Thursday 21 November 2013

What are the alternatives to ISDN?

We are often asked by potential voiceovers if, when setting up their home studio, if they should invest in ISDN.

Although, it is "old" technology it is still pretty much the standard way of working for production companies using remote voice talent. We have heard rumours for years that providers including BT are talking about withdrawing ISDN but we have never heard anything definite.

However, with the increasing speeds of the internet, new technology allows high quality audio to be sent and received on the web. 

You’re already paying for your broadband connection, so why continue to pay for an ISDN line too?

So what are the alternatives to ISDN?

Probably the best known is Source Connect. This has taken off in America but has yet to break through in the UK. There really aren't many voiceover artists using Source Connect in the UK. There can be problems with setting up and configuring this software and issues with drop out in the signal - but then the same can be said for ISDN.  

If you have Source Connect, it will only connect with another person using Source Connect. If you want to connect Source Connect to an ISDN line, you will need to use a Bridging Company to tie the two together. Bridging company fees are around $150 per hour.  

As far as I  can see, the big advantage of Source Connect is that you can "voice to picture" or do dubbing in a remote location - the voiceover artist doesnt need to be in the same physical location as the recording studio.

Have you thought just about using Skype? With a good internet connection both sides, the voice talent can be directed via Skype and then the quality audio from the remote studio can be sent via any file-sharing service. (Dropbox, You Send it, We Transfer etc.) The quality of what the client hears will be dependent upon the quality of the Skype call  - sometimes this is great - sometimes it can be quite bad still.

Just direct over the phone. This would work in the same way as Skype (above) but obviously the quality of the audio that the client hears during the session will only be phone quality.  

The version of ISDN that we use is Audio TX. Audio TX is an ISDN codec which is just software. There is no big black box costing £7K. However it is advisable to have a stand-alone PC which only runs this software. If both parties have this software  you could consider using the VOIP function, which is just the same idea of one incoming and one outgoing line but using the internet rather than the ISDN lines.

Another choices for voiceovers include Sound Streak, Luci Live App and Connection Open.

Confused? Me too...