Review: HALion 6 by Steinberg


HALion 6 is a tweaker’s delight! From sampling to editing, synthesis to instrument interface design and scripting there is little this workhorse does not provide.  All this power does come with a learning curve, although there are 20GB+ of synths and libraries you can jump right into.

Jump to the Demos of HALion 6 by Steinberg

Jump to the Videos of  HALion 6 by Steinberg


Review: HALion 6 by Steinberg

HALion 6 comes with over 30GB of synths and instruments you can jump right into and start playing, but those are just the tip of the iceberg as the software was designed as a “Creative Tool” for to create your own sounds.

Not having used any of the previous versions of HALion, I was eager to see if the rumors were true, could this be a “mind-blowing new tool” and “go-to sonic toolbox” for a media composer like myself?

For the purposes of my review, I downloaded the latest update of HALion V6.0.1.5

HALion 6 sells for $349.99 from Steinberg with crossgrades/upgrades starting at $99.




HALion 6 has a lot of power under the hood! In my time exploring the software I found was that all this power comes at a cost.

As a media composer, I primarily am using ready made instruments to program quickly to create scores for the picture. As I started downloading and watching the walkthrough videos I starting to feel a little overwhelmed. It didn’t help that the install process required me to download a downloader, to download the products, to download the update, to download an elicenser, to download an elicense helper before I was able to successfully get HALion 6 running in my DAW (Logic X).

Opening up the interface for the first time I wasn’t sure where to start.  The interface feels “engineered” as opposed to “designed”. That said, the sonic delight once digging into the depths of HALion encouraged to indulge my inner tweaker and continue exploring, even if at times blindly turning knobs or adding layers to hear what might happen.

There are a dozen or so official videos to help hold your hand, so you can get a little better lay of the land as for what HALion 6 is capable of and how to operate it. I found myself referring to those videos several times throughout my exploration of HALion.  I will include all of those videos in a playlist at the bottom of the page.

Now, there are a lot of things to like about this software, experimenting with different wavetable oscillators with the synths and tweaking out the sounds of the acoustic instruments and taking them out even further than imaginable.

The software comes with over 30 GB of samples from acoustic instruments and the synths range from vintage to granular to wavetable synthesis. The Halion engine also sports a wide range of effects including the “REVerenc” convolution reverb, Modulators, resonators,  amp simulators and all the usual suspects.

One of the big strengths of HALion is it’s set of advanced library creation tools. A highlight is the live-sampling tool. This allows users to record directly into HALion and the software does the cutting and mapping so your instrument is ready to play immediately after sampling. HALion also includes drag and drop tools that allow users to customize their own instruments interface. All very cool,


The main thing I wanted to focus on was the included instruments. To listen to the included sounds and see what kind of functionality the libraries and synths had. The first synth I dug into was Anima.


ANIMA is a wavetable synth. The presets have some really cutting edge sounds. The functionality has everything I could think of including selecting different samples, wavetables, an easy to use arpeggiator wit all the effect controls you would need. Over all, I really enjoyed this instrument and can see myself diving deep into Anima for some special synth sounds.


HAlion 6 also includes a synth called SkyLab. Skylab is a granular synthesis module. This one is a lot of fun and when loading up the different samples included, I was blown away by the new sounds created from tweaking out the parameters, effects, and positions for the playback to jump around.

HALion 6 comes with a couple different Pianos.  The Eagle, which loads up with a nice resonant sample set and the Raven, a slightly darker piano upon loading. Each piano has the ability to create a variety of timbres thanks to the interface controls.  I really enjoyed taking the instruments way-out and explotring just how far the sonic boundries of these piano instruments were.

One thing I really like about these pianos is the ability adjust the sound with a “Tone” knob. You can easily step across a difffernt set of playback timbres just by adjusting the TONE knob from soft to hard.


Continuing on with the acoustic instruments including HALion 6 are the Hot Brass and Studio Strings The Hot Brass didn’t do it for me. In my opinion this sample set just isn’t going to cut it for replicating live orchestral or jazz brass unless maybe I am looking for some 80s style stabs.

I was also disappointed in the Studio Strings library. I would probably be more forgiving and less critical of this library except the promo material says it’s “tailored specifically for film scoring”. I have dozens of other string libraries that are tailored for film scoring and feel Studio Strings falls short of the realism required for most of my work.  Critiquing further, Studio Strings is not easy to jump into, and the lack of easily accessible legato samples warranted another red flag.

I was excited to load up the world instruments and couldn’t wait to hear them. Normally with the amount of plucked and struck instruments included in world instruments, it can be relatively easy to create nice sounding sample libraries.  Unfortunately, these world instrument presets really layer on the effects.

When I went in and started to strip off the effects, delays, and arpeggios to hear the source samples I was not very pleased and wondered if the source samples were specifically covered up with effects to get instant playability with arpeggios and grooves.

It was at this point in my review I started to have a different outlook on HALion’s included libraries. Maybe my criticism was too harsh thinking of this as a realistic orchestral and world instrument library. Maybe I needed to think of HALion as an instrument geared towards pop and EDM producers, who might be much less critical of missing legato and enjoy the instant inspiration of grooving arpeggiated world-beat instruments.


HALion 6 also comes with a couple other vintage synth instruments. The one that I really enjoyed playing with was VOLTAGE. It has a great vintage sound, plenty of great sounding presets and plenty of knobs to tweak. The other vintage synth I played with was HALITRON. This synth promises to “. .  evoke a timeless sound associated with rock and pop bands and songs from the ’60s and ’70s” and does so with flying colors. Easy to use and lots of fun, it’s presets will have you playing back those hits of the 60s & 70s.

Finishing up the review I’m still a little critical of how you interact with the software. Lots of panels, lots of windows, lots of buttons. It looks and feels more like a scripting and creation tool than a user-friendly sound set, and that is probably by design as the power HALion 6 gives you to custom create your own libraries is steps above the other sample players on the market.

It also wouldn’t be a just review without mentioning the integration HALion 6 has with Cubase, Steinberg’s DAW. It looks like it easily integrates with the ability to control a lot of functions and I can see how this would be really helpful for workflow with this kind of native integration.

In this review, I wrap it up feeling like I just scratched the surface of what HALion 6 has to offer. If you’re interested and want to dive deeper into learning about the other functionality check out the full playlist below that will hold your hand through all things HALion 6.



HALion 6 downloads as just over 30 GB of Samples containing 3,400 instruments including Acoustic instruments,
Virtual Analog, Granular, and Wavetable Synthesis.

HALion 6 is compatible with Windows (VST 3, VST 2, AAX) and macOS (VST 3, AU, AAX) plug-in and stand-alone support

HALion 6 sells for $349.99 from Steinberg with crossgrades/upgrades starting at $99.


Demos of HALion 6 by Steinberg

Videos of HALion 6 by Steinberg