[Scottish] Skype?

ray rayH at engineering-intelligence.co.uk
Mon Sep 6 11:15:53 BST 2004

I just wrote this as part of a work evaluation

>I have spent most of Saturday trying out VOIP and the Skype gateways to  BT (Scotland and NI) and Eircom landlines.  It works, but the service quality makes it impracticable at the moment.  I will wait six months, or for an announced improvement before going back to it in earnest.

My connection was ISDN2 (128k) the sound stream was "choppy" - intermittent drop-outs. I think that the problem was primarily with the Skype/PSTN gateway(s), as I did find the quality fairly acceptable calling random US and Australian Skypers using only VOIP.  But the only reason to use a commercial service is because of the gateways to landlines and mobiles.

I was using a fairly expensive (c£150) GN Netcom 2100 UNC headset, and experimenting with various amplifiers and adaptors. It worked best plugging it into the on-board sound on both my workstation and laptop. I had difficulty in getting  the mic volume adequate using a GN Netcom 8100 USB adaptor.

Unless this is a demanding professional environment (I work with several call-centres) or you want to make a call while someone else in the room listens to radio/tv/hi-fi,  I would recommend the sort of headset recommended for voice recognition. A couple of years ago I had a £20 Labtech (or Labgear - I can't remember), that came with a Naturally Speaking test kit; it outperformed all of the sub-£100 headsets in the call-centres.
If you use something with 3.5mm jacks, most of the work is being done by your sound card.  USB devices use their own ADC/DACs and companders.  The biggest problem is background noise rejection - hence noise-cancelling mics and correct positioning.


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