long until Steinberg takes the old eLicensing severs off line. So, if you plan to keep using older versions of their stuff, get a dongle (if you don’t already have one) and put your keys on it!


Im still confused. Im using Sonic 7 without any issues already so why would i need to upgrade to it?
This is with or without a dongle, in stand alone or in Gig Performer. The Libraries i already have/had seem to work, although the ones that came with Sonic 3 (paid version) like hot Brass still seem to need the dongle attached. I can’t find a way to get around this at the moment so will keep it connected.

Im not using CB, ive gone over to Logic, but do have CB installed and will keep it for a few thing’s.

If everything is working for you with your existing setup, then the primary benefits to upgrading full Sonic 3 to Sonic 7 Collections are:

  1. Dongle free.
  2. Additional new content (FM Lab, Tales Acoustic Guitar) that won’t be covered by the Sonic 3 license.

This is great news! I’m curious what your Library Manager looks like if your latest HALion key is for Sonic 3, but you are running the Sonic 7 plugin. Mind sharing a screen shot? I’m curious as to what ‘content versions’ you have running. Curious to know if the older Sonic 3 key unlocks the newer versions of content libraries/archives, etc (same sounds, but newer files/installations).

It might all be fixed now, but some users that only have the older Sonic 3 key, but have since installed the Sonic 7 plugin, AND have allowed HALion content to be updated via Download assistant (perhaps because they’ve installed Cubase/Nuendo 12/Dorico 5 or later) have reported an assortment of issues with the database and things not unlocking properly.

I.E. When you first installed Sonic 3, you got a bunch of libraries individually listed in Library Manager with names like:
Hybrid Synths
All of those originally needed a key on a dongle or eLicenser. Either a qualified Steinberg host, or a full Sonic/HALion license.

Traditionally, Steinberg considered HALion content that ships with a host as “SE” content. Full versions of HALion/Sonic included most of that “SE” content as well (So you didn’t need Steinberg Hosts to use it all if you owned a full version of HALion/Sonic).

If you grab the latest HALion/Sonic content for Cubase 12/13, Download Assistant replaces those with a single ‘dongle free’ variant of all the old “SE” level content (It combines several that used to be tagged/managed separately) that is now called:
Sonic Selection

While everything from “Sonic Selection” is intended to work and sound just as it always has, the Macro Editors have a new look, the archives have been rebuilt and tagged as newer versions, and everything has been adapted to work in the new dongle free environment.

If things are working fine for you, no worries. It just makes sense that upgrading to Sonic 7 Collections would make your system a bit more ‘bullet proof’ moving into the future with Steinberg hosts and other products.

Yes, even if the newer/reorganized libraries of the old content from Sonic 3 and before are working for you, the dongle is needed because that’s where your ‘Sonic’ library key is.

I.E. Load something from Hot Brass…a condition for that library to work is that you have a key for whatever version of Sonic that content shipped with (Hot Brass was new with HALion 6/Sonic 3 I think), or later. Since your latest key is for Sonic 3, and that one needed to be on dongle or soft eLicenser, you still need keys there.

HALion/Sonic 7 plugins, as well as the newest content for HALion uses a new Steinberg Activation center.

Most (if not all by now) of the older HALion libraries have been tweaked by Steinberg over the past few years to work Dongle free, but to get keys for that stuff you have to apply codes/vouchers to get it onto your account properly.

This is one of the reasons that some people with older HALion/Sonic licenses not upgraded to the latest have reported issues after accepting ‘content updates’ from Download Assistant. Assistant might overwrite older versions of content (*.vstsound files…unlocked by a dongle) with newer ones that for whatever technical reasons aren’t getting unlocked properly. Upgrading from Sonic 3 to Sonic 7 Collections would ensure you have everything you need to run HALion/Sonic dongle free (A few rare exceptions with some really old content that hasn’t been updated for the new Activation center might still exist).

Again, it might be that Steinberg has fixed all those compatibility issues throughout the shift from dongleware releases to the new Steinberg Activation system, and everything just works nicely for you.

So, it doesn’t hurt to try things. Just know that if it ‘breaks’ on you, and you need to roll back with older versions of the ‘content libraries’, you can always clean them out with Steinberg Library Manger, and get the older versions back by downloading from the support web site and reinstalling them from there. You’ll always need the dongle to use those versions.


Thanks again for that lengthy explanation. The penny has now dropped and i totally understand whats going on.
So ill upgrade to 7 collection and wont need the dongle for anything after that, but if i ever want to use S3 again i can with the dongle.
I opened briefly all the sound packs i had already, and they all seemed to open ok (this is with the dongle attached).
The only issue I’ve had so far is that the media panel on the right doesn’t open unless click on an empty slot on the left, and then i can open it and chose sounds etc. For example if i have a piano in slot one, i cant click on that and change the sound without clicking one of the empty ones first. The media manager just wont open. This is with the stand alone and within Gigi Performer.
Ive never really totally understood Halion but have used it a few times on recordings so i know how to get out of it what i need, but i know its capable of much more.

Im only going to use it for Piano and maybe a bit of strings so im not worried about any new features, but i do love the FM-X sounds on my MODX, and it seems this engine is included with 7 so thats a reason to upgrade.

Thanks again to all that replied. My mind is a lot clearer now.

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