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Matt Sepeta
Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 21, 2009 at 8:59:25 pm

First of all, I had no idea where to ask this question, but heck, I figured some audio pros should be able to help me!

We are trying to record telephone calls to a PC computer. The telephone is a land-line, with a base and a handset. I picked up one of these numbers (http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062697)
and plugged it all in. When I previewed the feed it was getting, it was inaudible.

I figured out we needed a ground loop isolator, so I went and got that and all necessary plugs to make it all fit, and it helped ALOT.

Now, there is this incessant, high pitched, rapid clicking when we preview/play back the recordings. In addition, our end of the recording is fine, but the other side (other side of the call) is SOOOO quiet, that when I bring the levels up enough to hear it, it brings the clicking right back.

I would appreciate any help soooo much!

Thanks alot cows



Good Day


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John Fishback
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 21, 2009 at 9:29:19 pm

I'm not familiar with the Radio Shack unit. We use a JK Audio Broadcast Host which is an excellent unit. There are many JK choices at various price points. Here's a link to JK's product page. http://www.jkaudio.com/products.htm

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.5 QT7.5.5 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor
ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE Enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5

Final Cut Studio 2 (up to date)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN


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Matt Sepeta
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 3:02:01 pm

Thanks for the info John, I visited the site and the products seem of high quality.

I have narrowed it down to
http://www.jkaudio.com/quicktap.htm
as all we really need to do is record conversations, nothing fancy.

I scoured the web for reviews on the product but can not find any, does anyone have any experience with the QuickTap unit, as far as sound quality goes?

Thanks!


Good Day


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John Fishback
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 4:18:25 pm

JK has a good reputation and very good service. The Quicktap looks good. The only issue you may have is the local phone (you talking) may be louder than the received call like you described in your initial post. But, probably not as soft as you described. This is common in less expensive units. If you have an audio editing program with noise reduction (Apple Soundtrack Pro, iZotope RX, etc.)you can eliminate a lot of the background noise that comes up as you increase the gain.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.5 QT7.5.5 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 2 (FCP 6.0.5, Comp 3.0.5, DVDSP 4.2.1, Color 1.0.3)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN


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Sam Mallery
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 6:18:48 pm

I've used the Quicktap. It's decent, but you still may run into situations where one party can't hear the other party well enough, and vice-versa. The problem is that when you're making these calls, people will have different kinds of phones, and different kinds of phone systems. You can't really expect an inexpensive passive interface device to be able to juggle all of these variables and deliver consistant, usable audio.

That's why people spend over $400 and up on telephone interfaces. If you're doing work where you need good results, you need to invest in a piece of equipment that can deliver the goods.

I wrote about this somewhat exhaustively in this article:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/newsLetter/Telephone-Interviews.jsp

The article explains the different interfaces available, and shows you how to record a call step-by-step with both land lines and mobile phones.

The long and short of it is... you need to buy the JK Audio Broadcast Host or better.



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Matt Sepeta
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 7:02:39 pm

Thanks Sam, that article was very helpful.

I guess I was pretty naive to think we could pull decent audio using just a $20 RadioShack box.

This leaves me with two more questions, so bear with me.

-Would it be worth the money to get the Quicktap as opposed to the radioshack one we have? a $400 unit is out of the question.

-Is there a significant difference in sound quality between the QuickTap and the CellTap?

Maybe we are getting terrible audio due to the wiring or the landline or something, could a Cellphone with really good reception provide more clear audio, albeit, wireless?

Thanks so much guys!



Good Day


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John Fishback
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 7:27:08 pm

My sense is the JK box would be better than RadioShack, but I've used neither. Check out eBay for used units. An associate of mine picked up a very good JK box at a terrific price.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.5 QT7.5.5 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 2 (FCP 6.0.5, Comp 3.0.5, DVDSP 4.2.1, Color 1.0.3)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN


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maurice jansen
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 7:47:30 pm

hi guys

one of the main problems is that (on handset leve)l in the remote caller path there is sidetone of the local caller. we all know that you hear your self when you talk in a telephone handset. taps in the handset line will get phasing problems on the local caller audio. or when they not use the handset mic give a wrong balance between remote and local caller. it's simply better to use a hybrid in the actual land line since remotecaller and localcaller should have equal level.(not talking about a fragile girl voice whispering against a big lumberjacker)
we own some THAT2's from JK and it's nice for utility but NOT for program audio for analog landlines
hire your self a good old STUDER or a helios hybrid. or find one on Ebay. these give the best you can get out of a telephone line. if you have some tech knowledge you can use a 4wire interface of a clearcom intercom but the will go boom when you don't know what you are doing ;-) i saved a live broadcast once this way not funny at the time but a good thing to talk about on a hotel bar ;-)

greet
Maurice


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John Fishback
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 8:00:55 pm

Hybrids are great. We used a Gentner for many years until it finally gave up the ghost. When we went to the JK Broadcast Host (a hybrid) the crosstalk rejection was spectacular.

John

MacPro 8-core 2.8GHz 8 GB RAM OS 10.5.5 QT7.5.5 Kona 3 Dual Cinema 23 ATI Radeon HD 3870, 24" TV-Logic Monitor, ATTO ExpressSAS R380 RAID Adapter, PDE enclosure with 8-drive 6TB RAID 5
FCS 2 (FCP 6.0.5, Comp 3.0.5, DVDSP 4.2.1, Color 1.0.3)

Pro Tools HD w SYNC IO, Yamaha DM1000, Millennia Media HV-3C, Neumann U87, Schoeps Mk41 mics, Genelec Monitors, PrimaLT ISDN


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maurice jansen
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 8:47:26 pm

yep

a bit off topic but.
the funny thing is that interfacing telephone is the most under estimated part in live or mission critical production.
no matter what kind of production you talk about when telephone line's are involved the production hangs on the telephone interface. good remote work will go in flames when the telephone part fails.
we al have seen a talent looking in the camera saying nothing because his IFB is not working.
incredible that people don't want to spend money in quality product's in a o so important part of a production.
off coarse i talk about live broadcast here and the cow is more about post production.
but can you emagine a staged phone call with a full productionteam like a director a cameraman a audioguy lighting makeup depending on a 20$ radioshack telephone tap.

not my ID

greet
Maurice



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Sam Mallery
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 22, 2009 at 10:00:21 pm

Maurice said it best:

"...we own some THAT2's from JK and it's nice for utility but NOT for program audio."

I made some recordings with the QuickTap when I was writing that article and I still have them on my computer. I called my sister on her land-line at home and we had a goofy conversation. You can hear her voice fairly well, but I sound much more electronic, and the volume level of my voice is much lower than her's.

Using the CellTap will likely provide worse audio than the QuickTap, 9 times out of 10. The audio in telephones is bad, and the audio in mobile phones is much worse.

It depends on what work you are doing. The conversation I recorded of me and my sister is fun to have around for "utilities" sake, but I would never present it on a broadcast or on a website. It would just make your enterprise look bad.



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Steve Kownacki
Re: Recording Telephone Calls
on Jul 23, 2009 at 11:18:25 am

I've used one of these for years http://www.jkaudio.com/inline-patch.htm gives you control over the caller and local presenter. I use it for 2 applications: 1) simple direct phone recording and 2) to let announcers in a booth have a conversation with the caller. Kinda spoiled with my Digi002 on ProTools with all the built-in routing, but I end up able to record dedicated tracks not a mix of the caller and presenter. You can still do this with cabling too. By all means TEST, TEST, TEST. Not every call will be the same levels, quality, etc. Start recording 5 minutes before critical and start practicing at least a week ahead, not the day before. I also simultaneously record a tape backup - last thing you want is your computer to dump and have to ask to start again - it happens. Or use 2 computers.

What about just using Skype and one of the plugins to record direct? I have not done it but there's no cost and the quality of Skype from my experience is great.

Steve



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