Steinberg HALion 4

Review: Steinberg HALion 4

It’s been some time coming, but Steinberg have finally released the fourth major update to their HALion sampler. We delved into the new features to see what was what…


SPECS:

Windows (XP/Vista 7), P4 2.4GHz or Core Duo/Athlon64 min / OSX (10.5+) Core Duo. 2GB RAM.

PROS:
  • Articulation options for natural sounding compositions
  • Integral synth with 3 oscs + sub osc
  • Totally customisable interface layout
  • VST 3.5 support
CONS:
  • Sample library smaller than competition
  • A couple of UI gripes
Price at Review: £292 HALion 4 is a big update to Steinberg’s flagship, with a lot going for it. We love the synth, and if you’re a Cubase user its value skyrockets due to the VST3.5 implementation.[like action=like]

Rather than cramming all of its features into a standard window or forcing you to memorise different page locations, HALion 4’s modular design allows you to create the sampler you’ve always wanted; the interface splits wherever and however you desire, and you can fill each pane of the main window with the elements of the software that make most sense to your workflow. Editing your samples? Why not a huge sample editing window running along the top of the software? Want an easy HUD for live use? Just arrange macro controls, quick select pads and the instrument rack into prime locations and get rid of the technical gubbins. It was great to be able to make full use of large screen, and saving different screen sets allows for all your use cases to be catered for.

Its inoffensive design, based around muted clay and blue colours, is easy to work with if a little utilitarian. Due to its simplicity we went scouting around the options to see whether we could change the dominant colour (or even colour code certain elements), but alas, no dice.

the modular approach that Steinberg have taken with HALion 4 has really paid off

There are some UI gripes, like a lack of tooltips, non alphabetical sorting of modules, and the inability to resize the main window by simply dragging its edges – as well as the aforementioned single colour scheme – but in general the modular approach that Steinberg have taken with HALion 4 has really paid off, making it potentially one of the easiest to use pro samplers available – providing you can settle on setups long enough to get used to them!

HALion 4’s synth is one of the most powerful additions to the software, and also one of the things that sets it apart the most from other samplers. Three oscillators, a dedicated sub osc, plus ring modulation and a noise generator add up to some very thick sound design capabilities, and rather than adding crazy wave table oscillators – which are often not much use – the traditional saw/square/sine pulse waves are on offer in standard, synced, PWM, CM and XOR variants, allowing pulse width/phase modulations to create unique sounds. It’s a shame there’s no dedicated drum synth controls, but maybe that would be asking too much.

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