DH Plugins Halo 2: What is it?
MacOS 10.8 or later (Apple Silicon Compatible). 1GB RAM minimum. 4GB storage space. AU/VST3/AAX. Windows 7 or later (64-bit only). 1GB RAM minimum. 4GB storage space. VST3 / AAX Buy from Plugin Boutique
Halo 2 (AU, VST, VST3) is the latest version of DH Plugins’ hybrid synth. Its predecessor delivered powerful sounds aimed squarely at bass music genres, and we fully expect version 2 to continue down this path.
To recap, the excellent hybrid engine combines three sound generators (Sample, Sub and Synth) coupled with editable distortion, four LFO-controlled filters (three pre and one post-distortion), pitch and amplitude envelopes, two tempo-synced editable LFOs, step modulator, powerful parameter modulation system, effects and EQ.
The Sampler generator is a ROMpler-style affair with a genre-specific sample set, but also supports sample import. The core factory sound set can also be expanded via the Mono-Synth, Borg Bass and Beast-Mode (£15 each) add-on packs.
DH Plugins Halo 2: Performance and verdict
Halo 2 retains the same look as version 1, with new features slotted into the existing layout. At the top of the list, and maybe a surprising omission from the original, is a 16-step arpeggiator. Accessed via the centre section button, you can edit it in the regular centre section or launch the better-equipped expanded view.
You adjust pitch on the top row, and note length on the bottom row, plus there are 47 varied arp presets. For a creative path, there’s also an intelligent randomiser with a choice of six scale types. For us, the best feature is that you can assign the arp selectively to each of the sound generators. Nice.
Next along, although they look pretty similar, you’ll note that the main filters are now far more flexible, with a choice of six shapes for each (low pass, high pass, notch, peak, bandpass and phase). We like the extra sonic variety and it’s great to see a phase option, and with three filters, you can create complex filtering or even combine identical filter types with different behaviours. Factor in the integrated tempo-synced LFO and creating tempo-locked filtered sounds is easy.
One further significant addition is the new FM mode (see below), adding more sonic interest to both the Sample and Synth sections. Finally, you now get a latching preset audition button, and a choice of four colour schemes.
Halo 2 has an impressive genre-specific sound set that includes 430 presets based on a 4GB sample set. Open the Presets panel and it’s easy to locate what you need. As you’d expect, there are a lot of basses, 50+ Reese-tagged ones alone. However, the bass sounds go beyond this style into quite edgy territory (Fungal), vocodered sounds (Platinum) and thumping basses (Python).
What’s more, the Wobblers and Modulators folders offer up rhythmically designed presets. One thing we’d say is that some of these rhythmic components are baked into the source samples (typically at 174bpm) and don’t follow DAW tempo.
Lead sounds vary from epic tones like Runner and Cloud 9, to more complex distorted options like Jackhammer. Meanwhile, pads include ambient-inspired sounds (Aureolin and Gambodge) alongside stacked options (Sunshine).
To showcase the new arpeggiator, you get a bunch of inspirational arpeggiated sounds (Aurora and Chameleon are good examples). Rounding things off are two rather excellent multi-sampled drum presets: Kick and Snare.
Expansion packs each include about 500MB of additional content. These provide yet more basses, plus some great chordal presets (Mono-Synth), stabs (Borg Bass and Beast Mode) and subs (Mono Synth and Borg Bass).
One key new feature in Halo 2 is the FM mode. This is available for both Synth and Sample sound generators but with slightly different features. Both are activated via the central panel, and for Synth, the controls appear at the bottom of this panel.
For Sample, an additional panel replaces the LFO modules. Both include waveform options, with a choice of triangle or square wave shape, adjustable pulse width and adjustable octave (0 to -4). Both can add grit to their respective sound generators, and at lower octave settings, some valuable extra weight.
However, the Sample FM feature takes an interesting further path, with support for sample waveforms. These include not only all of your installed Halo 2 ROMpler samples but also a user import option (WAV or AIFF); although with no sample trimming, it’s best to prepare samples in advance.
Samples (both Halo 2 and user) can be looped and there’s pitch adjustment (+/-12 semitones). Whatever your FM source, modulating Halo 2’s sample module can achieve some pretty crazy outcomes, adding another edgy option to its sound palette.
Halo 2 has a pretty uncompromising sound, best suited to bass or similarly aggressively-leaning music, but that’s what we love about it, and if you’re making music in those genres we can’t think of another synth that offers up such an abundance of perfectly tailored sounds
MusicRadar verdict: Halo 2 builds on the strengths of its predecessor and is an ideal synth for anyone who makes bass music.
DH Plugins Halo 2: Hands-on demos
DH Plugins Halo 2: Specifications
- MacOS 10.8 or later (Apple Silicon Compatible). 1GB RAM minimum. 4GB storage space. AU/VST3/AAX.
- Windows 7 or later (64-bit only). 1GB RAM minimum. 4GB storage space. VST3 / AAX
- CONTACT: DH Plugins