I know this plugs been out for awhile, but these days I'm not jumping at every chance to try a new synth with so much out there and already in my collection. On upgrading Cubase this came with the bundle, so I got a chance to try it. It fills a niche that I thing needed to be filled.
For those of you that have experience playing a complex pad sound on like a big name keyboard like Korg or Roland, of lot that big, organic, moving 3d-ish sound is often times a little hard to find in many plugs for me. Something like omnisphere can certainly do it, but waiting for like 10 seconds for some of those sounds to load is an inspiration killer for me. Stuff by Rob Papen and Native certainly comes close, but playing this plugin just reminded me of those classic big name keyboard pads. And It seemed like there was very little filler. Like every other sound I see a possible use somewhere. Probably the Yamaha sound team at work here.
One less reason to fire up the hardware sound modules now.
Just wanted to give a quick review. I've used sampletank, plugsound series, Dimension pro, and probably a few other romplers in the past. All of them were ok, but a good hardware workstation was really much better, even with all those gigabytes packed in there. I remember being surprised with Hypersonic 2 when it first came as to how good it sounded with its slightly over 1 gig, especially considering that most of the other romplers are many gigabytes more. Consequently, I was sure that anything Yamaha had a hand in programming has got to be good.
Halion Sonic doesn't disappoint. The sounds are uniformly good. I don't think that the individual multisample waveform count is very high, but the quality is outstanding. For instance, only one piano waveform (not program) is provided, but it is very good. Maybe not ivory quality -but then it doesn't take five minutes to load and bog down all your resources. Another user was complaining about the drums, but I have to say, these are not simply recycled sounds. Maybe they don't have 100 velocity layers, but I can easily hear at least 4-5 in some of the sounds. Try something like the "standard vintage kit" -extremely fat, dry processed sounds with just that hint of ambience and dirt -just beautiful. For a rompler drum set, I don't think these can be beat without going to a specialized drum vst -ie: BFD. Many times HS will come out ahead just because you don't have to tweak and tweak to make everything sit right.
Horns and brass: excellent Bass: excellent, lots of keyswitches, synthbass also features quite a bit of variety. Even the Upright is very respectable. I don't think I could differentiate this from the multigig Trillian in most songs. Guitars: very good. the acoustics don't have those little squeaks built in, but I can live with that. Synths: dance stuff very good, good variety Accordians: not really my thing, but if it is yours, I don't remember seeing another vsti with this many good high quality accordian samples. Strings: Good, but the high notes are not my cup of tea, of course I feel the same way about my motif es and s90. I personally like my Roland XV strings... probably just my thing though. Organs: I can see this replacing NI B4 and charlie much of the time. Loops: very good. With the right expansion packs I can almost see this competing with Stylus. Epianos: Love em. Excellent tweakability.
If I was to compare these sounds to a Motif, I would say they have just a little more of an ambient, present feel as compared to a motif's more sterile sound. This is probably because there are not the memory constraints inherent to hardware.
These sounds are really easy to tweak. The quick controls are right there and the programming is TOP NOTCH. I think just about everyone who makes vst's should just check this out for the programming. I really didn't see any "filler sounds" like a lot of other romplers seem to have.
Gripes: Saxes -sections are very good but all solo sounds have a vibrato that turns on about a second into the sample. Why?! Just let me use my modwheel. Tympani: at least a few hits would be nice. Not present. Only a kind of synthetic version. Probably a classical expansion coming up.
As for being a resource hog, I really don't think so. I think that what many people are not realizing is that a single sound can have up to like 16 effects plus any inserts going on(in multi mode). The average load is probably about 3-5 effects per sound. This is what will bring most computers down. 5 x 16 =80. If you are having problems, learn to use an insert effect. You really don't need a reverb on every single sound:)
Some random observations. -Disk size about 8.5 gig. -installation went smoothly -no crashes, but I've had some sub categories disappear on me in the browser. Sounds are still there though. Come back on reload. Bug? -cubase takes an extra like 5-8 seconds to close with this plugin.