MOS, Podcasting, SIP Reinvites and WebRTC

podcast mic & logosAccording to popular legend, in the early days of talking movies there was a German director working in Hollywood whose pronounced accent skewed his use of English. He would call for another take of a scene, this time without recording sound. He’d yell out “Mit Out Sound!” Over the years industry professionals came to use the acronym MOS as a shorthand for recording a silent take.

Operating MOS may be occasionally useful in film, but it can be disastrous for a podcaster. When producing a podcast reliable audio is a must. Achieving this goal can be complicated when trying to connect to a distributed array of co-hosts & guests via the internet.

Using a SIP service like SIP2SIP.Info allows the use of high-performance audio codecs, like Opus, which makes for superior podcast audio. This is something that I’ve advocated for along time in my series called Making Use of HDVoice Right Now!

This week I had a Twitter exchange with veteran broadcaster and podcaster Mike Phillips about a problem with audio over a SIP connection.

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The UC Architects Podcast: Walking The HDVoice Walk

UC Architects in Lenovo X-1-CarbonBack in 1984 Ric Ocasek of The Cars quite famously sang, “You might think I’m crazy.” That sentiment underscores how I feel about HDVoice as a tool for podcasters. It’s a constant source of amazement to me that so many podcasters, even some in the Enterprise UC business, still publish podcasts with audio quality in the finest narrowband tradition of the PSTN circa 1937.

In the past I have occasionally called attention to these offerings. I see them as  a telecom version of The Emperors New Clothes. This has given rise to a reputation for being something of an audio snob, a not entirely unfounded assertion. However, a fellow Canuck one opinioned, “that the medium is the message.” While McLuhan was addressing television, I hold his assertion to be equally valid with respect to UC podcasts.

I am truly trying to shed my curmudgeonly audiophile image. It gives me great pleasure to note that The UC Architects current podcast, while episode 48 in their series, the first that I have encountered, is produced in lovely HDVoice. Kudos to the team for making the effort!

Their podcast is focused upon things Microsoft, from Exchange to Lync (aka Skype-For-Business.) That’s certainly a big topic area.

As a SOHO user, I may not be in their target audience, but I commend them for making the effort to deliver a podcast the goes beyond traditional telephony as it’s means of production.

Gigaset Pro Introduces Maxwell 10 Android Tablet & Phone

Gigaset Pro MaxwellEarlier this week Gigaset extended their Gigaset Pro line by adding a new 10” Android tablet they call Maxwell. I must say that at first glance the device looks VERY nice.

As just an Android tablet Maxwell is a little unremarkable. The display is 1280 x 800 pixels. It runs Android 4.2.2, aka Jelly Bean, which is a little old on the eve of widespread Lollipop rollout.

What makes Maxwell stand out from the crowded tablet marketplace are the customizations intended to make it a communication centerpiece. These include;

  • Ethernet interface with POE support
  • Ethernet pass-through
  • Wired handset (RJ9)
  • EHS & DHSG connectivity
  • Bluetooth & wired headset connectivity (RJ9)
  • Audio augmented by a large speaker in its back
  • Built-in DECT base radio
  • Optional DECT handset
  • Desk stand
  • Wall mount capability
  • Gigaset Pro telephone app
  • Micro-HDMI output for a larger monitor
  • 2x USB host ports (supports external camera, keyboard, mouse, etc)

Color me curious about this tablet. I’d simply love to lay hands on one. I suspect that won’t happen since their Gigaset Pro line has not been offered in North America. The only thing that made it to these shores was the Gigaset DX800A. Lacking for a well-developed retail channel I don’t think that it did very well.

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No Jitter: No HDVoice Either!

While I recently lamented the last UC Strategies podcast woefully narrowband presentation, in the interest of fairness I must today point out that they are not alone in this. Today the latest No Jitter Podcast, hosted by Guy Clinch, published an interview with Andrew Prokop of Arrow S3. It suffers a similar lack of lack of regard for HDVoice.

Mr Prokop’s SIP Adventures blog has proven interesting, so I thought the podcast worth a listen. Sadly, while the host is presented full bandwidth, as might be expected from a local recording, the guest is presented in narrowband. Given that the subject matter is WebRTC I think that this is more than a little anachronistic. WebRTC-based services are in fact a very easy way to enjoy wideband audio for the purposes of producing a podcast.

Dragging the podcast in my trusty editor I find it to the a definitive example of full-band audio vs narrowband. The file is sampled at 44.1 kHz, so the top of the vertical axis is 22 kHz. The guests audio is a good quality PSTN call, but even that is quite a contrast from the host. This contrast is very jarring to the listener.

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UC Strategies: If Not You, Then Who Will Use HDVoice?

podcast microphoneIt’s Q4-2014 and HDVoice is now largely passé. On that basis one might think that it’s use should become evident, especially amongst the telecom cognoscenti. So I was surprised to hear the most recent UC Strategies podcast entitled, “Connecting the Circuit.” This podcast,  a discussion of a new UC service called “Circuit”, was derived from a conference call of leading telecom experts.

Sadly, with the exception of a little music at the beginning, the recording exemplifies the finest narrowband audio traditions of the last century. This is, to my mind, a disappointment. It boggles the mind to think that some of the leading thinkers about UC, are not themselves taking advantage of one of its core features…HDVoice.

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Obi Hai Ships OBi1032 IP Phone

OBi1032-SIP-PhoneObi Hai has been around a long while. Their niche has been ATA-like devices that were sufficiently sophisticated to provide hardware access to Google Voice. As was discussed when they appeared on VUC, the founders of the company were in involved in the earliest days of VoIP. More specifically, they were behind the development of Cisco ATA 186, the very first ATA.

In years past I’ve watched as others have expressed their enthusiasm for the OBi Hai ATAs, especially those who were trying to leverage Google Voice. GV has never been a significant factor in my working life.

Further, I’ve long held that ATA’s  fail to offer many of the advantages of a bone fide IP phone. I do admit that OBi Hai was quite aggressive about extending the capabilities of the humble ATA beyond the demands of the typical ITSP. Nonetheless, ATAs have held little interest for me in recent years.

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