Review: Absolute 4 Bundle by Steinberg


Absolute 4 is an absolutely massive (that’s right) massive collection of instruments that lets you hit the ground running in nearly any genre you can dream of.

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Review: Absolute 4 Bundle by Steinberg

Absolute 4 is Steinberg’s ultimate package – a massive bundle of sample libraries and synths, generally all powered by Steinberg’s own Groove Agent and HALion engines. This package is a jack-of-all-trades, and a great starter pack to get your production career or hobby started. There are a ton of instruments in here, and while many of them don’t go very deep as far as detail, they are all useful in ways that could save you when you find yourself needing an instrument that your more focused libraries don’t cover. But regardless of how many sample libraries and synths you own, you’ll likely find a gem or two in here that you regularly depend on.

Absolute 4 Bundle sells for $499.99 from Steinberg


Much like the Absolute 4 bundle itself, this article will have to take the “a mile wide and a foot deep” approach, as there is so much content here that it would take far too long to dive into it all in detail. I’ll talk about a few of my personal favorite instruments that I think are the heavy hitters of the bunch, and end with a bit of a summary of the entire package.

HALion Symphonic Orchestra

HALion Symphonic Orchestra is Steinberg’s early orchestral library. It covers the full orchestra, with both split and ensemble patches.

I think this is one of the most important parts of the collection, and gives users a decent orchestral sample set.

I think this is one of the most important parts of the collection, and gives users a decent orchestral sample set. The sound is less “cinematic” than a lot of other competitors, and the sample are very dry. This can cause it to sound fairly cheesy if you don’t know how to treat it and spatialize it. If you’ve already spent money on other more modern orchestras, this probably won’t be replacing them, but it’s a solid starter set, and I found the percussion to be the best part.

Groove Agent

I will definitely be using Groove Agent and its various expansions the most out of all of this bundle. The Groove Agent content included in Absolute will cover you in every genre, from trap to rock, and experimental cinematic stuff. It’s focused on the “drum machine” approach, so it lacks mic position mixing that you’d find in libraries focused on acoustic kits, but the acoustic samples are still there. The interface allows editing of each sample, as well as a variety of performance and FX options. I also love that you can drag and drop audio files onto the pads to create your own kits!

The Grand 3

I’m not usually into sampled pianos because there are so many of them out there, but The Grand 3 is probably the deepest of the sampled instruments in Absolute 4. There are 5 pianos: Yamaha C7, Bosendorfer 290 Imperial, Steinway D, Yamaha CP80, and Nordiska Upright. The Steinway D is my personal favorite, with a bright and pristine tone. Details such as sustain resonance, string release, key sound, hammer release, and damper pedal samples help to bring all of these models to life. There are also ambience, tuning, and velocity controls to be tweaked if you so desire.

Padshop Pro is a bit overwhelming to look at, and I was turned off by the name at first. But once I discovered the included expansion packs and presets, it shot to the top of my list of favorites from this package. Padshop uses synthesis techniques combined with organic samples for some really cool modern sound design, especially in the “Granular Guitars” expansion. Even if you’re just preset surfing and never touch the interface controls, there is a TON of potential for otherworldly sounds that even go beyond just pads/drones.

Retrologue 2

As the name implies, Retrologue 2 is a very focused softsynth. It is made to look and feel like a classic analogue synth. While there are many synths in this bundle, Retrologue made it onto my list because the presets provide you with that specific retro flavor instantly: synthetic brass, cheesy sweeps and stabs, and fat basses. You go to Retrologue when you know exactly what you want, and it does a great job of delivering 80s synth vibes.

The rest of the content (and there’s a lot of it) consists of various smaller synths and sample libraries that run in HALion. The variety is the strong point. Anima is a great option for modern wavetable synthesis and sound design. Studio Strings provides a more lush and rich string sound than you’ll find in HSO, though it’s only ensemble patches. Hot Brass is excellent for Pop, Hip Hop, and Funk brass sounds – not detailed and “realistic”, but hyped and fun to play. If you need some quick and dirty ethnic flavor, World Instruments and World Percussion provide sampled instruments from various cultures, all curated by country of origin. Dark Planet is quite cool for dirty and gritty “cinematic” synth and sound design, and it also comes with drum loops that I will find particularly useful. The HALion Pro factory content covers a little bit of everything, including more “band” focused instruments like guitars, basses, and organs/keys.

Some of the synths overlap with each other in content, which makes them feel a bit like fillers. For example, Anima can pretty much do everything that Retrologue can, plus more. But every synth does have its own flavor/focus reflected in the presets. Depending on what you’re producing, you’ll probably eventually touch every part of this enormous bundle


Absolute 4 features over 100 GB of sample library content in the Steinberg ecosystem, with most instruments utilizing the HALion and Groove Agent engines. There are over 6,800 presets across all of the instruments, which include:

HALion 6
HALion Sonic
Padshop Pro
Dark Planet
Hot Brass
Model C
The Grand 3
The Eagle
The Raven
Groove Agent 5
Prime Cuts
Rock Essentials
World Percussion
World Instruments
Dark Planet
Studio Strings
HALion Symphonic Orchestra

Absolute 4 Bundle sells for $499.99 from Steinberg


Demos of Absolute 4 Bundle by Steinberg

Videos of Absolute 4 Bundle by Steinberg


Contributor Steven McDonald reviews Absolute 4 Bundle by Steinberg
“Absolute 4 is an absolutely (that’s right) massive collection of instruments that lets you hit the ground running in nearly any genre you can dream of.”