ISDN… At one point, it was celebrated as the height of recording and file delivery technology, but what is it to you now? Has ISDN gone the way of the dinosaur, or is it still alive and well?

isdn-technology.jpgI received an email from a voice actor asking me to explore ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network). He wanted to know if ISDN was relevant today, or if it is just like a Sony Beta videotape player (remember those?), discontinued, outdated and obsolete.

I searched around the web and found an ISDN tutorial at that thoroughly explains nearly everything you need to know about ISDN and how it is used. From what I understand, operating an ISDN line is very expensive and ISDN is not requested as often as it used to be.

In your experience, is ISDN outdated or is an ISDN line your bread and butter?
Looking forward to this conversation…
Let the comments begin!

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Yes, ISDN is still alive and well. While I realize there are plug-ins available that act much in the same way, the computer on each end (talent/client) must have the same plug-in for it to work. So that brings us back to ISDN. If you have a BIG client in another city, there is no way they’ll just hand the job over to you without being able to direct. As a matter of fact, I’m here in NYC and just did an ISDN line recording yesterday with a client in Philly. I wish I could say the ISDN was in my home studio, but I had to go to a better-equipped one nearby. Since the client was wiling to pay for it, why not? And by the way, it’s not the first job I’ve ISDN’d.

  2. I wonder whether ISDN has been eclipsed by ADSL… I live in a rural town in SE Australia where ISDN just passed in the night.
    We were late in hooking up to ADSL compared to cities, but if you need phone and Internet access simultaneously, then ADSL works for me…
    Does ISDN offer any advantages otherwise, or are they essentially parallel technologies these days?
    If a client “wants ISDN” for directing, then either format would surely do the business ?
    Has anyone tried both to let us know the comparatives??

  3. It’s a hard decision. Based on your area, monthly fees can run anywhere between 40 and 100 dollars a month. Last time I checked it would be $85 a month in my area.
    Then there’s the install fee which can vary greatly depending on how far you are from the phone company’s… node… I think they call it. Plus I’m starting to hear that some phone companies really don’t want to do ISDN installs anymore as they consider it outdated technology.
    And then you either need a unit like Telos or Comrex makes or something like the AudioTX software for your computer. They recommend running the software on a separate computer from your DAW. So that’s an additional $800 to $5000 or more depending on what you choose.
    IP based alternatives are starting to roll out now which I suspect will end up replacing ISDN eventually. But how long will that take? Studios that have already invested in ISDN aren’t going to change to something else until they have to.
    I know some people have experimented with services like Skype for “ISDN style” delivery but not having tried it myself I can’t comment on the quality.
    I’ve researched this issue a good deal and I’d love to have ISDN because I’m a “tech-a-holic” but in the end I’ve decided to hold off.
    The bottom line: Not having ISDN isn’t costing me any work yet and there’s no reason to invest in it until it is.

  4. I got set up with an ISDN line as soon as I could afford one. I bided my time until I booked enough work to swing it.
    From what I’ve heard and noticed, opportunities can come at a moments notice, and sometimes it’s not just a matter of if you’re talented enough. It can also be, are you equipped for quick and easy access?
    I’m now marketing and positioning myself to be able to be “Johnny on the spot” when the time comes.
    My recommendation…If you can swing it, do it.


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