Your top 5 stock Dorico instruments

So, if there are stock instruments in Halion which you think are more than just usable, what would you pick?

I’m not offering any judging, but I’ll just go check out any suggestions


Woodwinds, pianos…most of those work well in just about anything with little effort.

In ensemble contexts, all of them are more than just usable, but choices depend upon the score at hand, and we must stage them properly, and roll off or boost key frequency ranges (EQ, Compression, and touches of ambient reverb) for the sort of mix we want. It also helps to layer some of them up with other included sounds (set multiple slots of HALion to the same channel, and stack instruments).

As Dorico loads them by default, well…Dorico can’t guess the kind of mix we’re after, the instruments are not all matched up for a mix/room/stage model by default (gain staging, panning, effect chains and presence/definition on where we want it in the mix, etc…all learned skills that require practice).

I.E. If you pay a premium price for an orchestra library, chances are the bulk of what you’re paying for is that someone has ‘staged’ the instruments into some traditional sonic model to work together as the ‘same ensemble’, in the ‘same room’. Out of the box, first violins more or less sound like they’re coming from where 1st violins would sit in a concert hall, or a film scoring studio, etc. Same for the other instruments in the library…someone took the time balance it out, and set up a nice ‘stage’ for all the sounds (raw samples, often no better than what comes with Dorico) to sing in.

It’s possible to ‘stage’ the stuff that comes with Dorico in similar ways and get really nice mixes. The tools to do it are included…WE users have to do it though.

Type and complexity of music we’re composing also matters.

For me, it’s easier to say what stuff comes with Dorico that I’d rather ‘avoid’ if possible.

Strings for exposed solo work, or anything with just one player/instrument per part. The included stuff just isn’t expressive enough, and pretty robotic sounding, and it’s virtually impossible to get non vibrato string sounds out of anything that comes with Dorico.

Exposed or solo brass instruments…like with strings. OK, HSO brass isn’t bad, but the Basic and Artist library solo brass…no thanks.

The tutti stuff I can live with for brass and strings.

Some of the percussion sounds a bit cheesy to me…to the point I’d rather grab free samples off the internet and make some of my own in the free SFZ player (or in my case, just drop it on a pad of Grove Agent).

All of it’s pretty useful, and can even be ‘quite nice’ in larger arrangements that don’t have a lot of exposed solo work I think.

To me, HSO can really sing, but requires some gain staging first. It’s just way too loud, and in your face, harsh, and obnoxious at defaults. Gain stage it at 50% (max velocity/CC1 for a single key playing (or more than one if the instrument often plays several notes at once) hits around 50% on the mixer with the fader at the default 50% mark), tweak the dynamic curve instead of having the default 1:1 ratio, reign in the stereo spread and give it a sense of origin in the mix, roll off some frequencies with EQ, and when ‘loudness’ is desired, layer stuff up (same instruments doubled and slightly detuned at different panning) instead of just piling on the ‘volume’ with a single channel. It can sound really good then :slight_smile:

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