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  #1  
Old 07-19-2009, 10:46 AM
Risha Risha is offline
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Cell phone sound quality versus landline

In this thread, we are once again discussing the ancient question of whether or not to dump your landline. Personally, I refuse to do so until I can get comparable sound quality from my cell. But many (most?) people feel like they already do.

Are there any solid numbers out there comparing the two? Surely someone's done a study? My googling is coming up with nothing but personal opinions.
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  #2  
Old 07-19-2009, 11:59 AM
enipla enipla is offline
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I'd like info on this as well.

I use my cell as a PDA. And for the occasional phone call. Have people forgotten what a normal landline analog phone call was like?

You could actually talk to each other. That was GREAT!

Now itís like Morse code.

(I exaggerate, but it really is ridiculous.)
Hello, what? Say again? Didnít here you. You there? Excuse me. Who are you?

Those terms are going to be the catch phrases of the beginning of this century.

A connected society that canít communicate to one and another.

In more ways than one.
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  #3  
Old 07-19-2009, 12:09 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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I would never ditch my landline. It sounds soooooo much better than a cellphone.

Plus, landlines don't drop calls.
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  #4  
Old 07-19-2009, 12:17 PM
Red Barchetta Red Barchetta is offline
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Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil View Post
I would never ditch my landline. It sounds soooooo much better than a cellphone.

Plus, landlines don't drop calls.
I have never had a call dropped when at a stationary location, like my house. I thought this usually only happened when people were on the move, and the signal has to switch towers?

@enipla
Morse code? Really? Even with the worse cell-phone, I could still make out others fine. That aside, newer phones that use 3G do have better voice quality than other phones, so you may want to give that a try.
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  #5  
Old 07-19-2009, 03:32 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Well that's weird. With a bit of trepidation, I gave up my landline -- back in 2002. I was in an English Basement apartment in DC, had a not-so-fancy, basic Motorola phone, and had no problems giving or receiving calls. No complaints from otherwise cantankerous folk. I'd imagine the technology has only improved.
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  #6  
Old 07-19-2009, 03:46 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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I have a cell phone for emergencies and have had several others in the past. I still think the overall sound quality for all of them is pretty poor compared to landline phones but lots of people are either too young to know better or people who simply forgot that corded home phones don't have problems with people fading in and out, dropped connections, and stutter. I got so sick of the whole thing that I went out and bought an actual corded, business quality phone as my main home phone and it is sweet. Some younger people who have never listened to such a thing before might even describe it as a technological miracle.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 07-19-2009 at 03:50 PM..
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  #7  
Old 07-19-2009, 05:48 PM
adhay adhay is offline
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I've been using a cell as my sole phone for about 2 yrs. I changed just as soon as my local carrier started using a new Verizon tower in my area and I could get a half-way decent signal in my apartment and not be subject to roaming charges. Unless I'm traveling, I just leave it at home and check my voice mail when I return.

As far reception goes, my only complaint is with one friend's land line. She often complains of garbling, but given my other all around success, I'm thinking the problem is on her end.
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  #8  
Old 07-19-2009, 06:54 PM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Nothing beats a landline connection using a Western Electric telephone from the 1960s and 1970s. Not even new high-end DECT cordless phones on landines can compare.
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  #9  
Old 07-19-2009, 10:05 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
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I have had no complaints at all with any of my cell phones. I use mine to talk to my brother, who lives in Pennsylvania, 2000 miles away. We use our cells instead of landlines because we get unlimited mobile to mobile minutes (we're on the same network) and nevr get charged extra. He's an over-the-road trucker, so sometimes I'll catch him in Illinois or Ohio and we never have trouble hearing each other.

Last edited by cochrane; 07-19-2009 at 10:06 PM..
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  #10  
Old 07-19-2009, 10:07 PM
Tim R. Mortiss Tim R. Mortiss is offline
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I think it really depends on your phone and on your carrier. I've had poor cell-phone calling quality in the past, but my new 3G phone blows away my land line in terms of fidelity, noise, and everything else......TRM
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  #11  
Old 07-19-2009, 10:14 PM
AjŪ de Gallina AjŪ de Gallina is offline
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The best cell phone in the best of conditions sounds like a landline.
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  #12  
Old 07-19-2009, 10:16 PM
Risha Risha is offline
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I appreciate the debate, but I was really hoping for solid numbers of some sort.
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  #13  
Old 07-19-2009, 10:24 PM
adhay adhay is offline
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If you have a strong wireless signal throughout your house, you have nothing to lose by dropping your land line. Maybe the cell doesn't offer 5.1 surround like the land line but you shouldn't be dropping calls.
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  #14  
Old 07-20-2009, 12:13 AM
Risha Risha is offline
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Originally Posted by adhay View Post
If you have a strong wireless signal throughout your house, you have nothing to lose by dropping your land line. Maybe the cell doesn't offer 5.1 surround like the land line but you shouldn't be dropping calls.
Honestly, dropped calls aren't really a concern of mine (though I do randomly drop them in my backyard at times). I just detest the sound quality, occasional echoes of my own voice, etc. Whatever the result of this thread is, I have no intention of canceling my landline anytime in the foreseeable future, given how little I like using my cell. If other people aren't bothered by their reception either way, than that's great and I'm happy for them - everyone likes to save money.

I'm mostly looking for hard data because we keep having these threads over and over again, and they seem to just go back and forth between "Cell quality sucks!" and "No it doesn't - it's just like a landline!" But you'd think that someone would have actually done some measurements at some point.
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  #15  
Old 07-20-2009, 12:33 AM
adhay adhay is offline
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Yeah, I occasionally get an echo and generally speaking, my cell connections are noisier than they were with my old line (as best I remember). As far as hard data goes, what might be measured? It's a pretty subjective thing and I can't think of anything but a poll of users which of course you have here In my position, I'm happy to save some money and that offsets any occasional inconvenience. It seems that this is not the case with you, so sure, keep the land line.

Last edited by adhay; 07-20-2009 at 12:35 AM..
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  #16  
Old 07-20-2009, 09:31 AM
Risha Risha is offline
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Originally Posted by adhay View Post
As far as hard data goes, what might be measured?
Well, the same things that they measure when they do any audio quality measurement.
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  #17  
Old 07-20-2009, 09:53 AM
Shadowfyre Shadowfyre is offline
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I used to (about 6 0r 7 years ago) work for Motorola's Infrastructure division. I specifically worked on CDMA networks that would be bought by Sprint and Verizon. I was in charge of a project to determine the sound quality of our network. We had a computer that would send out a sound file (I believe it was a .wav file) and used a proprietary sound analyzing software to compare the source file to a file it recorded after being sent through our network and outputting a numerical score.

I don't remember the actual scores but I remember being surprised that the Motorola network's score was very close to that obtained through the landline. But there are caveats. Our analyzer was wired directly to the BTS. There was no over-the-air attenuation or interference. It only related to the network that we were testing. Sprint and Verizon used many vendors to build their network infrastructures so this was no indication of their overall sound quality.

I've been out of the industry for over 6 years now, so I have no idea what companies are doing in regards to sound quality. I know my parents landline picks up a fire-and-brimstone religious radio station that can be heard by both parties and makes it difficult to hold conversations. Any cell phone is much better than that. I suspect that some of their twisted pair wires are no longer twisted.
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  #18  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:01 AM
adhay adhay is offline
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Well, the same things that they measure when they do any audio quality measurement.
It's certainly has it's place if someone is considering buying an expensive sound system. OTH, if we're talking about a free cell phone, one of hundreds on the market, who's going to bother?

BTW. Here's a local poll of possible relevance.
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  #19  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:05 AM
Anthony N Anthony N is offline
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Cell phones have a fundamentally different method of transmitting audio than a landline does. To allow more conversations to be supported on the cell phone network, your voice is encoded based on a "dictionary" of sounds. This coded version requires much less bandwidth to transmit. On the other end, your voice is recreated in the reverse process, and the actual waveforms don't even travel across the connection.

Older cell phone technology used more inefficient compression technology, so to make any comparision, you have to consider the type of phone and cell phone network.

Background noise can cause the codec to perform very poorly and the degradation in quality is not like what you would hear as a landline degrades. The speech gets garbled over the cell phone while the landline could gain more static or low volume.

What's interesting is that landlines are moving to voip so they too will adopt a similar audio compression methods. And progress continues to move forward with improved codecs that sound better and better while still being fairly bandwidth efficient.
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  #20  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:10 AM
Risha Risha is offline
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Originally Posted by adhay View Post
It's certainly has it's place if someone is considering buying an expensive sound system. OTH, if we're talking about a free cell phone, one of hundreds on the market, who's going to bother?
Well, someone like me who has a minimum level of sound quality preference? I'm not the only one who won't switch completely over, citing that as our reason.

Oh, and that was the thread that spawned this thread.
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  #21  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:29 AM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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The human voice has a frequency range of 300-3400hz.
The upper end of this is the "s" sound in our speech.
Modern cell phones have a compressed frequency response and cut off at the 2500-3000hz range.
I've noticed a lot of the sharp "s" sounds become hard to understand when conversing via cell phone.
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  #22  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:38 AM
AmunRa AmunRa is offline
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Originally Posted by Risha View Post
Well, someone like me who has a minimum level of sound quality preference? I'm not the only one who won't switch completely over, citing that as our reason.
What happens when you are the last hold out among the people you talk to on the phone? Won't you still have all the same problems, just caused solely on their end?
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  #23  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:43 AM
Risha Risha is offline
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Originally Posted by AmunRa View Post
What happens when you are the last hold out among the people you talk to on the phone? Won't you still have all the same problems, just caused solely on their end?
Probably, though cell to cell tends to be a little worse than cell to landline, in my experience.
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  #24  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:43 AM
jackdavinci jackdavinci is offline
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I find that cells are fine for pragmatic conversations conveying basic information but for actual social conversations a landline is necessarily to prevent frustrated insanity. What I find really amusing is back when everything was landlines, there used to be a big deal in advertising about phone service quality ("pin drop" - and you could barely discern the difference in quality except for international calls) but even the worst landline back then was better than cell phones now.
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  #25  
Old 07-20-2009, 10:52 AM
HorseloverFat HorseloverFat is offline
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The science of speech compression is pretty complex and cell operators have a big incentive to compress as much as possible so there's more bandwidth for other subscribers. With a POTS line the compression is light and everyone gets a dedicated 64k connection (including signaling).

So I doubt cell or VOIP will ever reach the quality levels of analog phone. I dont see this changing in the future. Future standards will simple be adding more users per tower, not increasing quality.

That said, the quality should be good enough for human speech. The problems Ive noticed have more to do with poor mics and speakers. A cell phone with a wired headset is pretty good.

FWIW, the voice quality on my iphone beats my old treo by quite a bit. Buying a better phone might help as the limitation may not be with the protocol but with the phone hardware itself.
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  #26  
Old 07-20-2009, 01:58 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elmwood
Nothing beats a landline connection using a Western Electric telephone from the 1960s and 1970s. Not even new high-end DECT cordless phones on landines can compare.
Yes, nothing like a Western Electric G3 handset on some good twisted pair. It's a bit astonishing that we're using 50 year old technology as a benchmark for quality in today's phones.

Shadofyre - I'll bet dollars to donuts that your parent's phone wiring is the old fashioned "quad" cable with non-twisted red, green, yellow and black wires. That stuff was OK in the 70's, but as we find ourselves immersed in more and more RF "soup" it's necessary to rip that stuff out and replace it with Cat3 or Cat5 twist.

"Can you hear me now" shouldn't be an ad slogan, and it shouldn't be a normal question while talking to someone.

I have noticed that while cell phones may be of generally acceptable quality, it's cheap Bluetooth headsets that really muck things up. If my friend calls up and sounds like she's down a well, it's because her earpiece battery needs charging.
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  #27  
Old 07-20-2009, 03:51 PM
dzeiger dzeiger is offline
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Certainly cell phone companies have all sorts of internal ways to validate drops, quality, etc. But comparing it to landline quality--in a way that's useful to the average person--would have some pitfalls.

For one thing, if I mention my mom's cordless phone that gets horrible static more than 10 feet from the base station, people would probably call that a phone problem, not a landline problem. But of course all cell phones aren't alike either, but you almost never hear anyone split out handset performance from network performance for cell networks. There are good reasons for that, of course, but it means they're on slightly different playing fields to begin with.

And since signal strength and quality are largely a matter of things like distance from the tower, and what material the building you're in is made of and such, even if some measured "average" quality ends up matching landline quality, you'll still have the guy sitting 20 yards from a tower noting that he never gets dropped, while the guy who lives a couple of miles from the nearest cell because all of the area subdivisions refuse to allow cell sites to be built is much more likely to have a lot of problems.
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  #28  
Old 01-20-2012, 07:46 PM
dedoslocos dedoslocos is offline
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landline bandwidth

Guys, don't drop your landlines just yet.
Try this simple test. Call a friend who plays an instrument and listen to her/him play using each a cell phone and then repeat using landlines only. Self explanatory.

In technical terms, what matters is bandwidth in Hertz (humans hear from ~20Hz to 20kHz), latency in miliseconds, and bit depth (how small the increments in volume transmitted are). There is a world of difference btw a landline phone and a cell phone. It's easy to transmit voice (narro bandwidth), it's a lot "harder" (more expensive) to transmit audio at a decent quality.
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  #29  
Old 01-20-2012, 08:25 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dedoslocos View Post
Guys, don't drop your landlines just yet.
Try this simple test. Call a friend who plays an instrument and listen to her/him play using each a cell phone and then repeat using landlines only. Self explanatory.

In technical terms, what matters is bandwidth in Hertz (humans hear from ~20Hz to 20kHz), latency in miliseconds, and bit depth (how small the increments in volume transmitted are). There is a world of difference btw a landline phone and a cell phone. It's easy to transmit voice (narro bandwidth), it's a lot "harder" (more expensive) to transmit audio at a decent quality.
Well, this is a zombie thread, but - who cares about sound quality?
Iím using the phone to talk to people, not to enjoy music.
As long as itís intelligible, I donít really care what the frequency response is.
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