Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

May 25, 2014

Who will decide who comes in first in the ISDN Alternative Race – talent or studio?

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:22 am

There has been a LOT of buzz lately about the death of ISDN as a connection method for solid distance recording between talent and studio. New lines are impossible to get in certain parts of the United States (primarily on the East Coast at the moment) and the cost for the lines is skyrocketing in other parts of the country. The cost for my lines has remained steady for the past several years, but each month when the pre-paid bill arrives, I open the envelope with trepidation.

There are now several potential replacements for ISDN, which will at some point no longer be an optionSoundStreakipDTL, and Source-Connect NOW.

So far, I have “invested” in ipTDL and Source-Connect. Should I add SoundStreak too? Yes, I probably should. Will another technology come along that blows them all out of the water? Maybe. And who is to say which will come out as the favorite? Probably not the talent. The studios will be driving that boat.

But it is in our best interest to know what is out there and start discussing the alternatives with the producers and engineers we work with. If there is a window of opportunity to have a brief chat with the engineer just prior to an ISDN session, or in a follow up email, ask them if they have considered what they are going to do when ISDN bites the dust. Most are familiar with Source-Connect, but ask them if they have tried SoundStreak or ipDTL.

With the rates we are paying to keep the ISDN lines going each month, it appears that the cost of having ALL of these alternatives in our quiver will make sense.  I pay about $600 a year to keep my ISDN lines ready for work.

Let’s do the math:

  • $160 a year for ipDTL for the HQ audio
  • SoundStreak is free for talent or less than $50 an hour for producers
  • Source-Connect NOW is free for both or a bit more for some premium features.

OK, that’s not really math – there is no math in voiceovers – thank goodness ;-). But you get the idea. It isn’t the costs that are in the way, it is the stability and ease of use that will probably win this race. But even if there is no clear winner, we should be able to afford to provide our clients with the connections they want.

As talent, we need to keep our ears and eyes open to see what is coming next. For right now, I’m crossing my fingers that the ISDN bill stays steady until some sort of sea change happens.



  1. The cost of the service is just a small part of it. The cost of having something screw up is far greater. Adoption of ISDN was initially pretty slow, but it established itself as a tried and true method of getting the work done, endorsed by individuals whose primary job (background and training) was in acoustics, audio engineering, etc.

    And having a new learning curve and providing a relatively small company the potential of having a strangle hold on your business doesn’t sit well with most studio owners.

    It may iterest you that siilar technology was implemented by ProTools quite a few years ago and it fell pretty flat on its face.

    ISDN worked because a single solution existed which allowed for multiple participants. The several “solutions” available now do not allow for participation of other parties; each vying to have the edge on proprietary onwership and implementation of the solution. None of these parties (perhaps Source Connect to a degree) has truly earned the respect and trust of studio owners, producrs, ad agencies, etc.

    I believe that these current alternatives will get some penetration, but will be limited to projects that can already take advantage of Skype for purposes of directing and monitoring.

    Eventually a major player, most likely Google will offer a service which would stand to replace ISDN, and might involve multiple players, offering individual dashboards, plug-ins, handshaking tools, etc.

    I think talent both make a mistake and are very mistaken when it comes to thoughts of driving the bus.

    Comment by J S Gilbert — May 25, 2014 @ 9:36 am

  2. Yes, I have ISDN sessions frequently with multiple connections. Good point. (And, yes, too on the talent being the tail of this here dog…)

    Comment by connieterwilliger — May 25, 2014 @ 9:42 am

  3. Interesting Connie. I meant multiple players, as in several different companies that provide services or products, comprising the ISDN community vs. one software or even hardware company.

    But good point on the “multiple users” take. I’m not sure how “point to point” fares with VOIP, but I suppose it could be relatively easy to establish multi-point connections. It’s already being done in remote music collaboration.

    AND, I don’t think that it will be the voice over community that drives a replacement for ISDN, but that it will be residual fallout from the music community, in the form of some large music collaboration tool, that will just so happen to work exquisitely for v.o. as well.

    It will probably be a while from the point of acceptance by the music community to the point where it will be considered okay for mass consumption for v.o. purposes. Perhaps even being accepted by Electronic News Gathering and reporting systems prior to voice over.

    Lots of different tails out there that could wag this dog.

    Comment by J.S. Gilbert — May 25, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

  4. Reblogged this on 24H Spanish Voice Over Service and commented:
    Who Will Decide Who Comes In First In The ISDN Alternative Race – Talent Or Studio?

    Comment by spainmediaresources — May 26, 2014 @ 12:27 am

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