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Audio Test: It's All About Mobile Devices

12/9/2013 05:30 PM EST
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DrQuine
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Sound Quality on Telephones
DrQuine   12/9/2013 9:44:06 PM
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We've had an interesting regression in the quality of telephone communications. Just when crystal clear wired / fiber connections started to spoil us, wireless cellular phones came along. In public places the most common mobile phone conversations that I hear are "What, What? I can't hear you." It seems the combination of very low fidelity, tiny speakers with poor volume, and the high ambient sound levels conspire to thwart smooth communications. Even in quiet venues with respectable signal strength, the other end of the line sometimes sounds like a voice scrambling device. I'd love to see the return of high quality telecommunications. Surely if we can have mobile video conversations we ought to be able to engineer a simple reliable audio connection.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
MeasurementBlues   12/9/2013 10:21:08 PM
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Poor voice quality isn't limited to cell phones. I've found that with VoIP phones in quiet locations. The voice can break up. There is still nothing better nor more reliable that na real POTS phone. That's why I keep it won't get VoIP phone. POTS phones always work.

David Ashton
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
David Ashton   12/29/2013 3:00:55 PM
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@MB I would wholeheartedly agree with you.  The silly thing is that POTS phones are still limited to around 3 to 4 KHz by the codecs, and they still sound great.  We recently swapped our good old TDM PABXs at work for a VOIP system.  It's good when it works, but we've had no end of niggly problems.  And guess what?  If your network connection is bad or down you have NO Comms at all!  No email, no phones, no IM, NOTHING!  Come back TDM/ISDN, all is forgiven!

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
MeasurementBlues   12/29/2013 4:32:21 PM
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@David, that's why I keep POTS phones and dont go to VoIP with Comcast, no matter how many times the call trying to get me to sign up. My office phone is a voice phone running on my DSL service. At frst, it was unusable after a few minutes. the voice would break up. Changing modems has solved the problem.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
MeasurementBlues   12/9/2013 10:24:21 PM
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@DrQuine. Audio test of speakers and amplifiers in phones assumes a good quality signal. I think that the audio testing os more for music than telephone voice. Unfortunately, even a good quality audio subsystem is at the mercy of the cellular network. At this point, I think telephone service is assumed; the carriers and cell phone makers are more interested in the audio quality of music, movies, and games.

JeffL_2
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
JeffL_2   12/10/2013 12:01:49 PM
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I'm not surprised that test equipment exists to measure this but I'm more than a little surprised that there's real popular concern. So many of these modern mobile links just "assume" that the traffic over a link is almost exclusively voice that these links automatically route all traffic through a vocoder path in order to reduce the data rate of the traffic. If you've ever waited on a cell phone for a long time for service (like for support for a federal or state program like benefits) you've noticed the absolutely abysmal quality of "music on hold", it sounds almost literally (to recycle a very old quote) "as if someone pushed the RCA pooch into the horn" (yes it was a joke on their old "his master's voice" logo). You get that hideous sound because the link is trying to "vocode" music (possibly an entire symphony orchestra) and pass it over a link at a few thousands bits per second! My goodness if people are willing to tolerate THAT annoying abuse (and you seldom hear anyone bring it up, although it happens literally all the time) it makes me wonder what the heck WOULD they be prepared to complain about??

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
MeasurementBlues   12/10/2013 2:54:42 PM
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The next thing coming is voice over LTE, VoLTE. that will put the voice on the data network.

DrQuine
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
DrQuine   12/10/2013 8:31:42 PM
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@JeffL_2 thanks so much for explaining that horrible sound that comes out of the phone when I'm on hold. Since so many of us spend so much time on hold, I'd think that the "on hold Muzak people" would select material that can tolerate the low bandwidth or provide some peaceful silence (with periodic confirmations that the line is alive).

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
MeasurementBlues   12/28/2013 9:41:16 PM
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Today, I joined the crowd and bought a JBL Charge bluetooth speaker, a step up from the one shown above. It works fine with Apple devices and in fact, the box indicates that it's only Bluetooth compatible with Apple. Some of the reviews on Amazon point to that incompatibility fact; buyers didn't know that when they bought theirs.

JBL Bluetooth speaker connected to iPhone

AZskibum
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
AZskibum   12/29/2013 11:16:19 AM
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I wonder if the BT-only-compatible-with-Apple is still true. This seems like it might be a leftover from the days when Android didn't support BT 4.0 (BT Low Energy). Those days were not that long ago, and millions of consumers are still using Android phones that don't support this.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
MeasurementBlues   12/29/2013 11:45:27 AM
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My nephew tried to connect using hiw Windows 8 computer and said it wouldn't connect. Itried with my Win7 and it found the devices but asked for drivers. I downloaded the drivers but because UBM won;t give me admin rights, I was unable to install. We have a fairly new Android tablet here and a phone so I'll try them.

MeasurementBlues
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Re: Sound Quality on Telephones
MeasurementBlues   12/25/2013 11:17:46 AM
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AP ran a story this week about the new popularity of speakers and audio for portable devices. But, this is for music, not for making phone calls.

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