USB Speakerphones: An Observation

Over a period of years I’ve used quite a number of these portable USB attached speakerphone devices. A while ago I summarized my experienced with them, but as a couple of new models have recently emerged so I find that they have my attention yet again. These new devices, if I should be lucky enough to try them, will be the focus on some future posts. For the moment I have another observation to share based upon a recent experience.

Six USB Speakerphones

All of these portable speakerphones I find well suited to individual use. That is, they work well enough for an individual who sitting at their PC and doesn’t like to wear a headset. They’re also sufficiently portable to please a road warrior. One of the nice things about this kind of device is that they often support HDVoice when paired with a suitable soft phone.

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HDVoice & Asterisk: Hearing The Siren’s Song – The Finale

Asterisk & HDVoiceHaving read & listened this far into this series you should now have some grasp of how narrowband (G.711) compares to wideband (G.722/G.722.1) and even super-wideband (G.722.1C) audio for telephony applications. The differences in many cases are quite pronounced, even startling. What you hear in the examples are just the most obvious properties of the encoding, sampling rate and by implication, the available audio bandwidth. It’s worth understanding a bit more about the evolution of the role of the codec over time. This will help you frame up how the Siren codecs fit into the Asterisk realm.

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HDVoice & Asterisk: Hearing The Siren’s Song Part 3

Asterisk & HDVoiceIn this third installment I’ll try to broaden your experience with wideband and super-wideband telephony by exposing you to a selection of recorded audio samples using various encoding techniques.

Until now the examples used were strictly in English. This next set of six samples recordings are in six different languages; Norwegian, Chinese, French, German, Russian & Spanish. Each is presented in a comparative form, with three codecs intercut into one example recording. Then again in each of the following; uncompressed, super-wideband (G.722.1C), wideband (G.722/G.722.1) and finally narrowband (G.711) a la PSTN.

I could have assembled all of this into a tight little library using Flash or some Javascript, but I decided that it would be better presented laid out across a number of pages in a very plain and simple form. This way you know for certain exactly what you’re hearing and seeing in each case. There’s no active logic in the background except for a little MP3 player embedded in the page.

In order to truly appreciate the difference between the various recordings you will need to be making use of high-quality audio playback hardware. Good quality computer speakers or, better yet, a high-quality headset will be the most revealing. But then, as someone who’s genuinely concerned about the quality of audio over IP telephony…you knew that, right? I thought so.

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Reflecting Upon My First Astricon

Astricon2009This year marks the first time that I have attended Astricon. This is mildly paradoxical since Asterisk hasn’t been at the core of my IP telephony activities for a while. However, the opportunity to talk about HDVoice with a group of Asterisk users was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

My experience of Astricon was better than I had expected on a number of levels. Meeting up with  a number of the VUC regulars was probably the highlight of the event. Though we might speak every week or so to have a sit down and talk in one location remains a treat. Meatspace still trumps cyberspace in some ways.

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Asterisk & HDVoice: Hearing The Siren’s Song Part 2

Asterisk & HDVoiceIn part 1 I gave you an introduction to Polycom’s Siren7 & 14 codecs, as well as a brief overview of their implementation in Asterisk v1.6. Now  it makes some sense to try and understand their advantages in use. This is really a more generalized exploration of narrowband (G.711 ala PSTN) vs wideband (G.722/G.722.1) vs Super-Wideband (G.722.1C)

I set about creating a series of audio recordings to illustrate the difference between the three codecs. If Asterisk had been capable of handling all three codecs then recording samples encoded in each fashion would have been relatively simple. The trouble is that in the period leading up to Astricon I didn’t yet have a version of Asterisk capable of handling Siren streams beyond pass through.

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Asterisk & HDVoice: Hearing The Siren’s Song Part 1

Asterisk & HDVoicePreface: This post is a rework of the HDVoice session I presented in cooperation with Polycom at Astricon 2009. The Powerpoint slides in support of that session as well as a videotape recording of the session are anticipated in a few weeks on the Astricon web site.

In considering this subject I developed more demo material than was possible to use in the 40 minute session at Astricon. This post begins a series that is a kind of superset of the Astricon session, intended to go into more depth with a larger variety of HDVoice examples.

The introduction to the session was given by Tim Yankee, Director of Product Marketing, Voice Communications at Polycom. Tim’s intro gave an overview of the state of HDVoice in the industry.  Hopefully his slide set will be included in the presentation materials to be put online at Astricon.net

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