Bloggin’ in Boise

by | Oct 21, 2010 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

Las Vegas gets 4 inches of rain a year… if we’re lucky.

Wednesday morning broke with thunder and rain, and every molecule of my body wanted to stay in bed.  The storm was a message.  But I didn’t listen.

I was due in my studio for an ISDN session which I had toiled endlessly to make happen.

Four days prior, my agent called with the ISDN gig.  I’ve had AudioTX ISDN for a couple of years, but lately changed some elements of my audio chain, and failed to test it  in a timely fashion weeks ago.  Bad.  Now I was unprepared, and had to scramble.   I had four days to get my ISDN gear up to snuff.  I pulled out all the stops:

Called Dave Immer at DigiFon.
Posted my issues on the VO-BB “gear” section
Picked Bob Souer’s brain (he has AudioTX also)
Made endless test calls to Bob and other unsuspecting VO-BB friends
Called Ednet
Called George Whittam
Wrote AudioTX tech support a flurry of back ‘n’ forth emails
Tweaked, and re-configured, and swore, and tested, and read help files

Does AudioTX Compare?

About this time, I began to think seriously that the $3-5,000 investment in a real ISDN box was starting to sound pretty good.  Although AudioTX only costs about $1300, it’s a software solution to ISDN that needs your computer to do the heavy lifting, instead of the “box” (Telos Zephyr, Musicam, etc) doing all the work.

When AudioTX is working, it’s flawless.  There is absolutely no way anyone could tell you DON’T have a box.  When AudioTX is NOT working, the trouble-shooting is a mutha.  Virtually everything in your computer and your audio chain becomes suspect.

By Wednesday morning I had an AudioTX configuration that worked great under WinXP.  Something in Win7 apparently didn’t agree with AudioTX.

The ISDN Session

The studio calls.  Connection is solid.  The producer says:  “Your sound is bad…what box do you have?”  Me:  “AudioTX” .  Silence.  They tweak on their end.  I tweak on my end.  They hang up and call again.  Producer says:  “It still sounds hollow….what kind of box did you say you have?”  Me:  “AudioTX”.  More silence.  Finally:  “Well, Dave we’re pulling the plug…the sound is unusable….(to his audio guy)…”Get someone else on the line pronto!”  They have a spot to do, and Dave didn’t meet the requirements.

OUCH! I’ve lost a gig.  I’ve embarrassed my agent.  I’ve hurt my pride.  I’ve spent four days for nothing AND I got up on a rainy morning at 7am for nada.  On top of all that, I still have an ISDN system that doesn’t work.

ISDN or Not?

I’m not going to get into the pros and cons of ISDN here.  Ed Victor just “whacked that nest” on his Working Voice Actors group on LinkedIn….and the debate is endless.  I got ISDN ’cause I could afford AudioTX, and my position was:  “If I get ISDN, the ISDN jobs will come.”  The other side of that chicken-or-the-egg story is:  “You only get ISDN when the jobs demand it.”  I think both arguments have merit.

How I Dealt With the Aftermath

I drove.  I immediately packed up my 2004 Chevy SSR Retro Convertible Roadster Pick-up and drove to Boise, Idaho.

This is not escapism.  I had already planned to leave on this day, but now I was two hours late departing because I had a failed ISDN session!

I drove for 12 hours on long, desolate 2-lane Nevada highways.  I drove for uninterrupted stretches at speeds over 100mph.  I didn’t wear my seat belt.  After 200 miles the anger and disappointment began to lift.  After reflection, I realized I’d made progress.  I’d learned a lot.  I found I have friends who will help me, and stand by me, work with me.

Besides all that…I have a nice truck, and Boise is beautiful this time of year.

I worry too much about inconsequential things.  I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.

Anybody got a used ISDN box they wanna sell cheap?




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  1. Peter K. O'Connell

    Hi Dave,

    A couple of thoughts:

    First, I’m sorry you had to go through this…it sucks and while not the end of the world, it was a blemish on the day.

    Second, you may have thought of this (and maybe it couldn’t be worked out) but I would have a back up plan handy.

    In this case, you should have a relationship with a studio in town that has ISDN. That relationship would hopefully include a discount on their ISDN fee because you guys are “pals” and they need to pay for their lines that they aren’t using anyway.

    This way you could ask the client to reschedule, drive over to the studio and get ‘er done. Sometimes those sessions can be rescheduled in hours not days.

    But what if the fee for ISDN is not included in what you are getting paid. Depending on the client – eat it. If you promised a service but couldn’t deliver no matter the reason, sometimes you’ve got to eat the fees to provide the service you offered.

    Lastly, a quick hand written note of apology to the studio and client if possible would be a smart move.

    I hope this helps.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  2. rowell gormon

    …what a heart-rending story, dave. and it’s hard to imagine easy-going-you so angry (though the frustration is perfectly understandable).

    there are enough problems out there with regular ISDN…it’s no magic wand. but i have indeed been on sessions with other talent who used source connect or audio tx where the engineer was less than thrilled with the combination of technologies.

    there was a used codec mentioned on one of the linkedin forums just awhile back. i’ve no doubt there’ll be another.

    meantime, enjoy your driving (…just wear the seatbelt, okay?)

    thinking kind thoughts your way.


  3. Ed Sound

    Hi Dave,

    Sorry to hear about this! Always sucks..

    Why don’t you buy a cheap PC, install XP and AudioTX on it and use that as an ISDN box? The most important bit of that is that you don’t fiddle with it and leave it as it is. It is important for your business so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it…

    They probably rang you in stereo mode while you were using one microphone in mono – I’ve had that cause the hollow sound you describe. Either you set your system to only answer in mono, or they call you in mono.

    In any case, good luck with whatever you choose to do!


  4. Bill Jurney

    Hi Dave,

    God bless you for trying. I’ve had some days like that in my VO career. God grant me the serenity…

    I’m inspired by you.


  5. Mike Cooper

    Sorry to read of your AudioTX woes, Dave. I feel your pain.

    I used AudioTX up until recently, too. In my case, it was the M-Audio soundcard in the PC which gave me most of the problems, but on more than one occasion a client would call up, be unable to establish a connection with me, and we’d be flummoxed. The point where I told them I had AudioTX would usually then be the point where they’d say “Ah, yes, we get a lot of that…”

    Not good.

    So, when I moved house recently and found the space to rebuild my studio in the image of what I’d really wanted all along, I started scouring eBay for a secondhand ISDN codec. I landed a CDQ Prima 220 (admittedly, about 15 years old, and needing a new rubber keypad) for 800 pounds, which is about 1200 dollars – a LOT cheaper than a new codec!

    If you’re in the market, eBay will actually let you save a search and will email you every time something suitable comes up, in fact (that’s how I found it). And here in the UK, an ISDN codec went a couple of weeks ago for (wait for it) £5.50. Yep, about nine dollars (I could have thrown mine out of the window about then…)

    So, here I am with my elderly, but faultless Prima 220. It’s been rock-solid on every session, and the nice guys at Musicam even managed to reprogram its speed dial table for me over the line. For free. Now that’s the kind of service I can’t imagine getting from the AudioTX people.



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