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Myth-busting: Audio Bandwidth vs Data Bandwidth


Few things get me as agitated as the flagrant spreading of disinformation on the part of the plainly ignorant or apathetic. How’s that as an opening line for an argument? Well, it’s a fact.

As mentioned previously, recent weeks have seen some developments in the war against low-def voice. HDVoice service in the UK is getting easier to find, even in the mobile space.

This is very encouraging. Like the adoption of color TV, or music on CD, or video on DVD, the publics exposure to the new technology will create demand where once the established industry players thought there would be none.

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HDVoice In Support of Radio: Tieline At TAB 2010

Some would say that HDVoice is my major passion. I’m not sure that this is true, but I will admit that I grow increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of PSTN audio I encounter in the course of life.

I am especially aggravated by radio & TV stations that use the PSTN to pass production audio. It’s as if they simply don’t care about the technical quality of their broadcast. Why not just give every reporter an old Sony Walkman style cassette recorder? That would actually sound better than a phone call in many cases.

I accept that for call-in style radio shows the PSTN is still the primary means of connecting to the audience, and many people will use cell phones as a matter of convenience. Given these facts audio quality is going to be variable…never great…and often very bad indeed. However, for cases where there is a reporter the field, or passing audio between remote studios, there are much better options.

Last month a reader question prompted a short investigation of how you might leverage wideband (HDVoice) telephony in support of a podcast or online radio show.

This past week I was tasked with working a booth at the Texas Association of Broadcasters annual convention and exhibition in Austin. While at the show I stumbled upon Tieline Technology, a company that makes IP-based wideband audio connective gear for radio & TV stations.

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Technology & The Art Of The Podcast

Last week longstanding VoIP blogger and fellow Canuck Alec Saunders penned a nice post on the Calliflower Blog offering a collection of guidance for podcasters called “10 Podcaster Tips!” It’s a good read…not long…you should go read it now…then come back here. I’ll wait.

Over the past few years I’ve listened to a number of Alec’s Squawkbox podcasts, even attended a handful live & in-person. I respect and admire the man.

Taken in the context of the Calliflower conference service Alec’s post provides some sound, well-considered advice. Even so, I find there to be merit recasting it in a broader context and revisiting some of his points.

By “broader context” I mean specifically considering how someone could record a better sounding podcast by bypassing the legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN).

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Considering Our SILKen Future

Much is being made of the recent events in the IETF CODEC Working Group . Specifically, the fact that Skype has included the c source code for their SILK codec in the Draft RFC document.

Dan York has some excellent coverage including a good general backgrounder on the matter. Jim Courtney has also posted something interesting, as has Phil Wolff of Skype Journal.

A lot of what is being expressed seems to me unbridled enthusiasm for what is seen as a bold, even surprising move on the part of Skype. I agree that this is a gutsy move…and one that I applaud. However, I’m also here to reign in the enthusiasm just a bit. Tempering it with a dose of reality we can see this in a larger context and keep our eyes on the larger goal…ubiquitous wideband telephony.

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Royalty-Free Is The New Fashion In Codecs

It’s only mid-week and it’s already been quite a trip in the audio codec landscape. Broadcom announced that they are releasing into open source under the LGPL their BV16 and BV32 audio codecs. The relevant page on their web site includes documents outlining the techniques implemented in the codecs and C source code.

I’m not familiar with either of the Broadcom codecs. I see that they are available in some versions of Counterpath’s X-Lite and Eyebeam soft phones. Support for these codecs in hardware is something that I’m yet to determine.

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