Halion 4 vs Kontakt 5 & Laptop advice needed! - Gearspace.com
The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Halion 4 vs Kontakt 5 & Laptop advice needed!
Old 26th January 2013
Here for the gear
🎧 5 years
Halion 4 vs Kontakt 5 & Laptop advice needed!

Greetings, I am somewhat new to computer music setups and could use some advice. I have a Yamaha MO6 ROMpler which uses the Motif ES engine with no bonus controllers, no sampling, and only 64 note polyphony which I can eat up fast on my custom patches using Performance Mode (4 voices) using 4 patches each using 4 elements(thus down to 4 polyphony for those). This is primarily for ones where I fatten up the brass sections in a big way for "oomf". I have decided that rather than going with a dedicated workstation I'd go the PC route.

In addition to my Yamaha MO6 which I intend to gig with I have now acquired a Novation Impulse 61 MIDI controller for PC use. It comes with Ableton Live Lite 8, some Novation soft-synths (VA), and their Automap software. I now need to buy a LAPTOP, and a SAMPLER. I am a "live" musician, not a full MIDI DAW studio production one, so the emphasis is LIVE play. No loop-based production, drums, etc, just basically looking for an uber-smart sampler so I can have more sounds for mapping (MO6 = 4 part, 4 elements each), better polyphony, some clip-launching (Ableton + Impulse + Automap does this natively), and hopefully some minor scripting to make controlling it live friendly.

This in mind I suspect that using the DAW it came with will probably be fine for a while at least.

As samplers go I've looked at Halion 4 and Kontakt 5 (separate or as part of Komplete). I would choose Halion 4 over Halion Sonic specifically because of Mega-Trig (which will change what I get get out of my 2 hands live on the controller), the larger included sound library, and greater expansion options. Halion 4 also comes with a full VA Synth. Kontakt is said to be noticably more complex to deal with but does have insane scripting options and better 3rd party library offerings. Other comments have been that Kontakt's pianos are weak except decent with the Alicia's Keys add-on which means I'd need Komplete which costs $200 more. I do have a rather low likelyhood of wanting to pay for more generic libraries afterwards so I'd hope to have a decently large range of Motif-grade usable material right out of the gate. I also hope that learning the tool I'd settle on to not be a serious chore. I want to PLAY and to have the system work for me, not against.

Next is my need for the laptop for this. All I'm really planning on running is live sample playback, occasional clip-launching, etc, not being a symphony recording 32 tracks or DSP'd up audio. This shouldn't take a brute of a laptop to handle and I haven't seen a thread yet that left me with a comparison that felt like my usage profile. First concern : screen resolution. Halion quotes 1024x768 as minimum and 1280x800+ recommended. With Halion and Kontakt both work OK live on the 1366 x 768 which is 99% of 15" laptops? I'd hate to lug a 17" one or pay a fortune for one with a higher res screen. I had 7-year old crappy Dells with 1400x1050 on them. For RAM I can accept that I'd be looking at 6-8 GB as often come stock, and for CPU, the Intel i5-3210M is a good value. Would a machine with those specs do me well? I am not looking to get a Mac.

Hopefully the description of what I want to do will help those who have used similar gear to be able to tell me how it worked out for them before I go spending a lot of money I might end up regretting.

Halion 4 ($350+$30 Dongle) : Mega-Trig = good enough? Included sample libraries good enough?
Kontakt 5 ($399) : How steep a curve? Base library better quantity, quality, range than Halion?
Komplete 8 ($560) : Really should only think about Komplete for package value?

Laptop : Intel i5-3210M, 15.6" 1366x768, 6-8GB RAM. ($500-$700) : Comfortable for my usage?

Thanks in advance and hope to get some quality feedback from the community!
Old 28th January 2013
Here for the gear
🎧 5 years
Bump! Anyone got a moment to help a guy out here?
Old 28th January 2013
Gear Maniac
🎧 10 years
I own both H4 and Kontakt 5 -- I can say, without hesitation, you want Kontakt. No contest whatsoever. A few points as to why:

1. you say Kontakt has "better" 3rd party support. I'll correct that: Kontakt *HAS* third party support. And amazing stuff, too, from numerous companies. Do a search for 3rd party halion content and tell me what you come up with..... yeah.

2. Halion's library sounds old-fashioned and just, flatly, is not that good. You heard Kontakt's factory pianos are weak? Pshaw. The 'concert piano' in the Orchestral library is beautiful, and seriously like 100X better than any piano in halion 4, all of which basically sound like 90's yamaha romplers. Which makes sense, because Yamaha did the library for halion...

3. you mention that Halion has a synth engine. Who cares? There are a million far superior soft synths out there. The synth engine is a tacked-on unit with a terrible UI. It's got nothing on the popular soft-synths on the market. It should not be considered a selling point; it's a generic bell&whistle. You want a good synthesizer, then get one; don't try to do it through your sampler. Maybe in the hardware days that made sense becuase people could only afford to have one or two things. But with this tech today...no way. Use something else.

4. Kontakt's interface may be scary at first, but you can learn it very quickly, and it's nice to look at & interact with IMO. Halion is dark and messy. There is also tons of tutorials out there for Kontakt, if you need the help. halion...less so, if any.

5. Back to 3rd party Libraries: the stuff for Kontakt (including NI's own additional content) is just stellar, and you'll never run out of stuff to check out. halion 4, you'll run out on day one.

again, I own both. There is zero contest here. Buy Kontakt. I think you will really regret it if you go with H4.

Old 29th January 2013
Lives for gear
🎧 15 years
Komplete 8 is supposed to go on sale in a couple days, to make way for Komplete 9 in April.

I agree with mholloway, there are a lot of great soft synths to choose from. Here's a thread of top 15 soft synths that includes some freebies and good budget choices as well. Check the "Bang for the buck" links at the bottom.

Top 15 software synths

I recently got the Sonic Projects OP-X Pro II, to replace my old Oberheim OB-8. It's a lot of fun to play, if you like fat 80's sounds.

SonicProjects OP-X
Old 1st February 2013
Lives for gear
Ivorydom's Avatar
🎧 10 years
I have both. I have to agree with the points given above.
To be perfectly honest though, I prefer Halion as a sampler to create my own sampled instruments. Kontakt seems to me a bit dated.
But that said, Kontakt has a huge palette of third party libraries to choose from whereas Halion has very few of them and up to now, no third party developers have been interested in porting their sounds into Halion (and I don't see that happening in the future unless Steinberg really pursues this thing).
So for third party libraries I would say Kontakt is the king right now.
Old 1st February 2013
Gear Head
🎧 5 years
There are other things to consider as well: selecting a sound on a workstation like the mo6 happens in an instant. In a software sampler it takes a few seconds to load a library. You probably want a SSD drive to begin with.
Then also it's not going to be as stable as a workstation. On stage it is recommendable
to have a backup solution you can turn to immediately should the laptop freeze or crash.

As far as perfomance of the laptop is concerned you may need a lot of it if you intend to run many instruments on it at the same time. The reason is you probably want a very low latency for playing live which in turn requires a fast CPU. A Mac btw is generally not a bad option because latency in OSX is a little lower right from the start. It could be that with a well tuned pc laptop you can get the same performance, but you probably need to invest a little more time tweak it accordingly. Or buy it from a dedicated music gear expert.

Btw the Alicia Keys piano is not part of the 500$ Komplete but of the more expensive Komplete Ultimate.
Old 20th February 2013
Here for the gear
🎧 5 years
Sorry I missed getting these responses earlier. Had been awaiting thread response notification e-mails or some such.

I had ordered Halion 4 as it hit some sort of special about 2.5 weeks ago but is still technically on Back-order from the store so I could probably cancel.

I've heard mixed reviews on the sounds of Halion vs Kontakt but am aware of Kontakt's 3rd party advantage. That said I'm not sure what kind of money I'd pour into this given my expected usage.

As i mentioned, I'm looking to supplement my live-play Rompler (Yamaha MO6) which I intend to keep (or upgrade to some higher Motif family solution if a good deal comes around). So I'm looking for a Sampler that can let me do similar basics of layered & split patches, triggered playbacks, "scripted" keys to let me change voice layers on/off, etc. Basically... think a software Motif XS only smarter (as a PC should be), and cheaper. I am not looking for on-the-fly song creation or studio production. I do hope to be able to change "programs" reasonably quickly as I do on my MO6. this was why I asked with the specific angle of live-play in mind. Anyone have some specifics on that to share?

I do see that Komplete is on sale for the price Kontakt alone used to cost, but with V9 apparently due in April I might be better off cancelling and waiting till then. Improved interface, more bundled sounds etc might make it preferable to wait rather than get K8 and then face the upgrade price which would be more than the savings on getting it now. How do you feel about that angle given I'm not yet committed?

Thanks again for you input!
📝 Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 1 views: 1642
Avatar for tex viler
tex viler 30th September 2009
replies: 28 views: 6614
Avatar for kstackm
kstackm 13th July 2011
replies: 50 views: 45360
Avatar for Eat
Eat 15th March 2013
replies: 1156 views: 195769
Avatar for Al Yeska
Al Yeska 2nd December 2019
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.

Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump