For Whom The Bells Toll, They toll for Thee… ISDN


Live sessions from your home with ISDN… This is what revolutionized the idea of work from home for Voice Over Artists. One minute being a VO talent meant knowing where all the major (and not so major) studios were and traveling from one to the other … possibly even commuting to different cities. And then suddenly going to work was as simple as putting on your robe … and going down to your basement where your home studio with its brand spanking new ISDN line was set up.

This is what British Voice Over Artist Mike Cooper had to say about it ”

ISDN has served the industry well, but the costs involved can mount up: there are installation costs, line rental and call charges to pay. Each session at 128Kbps uses two 64Kbps lines, which means twice the price of a normal phone call, for the duration of the session. This can make using ISDN internationally quite costly.

Well yeah.. there is always a cost right? but the world has moved on and technology is improving at an exponential rate. ISDN which has long been the industry standard in “live session home recording” might finally be replaced.

Technology like beligium created VoIP phenomenon Skype now replaces the need for ISDN voice direction ”
If you need to direct me while I’m reading, you can dial into my studio and listen in as I record. This can even be done via Skype – with the audio from my microphone routed directly into the program. For most people’s purposes this is more than sufficient, with the finished voice track then sent on after the session.

This  brings us to the Harbingers of the ISDN studio death :



Audio TX

These two applications (Audio TX also has hardware dongles that are required) are based on the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) techonology… just like Skype. Both deliver high quality audio over an internet connection, provided that each party has the appropriate software and a reasonable connection speed.

Mike Cooper Continues ”

Each of these products has its merits – primarily the avoidance of call charges to anywhere in the world – and Source-Connect in particular has some very impressive features, such as remote transport syncing and auto restore/replace of the audio file after the session, to compensate for any data packets lost during live recording. These features in particular make Source Connect suitable for remote dubbing to picture.I’m pleased to have passed Source Elements’ Certification programme for Source-Connect, allowing clients to connect to my studio confident in the knowledge that everything works.

Source-Connect is software based and quite alot cheaper than Audio TX… but at this point in time Audio TX is the more popular technology.

You can always download a trial version of either software and see how you feel about them… The price is around 400$ (give or take) for Source Connect… and almost double that for Audio TX.

Still a crap load cheaper than ISDN.


  1. While it’s true that ISDN preceded broadband, and is something of a technological dinosaur, it is still industry standard in the professional vo world, and if you want to play, that’s what you have to have. There are other technologies that are coming up, but none has achieved the global acceptance of ISDN. I’m sure that it will be replaced eventually, but not this week. Or next. Audio TX requires that the parties on both ends of the line have the same hardware/software, same with Source Connect. Fortunately, most of the better ISDN codecs are compatible with all the other better ISDN codecs, so it’s still the most common, flexible tool in the shed. And while it’s true that the call costs can mount up, what vo talent in their right mind pays for the call? Client ALWAYS pays.

  2. Broadband has been around now for 10 to 12 years… ISDN preceded it by 5 or so years… and before that it was dialup. And dialup lasted for 15 years before broadband came on the scene…

    Dialup hasnt died yet… alot of people still use it… but its kind of like the cassette tape… it will eventually get discontinued. (They stopped making them in the US but in Egypt were I live right now … the industry is going strong)

    ISDN as an actual internet based service was still available in Australia till a few years back (my friend who lived in perth lived in an area where the 8 megabit connections was available a few block away from him … but his block had only 128 ISDN service)

    In England (and correct me if i’m wrong) British Telecom no longer provides ISDN services… so even if it is the defacto standard if you cant purchase the service you’ll need to find an alternative. In Egypt the broadband infrastructure doesnt include ISDN… they went straight to DSL.

    Yes the source-connect as well as the Audio-TX servies require that the studio your client is working with has the same software so that you can communicate…. but like I said even outside of the expensive calls… you still have the huge expense of the Codec… with a one time fee of $300 or $400 its really not that bad an investment… I mean the premium membership in one of the casting sites is around $299 and thats only valid for a year!

    But you are right in that it will take the studios years to migrate to the new standard… much like it is taking people years to move from DVDs to Blu-Rays.

    I was just trying to bring focus to the alternatives which some people might not be aware of. And maybe speed the process along 🙂

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