No Flowers Please…

by | Oct 13, 2016 | ConnnectionOpen, ipDTL, ISDN, Source-Connect, VO Business

A burning candle with a white coffin and a flower arrangement on the background in a mortuary

A burning candle with a white coffin and a flower arrangement on the background in a mortuary

…just send donations to the next-gen technology company that will inherit ISDN’s faithful.

Yesterday well-known production house ProComm Voice Talent delivered a message to its member talent that it was transitioning away from reliance on ISDN (by the end of March, next year).

The full text of the letter was shared with me by a WoVO Board member, and is re-printed below.

To my knowledge, this is the first such stance by a well-destblished, reputable, and long-time voice-over production facility…and  – NO  – it’s not the final nail in the coffin for ISDN by any means.  But along with other indications, it’s a sign of respect for new technologies that are gaining growing acceptance.  The legacy of ISDN’s paired copper wires will eventually recede to the same cobwebbed storage room as 3/4″ videotape and typewriters.

Signposts along the road to ISDN obsolescence include the major Telcos announcing that they are reducing or eliminating installs, reducing the number of switched lines dedicated to ISDN, and making the price prohibitive for users in states other than New England and California.

What’s interesting about ProComm’s announcement is that their top alternative to ISDN is yet another expensive stand-alone hardware solution (albeit IP-dependent), and (only as one alternative)  Source Connect Standard or Pro.  ProComm’s audio engineers are not in favor of the Chrome-based opus codec that is the engine behind ipDTL or Skype.

The two hardware solutions they mention — the Comrex Bric, and Telos Z/IP — have a price point close to an ISDN codec. Whereas Source Connect is easily half the cost (or more), but has some performance issues in their eyes.

Maybe they will eventually embrace Randy Morrison’s ConnectionOpen solution…which has zero latency, does not rely on Opus, and does not need Chrome.  Randy is a WoVO Industry Partner, and ConnectionOpen is available to WoVO members at a discount.  There’ve been some start-up delays with CO, but this technology is enjoying successful beta-testing, and is close to public launch.

Certainly other solutions will step up their game in light of the slow death of ISDN.  I’d like to hear a reply from ipDTL’s Kevin Leach on this development…as most of the voice-actors I’ve talked to have had a seamless experience with ipDTL.

Regardless, I applaud ProComm’s bold move, and believe they will be only the first of many to take this direction.


[below is ProComm’s announcement]



As a company that relies heavily on ISDN, we’ve been paying close attention to the technological changes occurring in our industry. In order to provide a seamless customer experience for the future, we feel the time has come to transition away from ISDN and move to IP connections for all directed sessions with talent.
As of Jan. 1, 2017, we will require all non-local voice talent on our roster to have at least one approved means of IP connectivity for live-directed sessions.
We recommend the following:
Each of these options has it’s pros and cons, but they have proven reliable enough in our experience to recommend.
Our database shows you do not have any of these options. Please make sure that you have Source Connect or one of the hardware codecs mentioned by Jan. 1st, and that you are confident in your ability to connect for sessions. If our information is incorrect let us know and we’ll update our records and set up a test connect.
I’ve included a few FAQs below to answer some of the questions that might arise, but feel free to reach out if you want to discuss.
Chris Porter
Operations Manager | ProComm Voices
p: 866.438.6423 ext. 126
f: 866.800.4047
[email protected]
What about ipDTL?
We are aware there are cheaper platforms, such as ipDTL. We also know that some talent have been using these formats with varying degrees of success. However, at this time we require you to connect with ProComm via Source Connect or one of the other hardware IP codecs.
First, ipDTL and other similar platforms rely on the OPUS codec and Google Chrome. This makes them susceptible to failure whenever Google updates their software. Also, while the OPUS codec is great for some applications, we feel it is not ideal for professional audio for several reasons, including:
  • time stretching that occurs during error correction
  • the use of non-professional audio I/O (system sound)
  • inaccurate gain handling
  • inaccurate clocking
Will ProComm still have ISDN available?
We will have some ISDN lines still in use after Jan. 1st, but the goal is to be completely transitioned to IP connections as soon as possible. If you maintain your ISDN lines for other clients, it is possible we will use them as a backup. However, our goal is to be completely ISDN free by March 31st, 2017.
What are the requirements? What do I need to get started?
For Source Connect, you’ll need a Standard license (you don’t need the Pro version, although it does have some nice features). Source Elements now offers a monthly subscription version that you may use if you want to try it before purchasing the full app. If you already have a home studio and computer, you’ll need to make sure you have an internet connection with speeds of 10 Mb/s or higher. It’s also important to be connected to your router via Ethernet cable (not WIFI).
For the hardware codecs you will also need a high bandwidth internet connection. The Comrex BRIC Link II will require a computer to access the interface.
Why should I consider a hardware codec? (Comrex BRIC/ Telos Zip)
Our early experiences with hardware codecs have been very good. The latency is very low and stability is good, even when using higher quality algorithms such as FLAC. On the negative side, initial cost is higher and compatibility between the different brands is not as great as advertised. In addition, they have yet to be adopted by many in the industry. If you are interested in going this route, let us know and we can help get you set up.
What if my ISDN codec can also make IP connections?
There are some models of ISDN codecs that will also make IP connections, including the Telos Xtream. At this time, we have not done sufficient testing with the various models to be able to make recommendations. If you currently have an ISDN codec that has IP functionality, we will be happy to test with you to check it’s reliability provided we have a similar model. Be advised that compatibility may be an issue.
What are the pros and cons of each platform?
Here’s a comparison chart to show you how the platforms stack up side-by-side:
  Source Connect app Comrex BRIC Link II Telos Z/IP One
COST lowest (~$600) mid (~$1400) highest (~$2100)
LATENCY highest very low very low
AUDIO QUALITY/ OPTIONS good (only AAC) very good (many options, including uncompressed audio) very good (many options, including uncompressed audio)
SUPPORT excellent excellent good
COMPATIBILITY only with SC Limited compatibility with other IP hardware codecs; works best when connected with another Comrex Limited compatibility with other IP hardware codecs; works best when connected with another Telos
STABILITY good good good
INTERFACE interface through app or plugin on computer interface through web browser interface through web browser or OLED screen on codec
  • periodic updates may require new purchase
  • widely used in many other studios
  • more common with radio stations; not readily available in many studios yet
  • proprietary server offers higher stability when connected to another Comrex codec
  • more common with radio stations; not readily available in many studios yet
  • proprietary server offers higher stability when connected to another Telos codec






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