Halion Sonic’s VA synth.

Halion 4 is a huge and long awaited update to Halion 3, which is releasing in June. Out right now is Halion Sonic and many people are wondering what the differences are. From what I can tell from the hyperbole on the Steinberg website is that Halion Sonic is the “player” version of Halion 4. You’re essentialy getting a VST ROMpler which enables you to play and edit sounds, 13 gigs worth that was developed by the Yamaha Motif team no less.

It may be a negative to some, but Halion 4 & Sonic requires Steinberg’s USB E-Licenser key. But for how much you get and at 250$, it seems trivial, especially considering that it sounds like the Motif team has put some premium content into Halion.

So now let’s take a quick look at some of the key features of Halion Sonic:

  • 1,400 instrument sounds across 13 GB of uncompressed custom-recorded samples.
  • Arpeggiator with 1,500 patterns consisting of more than 1,200 arpeggios and midi phrases and over 300 construction sets
  • 44 audio effect processors and 28 legacy effects from HALion 3
  • Built in Virtual Analog Synthesizer
  • Morphable Filters from low-pass, high pass, bandpass types with selectable octave slopes from six to 24 dB, self-oscillating and with saturation
  • 4 different modes: Drum Machine, Live, Sample Streaming and Beat Slicer

The mixing desk view of Halion 4.

For 100$ more you get a couple of gigs of extra material and access to the sampling engine of Halion 4 along with an entirely different GUI to accommodate the difference in work flow. After that point, the differences are a bit technical and academic.

Halion Sonic: 16 programs, 4 layers per program, only internal sounds, 12 GB of sounds

Halion 4: 64 of programs, unlimited layers per program, resizeable screens, unlimited bus/routing configuration, Megatrig scripting environment, Loads 3rd party libraries (AKAI, E-MU, Roland, Kurzweil, GIGA, Kontakt, EXS24, SF2, LM4, LM4 MkII, REX, ZeroX BeatCreator, WAV, AIF, SD II (Mac only), ISO & Nero Disc Image, Toast CD-Image).

So which should you choose? If you’re the kind of person that likes to flip through sounds, find one and start jamming, you’ll most likely enjoy using Sonic. But if you like to dig a little deeper and program your own sounds from scratch, you’ll no doubt benefit from the improved working enviorment in Halion 4. You’ll also have the option to extend your pallet of sounds through the sampling feature as well.

For more info be sure to check out each products site:

Halion Sonic

Halion 4