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About Paging

A key characteristic of the HAL System is its simplification of common audio design tasks—and the HAL paging system is a prime example. If you have designed paging systems before, you have likely encountered the matrix mixer mess that can occur when configuring multiple paging stations, paging zones, background music channels, routers, duckers, and so on. Well, you can say goodbye to that mess and hello to a much simpler approach.

The HAL paging system saves you time by handling many aspects of your paging system for you—behind the scenes. In fact, when you use a Pager RAD for your paging station(s) in conjunction with HAL zone processing or paging zone blocks, you never have to wire an audio channel to get your paging system to work! You also never have to worry about configuring your page processing blocks in the wrong order, setting ducking priorities, or using presets to control zone configurations. Instead, what you do worry about (although you needn't worry as it is so easy to use!) and what you need to configure is which paging stations can page into which zones. Hard to believe? Read on to learn how this powerful paging system works.

What are the components of a HAL paging system and how do they work together?

The HAL paging system accomplishes the same task as other paging systems—delivering to the appropriate locations paging input that ducks existing input. The beauty of the HAL paging system, however, is its efficiency and simplicity.

The key ingredients in a HAL paging system are:

One or more Paging Stations that provide input into the paging system

A paging station provides an audio input to your paging system. You have the option of using a RAD pager (for example, a PAGER1) or another type of pager (such as a paging microphone controlled by a switch closure). The RAD pager connects to HAL via a RAD port while the switch closure connects via a Logic In port.

Choosing the best type of paging station to use depends on what you're trying to accomplish. If your system has multiple zones and multiple paging stations that could potentially conflict with one another, we recommend the RAD pager. In addition to its paging microphone and a push-to-talk button, it includes a display of the available Paging Scenarios (defined below) as well as LED status lights to inform the end user if a specific Scenario is available to page into. For more details, see PAGER1 Device. If your system needs only a simple page into a single Scenario, a page microphone controlled by a switch closure may be all you need.

One or more Paging Zones that define discrete areas available for receiving a page

A paging zone serves as a destination for paging input. There are three ways to include a paging zone in your HAL audio system: add a Zone Processor block, a Room Combine Processor block, an Emergency Paging Zone block, or a standalone Paging Zone block.

When you add a Zone Processor block (or Room Combine Processor) to your system, it automatically includes a Paging Zone block. In essence, the HAL System automatically wires the zone to the paging system. You don't need to wire anything! In addition, the Zone Processor (or each Room Processor) places its Paging Zone block in the correct location—to the right of the Level block that controls the zone input volume. Placing it in this location separates the page volume control from the input volume control so that a page will always be audible regardless of the zone's current volume level. If you plan to use Zone Processor blocks (or Room Processor blocks if configuring a room combine) to define your system's audio zones, your job with regard to configuring paging couldn't be easier. There are a few things in the Paging Zone block that you can configure, although the parameters' default values are typically appropriate: Ducker Depth (default is 12 dB), Ramp Back (default is 3 seconds), and Page Gain (default is 0 dB). You should also customize the name of the paging zone to help you identify it when working within the Paging Manager.

If you are not using Zone Processor (or Room Processor) blocks in your system, or if you need to configure a simple paging zone that does not need the other functionality included with a Zone Processor (automatic connection to the Distributed Program Bus, multiple prioritized inputs), you can add a standalone Paging Zone block to your Processing Map. It is identical to the Paging Zone block included in a Zone Processor.

One or more Paging Scenarios that represent a combination of one or more zones. In the HAL paging system, you always page into Scenarios.

Paging stations and paging zones are probably familiar concepts, but you may not have worked with the concept of a paging scenario before—so now is a good time to pay attention! The first rule to absorb is that you always page into Scenarios. "You mean I don't page into zones?" No, you don't. Your paging zones are the building blocks for creating Paging Scenarios. A Scenario can contain one zone, all of your zones, or a subset of zones. In other words, Scenarios allow you to slice and dice your paging zones in a variety of ways—without ever touching a matrix mixer!

Let's say you're designing a system for a large restaurant with many different paging needs. The hostess paging station, for example, may need to page into the lobby only, into the entire restaurant, into the kitchen only, outside the front door, and more. Using Paging Scenarios, you can easily configure a variety of zone combinations. In addition, Scenarios maintain their paging status (Ready, Busy, Caution), which is visible on the RAD pager hardware. You can also assign a priority to Scenarios, which tells the system what to do when paging conflicts occur. And, finally, you can assign a unique identifier to each Scenario which makes it possible to create identical Scenarios that can be accessed by different paging stations at different priorities.

The Paging Manager which is a unique dialog box that serves as the central location for configuring the routing and priority of your pages

The Paging Manager (there is only one in a HAL System) is where you work with all the building blocks to create the paging system you want. In essence, it is in the Paging Manager that you route your paging input to your paging output. To accomplish this routing, you perform two key tasks (within the Paging Manager):

  1. Create Paging Scenarios, which involves specifying the Paging Zones that belong in each Scenario and optionally prioritizing your Scenarios. Although typically unnecessary, you can also customize each Scenario's unique identifier.
  2. Designate which Scenarios a Paging Station can page into.

The Paging Manager user interface contains three sections: a list of available paging stations, a list of available paging zones, and the list of configured paging Scenarios. To configure a Scenario, you add it and then, with it highlighted, select the checkbox next to each paging zone to include in the Scenario. The process is similar for designating which Scenarios a paging station can page into. You simply highlight the paging station and then select the checkbox next to each Scenario that should be available from the paging station. For details on this process and others, see Paging Tasks.

So how do you populate the Paging Manager with the necessary building blocks (paging stations and paging zones)? The HAL System takes care of this for you. Whenever you add a paging station or a paging zone to your Processing Map (via a Zone Processor, Room Processor, PAGER1, or standalone paging station or paging zone block), that paging station or zone is automatically added to the Paging Manager.

To review the process of creating a HAL paging system from start to finish, see the work flow question below.

How do I work with Scenario priorities and numbers? What is their purpose and how should I use them?

Each Scenario you create has a numeric Priority associated with it, the purpose of which is to control what happens when a paging conflict occurs. For example, suppose we have Scenario A that contains Zones 1 and 2, and Scenario B that contains Zones 2 and 3. The two Scenarios have one zone in common—Zone 2. Let's also assume we have two paging stations—Paging Station X and Paging Station Y. While Paging Station X is paging into Scenario A, Paging Station Y tries to page into Scenario B. What should happen? Should Paging Station Y's page go through to Zone 3 but not to Zone 2 (because Paging Station X is currently paging into Zone 2)? Or should the page go through to both zones, overriding the current page into Zone 2? Or should Paging Station Y be prevented from sending the page because of the conflict? Answering these questions is the purpose of the Scenario Priority.

The Role of a Scenario Priority

Let's revisit the above example, but this time with priorities in place. Let's say Scenario A has a priority of 10 and Scenario B has a priority of 20 (lower priority than Scenario B). When someone using Paging Station Y decides to page into Scenario B, the status indicators on the paging station indicate that the Scenario is Busy (meaning at least one of the Scenario's zones is currently receiving a page). Paging Station Y is not allowed to page into Scenario B because Scenario B has a lower priority than Scenario A. If, however, Scenario B had a higher priority than Scenario A, Paging Station Y would show a status of Caution for Scenario B, indicating a page is possible but will override the page currently being heard in one or more of the zones in Scenario B. (For more details on the status indicators associated with HAL paging stations, see the next question.)

By default, Halogen assigns each new Scenario a priority value of 50. If you do nothing, all Scenarios will have the same priority, meaning no Scenario can override another Scenario. If, however, you have Scenarios that should take precedence over others, configure their priorities accordingly—the lower the number, the higher the priority. For example, you might configure a Scenario specifically for the manager of the organization and give it the highest priority.

The Role of a Scenario Number

Here's another possible dilemma. What if you have defined a Scenario that will be available on more than one paging station, yet you want the manager to have priority into that Scenario. This is where the Scenario Number comes into play. Each Scenario is assigned a unique number, which is configurable. You can use this number to help you identify identical Scenarios. For example, you might create Scenario A intended for the receptionist. You give this Scenario a priority of 10 and a number identifier of 104. You create an identical Scenario A intended for the manager. You give this Scenario a priority of 1 and a number identifier of 101. Although these two Scenarios have the same name and contain the same zones, you can use the number to help you distinguish one from the other.

note: You do not have to worry about numeric identifiers and priorities when it comes to emergency paging. The HAL System includes a special block designed specifically for emergency paging situations. See below for details.

What does each paging status (Busy, Caution, Ready) mean?

The Pager1 RAD paging station displays LED status indicators labeled Busy, Caution, and Ready. When the end user selects a Scenario to page into, the status indicator informs the user if the page is possible. The following table includes definitions of each state:

Paging State Definition Result
Busy At least one of the paging zones in the selected Scenario is currently being paged into through a Scenario of equal or higher priority. The user cannot page into the Scenario until the status indicator changes to Ready (or Caution).
Caution At least one of the paging zones in the selected Scenario is currently being paged into through a Scenario with a lower priority. The user can page into the Scenario because of its higher priority. However, the page will override another page that is currently occurring. If the user proceeds with the page, the other page will stop and its paging station will display a status of Busy Wait ....
Ready All the zones in the selected Scenario are available for receiving a page. The user can page into the Scenario.


For more details on how the Pager1 works, see PAGER1 RAD.

How do I configure emergency paging within the HAL paging system?

The HAL System includes a special Emergency Paging Zone block that includes features specific to emergency paging. Its Ducker Depth, Hold Time, and Ramp Back parameter values (which are not configurable) are set specifically for emergency paging situations. Ducker Depth is set at its maximum depth, meaning an emergency page essentially mutes all other audio in the zone. Hold Time, which designates the time to wait after the page ends before beginning the ramp back process, is also set at its maximum. Ramp Back, the time period in which the original zone audio fades back in, is set at its maximum. Another important feature is the block's ducking of all other incoming audio, including other pages that may be occurring. Emergency paging always has the highest priority and overrides all other pages.

Although most of this block's key parameters are not configurable (to ensure that the Emergency Paging Zone block performs correctly in an emergency situation), you can configure and link to the block's Gain parameter. You may, for example, want to set the emergency page level relatively high to improve intelligibility (to be heard over other alarms that may be sounding, and so on). And, if you want end users to have control over the emergency page volume, you would create a control link between a DR or other remote hardware and the block's Gain parameter.

If you want an emergency page to be heard in a specific zone, you must include an Emergency Paging Zone block and it should be placed downstream from the relevant Zone Processor, Paging Zone, or Room Processor, preferably directly before the zone's output block, as illustrated here:

By placing it in this position, you do not have to worry about muting the zone's audio as the Emergency Paging Zone block handles this automatically. This position also ensures that other blocks will not interfere with the emergency block and end user level controls for the zone will have no impact on the volume of the emergency page.

best practice: For a specific zone, place its Emergency Paging Zone block directly before the zone's output block. If necessary to protect your equipment, however, you may want to include Compressor or Limiter blocks between the Emergency Paging Zone and the output blocks.

Emergency Paging and the Paging Manager

The Paging Manager handles the listing of emergency paging zones differently than other types of zones. Each Zone Processor, Paging Zone, and Room Processor included in your system has its own listing in the Paging Manager's Zones section. All Emergency Paging Zone blocks, however, are combined into a single listing named Emergency. The assumption is that when an emergency page occurs, the page should go to all zones containing an Emergency Paging Zone block. By consolidating all of them into one listing, the configuration of an Emergency Scenario is a simple task. If each emergency zone were listed separately, not only would it be tedious to create your Emergency Scenario, there would also be the risk of accidentally excluding one or more emergency zones from the Scenario.

warning! If you need a Scenario for paging into all zones, do not use the Emergency page zone for this purpose. The HAL paging system is designed so that all paging stations play nicely with one another, respectfully notifying a paging station if a Scenario is available to page into. If you include the Emergency zone in a Scenario intended for ordinary pages to all zones, a page into that Scenario will always duck all audio and, thus, step on any other page that may be occurring.

For procedural details on creating emergency paging, see Configuring for Emergency Paging.

What is the recommended work flow for configuring paging within my HAL audio system?

The following procedure outlines the high level tasks involved in setting up your HAL paging system. Some of the tasks link to more details about that specific task:

  1. Plan the paging system. What audio and/or paging zones are needed in the system? Where will paging stations be located? What are the paging needs for each station (i.e. which areas/zones will it need to page into)?
  2. Add and configure the paging zones in your system.
  3. Add Emergency Paging Zone blocks to all of your zones (unless you are using a third-party emergency paging system).
  4. Add one or more paging stations to the system.
  5. Open the Paging Manager. (In the Processing Workspace toolbar, click Paging Manager.)
  6. Configure the appropriate Scenarios for the system.
  7. For each paging station, select which Scenarios it can page into.
  8. Test the paging system.

note: Although this workflow is recommended, you can go about the configuration of your paging system in other ways as well. What is required, however, before you can configure any paging is the creation of the key building blocks: at least one zone and one paging station. It's easier to create and prioritize the Scenarios if you have all of your zones configured first, although you can edit your Scenarios (adding or removing zones) as you go.

What are some best practices to follow or issues to consider when configuring and working with the HAL paging system?

best practice: For a specific zone, place its Emergency Paging Zone block directly before the zone's output block. If necessary to protect your equipment, however, you may want to include Compressor or Limiter blocks between the Emergency Paging Zone and the output blocks.

best practice: It is best to have a single Scenario devoted to emergency paging. Do not include any zones other than the Emergency zone in your Emergency Scenario.

warning! If you need a Scenario for paging into all zones, do not use the Emergency page zone for this purpose. The HAL paging system is designed so that all paging stations play nicely with one another, respectfully notifying a paging station if a Scenario is available to page into. If you include the Emergency zone in a Scenario intended for ordinary pages to all zones, a page into that Scenario will always duck all audio and, thus, step on any other page that may be occurring.

tip: If possible, create all of your Paging Zones before creating your Scenarios. You can add and delete Zones from Scenarios at any time, but it is easier to create a comprehensive paging system if all of your Zones are available in the Paging Manager when you begin creation of your Scenarios. You may also want to create all of your Paging Stations before creating Scenarios, as thinking in terms of a Paging Station can help you define what your Scenarios should be.