Mediageek Joins the 21st Century Phone Era

I just finished an interview with video and camcorder writer Richard Baguley and for the first time I conducted the interview using the free Skype voice over IP (VOIP) service. And I must say that I am very impressed with the quality and ease of doing it this way.

Mostly, I am blown away by the sound quality. The frequency range of Skype is better than conventional landlines, although there is a little bit of digital aliasing present in the high end. But I think the quality is much better than doing an interview with someone who is on a mobile phone.

It’s also a hell of a lot easier to record a Skype call than a call over a landline. First, you can simply just capture the sound output using an audio editing program on the computer you’re making the call with. Because I wanted to use a high-quality dynamic mic for myself, and also EQ and balance the audio, I used a small mixer and recorded directly to my minidisc recorder. Using this method it was easy to isolate my voice from the caller’s audio.

To do this with a regular phone you need to buy a specialized phone hybrid interface. Unless you have an expensive digital hybrid, it’s nearly impossible to completely separate your audio from your caller’s. Plus you have to deal with the buzz and noise that are an inherent part of a telecommunications network based on 19th century technology.

You’ll be able to hear the quality for yourself on today’s radioshow, live at 5:30 PM on WEFT 90.1 FM in Champaign, IL, and beginning Monday at the radioshow site.

If the sound quality survives broadcast FM processing and MP3/ogg compression, then this may be my new preferred phone interview method, since Skype let’s US callers connect to US landlines for free.

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