HD Voice Mythbusters

Separate HD Voice Fact and Fiction

1. True or False -- HD VoIP is New

Even though HD VoIP is only recently getting the spotlight, the technology has been around for longer than you might think. One of the most well known implementations is Skype. Back when Skype was released over half a decade ago, users immediately wondered why their Skype-to-Skype calls sounded so much better than what they were used to. It turns out that Skype was using a proprietary audio codec called ISAC which captured twice the voice frequency of PSTN calls and most of the VoIP calls at the time. In other words, Skype was a prime example of wideband audio technology at work.

'HD Voice is New': FALSE

2. True or False -- HD Voice = $$$$$

A couple of years ago, most of the HD capable VoIP phones on the market were 'executive class' IP phones with MSRPs of over $200. There were also only a few manufacturers that readily pushed the technology so the options were limited.

Today, almost all manufacturers of VoIP user agents offer HD capable products. Many of their HD offerings also extend to their most affordable entry level models. You can now pick up an HD VoIP phone for well under a $100. Even some IP phones that once did not support the G.722 wideband codec have gone through firmware upgrades which now make them HD compatible.

'HD Voice = $$$$$': FALSE

3. True or False -- All HD Voice Implementations Deliver the Same Voice Quality

Just because it no longer costs you an arm and a leg to get started with wideband audio does not mean that the saying 'You get what you pay for' no longer applies. The co-founder of Polycom, Jeff Rodman, warns that IP phones with just HD codecs may not necessarily provide callers with 'true HD voice quality'.

Although you could say that Jeff's comment was meant to knock down competitors (particularly the manufacturers which made their devices 'HD compatible' through a firmware upgrade), there is truth to his statement. Polycom's executive class VoIP phones have specially designed speakers and microphones, Polycom's own patented acoustic software technology, and hardware specifications that maximize voice quality. It makes sense that these devices would sound better than an entry level phone 'HD compatible' phone from another manufacturer.

'All HD Voice Implementations Deliver the Same Voice Quality': FALSE