A Good sounding phone for VOIP?
March 15, 2005 7:36 PM   Subscribe

VOIP Saga, Episode IV. I've got a VoicePulse VOIP account. It's stable and doesn't sound bad; better than the cheaper BroadVoice(BroadVox?) account I canceled; and better than a cell phone. But is it possible that certain telephone brands/models will actually make it sound better; closer to classic telephony?
posted by ParisParamus to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
I recently picked-up this dual handset phone (Panasonic KX-TG5202M) and so far everything seems to be working fine. It has a bunch of features available for improving the call quality (Voice Enhancer etc.) and it is great if you need multiple handsets in different areas of your home.

I'm still working out some of my VOIP issues around QoS and stability, but this phone is definitely not one of the problems.
posted by purephase at 7:52 PM on March 15, 2005

It's possible, PP, but the differences will be incremental.

Most VoIP providers use one of a few different standards for codec on an IP call. The greater the compression, the lower the fidelity of the call. That said, at your desktop, all of them convert the call to analog, because your ears, unfortunately, are analog and not digital.

Higher quality components in the phone device will help some, but the most dramatic differences are noticed in the compression. Chances are you can't affect this; stuck with whatever they use. Lower-compression = more bandwidth.

Uniden, Panasonic and Siemens all make high-quality analog phones to plug into your ATA. Nortel also has several feature-rich analog desk phones. I have an old Nortel 9316 which has been my workhorse desk phone for years. (I spend about 5-7 hours a day on the phone.)

Let me know how you fare.
posted by TeamBilly at 6:03 AM on March 16, 2005

IMHO, VoIP quality depends more on the quality of the provider's network and the quality of the provider's ATA (telephone interface box) than the type of handset you use.

For example, this VoIP scorecard from PC Magazine shows that with both VoicePulse and Vonage, the Voice Quality Opinion Score varies substantially on the same network based on the adapter -- VoicePulse sounds better using the Sipura rather than the Linksys, Vonage sounds better with the Motorola rather than the Linksys. On that scorecard, higher is better, with a 4.0 score being equivalent to standard POTS telephony.

This is true of my experience as well. I've done VoIP testing with different adapters, and there's a clear difference in sound with them. I myself use the Motorola with Vonage -- which scored highest of all of the providers in the tests -- and in the majority of cases, short of network problems with my ISP or Vonage, I'd have to say my experience has been equivalent to POTS. I see from a previous post that you have the Sipura; it's generally well respected, and it scores highly in the shootout.

On the other hand, different phone sets do have vastly different sound -- but they tend to sound different regardless of your provider or whether you're using POTS. Digital cordless phones introduce their own artifacts into the conversation since there's another digital to analog conversion in the mix; analog phones tend to sound consistently "better" in terms of voice quality, but they're also far more subject to distracting interference artifacts if they're cordless. If you don't have to move around, or you want a "reference standard," you might want to pick up an old wired Western Electric desk phone -- they're generally considered to be the de facto standard for quality, and believe it or not, they'll still work with VoIP, and they're built like tanks.
posted by eschatfische at 6:18 AM on March 16, 2005

Oops, malformed link to PC Magazine's VoIP provider scorecard. Try this one.
posted by eschatfische at 6:20 AM on March 16, 2005

VoicePulse sounds better using the Sipura rather than the Linksys, Vonage sounds better with the Motorola rather than the Linksys

I think that may be because everything sounds better than the Linksys. I'll be sure not to buy one of those.
posted by kindall at 8:45 AM on March 16, 2005

I'd like to be the first person to use VOIP with a dial phone. (they call me). I'm actually using an inexpensive corded phone marketed under the GE brand. It sounds great on a POTS line. It doesn't sound as good with VoicePulse. So my question was whether, just by happenstance, certain phones sound better with VOIP
posted by ParisParamus at 4:42 PM on March 16, 2005

(I'm using the SIPURA). What I don't get is why it's so necessary to so reduce the frequency response. Voicepulse even has a bandwidth feature, so if bandwidth was a consideration, making the widest setting so narrow makes no sense.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:46 PM on March 16, 2005

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