The best way to learn anything new is by doing it with your own hands, eyes and mind. You will learn the quickest with Halogen running in another window, and Alt-Tab to alternate with this page in your browser window. You can also print a PDF of this tutorial and run Halogen full screen, If you don’t already have Halogen installed, download it here.
The first thing is deciding the kind and size of system you want to build. Any system design starts by choosing the best equipment fit. Think of the answers to these questions as you select one of the four HAL Multiprocessors:
HAL options can easily be compared next to each other. Launch Halogen. In the top File toolbar, choose New, and then Choose HAL Model Configuration. Hover your mouse over the four models to see the ins and outs of each. The HAL1x and HAL2 may look similar, but if you need more inputs, outputs, RAD ports, Dante or AEC, choose the HAL1x which lets you add Expanders.
Let’s build a two-zone, restaurant and bar audio system with a HAL3s. We’ll use a couple of RADs, a couple of DR remotes, and make some web controls for the boss.
I'm choosing the HAL3s because I have two stereo sources and a reception paging mic (five mono inputs). Two are analog inputs and three are remote audio device inputs. I want stereo audio around the big screen TV in the bar and mono background audio in the main restaurant and restrooms.
After choosing the HAL3s, the Hardware workspace appears.
Let’s add the RADs for the additional “distant” audio inputs we need. You can hover your mouse over the blue RAD models on the left to get a brief description, and then drag the model over. But there’s a better way. In the workspace, click the white triangle at the right end of the blue < Add RAD > bar. This brings up a detail list with the input and output type of each RAD along with a picture. The RAD6 gives me the stereo line inputs I want for the cable receiver at the bar, along with the outputs for the stereo bar speakers. Click the RAD6 line to virtually install this RAD. Once selected, this informs the HAL3s to expect the RAD6 model to physically be plugged into the indicated port once connected to the live audio system.
After building a system in Halogen, if you want to try a different RAD, come back to this arrow and replace the RAD. For instance, if I figure out later that an RAD16z would be better than the RAD6, I can quickly change it here. Isn't it nice to quickly swap this out before buying any hardware?
We need a paging mic at the host desk, and Rane has a great paging station that plugs into an RAD port. Click on the next < Add RAD > white triangle, and choose the PAGER1 at the bottom of the list.
Let’s add some control remotes so the system can be operated within each of the bar and restaurant areas. These are added just like the RADs. Click the white arrow at the right end of the brown < Add DR > bar. For Port 1, choose the DR3, as it will be the main remote in the system to select the program source and adjust the volume in the bar.
For Port 2, choose the DR1, as we just need a simple volume control in the restaurant.
Now let’s name all the hardware connections in the hardware workspace. This helps you verify all ins, outs, and controls are accounted. Hover your mouse over the name in a white block of an In, Out, RAD or DR. Click, and you'll get a text edit box; click inside to get an I-beam edit symbol on your mouse cursor once it is in an editable region. The keyboard’s Enter (Return) commits the name.
When hovering over a RAD or DR name, a white daisy appears right of the name. Clicking the daisy opens additional unique settings along with the name. For instance, the RAD6 lets you name the individual inputs (green) and outputs (orange). The RAD LED or DR backlight settings can be changed here. When you eventually connect to a HAL, the properties also include a status bar below the RAD name as well as a Locate button and a device serial number. This information quickly helps you locate and fix any port or cable errors.
As with any software, it’s always smart to save your work as you go. In the top menu, File > Save As works like any other program. Save regularly as you finish sections.
The first time you click the Processing tab (upper right) a page of instructions appears. We’ll follow these with more explanation, in the same order, for those reading while Halogen is open. This instructional text disappears as soon as you add a block to the workspace.
Let’s set up the basic audio routing and processing for the restaurant. Open the I/O Processing tab in the palette to the left. Drag and drop the appropriate Input and Output blocks anywhere in the workspace. Place inputs (green) at the left, outputs (orange) toward the right, and leave room for DSP in the middle. Hold down Shift to select multiple blocks to simultaneously drag them over. After an I/O block is dragged to the map, it goes gray in the I/O palette, easily showing what’s used and what’s not. There are a couple of leftover outputs that could feed future speakers in the kitchen and patio, but I’ll add those someday; not now.
Open the DSP tab on the left. We’ll drag and drop the appropriate processing blocks to the workspace.
A big plus of working with Halogen is in helping you build real-world audio systems. It provides applications-level DSP blocks, not just disparate parts and pieces that must be manually wired together then finagled repeatedly to create predictable system behaviors. This makes dense systems easier to understand because every possible switchable I/O configuration isn’t cluttering up your design: less dragging and dropping, less manual virtual wiring, and less design time.
The Zone Processor block is made for background music and paging systems like this restaurant. The Zone Processor block provides source selection, level control and page ducking for an audio output zone. Included in every Zone Processor is an automatic connection to the Distributed Program Bus, which simplifies the wiring to multiple zones of background music and other common audio sources. “Local” inputs to the Zone Processor allow the addition of local inputs (for example, jukeboxes, TVs, laptops, or local microphones) reinforced only in this zone. Every Zone Processor includes a Priority Selector block for controlling source selection (via automatic and/or end user control), a Level block for controlling the zone volume, and a Paging Zone block connecting to the HAL paging system that ducks background music when the host pages into the zone.
We don’t need six Zone Processors for six outputs. We would only need one if this system is mono and we always hear the same source at the same volume with the same page. As soon as an area's audio or paging needs differ from another area, that's your clue that another Zone Processor is needed. A single Zone Processor can cover any area that:
This system needs a Zone Processor for the mono Restaurant, another for the restrooms, another for the Bar left channel, and one more for the Bar right channel. So let’s drag four Zone Processors into our map.
I know I want some more processing before my outputs, and I need more space for DSP blocks. No problem, the workspace is easy to expand and rearrange. Expand the overall Halogen window on your screen, click-drag around the orange output blocks until they are highlighted, and then move them all as a group to the right (clicking on any one moves the group). Notice at the bottom left is a zoom slider control, and a Fit button that gets you back to full and center.
For audio tone control, a 3-band parametric EQ is easier than a graphic and lets me have different settings for each zone. I’ll use a Multichannel Parametric for the stereo speaker pair in the Bar, a single Parametric for the two Restaurant zones, and another for the two restroom zones. I could have a mono Parametric for every output, but using three is fewer duplicate controls and just as effective. To protect the all the speakers, use a Limiter between the EQ and each output.
Line up the blocks left to right in the order you think they will be. Input nodes are on the left and Output nodes are on the right of each block. Leave a little space between them for the wires we'll connect.
Name the blocks before wiring them. Naming is easy: just hover over the text, click and type. Names help keep your signals straight when wiring. Name the Zone Processor inputs as well, TV and Music will go on all three, and these labels will show up later in the Remote Controls. Notice that naming or wiring to an input on the Zone Processor (or other Mixer / Selector blocks) invites you to <add> another node if it is needed.
Let’s wire the blocks together. Click and release on a block output node and then connect it to the input node of another block with a second click. One output can feed multiple inputs, but combining inputs requires a mixer block. You can move blocks around to get wires to look better or straighter. Right-click wires to get cut, copy or delete commands.
There are wire-dressing techniques for deleting and replacing wires. If you want to delete a wire, click the middle of it to highlight in yellow, and hit your delete key. If you start creating an unwanted wire, hit the Esc key so it turns yellow, then hit delete. If you want to delete several wires at once, hold down the Ctrl key while you select each wire, then hit Delete.
Uh-oh, now I need to put in a couple of summing mixers for the mono zone so that my bar will stay in stereo. Not a problem. Click-drag to highlight the group of input blocks, and pull them left to make room; the wires extend and screen shifts over. From the DSP palette, drag two new Mixers ahead of the Mono Zone Processor. Name one mixer Mono Music and the other mixer Mono TV. Wire them as in the map below.
Though the wiring around the mixers is correct, it can get messy with overlapping wires over blocks. Turn Smooth Wires off (in the Settings drop-down at the upper right) and keep Orthogonal on to make the lines snap to a grid. With Orthagonal on, wires are only drawn as horizontal and vertical. To make corners, click on an empty place in the background to place a vertex, which is like a staple holding the wire so you can route the wire around blocks. To create a visible connection node in the middle of a wire (e.g., split an output), instead of starting the wire from an output node, start at an input node and connect mid-wire, creating a vertex. Here’s the same map with straight lines.
Seeing what wires to where increases in difficulty as you add more mixers, zones and larger maps than this. To make wire tracing easier, Halogen has color-coded wire tags. Below the palette on the left, you’ll see a Source Wire Tag and a Destination Wire Tag.
Drag a Source Wire Tag from the left column over to the processing map near an Output node of one of the green inputs, and connect it with a wire. Hover over the Tag, click the daisy, enter a name, and choose a Background color that is easy to see. You can also change the Font color when the background color chosen makes reading the name difficult. Make Source Tags for the other Input source Output nodes in contrasting colors. In this system, I made four Sources: pink, red, yellow and orange.
Add a Destination Wire Tag near an Input node, and connect it with a wire. Hover over it, and at the right end you’ll see a down-arrow. Click on that, and see a list of the sources you made. Select a source here, and the tag adopts the name and color of its Source. Continue to add Destination Tags for the inputs that need Source Tags. Now it’s easy to understand all the same color tags are connected.
Notice there isn’t a node on the Pager1 for the host station. The lime green bar on the Pager1 connects through the Paging Manager to the lime green bars on the Zone Processors. These are built-in lime green Wire Tags for paging sources (sticking out to the right side of the block) and destinations or zones (sticking out to the left of the blocks).
Click the Paging icon above the Processing Workspace (top of the page) to open the Paging Manager. It already knows you have one station and four paging zones. Edit the zone names by clicking once on each Zone Processor’s lime green bar (clicking twice opens the block), or edit the name in the Zones column.
We’ll make the Scenarios in the Paging Manager that the restaurant host will see on the PAGER1 display, and associate each page Scenario with one or more zones. Click on + Scenario at the bottom. Edit the name of this first one to be Page Restaurant. Under Zones, tick the checkbox by the Restaurant and Restroom zones, where this page will be heard. Click on + Scenario again, name this Page Bar, and only tick the Bar L, Bar R, and Restroom Zone checkboxes. Click on + Scenario again, name this Page All, and tick all four Zones. Test this by clicking on each of the Scenarios and watch how the Zone checkboxes change with each Scenario. Very quick and easy.
Let’s start with the DR1 Volume Remote located in the Restaurant. Click the Control tab at the left, and click on the orange underlined name of the Restaurant Remote – DR1. This opens the DR1 dialog.
Double-click the title bar of the Zone Processor block for the Mono Restaurant to see the three pre-wired blocks inside. Double-click the Level block’s title bar to open its dialog.
To the right of the Level’s Gain controls, hover over the unlinked icon until you see a floating gold link icon added to your mouse cursor. As you click this link and drag, you’ll see the DR1 Level Control link highlight in gold, leading your way to a potential link.
Release the mouse when you drag onto the DR1 Level Control link, and a confirmation box appears, allowing you to name the link. Call this Restaurant Level Link. Click OK, and both link icons activate by turning purple . Now the DR1 on the wall in the restaurant will control its room volume. Test this by grabbing the white line of the green arc in the Level dialog, and moving your mouse up and down. You’ll see the Control Value move, and you’ll see the DR1’s Value and LCD display bar move. This confirms it’s all working. The DR1 always displays in percent, not dB – 0% for off, and 100% for full on. Checking the Off @ Min box allows the DR1 to mute the audio completely when turned fully counter-clockwise. If you don’t want it off at minimum, you can set the max and min volume of the DR1 by clicking the yellow underlined numbers at the ends of the green arc in the Level block.
Close the Level block and the DR1 Remote dialog. Leave the Mono Restaurant Zone Processor open, so we can map the DR3 Remote located in the Bar to the source selector. In this installation, we want one background music source to be consistent across the entire establishment because of the open floor layout.
Let’s link the Restaurant Zone source to the DR3 Source and Volume Remote in the Bar. In the Control tab in the left column, click on the yellow underlined name of the Bar Remote – DR3.
Double-click the Priority Selector block title bar so its dialog appears. Notice the Music and TV sources are already named. Right of these, hover over the unlinked icon until the floating gold link icon appears. Click and drag from the Zone Processor Priority Selector link to the DR3 Control Selector link.
Release the mouse when you drop on to the DR3 Selector Control link, and a confirmation box appears. Name this Source Selector Link. Click OK, and both link icons activate by turning purple . Now the DR1 Level control and the DR3 Selector control are linked to the Mono Restaurant Zone Processor. In other words, the Volume is controlled by the Restaurant DR1 and the Source is controlled in the Bar’s DR3. At the right side of the Remote dialog, see the preview of the DR3 display, so you know your names fit when you get real hardware. You can change the Display Labels to Volume or Level, and Source or Selection. Any label on the display is editable here.
We’ve linked both the Level and Selector in the Restaurant, so close the Restaurant Zone Processor and Selector dialogs.
Let’s link the Stereo Zone to the DR3 remote. Double-click the Zone Processors for the Left Bar and the Right Bar.
Create the links to the Bar Level Controls. Open the dialogs for both Level blocks; it’s OK to move things around to get them to fit on your screen. Click and drag the Left Bar Gain link to the DR3 Level Control link. Click OK. Then, click and drag the Right Bar Gain link to the same DR3 Level Control link.
After making the second link to the same control, you get a new dialog. Do you want to Add to Link, or Create New Link? Leave Add to Link checked and click OK. Test the control by dragging up and down either of the white lines inside the green Gain arcs, and you’ll verify everything tracks together. Close the Level blocks.
Open the Priority Selector blocks for both Left Bar and Right Bar. Click-drag from the Left Priority Selector link to the DR3 Selector control link, and be sure the Add Link box is checked. When you make the third link for the Right Priority Selector, keep Add to Link checked and click OK.
Open the Priority Selector block for the Mono Restrooms. Click-drag from the Restrooms Priority Selector link to the DR3 Selector control link, with the Add to Link box checked. We’ll make a web control for the level in the Restrooms later.
Verify all the Zones are switching sources together by clicking on any of the Music or TV buttons in the Selectors or DR3 Control dialogs. All wall remotes are linked to all zones, and we know how they look. Close all the block details.
Any computer, tablet, or smartphone on the premises will have a web browser. Any web browser that has access to the local network on Wi-Fi can talk to HAL, if the HAL is on the same Wi-Fi network. Web Controls are another way of remote-controlling the system, and can have more functions than the DR1 and DR3, and there is no remote to buy, so no added expense. Using drag-and-drop layout and links makes creating web controls for a HAL system is easier than you imagine. Giving web controls to the manager(s) of the bar gives them the power they want, with more controls and without buying more remotes.
In the Processing screen, click the Control Systems drop-down, and choose Control Page Designer. Web browsers come in all sizes and resolutions, so the first question to ask is: on what device will these controls be used? In the lower left, click the Outline menu to see popular phones and tablets. Don’t see your device? Click the daisy to the right of the menu, and you have an expandable window that lets you check the devices to display in the Outline menu. The icon before the daisy lets you choose portrait or landscape. If you have more than a few controls, choose Landscape. If you’re designing for a computer monitor, choose None as the outline.
Let’s set up a web page for the boss that includes the source selector, bar volume, restaurant volume, but also individual volumes for the restrooms. I heard the boss has an Apple iPhone 6, so I’ll select that, in Landscape. You’ll see a dashed line as your boundary to work within.
Open the Controls tab at the left. Add a new Selector by clicking the “+” sign to the right of Select. Drag the Selector onto the left side of the screen. Let go, and notice you can reposition it and its title around. But it doesn’t look like much because it’s not linked to anything yet.
Since the DR3 already links to all our zones, and we want the same function here, just link this web selector to the DR3 selector. Open the Control tab at the left of the main screen, and under Digital Remote Ports, click the name of the Bar Remote DR3. Drag the unlinked Selector icon in the Control Page Designer to the DR3 Selector link. Since this is the fifth thing linking to the DR3, and we want them all to follow each other, only check Add to Link. Click OK, and the web Selector link icon activates by turning purple .
Now the Selector buttons and names appear on the web control page with our source names.
To get the Bar Level control on our page, in the Control Page Designer’s Control tab, click the “+” after Level. Drag the Level icon from the left Control Page Designer column to your page. Drag the unlinked Level icon in the Control Page Designer up to the DR3 Level link and release the mouse. Check only the Add to Link box in the confirmation dialog. Click OK, and the Level link icon activates by turning purple .
Double-click the Level slider’s graphic. You’ll find lots of settings here to adjust as you wish. Change the Name to Bar Level and change the Label Text to Bar Volume so we know what this control does. Close the box.
Now link the Restaurant Level to a web control. Close the DR3 Remote dialog, and open the DR1 Remote dialog by clicking its name in the HAL3s Control tab. Click the “+” after Level in the left column of the Control Page Designer to add another Level control. Drag it over to your page. Drag its link to the DR1 Level Control link and click OK. Name this Restaurant Level and make the Label Text Restaurant. Uh, this big word doesn’t fit on the control page. No problem — grab the edge of the gold border around the Restaurant label to resize and reposition it. Close the DR1 dialog.
Add one more Level control for the restrooms. Name this Restrooms and make the Label Text Restrooms. Double-click the Mono Restrooms Zone Processor, then double-click its Level block. Link a new web Level control to the Gain, and name it Restrooms. The boss can adjust the volume if it’s ever needed. Close the dialog boxes.
It’s easy to size controls to fit the device screen. Click on any web control to highlight it, and stretch, move, resize and rearrange to make a nice layout. Get pixel-precise with the control settings by double-clicking a control. Sliders are easier to adjust with fingers when they are larger. On small phone screens, removing the slider completely, displaying only up and down buttons, is easier for some users. Right-click on an empty area, select Properties, and try different Themes. Choose a custom color background to match your décor. Click the Elements tab on the left to add more labels, lines or import your logo. Here is a simple iPhone 6 design for this restaurant.
Now let’s test. In Control Page Designer, Click the Preview Page button, and the page launches in your computer’s default browser. Open the DR1 and DR3 dialogs from their names in the HAL3s Control column on the left. Resize your browser window so you can see it next to all the open dialogs. Operate any control on your browser screen. See how the matching Source and Levels change, and how the wall remote displays track? Pretty cool.
These are just a couple of web controls you can make. For example, link sliders to individual Parametric band Gains for bass, mid and treble controls. For subwoofers in the bar, insert 2-way Crossovers after the Zone Processors, run their low ends to the unused line outputs, and link volume sliders to those output gains. Create another zone for the kitchen, and another for the patio using leftover HAL3s outputs. Web controls are a powerful feature that the boss will love, created without programming knowledge or extra hardware expense.
Let’s inspect each block and its available controls. Properties are opened by double-clicking any block’s title bar. Let’s go left to right, from the input to output.
Input Blocks: When using unbalanced (RCA) sources, set the analog Mic/Line-Plus inputs to Unbalanced L&R monoed, (even if connecting one channel). Keep unbalanced lines short, less than 10 feet (3 meters). Use balanced line-level inputs if your source has them, and select Balanced line-level. Adjust the Level Gain during installation; with both sources playing at full volume, adjust the Left and Right Gains, so they are similar when switching to either Music or TV.
All the Gain Levels in Halogen are unique because the range of the Gain is adjustable. Click on the gold numbers at either end of the green arc. This lets you set a max and min range if the end users are better off with less control. The defaults of -30 dB minimum and 0 dB maximum, along with the Off @ Min checkbox, behave like a regular off-to-on volume control.
Pager1 Block: The controls and LCD screen on the PAGER1 appear on the left of this parent block. There is a list of the Paging Scenarios into which the PAGER1 can page; these are set up in the Paging Manager that we covered earlier. The Busy, Caution, and Ready indicators display the state of the Scenario:
Checking the Talk checkbox initiates a page into the selected Scenario for configuration test purposes, and is read-only when connected to an HAL.
Talk Mode specifies the behavior of the Talk button. Push mode is momentary or push-to-talk; it initiates a page with a push of the Talk button and terminates the page when released. Toggle mode leaves the PAGER1 in page mode until pushing the talk button again. For a restaurant, Push mode is more intuitive since most pages will be short.
The Pager1 block contains four child blocks:
Mixer Blocks: These stereo-to-mono blocks need no adjustment; leave all input and output levels at 0.0 dB (unity gain).
Zone Processors: This parent block has three child blocks inside.
We don’t need any adjustments to the Priority Selector or Levels; we already linked these to our digital remotes and web controls. The DR3 remote and web controls select the source, so leave Priority Inputs set to None.
Here’s a variation that takes advantage of the Priority Selector. If the TV in the Bar is normally turned off, and you want the source in the Bar to automatically switch to TV when it’s turned on, set the TV as a priority input. To do this, open the Priority Selectors in the Left and Right Zone Processors. Under Priority Inputs, select the TV as the source in the #1 pulldown in both channels.
Open the Paging Zone detail. Ducker Depth lowers the music temporarily during a page. The default is 12 dB and a good starting place. The Ramp Back time is the seconds it takes, after paging, for music to return to its regular volume. The 3-second default is fine. If the Page volume is too high in a zone, lower the Paging Zone Page Gain. The Bar zone is in stereo, so set left and right channels to the same values. Or once you have one channels’ blocks settings correct, copy and paste settings from one channel to the next. Or, best of all, link the Left and Right Zone selectors and Levels together, and link the Page Gains together to create stereo zones that always track each other.
Parametric EQ Blocks: Treat these like 3-band tone controls (Low, Mid, & High). It’s easiest to see all settings at once by clicking the Show Table View option. To change a value, move the arc indicator, click the up/down value arrows, or highlight the numbers and type directly. Here are some suggested starting settings.
Limiter Blocks: These help prevent amplifier clipping and protect loudspeaker drivers. The Threshold defaults at -6 dB with a checked Auto Mode to take care of Attack and Release times. Set this block with live audio during installation. Don’t limit audio constantly or it will sound bad and could overload and overheat the speakers. Read the Dynamics Processors RaneNote to understand how Limiters work.
Output Blocks: These are the final stage that set the volume at the orange blocks that connect to your amplifier inputs. An Output block looks like and has the same functions as a Level block. Rane always recommends balanced inputs if they are available (positive, negative and ground wires). If the amplifier only has unbalanced connectors (like RCA inputs), then use the + and ground terminals on the HAL3s outputs. Locate the amplifier nearby and keep cables short (under 10 feet [3 meters]). The Sound System Interconnection RaneNote can help you properly wire the HAL3s to other audio connectors at installation time.
If you’ve finished the design stage, Halogen can generate your Rane shopping list. Click the Hardware tab, and Generate List in the toolbar at the top. It will generate a spreadsheet showing quantities, models, price columns, and links to online product details. Copy and paste this into another spreadsheet, or use this as the starting point for the other equipment in your proposal.
Halogen can help make your RAD installations look professional by making labels for you. You already entered the names of the inputs early in your design. In the Hardware Workspace, click the Generate Labels button at the top. Choose the same color that you chose your RADs. Click Create, and then View, and your PDF viewer opens for you to print. Cut out the labels and insert them behind the little windows at the top of each RAD. After the label is in, trim the top edge with an Exacto blade for the cleanest look. Printing and installing labels before going to your job site really helps when you have lots of RADs.
Rane hopes this tutorial makes Halogen easier than you thought it would be. If you get stuck, or don’t understand a control, use Halogen’s built-in Help system by clicking on the blue-circled question mark at the top of any block. If you have a system you need help with, our HAL specialists at the Rane Factory in Mukilteo, Washington are ready to help by email or phone. Call 425-355-6000, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm Pacific Time.