“To ditch or to let die, that is the question?”


Well if a title can sound onymous this one certainly does! Am I playing a computer game, appearing in the new Bond film or even still talking about Halloween ?

Well in this case I am referring to one of the oldest technologies in my field that has never seemed to come to an end, but I think it is very near now.


So what is ISDN and what’s the history?

Well in basic terms, it is a data line, just like your telephone line, but sends data down the line and back again. This has been used for decades with studios and voiceover artists and other music artists to connect with each other to record and direct voice and other recording sessions remotely. You can have a recording studio here in Guildford say and then work with another studio in Los Angeles or New York for example and direct and speak in the session and record the session via ISDN. As a voice actor I can do a radio script with a producer and the audio is recorded and transferred down the line to the studio in Manchester for example. So I literally link up with the producer or engineer via ISDN through a codec and ‘wam bam thank you mam’ it is like we are in the same room together, but not physically.

In more technical terms 😉 – ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) is a set of communication standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the traditional circuits of the public switched telephone network.

ISDN is a circuit-switched telephone network system, which also provides access to packet switched networks, designed to allow digital transmission of voice and data over ordinary telephone copper wires, resulting in potentially better voice quality than an analog phone can provide. It offers circuit-switched connections (for either voice or data), and packet-switched connections (for data), in increments of 64 kilobit/s. In some countries, ISDN found major market application for Internet access, in which ISDN typically provides a maximum of 128 kbit/s bandwidth in both upstream and downstream directions. Channel bonding can achieve a greater data rate; typically the ISDN B-channels of three or four BRIs (six to eight 64 kbit/s channels) are bonded.

ISDN is employed as the network, data-link and physical layers in the context of the OSI model. In common use, ISDN is often limited to usage to Q.931 and related protocols, which are a set of signalling protocols establishing and breaking circuit-switched connections, and for advanced calling features for the user. (Thanks to Wikipedia for their contribution).

ISDN came about in 1988 and fist defined in the CCITT red book.

Technology has come along way since then and even faster in the last 10 years or so and become quicker and more advanced every day! The technical robot voices will never take over as they certainly don’t have the human touch – how can they and not made with all the emotions or the full mind of a human. I might be argued against on that in years to come, but for now, you can’t get the real thing like a real human voice doing a tv or radio commercial or online video for example.

Anyhow back to the point in question Is it time to turn off the codec and cancel the ISDN line or hold on to the bitter end??

This is a dilemma for a many voice actor, voice-over artist and even producer who has their own recording studio or facilities with ISDN.

We as professional VO’s (voiceovers) have certainly held onto using this way to connect to studios as many studios around the world -London, US, Europe, Australia, UAE etc who still wanted to connect with you via this method.

In the last 10 years and possibly even longer there have been many platforms that have been launched to replace ISDN, but many were never secure or reliable enough in the recording and transferring of data over the internet enough to ditch ISDN for good.

But I think in my opinion we are pretty there now and with the likes of Source Connect Now, Source Connect and Cleanfeed, to name a few proving to be having less dropouts and better-quality, Producers especially are turning to using some of these platforms finally. 

I personally have been contemplating ditching ISDN for many years but held off and thought to just let it die naturally. This year though it has made a difference and seeing the way Producers are now taking the leap of faith more in using the new technologies, makes my codec and ISDN becoming a little dusty at times and almost redundant.

It feels like I’m splitting up with a boyfriend and then getting back together again and then breaking up and then back together and so on…Oh dear! Say no more!

We have until 2025 for it to fully be turned off by BT, which they have confirmed, but does this also mean that the price of using ISDN will go up now instead of down with the lack of demand and other internet platforms taking over…?

It doesn’t help that I can procrastinate at times, which isn’t making my decision any easier. I think I am nearly there, but would love to hear thoughts and opinions of what other voiceovers, voice actors, production studios and generally audio people that use ISDN are doing or thinking…

So…over to you…Ditch or let die of natural causes…?