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Thread: Voice quality - excellent article from the Atlantic

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    Voice quality - excellent article from the Atlantic

    An excellent discussion comparing past eras experience of telephony compared to the mobile present.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technolog...-calls/401114/

    Whatever discussion may come out of reading this article is welcome. My personal top interest would be tips on ensuring maximum call quality, both on mobile carrier voice and on VoIP, whether stationary or mobile.

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    On VoIP call quality depends on connection (stability, bandwidth, latency), and to a very large extent on choice of codec, often overlooked. The same codec has to be used at both ends.

    The 'HD Voice' many mobile carriers now advertise uses the AMR-WB codec originally developed by Nokia, who introduced mobile VoIP.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compar...coding_formats

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    Quote Originally Posted by pjw918 View Post
    On VoIP call quality depends on connection (stability, bandwidth, latency), and to a very large extent on choice of codec, often overlooked. The same codec has to be used at both ends.

    The 'HD Voice' many mobile carriers now advertise uses the AMR-WB codec originally developed by Nokia, who introduced mobile VoIP.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compar...coding_formats
    Interesting, thanks. However I need to question your statement about the same codec on both ends? Obviously from a VoIP line I can call cell phones, traditional copper landlines, into cloud or hardware PBX, IVR system etc.

    Seems obvious to me that the PSTN equipment is converting my VoIP data stream into common denominator encoding whenever I'm going to and unlike destination.

    So are you simply saying that we should be using the same codec on both sides if we are going VoIP to VoIP and want to optimize call quality, by avoiding that lowest common denominator conversion?

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    Quote Originally Posted by HansCT View Post
    So are you simply saying that we should be using the same codec on both sides if we are going VoIP to VoIP and want to optimize call quality, by avoiding that lowest common denominator conversion?
    Yes, by "On VoIP" I meant each end is a VoIP terminal, the call not touching the PSTN. If the call is mediated by a VoIP service, the codec may be limited to what that service supports, which could be no higher than g711. If you are calling a SIP URI directly, you will connect using the first codec in common. You can order your codecs on your phone as your prefer. If both have AMR-WB, for example, active and given preference, the voice channel will use AMR-WB and you'll have 'HD Voice'

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    Ah, very useful thank you

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    On non-VoIP, regular mobile calls, if both phones have the AMR-WB audio codec (many do now) and you're both using the same 'HD Voice' enabled wireless carrier's network, the call will be encoded using AMR-WB and you'll have the 'HD Voice' sound quality.

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    In other words if you have an HD Voice compatible phone on both sides on the same carrier. Hopefully across carriers coming soon...

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    Cross-pollinating to some relevant posts in another thread http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php?p=16051743

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    I could use a basic tutorial on HD Voice or VoLTE. I've googled it, but without some context in the fundamentals, I'm not understanding.

    I have Tracfone AT&T service on two Android 5.1.1 phones (Xperia Z3C, Nexus 5). I use: Hangouts over LTE mobile data and Wi-Fi; RingTo similarly; and the native AT&T Android dialer.

    My question is, by which method and to/from what networks am I going to achieve high def audio? Feel free to speak to me like a fifth-grader.

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    Actually it's very simple in your case, none of the above. Those advanced calling carrier features are only going to be available on the mothership I assume for a long time to come. Now setting up your own generic sip compatible voice service camera apps that will give you control of your codec, but the other party will need to have the same setup.

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    What a fantastic and engaging article, and the comments are great too!

    I have been thinking exactly those things about voice quality every time I see mentioned (more and more) about how "nobody makes calls anymore".

    And I long ago made the initial conclusion that at least part of the reason was because they (cell phones) sound like sh*t!

    I still haven't bought in to having an always-on, monthly type of cell service including data. I have several PAYGO lines, and at home I gave up my AT&T copper line service a few years ago for a VoIP setup over my Comcast internet service using Google Voice and an OBhai device, which I guess is referred to as a "landline." Making the service essentially free. I can use any "instrument of telephony" I choose, and have a variety of corded as well as cordless phones around the house. Nothing as satisfactory as a model 500, unfortunately (a few Trimline style phones), but the sound quality beats a cell phone by a mile. I do have some three hour long conversations with select friends.

    What's largely entertaining in the "generational divide" on the subject is how some seek to differentiate themselves in the degree that they throw off the notion of old technology. Sure there are many conveniences a smart phone brings to the table. But go home and take some time while in a quiet place and call somebody up and have a chat once in a while. Stop worrying about how "tech-hip" your lifestyle is. Once you get through your younger transient phase and you've got your own place (without room mates) you might start to weigh things in a more practical light.

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    I'm not sure this is your point, but I think I'm agreeing with you. I never get quality of service today in cell phones that matches POTS service 40 years ago.

    First, I never get what-I'll-refer-to as "full duplex". Technically, that that might mean something else, but I'm looking for the simple ability to hear the other party at the same time I'm talking. My conversations - every one of them - are more akin to a walkie-talkie ("over").

    Second (and I could be confusing the technical term with full duplex), is the lack of sidetone which for a hundred years has made conversations more natural.

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    I think the author of the piece comes to a partial conclusion that we've already had to accept the lack of voice audio quality as a trade-off for the other positives the smartphone brings. I would agree we've had to, but don't accept that it's such a "high-water mark" for us as human beings.

    I've had issues with sidetone (the feature of a telephone traditionally to pass some of the transmit audio - what you're saying - back to the earpiece, in order for you to adjust your own speaking volume naturally and thus not need to shout into the receiver mic) ever since the breakup of AT&T in 1984, which in part allowed you to buy commercially produced phone devices. I can remember getting one corded phone, plugging it in, and no sidetone. Took it back to the retailer for exchange, and the new one had it. So there were quality control problems with that model. This has been hit or miss with every phone I've purchased and used since then, whether corded or cordless.

    But I've found sidetone pretty rare with a mobile device. I've just had to adjust my approach to how I use it. More like when I'm using any kind of two-way radio (although I think aviation two-way applications have you wearing the big headset, which I think introduces your own content back into the audio mix so you can hear it above the noise floor).

    To further comment, my own observations on audio quality among types and carriers is that it doesn't matter what's in use to a large degree. I've got a friend who called me once using a relatively inexpensive ZTE flip phone on AT&T, and I had to ask him if he was on his landline or not; it was that good (me taking the call on my home VoIP-based setup). The same guy bowed to pressure from his wife to switch to an iPhone on the same carrier, and the audio took a noticeable dive in quality (sounding very narrow frequency-response wise and overly compressed). Why this varies, I cannot say.

    The tech blogs all used to review the call quality of devices along with all the other aspects of the thing, and still do to some degree; but I think a lot of the individual reviewers aren't really that "hip" to audio in the first place. I've always wanted to see a more extensive comparison of device audio, carrier audio, etc., and how the various conditions on the network, the local tower, and even the noise level at the device, affect the quality of the audio. But that's unlikely to be taken up by any of the aforementioned tech-blogs since, well, uh, you know: Nobody makes calls anymore!

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    I don't know, when I call my mom from my Nexus 5 on Cricket, the call quality seems great to me. Sounds like I'm sitting right next to her.

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    Well I sure wish that there was a service where you could just call in and read a script or something and it would come back with an objective rating of the various factors that line up with human judgment on call quality. Then we could A / B test our various services and handsets so that we could at least have a chance of maintaining a decent standard.

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