AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - September 17, 2015

Meeting Topic:

Speaker Name:

Meeting Location:


The PNW Section's meeting season kicked off with a presentation by Steve Macatee of Rane Corp on their HAL installed audio ecosystem. 14 AES members and 15 nonmembers came to the meeting, held at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, WA.

Rane is a home-grown company - all their products are made in Mukilteo WA, USA. HAL (Heuristic Audio Lab), is their hardware/software architecture for installed audio, such as restaurants, hotels, convention centers, schools and churches. The HAL name makes subtle reference to the rogue computer in the film, "2001" (note the glowing red orb in the HAL logo). The idea of drag and drop sound system design and hardware interfacing isn't new, but Steve described ways their implementation overcomes past shortcomings. They took great pains to design in friendly features that help guarantee a good design, proper installation and operation, and novice user ease.

Steve showed their Windows app, Halogen, the drag and drop system design software where you design and configure your system using dozens of HAL hardware devices and a vast array of signal processing tailored for installed sound. One big problem in this business is that the design/build timeline is often measured in years, yet all software and hardware must still work right in the end. HAL devices automatically install the latest firmware when installed. Their DSP system runs on Linux.

When asked about issues like fidelity and latency, their 24b/48k audio should qualify as "hi-fi" and their architecture is very fast, with most latency on A/D and D/A conversions. This means system latency is a non-issue.

The important point is that although their cabling is CAT5e shielded cable, their wiring protocol is NOT ethernet, but power, AES3 digital audio, and datacom. This allows them to implement many helpful features that can't be done with actual ethernet. Cable runs can be longer than ethernet. Remote controls and devices are location-aware; lights confirm proper wiring installation and operation; TCP/IP and Dante networking can be interfaced; Webpage control (no app store apps) allows login and operation from mobile devices.

Finally, Steve showed what he calls the "Get on the Plane" feature, meaning you should be good to go (or maybe because if this green light isn't on, the contractor has to get on a plane and go figure it out). When HAL says green, an extensive list of facts is known to be true about the proper operation of the system, something non-trivial in a large, distributed installed system. To wit,
1-everything in the system designed years ago is installed and OK
2-all devices and wiring are in the right places
3-all cables go to the correct locations
4-all cable crimps on the RJ45s are good
5-all control and audio are working
6-names for remotes are already set up
7-proper firmware is installed in all devices

More About Pacific Northwest Section

AES - Audio Engineering Society