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System Requirements
Your computer must meet the following minimum requirements:
Downloading Program Files
The Steinberg Download Assistant helps you download the required files to your computer.
Installing the Program
After downloading the required files, you can install HALion on your computer.
Activating Your License
Registering Your Software
Register your product at the MySteinberg online customer portal. As a registered user, you are entitled to technical support, you gain access to exclusive offers such as software updates and upgrades, and more.
How You Can Reach Us
Click the Steinberg logo in the top right corner of the control panel to open a pop-up menu containing items for getting additional information and help.
About the Documentation
The documentation is available online and most of it can be downloaded in PDF format from
Setting Up
The following sections describe how to use HALion as a plug-in in different host applications.
Configuring the Control Panel
You can set up the control panel by determining the number of different views, that is, window sections, and by further configuring these sections, for example, by adding tabs. For the views and tabs, you can specify the editor that is displayed.
View and Tab Operations
Window Handling
Setting the Focus
It is important to know which view, window, or tab has the focus. The focused section of the window is the area to which your actions, such as key commands, are applied. The view that has the focus is indicated by a blue frame.
Available Editors
The editors give you access to the parameters of HALion and its programs and modules.
Dials and Sliders
Dials and sliders can be unidirectional or bidirectional. Unidirectional values, for example level values, start at a minimum value and go up to the maximum. Bidirectional controls start from the middle position and go to the left for negative and to the right for positive values.
Multi Selection and Parameter Controls
Value Fields
Using Key Commands
HALion offers two types of presets: section/module presets and VST presets. Section and module presets store and recall the setup of a specific component on the HALion panel. VST presets contain all information necessary to restore the complete state of the plug-in.
Plug-in Functions Section
The plug-in functions section at the top of the window gives you access to global functions that affect both the currently loaded programs, and the general working of the plug-in.
Plug-in Name and Steinberg Logo
Keyboard Editor
The Keyboard Editor contains the wheel controls, the sphere control and the internal keyboard.
Quick Controls
Quick controls allow you to remote-control any parameter inside the program.
Options Editor
The Options Editor contains global settings regarding performance optimization, global functions, and MIDI controllers.
AI Knob Support
HALion can be controlled with the AI knob of Steinberg’s CC121, CI 2, and CI2+ controller units.
Automation Parameters
Automation Editor
All assigned automation parameters are shown in the Automation editor.
Setting Up Automation
About Programs, Layers, Multis, Macro Pages, and Presets
Registering VST Sounds
To be able to use the content from VST Sound containers, these containers must be registered in the MediaBay.
Loading Programs and Layers
Load Dialog
Slot Rack
The Slot Rack has 64 slots. Each slot can hold a program, that is, you can work with 64 programs at the same time.
Managing and Loading Files
You can use the MediaBay and the Browser to manage, navigate to, load, and preview different file types.
Working with General MIDI Files
Mapping Zones
You can edit the sample mapping manually in the Mapping Editor. The mapping functions are based on information like key range, root key, and velocity range.
Main Section
Trigger Section
Voice Management Section
The Voice Management section allows you to control the maximum number of notes that you can play and to set conditions for note stealing and triggering.
Variation Groups Section
To avoid the so-called machine gun effect that occurs when the same sample is triggered repeatedly, you can create programs that use several samples for the same key and velocity range. These samples can then be triggered alternately as variations. To define which samples are triggered as variations, you can assign them to variation groups.
Quick Control Assignments Section
This section allows you to manage and edit the assigned quick controls.
Note Expression Section
Adding Zones
You can add zones in the Program Tree. Which zone type to add depends on the type of sound that you want to create or work with.
Zone Types
Adding Samples to Empty Zones
Depending on the zone type, it can be necessary to fill the created zone with sample material. This applies to sample zones, granular zones, and wavetable zones.
Absolute and Relative Editing
Editing Selected Zones or All Zones
Global Zone Settings
The global section at the top of the Zone Editor allows you to set up basic zone parameters.
Voice Control Section
The Voice Control Section contains the same controls for sample, synth, grain, and wavetable zones and a separate set of controls for organ zones.
Voice Control Section for Organ Zones
Pitch Section
On the Pitch section for synth, sample, grain, and wavetable zones, you can make settings for tuning and pitch modulation.
Oscillator Section
The Oscillator section is available for synth zones.
Sample Oscillator Section
This section is available for sample zones. It contains various playback and loop parameters.
Organ Oscillator Section
Wavetable Section
The Wavetable section in the Zone Editor gives access to the oscillator parameters of wavetable zones. The oscillator is a combination of two wavetable oscillators, one sub oscillator, and one noise oscillator that can be mixed with individual settings, such as level, pan, tuning, etc.
AudioWarp Section
In this section, you can apply time stretching and formant shifting to the audio in your sample zones.
Filter Section
The Filter section for synth, sample, grain, and wavetable zones allows you to adjust the tone color of the sound.
Amplifier Section
The Amplifier section has two tabs: Main and AUX. The Main tab gives you access to the level and pan settings of the zone. The AUX tab allows you to send the zone to the four global AUX busses and to route the zone to one of the plug-in output busses.
Envelope Section
The Envelope section gives you access to the envelopes of the zone. For synth, sample, grain, and wavetable zones, the Amp, Filter, Pitch, and User envelopes are available. For organ zones, the Amp envelope is available. Each envelope is a multi-segment envelope with up to 128 nodes.
LFO Section
Synth, sample, grain, and wavetable zones offer two polyphonic LFOs.
Step Modulator
Synth, sample, grain, and wavetable zones feature a polyphonic step modulator for creating rhythmic control sequences.
Modulation Matrix
The concept of controlling one parameter by another is called modulation. HALion offers many fixed assigned modulations, such as the amplitude and filter envelopes, or pitch key follow. In the modulation matrix, you can assign additional modulations.
Editing Samples in the Sample Editor
The Sample Editor allows you to view and edit samples. In HALion, samples are associated with sample zones. If a sample zone is selected, the Sample Editor shows the corresponding sample.
Loading and Previewing Samples
The controls in the Sample Editor header allow you to load a sample and make preview settings.
The toolbar contains tools for editing sample markers, loop markers, and slices, for example.
Info Line
Overview Line
The overview line shows the entire sample. The section that is visible in the waveform display is indicated by a rectangle. The current selection range in the waveform display is shown in brown.
Waveform Display
Parameter Section
The parameter section below the waveform display contains sample and sample zone parameters.
Sample Editor Context Menu
Markers specify important positions or sections in a sample.
Editing Samples in an External Editor
Creating Loops
Creating Slices Automatically
Replacing Samples
Wavetable Synthesis
HALion’s wavetable synthesis offers you a wide range of possibilities, from the re-synthesis of samples to the creation of entirely new sounds.
Wavetable Editor
The Wavetable Editor allows you to create wavetables by extracting waves from samples.
Creating a Wavetable
Pitch Detection
HALion’s Wavetable Editor automatically detects the pitch of samples that are added.
Markers in the sample display determine at which position in a sample a wave is extracted.
Replacing Samples
Importing Wavetables
HALion can import wavetables that were saved as .wav files.
Managing Wavetables
The Wavetable Editor allows you to load, save, and delete wavetables.
Granular Synthesis
You can use granular synthesis to extract interesting spectra from all kinds of samples, to create sound effects by completely scrambling a sample, or to perform low-fidelity time stretching, for example.
MIDI Editor
The MIDI Editor provides access to the MIDI slot parameters. Furthermore, you can specify MIDI controllers to be filtered.
MIDI Controllers
Mixing, Routing, and Effect Handling
You perform your mixing operations in the Mixer.
Mixer Window
Audio Bus Architecture
The audio signals of zones, layers, programs, and slots are managed via audio busses. You can load insert effects on any of the audio busses, for example, to process the audio of a single layer or an entire program.
Insert Effects
Loading and Managing Programs via the Program Table
HALion allows you to load a virtually unlimited number of programs into the Program Table. This is useful, because it allows for quick access to these programs and for preloading the program samples for faster changes between programs.
Program Table
The Program Table lists all programs that are loaded in HALion.
Configuring the Program Table
You can configure the Program Table by showing/hiding and rearranging the columns.
Program Table Context Menu
Program Tree
The Program Tree is the main area for navigating and making selections. It shows the active program with all its layers, zones, and modules and allows you to add, load, import, or delete elements.
Program Tree Elements
Program Tree Columns and Controls
Editing Programs, Zones and Layers
Importing Samples
You can manually select samples to import or you can import complete folders containing samples.
Replacing Samples
Exporting Samples
Exporting Programs and Layers with Samples
You can export a program or layer together with the corresponding samples as a VST preset.
Exporting Programs and Layers as HALion Sonic SE Layer Presets
By exporting programs or layers as HALion Sonic SE Layer presets, you can make sure that they can be loaded correctly by HALion Sonic or HALion Sonic SE. This is particularly useful if you create content that will be part of a VST Sound container, because it lets you verify whether the preset contains all necessary resources.
Importing Sliced Loops
You can import sliced loops in the REX1 and REX2 formats or drag and drop sliced events directly from Cubase.
Selections in the Program Tree
The selection in the Program Tree defines which part of the program can be edited in HALion.
Navigating in the Program Tree
If the Program Tree has the window focus, you can use the arrow keys for navigating between the elements.
Sorting the Program Tree Elements
Setting Up the Program in the Program Tree
You can set up a program by adding elements such as modules, layers, or zones, and by structuring them in the Program Tree.
Renaming Elements
Sample Recorder
The Sample Recorder allows for live sampling in HALion. You can sample the sounds of another plug-in and map them to the keyboard, reduce CPU load by creating one sample from an audio event that contains fades, processing, etc., or quickly create sounds from events in your sequencer projects and edit them further in HALion, for example.
Recording From an Audio Track With Multiple Drum Sounds
Recording audio from a track in the Steinberg DAW allows you to save any processing, fades, etc. directly in the audio event.
Recording the Output of Another Plug-In
Recording the output of another plug-in allows you to save the sounds that you created with other plug-ins, software or hardware, exactly the way that you set them up. This can be particularly useful if a plug-in does not allow you to create presets, for example.
Recording Samples in the Standalone Version
In the standalone version of HALion, you can create samples by recording the audio input of the plug-in.
The Auron synth uses granular synthesis with up to 8 grain streams to produce oscillator waveforms. With the integrated arpeggiator and step sequencer, you can create anything from sequencer lines to stepped chords.
Trium was designed to create modern and rich sounds. It comes with 3 oscillators, a sub oscillator, a ring modulator, and a noise generator. With the integrated arpeggiator and step sequencer, you can create anything from sequencer lines to stepped chords.
Voltage is a two-oscillator and noise synthesizer that can be used for synth basses, but it also allows you to create any kind of classic monophonic and polyphonic synth sound. With the integrated arpeggiator and step sequencer, you can create anything from sequencer lines to stepped chords.
Model C
Model C is a classic tonewheel organ emulation with 9 drawbars and 3 additional drawbars for the percussion.
HALiotron emulates the sound generation of the pre-digital sampling era.
B-Box provides you with a veritable drum computer inside HALion. It comes with 13 instrument lanes that can make use of up to 128 different sounds. You can set up your drum patterns, create variations, and modify each drum sound using a low-pass filter and several distortion modes.
World Instruments
World Instruments delivers a great variety of ethnic instruments that can either be played manually or use the integrated arpeggiator.
World Percussion
World Percussion delivers a great variety of ethnic percussion instruments and associated MIDI phrases.
The Anima synth is a wavetable instrument using HALion’s wavteable synthesis which crossfades the waves smoothly in real time based on an integrated wavetable envelope. This envelope makes it very easy to control the playback of the wavetable, because no further modulation settings are required. All you have to do is set up the Speed parameter. The modulation matrix allows you to control the playback position of the oscillator using one of the integrated LFOs, the velocity, or the modulation wheel, for example.
The Skylab synth is an instrument that produces a wide range of sounds that are perfectly suited to create cinematic or ambient soundtracks. It comes with a large number of multi-samples that provide a variety of evolving pads and soundscapes as well as typical orchestral sounds like strings, brass, and choirs, allowing you to create huge and epic sounds. Furthermore, percussive sample sets of orchestral percussion and taikos are available that can be used with the integrated arpeggiator to create rhythmic patterns, for example.
Raven provides the sound of a classical Italian concert grand with six velocity layers and adjustable sustain resonances. Its Tone control allows you to adapt the tonal range from very soft romantic to more intense colors. In addition, you can modify the character of the note-off behavior by adding a dedicated note-off layer.
Eagle provides the sound of a classical German concert grand with 12 velocity layers and adjustable sustain resonances. Its Tone control allows you to adapt the tonal range from very soft romantic to more intense colors. In addition, you can modify the character of the note-off behavior by adding a dedicated note-off layer.
Hot Brass
Hot Brass delivers a broad range of brass sounds and articulations suited for rock, soul, funk, and other music styles that need sharp and accentuated brass tone colors. This instrument is particularly suited to play concise licks and riffs.
Studio Strings
Studio Strings delivers a broad range of string sounds and articulations comprising solo strings, small chamber, and full orchestra sections.
Parameter List
The Parameter List gives you a detailed overview of the parameters of the element that is selected in the Program Tree.
Macro Pages
HALion allows you to build your own sample and synthesizer instruments and to customize them using the integrated LUA script engine. In the Macro Page Designer, you can create your own user interface for these instruments.
Macro Pages, Templates, Controls, Resources, and Libraries
The general concept behind macro pages distinguishes between templates, controls, resources, and libraries.
Getting Started
To learn how to build your own macro pages, it is best to try it out step by step and get familiar with the system.
Macro Page Designer
The Macro Page Designer is where you create and edit macro pages.
Editing and Assembling Elements
For your macro pages, you will use many elements that need to be placed on the canvas in a specific order, have a specific color and size, etc. You have many possibilities for adding, editing, scaling, and arranging the available elements on the canvas.
Libraries are identical to macro pages, except that they do not include a functional user interface. Libraries can contain templates and their resources, as well as any further useful content for macro pages.
Connecting Macro Page Controls to HALion Parameters
To be able to use a macro page control, you must connect it to a parameter in HALion.
Collaborating on Macro Pages
If you want to work on macro pages together with other users, you must make sure that you exchange all the added and required content.
Cleaning Up and Consolidating Your Macro Pages
Before finalizing your macro pages, you may want to remove any unused files, or consolidate names and locations of the resource files used in the macro page. HALion offers you several tools for cleaning up the macro page content.
Saving Macro Pages
Library Creator
HALion’s Library Creator allows you to create your own instrument libraries. These libraries are built as VST Sound container files that contain all the necessary components, such as presets, samples, macro pages, MIDI modules, scripts, and sub presets.
When working with HALion, all presets are managed by the MediaBay. The MediaBay is the central place where all information about presets is stored. This information is added by tagging the presets with a variety of attributes that describe the preset character, the instrument category it belongs to, the author of the preset, etc. One of those tags is the Library Name.
Library Creator Editor
The Library Creator is available as a HALion editor and it is part of the Advanced screen set, for example.
Unassigned VST Sound Containers
When adding presets to your library that use samples referring to other VST Sound containers, these containers are added as required VST Sound containers to the Unassigned VST Sound list. This allows you to change the structure of your library if you do not want to reference external content.
Consistency Check
To avoid incomplete or nonfunctional libraries, the Library Creator performs several automatic checks when building libraries. As a first step, all presets are checked when they are added to a VST Sound container. If any issues are found, a red warning sign is shown in the Issue column of the corresponding preset and a global warning sign is shown in the list of unassigned samples/VST Sound containers. Existing issues will not prevent the Library Creator from building the VST Sound container, however. They should be considered an information about what Steinberg would consider an issue to be fixed before releasing the library.
Library Manager
HALion’s Library Manager allows you to register and to manage libraries that have been created with HALion 6 and newer. It also displays all libraries that were created earlier and therefore were installed with a classic installer.
Library Manager Editor
All libraries are displayed in the Library Manager, either on the Managed or the Installed tab. For each library, an icon, the name, the manufacturer, as well as its total file size are shown.
MIDI Modules Reference
The MIDI modules in HALion range from standard arpeggiator modules to more dedicated modules that trigger specific events or deliver specific modulation signals.
Common Functions
Some functions and settings are available in several MIDI modules. These are described in the following sections.
The FlexPhraser is an arpeggio and phrase player.
Trigger Pads
You can use the trigger pads to trigger single notes or whole chords and to switch between FlexPhraser variations.
MIDI Player
The MIDI Player allows you to load up to eight different MIDI files. For example, you can load different variations of a MIDI file and modify these variations by using the performance parameters.
Drum Player
The Drum Player module allows for classic drum beat programming with up to 64 steps playing on up to 16 tracks. Each track can play a different sound.
Mono Envelope
This MIDI module triggers a monophonic multi-segment envelope that you can use as a modulation source in the modulation matrix of a zone.
Mono LFO
You can add monophonic LFOs as MIDI modules to the program. An LFO module can be used for an entire program, or for specific layers.
Mono Step Modulator
You can add the step modulator as MIDI module to the program and use it as a modulation source in the modulation matrix of a zone.
True Pedaling
This MIDI module produces a modulation signal from the sustain pedal that you can use to simulate true pedaling of grand pianos. Instead of switching between two layers, this module allows you to crossfade between layers when you press or lift the sustain pedal, which produces a more realistic sound.
The MegaTrig module allows you to control playing styles and articulations and to trigger release samples and instrument noises.
Layer Alternate
You can use this module to switch between different layers automatically. This is useful for alternating between the up and down bows of a string instrument or the left and right hand of drum strokes, for example.
Key Switch Alternate
This module allows you to switch automatically between different layers that are using MegaTrig key switches.
Key Switch Remote
The Key Switch Remote module allows you to remote-control key switches that are used within the parent layer.
MIDI Randomizer
The MIDI Randomizer module allows you to trigger notes randomly.
CC Mapper
This MIDI module allows you to map MIDI controllers to other MIDI controllers before they are passed on to the following layers and zones. You can also use it to transform incoming values using curves.
Velocity Curve
The Velocity Curve module allows you to map incoming velocity values to different output values using an adjustable curve.
Tuning Scale
This MIDI module allows you to create custom tuning scales, or apply one of the tuning scale presets.
Lua Script
The Lua Script module allows you to create and manage your own scripts.
Key Commands Reference
Below, the default key commands are listed according to category.
Making Preferences Settings
You can configure the standalone version of HALion in the Plug-In Preferences dialog.
Preferences Dialog
The Plug-In Preferences dialog has several pages on which you can make settings.
Selecting the MIDI Input and the Audio Output
Scratch Pad
The scratch pad allows you to record and play back MIDI files in Standard MIDI File format. You can load existing MIDI files and you can record your own files and save them.
Loading a MIDI File
You can load MIDI files in Standard MIDI File format (file name extension .mid).
Saving a MIDI File
Master Volume