When to Use a VoIP Audio Interface
Most VoIP sound quality is fine for standard use. But when you need the highest sound quality possible, need to modify that sound or want to connect instruments, different hardware is needed. That's what a VoIP audio interface is for.
What Is A VoIP Audio Interface?
Let's look first at a standard setup that uses VoIP for simple voice communications. This is usually just a computer and in some cases, a headset is involved. The headset can increase sound quality since you are closer to the mic and background noise is reduced because of directional sound.
Sound can be improved far beyond the use of a basic headset. Upgrading your headset will add some improvement. But a lot of gain will come from upgrading your mic. For this, a high-quality external mic will work best.
Depending on the mic, how do you plug it into the computer? If it is a USB mic, you can plug it right into a USB port on your computer. Some professional microphones come with an XLR connection, which you won't find on your computer. For that, you need a new piece of hardware.
Enter the audio interface. You can buy an audio interface with an XLR connection. These connections are also used for connecting instruments (guitar, keyboard, etc). Even if you are using a USB mic, connecting it to the audio interface offers a lot of improvement to audio quality.
Your computer's sound card isn't meant to provide professional level sound quality. The audio interface handles that part. You can plug the audio interface into a USB port on your computer or straight into a power source (i.e., wall outlet) to power it up. Next, plug your XLR or USB mic into the audio interface. Most applications will recognize the new audio source.
Getting into the technicals, an audio interface improves latency and sample rates. An improved latency means that what goes into the mic is immediately heard on your headphones. Meaning, you hear yourself exactly as you sound. A sample rate defines how many times per second a sound is sampled. For CDs, this rate is 44.1kHz. With an audio interface, that rate can go up to 192kHz, creating a dramatic difference in sound quality.
Most audio interface devices come with sound editing software. This allows you to adjust sound in-flight and post-production. You can adjust:
For standard voice only, you'll probably never using sound editing software, but it is an option.
How Does It Work With VoIP Software?
VoIP is one of those technologies that is very subtle. In your communications app, you just click to contact someone and once connected, start speaking to them. Nothing special is required to make VoIP work. Most applications will communicate across the internet. This isn't much different for a VoIP audio interface.
Probably one thing you'll need to do is point your application to the audio interface as the audio source. If you are using an external mic, it is probably configured as the audio source. Now that the audio interface is sitting between the computer and mic, it will become the audio source. You'll need to point applications to the new audio source. Depending on the operating system, it may automatically pick up the change.
For larger operations such as call centers that use unified communications software, there isn't much they need to do to get the audio interface up and running. It's similar to the configuration for personal use. Check with your unified communications software service provider to be sure.
High-Quality VoIP Audio With an Audio Interface
A VoIP audio interface is an external hardware device that improves sound quality. The interface requires power either from a USB source such as a computer or through a wall outlet. A common use of the interface is with a high-quality microphone, which plugs directly into the audio interface. If you need high-quality VoIP audio, an audio interface will certainly do the job.
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