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.


April 6, 2012

Check the Mute Buttons!

Filed under: Recording — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:15 pm

So, I had a phone patch session recently with a new client. It was a no audition job through one of my agents. Love those. But instead of ISDN, it was a phone patch project using my Gentner.

The client called into my system and he could hear me fine, but to me he sounded like he was calling me from Mars – a tinny little voice way in the background.

My eyes crossed as I tried to figure out what the problem might be. I checked the sketch the engineer left me the last time he was here. But with the client on the line, my stress level was such that I was not going to figure it out. We agreed on a short break to see if I could reach him my engineer. If I couldn’t figure it out, we would use a work around, which is not my preferred way of working.

A couple minutes later, after a quick phone call, everything was working correctly – my client called back in and our session went great from that point.

So, what happened? Cats is what happened. Try as I might, I simply cannot banish the critters from my studio entirely. So at some point, in the process of trying to crawl behind the equipment cabinet to a nice warm spot, my little Lista must have depressed a couple of mute buttons.

Louie reading the VO-BB and getting ready to record

While I can record broadcast quality sound in my home studio, I do so miss the days of going to someone else’s studio and letting them worry over the technical issues. An engineer can see those depressed mute buttons with his eyes closed.

And while I want to THINK that I will remember to check the mute buttons, the next time something like this happens, I can’t say for certain that I will. That’s why I keep the phone number for Pro Sound and Music handy.

May 14, 2010

Me and My Equipment

Filed under: Marketing, Technology — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:09 pm

You know how when you first start doing something you spend a lot of time figuring it out and you end up with something that works really great – and then over time – you end up forgetting what it was you did in the first place – and for a while that doesn’t matter – because everything is working just fine. But then it stops working fine – and like I said – you have no idea what you did in the first place – and now you are stuck with this incredible kluge job of tangled cables and settings.

That’s where I am right now. I’ve been doing voiceover work full-time now from my home studio for more than 10 years – and have slowly added this and that to the mix of equipment. In fact I have two separate “studios” – one for my phone patch and self-directed stuff (and now Source-Connect sessions) – and another for my ISDN work. The reason? I can’t record in the self-directed studio when it rains! So I had two mics – and one of them had to be sent out for repair after a blown capsule – came back way too bright – so I bought a new mic – and all was well with the world – for a while.

A long time ISDN client recently told me that he thought my sound was sounding not so good – not my acting skills – the actual sound of my signal. We tried resetting the codec. Then we tried a different mic – the one that came back from repair. It sounded a bit better than the other, but not much. He thought maybe it could be the pre amp in the Mackie – suggesting that a different pre amp might be helpful.

So I had an audio friend come over and look at things. He saw several little knobs on the mixer that were in the “wrong” places. He adjusted some of the switches on the repaired mic. We turned off this – we turned down that – we plugged and unplugged and patched and repatched. Then I called back the engineer hearing the “problem” and he STILL heard what sounded like bad MP3 compression coming from the two older mics – one really really bad. At that point, he suggested that I bring in the newer mic from the other studio and “voila” – he was happy.

Diagnosis – old mics need to be permanently retired. Solution – buy another one of the mics he was happy with. I have been very happy with the sound of the new mic – an ADK Hamburg edition – not very expensive – and now I have two of them – one for each room.

So, with technology issues solved (for the time being anyway), I need to let all my ISDN clients know that if they had been less than happy with the sound of my room, they were in for a pleasant surprise. Of course, with the ISDN troubles ironed out for a while, wouldn’t you know that the dial tone to my phone patch came up MIA about an hour later.

Ah – technology – don’tcha just love it!!!

May 3, 2010

VO Booth on Wheels

Filed under: Announcements, Recording, Technology — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:43 pm

My virtual good friend Philip Banks posted a video recently of his VO Booth on Wheels (he calls it the Voice and Go), but I think the technology in this article from Studio Daily tops it.

Perhaps a bit more pricey, but seems to be working for those busy celebrities who need to do some VO work in between takes on the set of their latest series. Complete with ISDN, this mobile recording studio helps prevent those pesky and expensive “no show” sessions.

It’s called Voice Over There.

Here is the article about it –

December 23, 2009

You Just Never Know…

Filed under: Auditioning, Business, Marketing — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:04 am

After all that ruminating about doing so many auditions and lamenting that most people were not casting off our demos (see prior blog post –, I had a direct hit off one of the P2P sites that will result in an ISDN session this morning.

So, you just have to keep everything honed and at the ready…’cause you just never know the path someone will take to find and hire you. Keep your generic demos fresh!

It’s just one part of any good business plan. Scroll back a few posts to see some great responses from a couple of pros on some of the other business thoughts I’ve had over the past week or so.

August 11, 2009

Phone Patch vs ISDN vs Self-Directed vs Outside Studio

Filed under: Musings, Recording — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 4:30 pm

Had two back to back phone patch sessions today that started me thinking again about the various methods of doing a session. Live in-person at an outside studio. ISDN. Phone Patch. Self-directed. There are pros and cons for each depending on various factors such as the type of script and how far away the outside studio is.

The first session today was with a studio that I have had to drive to in the past for sessions. It is up in Orange County. I’m practically in downtown San Diego. The last time I made the drive – about 1.5 to 2 hours or so depending on traffic – was the day Sarah Palin was announced as a Vice Presidential Candidate. The drive up and back that day was anything but boring.

But it does take a chunk of time out of your day – a minimum of about 4 to get there, do the session and get back home. So, I was pleasantly suprised when I got the call to do the session and didn’t have to make the drive. This particular studio has ISDN as well, so I tried to plant that seed with the producer for the future.

The second session was a conference call phone patch session with a director in Texas and 5 clients scattered around the country. The session started with technical difficulties – which is one of the drawbacks of trying to be the engineer AND the talent. I had some stray pixels that wouldn’t clear from my recording software, so I rebooted while they discussed the approach that they wanted me to take.

After the computer came back to life, Audition wouldn’t load, so I switched over to Word2Wav to capture the audio. To save time, I just used the last script that was in that program and made a note as to where the files would be stored. After recording the first two paragraphs, Audition finally decided to load and I finished the session on that software.

With the outside studio option, none of the engineer issues fall to the talent. With the ISDN option, some of the engineering issues rest with the talent – making sure you know how to set the codec to talk to the other codec and probably more important, making sure that someone at the AT&T hub hasn’t switched off your long-distance connection. That means having a phone number at the ready to the right department. Not very many people there even know what ISDN is and immediately try to sell you DSL or U-Verse instead of listening to the words coming out of your mouth.

With Phone Patch, ALL of the engineering issues fall to the talent. We need to make sure the client can hear us clearly. We need to make sure that what they hear is actually recorded. We need to save in the right format. We need to clean the files. We need to have a dedicated ftp option. But at least we get to interact with people and make them happy with our great work and our amusing comments (as appropriate).

Self-directing is the last option. Some scripts do not need a director and self-directing is the only way to go. With self-directing we still have to do all the engineering, but we can take as much time as we want. We can screw up and no one will be the wiser. We can run to the potty if necessary. But we are operating in a vacuum, so we must be able to know that the read we submit will be what the client is expecting – not hard for some kinds of scripts, but VERY hard for other kinds of scripts/clients. 

It’s good to have options.

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