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  1. #1

    Default OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Hoping there are some broadcast and/or serious podcast types tuning in.

    In my days in radio, we didn't have VoIP. We had old-school POTS lines. The options then were analog hybrids that did a just-okay job nulling the announcer audio out of the caller audio, and there were digital hybrids that cost more and did a better job. I think the Telos system was the cream of the crop, but cost a couple thousand bucks.

    Today there's VoIP (as my podcast client has), and we've been getting by just taking a headphone jack feed off the studio phone. Not great.

    Does anyone know how we stand these days? Are there affordable, well-performing hybrids for POTS and VoIP lines? I know I shouldn't expect too much for $200 (which seems to be the current entry point for POTS hybrids) but what kinds of options are there?

    Thanks for any insight.
    Last edited by Dave Labrecque; 11-09-2018 at 01:12 PM.
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  2. #2

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Hi Dave,

    I don't know about VoIP, but I've had the JK Audio Broadcast Host Digital Hybrid for quite a few years and it works very well for phone patch VO sessions. I can easily hear the difference in my voice on the headphone feed while using it, though, so I'm not sure how well it would work for recording the phone track, too. I'd be happy to do a test with you.
    Ian Alexander
    VO Talent/Audio Producer
    www.IanAlexander.com

  3. #3

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Alexander View Post
    Hi Dave,

    I don't know about VoIP, but I've had the JK Audio Broadcast Host Digital Hybrid for quite a few years and it works very well for phone patch VO sessions. I can easily hear the difference in my voice on the headphone feed while using it, though, so I'm not sure how well it would work for recording the phone track, too. I'd be happy to do a test with you.
    Thanks, Ian. So you're using it on a POTS line?

    Well, I guess I'll wait to see if we're going VoIP or POTS, then go from there. Appreciate your offer. I'll keep it in mind.
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  4. #4

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    At the radio station where I work, we still use a POTS codec for the main studio and production room lines. But with VoIP being the current technology for business telephony, we're forced to run all our studio lines through a special converter to fool the codec into thinking it's hooked up to actual POTS lines.

    Assuming you can still get your carrier to provide a POTS line, the best POTS codec I've ever heard was the Telos Delta. Not sure if they still make them, but if you can find one on Ebay, grab it. We've had one in our production studio on the interview line for years. You have to go out of your way to get a call to sound bad on it.

    That said....
    What we're finding these days, especially when taking calls in the studio (by the way, we use a Telos 2x12 system in there), is that we're often at the mercy of the various wireless providers when it comes to caller audio quality. It's a classic case of "Garbage in, garbage out." I'd be curious to see what changing to an all-VoIP hybrid would do for us, but don't color me optimistic.

  5. #5

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Quote Originally Posted by CurtZHP View Post
    At the radio station where I work, we still use a POTS codec for the main studio and production room lines. But with VoIP being the current technology for business telephony, we're forced to run all our studio lines through a special converter to fool the codec into thinking it's hooked up to actual POTS lines.

    Assuming you can still get your carrier to provide a POTS line, the best POTS codec I've ever heard was the Telos Delta. Not sure if they still make them, but if you can find one on Ebay, grab it. We've had one in our production studio on the interview line for years. You have to go out of your way to get a call to sound bad on it.

    That said....
    What we're finding these days, especially when taking calls in the studio (by the way, we use a Telos 2x12 system in there), is that we're often at the mercy of the various wireless providers when it comes to caller audio quality. It's a classic case of "Garbage in, garbage out." I'd be curious to see what changing to an all-VoIP hybrid would do for us, but don't color me optimistic.
    Thanks for your input, Curt. Looks like the Telos 100 Delta was their first-generation digital hybrid. There are several on Ebay between $100 and $250 each. Sounds like a steal. I can only presume that their follow-up hybrids -- first the Telos One, then the Telos HX1 -- are improvements from there. (and their ebay pricing does go up from the Delta) But you seem to like the Delta better than anything. Do you really like it better than what you guys have in your main studio? (What model is that one, by the way?)
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  6. #6

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Labrecque View Post
    Thanks for your input, Curt. Looks like the Telos 100 Delta was their first-generation digital hybrid. There are several on Ebay between $100 and $250 each. Sounds like a steal. I can only presume that their follow-up hybrids -- first the Telos One, then the Telos HX1 -- are improvements from there. (and their ebay pricing does go up from the Delta) But you seem to like the Delta better than anything. Do you really like it better than what you guys have in your main studio? (What model is that one, by the way?)
    Between $100 and $250 is a steal. They sold for over $1000 new.
    Another radio production studio I worked in had a Telos One, and it wasn't bad. The Delta gives you a little more control and I/O flexibility, though. Our main studio uses the 2x12 because of the need for multiple lines. ("You're the ninth caller!) So, it's likely overkill for a production studio, but I'm pretty sure it uses the same "secret sauce."

  7. #7

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Labrecque View Post
    Thanks, Ian. So you're using it on a POTS line?

    Well, I guess I'll wait to see if we're going VoIP or POTS, then go from there. Appreciate your offer. I'll keep it in mind.
    Yes, on a POTS line. Although it's delivered via FiOS, it's analog over twisted pair copper inside the house.
    Ian Alexander
    VO Talent/Audio Producer
    www.IanAlexander.com

  8. #8

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Alexander View Post
    Yes, on a POTS line. Although it's delivered via FiOS, it's analog over twisted pair copper inside the house.
    Hold on, there... what? I don't think that would be considered a POTS line. How does that work? Is there an analog, two-conductor output from the ONT or modem/router? I wonder if that's why you're not getting a great null on the caller output of your hybrid.

    I once tried taking the analog output from my podcast client's IP telephone (at the headphone jack) and running it into a JK hybrid. It didn't work. I'm not saying that your FIOS-delivered POTS is the same thing, but I wouldn't be surprised if the electronic characteristics of a real POTS line are different from what FIOS "POTS" delivers to copper. From what I've read, I think your modern JK digital hybrid should perform better than what it sounds like you're experiencing.

    Thoughts?
    Dave "it aint the heat, it's the humidity" Labrecque
    Becket, Massachusetts

  9. #9

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Labrecque View Post
    Hold on, there... what? I don't think that would be considered a POTS line. How does that work? Is there an analog, two-conductor output from the ONT or modem/router? I wonder if that's why you're not getting a great null on the caller output of your hybrid.

    I once tried taking the analog output from my podcast client's IP telephone (at the headphone jack) and running it into a JK hybrid. It didn't work. I'm not saying that your FIOS-delivered POTS is the same thing, but I wouldn't be surprised if the electronic characteristics of a real POTS line are different from what FIOS "POTS" delivers to copper. From what I've read, I think your modern JK digital hybrid should perform better than what it sounds like you're experiencing.

    Thoughts?
    Well, the twisted pair copper does indeed come from the ONT. We're using plain old analog telephone sets on the home line, the office line, and the studio line, and they sound fine as phones. Perhaps the ONT isn't faking it well enough for the hybrid, though. Interesting thought.
    Ian Alexander
    VO Talent/Audio Producer
    www.IanAlexander.com

  10. #10

    Default Re: OT: the current state of telephone hybrids

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Alexander View Post
    Well, the twisted pair copper does indeed come from the ONT. We're using plain old analog telephone sets on the home line, the office line, and the studio line, and they sound fine as phones. Perhaps the ONT isn't faking it well enough for the hybrid, though. Interesting thought.

    That's the likely culprit. It works, but it's not necessarily consistent. Usually, all it takes to fool the hybrid is for the company's gear to insert the ring-tip voltage on the "POTS" line, because that's all that 99% of end-user equipment needs.

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