Buying and Installing ISDN

If you are a working VO professional, you will know the right time to consider having ISDN installed in your studio.  If you are turned down for jobs because you don’t have access to your own ISDN, it’s time to get ISDN.

The first thing you must do have ISDN lines installed in your studio.  You can call your landline provider’s business department, and they should be able to help you.  If you need assistance navigating these waters, I highly recommend Dave Immer from  He’s the ISDN expert, and for a consulting fee, he works with your telecommunications company to set up your ISDN installation (totally unpaid plug—I just love Dave).

Monthly charges for ISDN run $50-$80 per month and include two dedicated ISDN lines for which you’ll receive phone numbers.  You’ll give both numbers out to studios, engineers, and clients who hire you for jobs.  Do not pay for additional long distance service on top of your ISDN charges as the industry standard is that the client calls the talent for a session.

Now for the most expensive part of ISDN:  the codec.  The codec is the box that interfaces the client with you and your microphone.  Your mic will run through the ISDN box, which goes through ISDN to record in real time on the client’s end.  You will be able to hear the client on your headphones plugged into the codec.

Popular brands of ISDN codecs are made by Telos, Musicam, APT, and AEQ (among others).  Codecs run $3500-$6000 new, so I suggest you search eBay and Craigslist for lightly used codecs.  I knew I wanted a Telos Zephyr Xtream, so I set up a search in EBay to alert me every time someone was selling one of these ISDN boxes.  Usually these boxes are in good condition, and you can pick them up for half of the retail price.  If you need servicing, the company that manufactures the codec can answer your questions and often provide servicing and parts.

Once you have your box ready to go and your ISDN lines installed, pay your favorite engineer to come by to make sure everything is set up properly.  Let your agents know you now have ISDN, and go out there and get those bookings!

Anna Vocino

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