Hello VTech? Your “HD Audio” Isn’t HDVoice, ok?

Doug Mohney, Editor of HD Voice News is quite plain in saying that he Hates The Term “HD Audio!” In this case his comment stems from the fact that VTech, a Canadian manufacturer of consumer cordless telephones, has started to use the term “HD Audio” describe some of their latest hardware.

The company describes the “HD Audio” feature as follows:

“The frequency band has been extended allowing for the signal to be reproduced and tuned for a fuller and clearer sound.”

In addition, they seem to have implemented a kind of tone control with several preset contours.

“The equalizer feature on the handset enables you to change the audio quality of the handset to best suit your hearing. While on a call or intercom call, or listening to a message or announcement, press EQ to select the equalizer setting Treble 1, Treble 2, Bass or Natural (the default setting) for the handset. The current setting is displayed on the handset briefly.”

Since these are DECT 6.0 devices it’s possible that the cordless aspects of the system use G.722 encoded audio to provide higher quality sound for calls between handsets. However, since the device offers only the analog PSTN interface to the world it’s going to be limited to narrowband G.711 for all calls to the PSTN. The intercom function may be improved, but it’ll have limited impact upon most of the things that people do with a telephone.

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Blue Jeans Network: H.323 & Skype Video Conferencing

A couple of weeks ago I started to play with a new service called Blue Jeans Network. This startup offers a cloud-based video conferencing service, effectively a cloud-based MCU. The service is presently free as it’s in a limited beta program. The beta program, originally set to expire this month, was just extended until June 15th.

At present their service supports connectivity via H.323, Skype and the PSTN. Of course,the PSTN dial-up means voice conferencing only…and thus only G.711. Clients connected via Skype get VGA resolution video and nice SILK-encoded audio.

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Telecom Continuity Strategies in the Cloud Era: SOHO Edition

As you likely heard on April 27th Northern Alabama suffered a spate of violent storms, including a number of large tornados. Many thousands of people were impacted, including long term loss of power and network connectivity. Digium was amongst the many, many businesses impacted by the events of the day.

I must commend Danny Windam, CEO of Digium, for making excellent use of the corporate blog to keep the Asterisk community informed about the companies operational status. Some time having elapsed since the unfortunate events of that day Digium has since returned to normal operations.

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New Gigaset Firmware

Earlier this week the Gigaset C610A-IP that I’ve had for the past month reported that there was a new firmware release available. Glancing over at the Gigaset web site I see that the C610A-IP is not yet listed in the US version of the site. Nor is the related firmware in the download section. That means no release notes to help make the decision about installing the new firmware.

I know that Michael White at E4 Technologies has been awaiting a shipment from Gigaset. Visiting Amazon.com I see that the C610A-IP remains listed as not currently available. I expect that the US arm of Gigaset is eagerly awaiting literally a boatload of product.

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Plantronics Voyager Pro UC: Model Designations

Several people have been in touch regarding my recent review of the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC Bluetooth headset. It seems that they would like to purchase the device but want to be certain that they are selecting the appropriate model. After all, why pay for the wideband capable model if you only application will be with a cell phone? Conversely, if you really want wideband capability you’d better get the Plantronics Voyager Pro UC V2.

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Getting Close To A Yeti

Blue-Yeti-200 My ongoing involvement in the VoIP Users Conference has me occasionally pondering my home office equipment. While I make my living in the broadcast television equipment business, in truth, audio was my first love.

The VUC can easily be joined using any phone, but sometimes a phone…even my long-time companion Polycom IP650…doesn’t feel like the right tool for the job. So last year I put a microphone on my holiday wish list, the Yeti from Blue Microphones. Seeing an opportunity to address the my voip-geek habit, my wife decided to put one under the Christmas tree.

The Yeti is in many ways special. It’s a USB-attached microphone, so it plugs directly into a computer. That means that the critical electronics of the pre-amplifier are housing in the mic itself, away from the harsh electrical environment of the computer’s internals.

Further, the Yeti has three microphone capsules under it’s wire mesh head. The output of the three capsules can be mixed in various combinations resulting in several directivity patterns; omni-directional, cardoid, stereo (left-right) or figure-eight (front-back.) This makes the Yeti very adaptable to different  situations.

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