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Remote Production

Skype Internet Telephony Software (TM)The Classical Recording Company’s purpose-built speech studio provides the ideal location for speech recording of between one and three voices. But what if it’s not convenient for the speaker(s) and producer to be here at the same time? Thanks to a new system for remote production, this is no longer a problem.

The Classical Recording Company likes being able to find solutions to old problems, and one new development is remote production; by integrating voice-over-IP into our comms equipment, the producer may do his/her job from anywhere with a PC and broadband connection. They’ll also need a microphone and either loudspeakers or ideally headphones connected to the PC, and to have the appropriate (free) software installed.

The technology of voice-over-IP was developed to allow people to talk to one another as with telephones. One major difference is that the conversation is carried across the internet, which means that it’s charged in the way any internet use is, rather than the telephone calls are. For many broadband users, the ‘calls’ are effectively free. What’s more, it’s the same whether you call someone next door or on the other side of the world. Another difference is that the perceived sound quality is (or can be) considerably superior to standard telephone circuits.

Using our system, the experience for those producing remotely is that they hear the contributor(s) in the studio at all times, and are able to speak to both the contributor(s) and to the recording engineer at any time. The recording engineer can also talk to both other parties. And remember, the producer really can be anywhere (with a broadband connection). From the office, from home, from a hotel, in another country!

What’s more, this service is available at no extra cost; clients are simply charged for the speech studio time in the normal way.

Case Study: Interview for Chicago’s WFMT

Chicago-based radio station WFMT needed an interview with the London-based music expert Gerrard McBurney for a feature about a forthcoming Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert series. Rather than suffer the poor quality of landline (or even some ISDN) links, or incur the expense of flying either interviewer or interviewee across the Atlantic, they chose to produce remotely with The Classical Recording Company.

Having installed the free voice-over-IP software on a PC in a quiet office in Chicago, they called us first thing in the morning Chicago time (being mid-afternoon in the UK). The contributor sat in our speech studio as normal, answering the questions posed by the producer in the normal way. For him, the experience was almost identical to a ‘normal’ speech session, except that he didn’t meet the producer in person! The speech was recorded locally onto SADiE at full resolution (no codec/‘lossy compression’). The set-up took no more than about 5 minutes, and worked flawlessly to the end of the interview.

Incidentally, the audio was needed fairly urgently in Chicago for transmission. Rather than use an expensive next day courier service, the audio was packed down using a lossless compression tool called FLAC (essentially like WinZip but optimised for audio files), and sent via FTP direct to WFMT. So within an hour or so of finishing the interview, the radio station in Chicago had the uncompressed, linear PCM file on their server ready for editing - and all before lunch!

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