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Frequently Asked Questions
is that genius has its limits."
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TWO COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS Propagated by Telco Salesreps
It amazes me that many telco's across the country are installing phone systems worth many thousands of dollars and their salespeople still can't get two simple facts straight. Whether these are outright lies (or just feigned ignorance) I.O.S. intends to set the record straight when it comes to playing ANY audio to callers placed "on-hold".
#1: "Just buy a $20 radio and hook it into the music-on-hold port of your phone system and you'll be all set."
There are three basic problems with this misinformation. First, unless you are paying annual licensing fees to ASCAP and BMI (the Performing Rights Societies), then you are STEALING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY since playing this music to on-hold callers is deemed a "PUBLIC PERFORMANCE". You will loose this battle in a court of law 100% of the time. Second, the radio is a poor choice for many reasons that we will be happy to discuss with you. Third, you are not effectively using this space as can be demonstrated by Statistics .
#2: "Just hook up a CD player with a repeat function and play anything you wish."
The same answer regarding the legality holds true in this scenario... "It's illegal unless you are paying for these rights." Furthermore, CD players ARE NOT designed to run 24x7x365 and will burn out frequently costing much more in the long run. Finally, CD players will STOP PLAYING when you have a strong power surge and you will be reduced to "silence on hold" without even knowing it. Callers (used to hearing something on hold) will think they've been disconnected and hang up far more frequently. So even if you do own a licensed program a CD player IS NOT recommended. (Ask us about digital announcer technology which is very economical and designed for this specific function.)
Q: What are your top two music-on-hold playback units?
A:We've just introduced the world to the new #1 unit, the USB-2020. It was released on December 10th of 2009 and far surpasses all other units in quality, capacity and expandability. The ELE-2015 is an exonomical 2nd choice for those who do not need multiple tracks on their MOH unit and are looking mainly for high quality audio at the most affordable price.
Q: I saw a service like yours for only $39.95. Why should we pay your rates?
A:Just imagine that you are about to have your memoirs written by a ghost-writer. One writer has offered to do your life-story for $39.95 and the other one is going to charge you a more realistic fee and not nickel and dime you along the way. Who’s going to do the better job with the least amount of hassle?
Q: We're considering a lease program bid for our message-on-hold solution, do you offer them?
A:No. We don't believe most customers will benefit from these "LOCKED IN" deals and here's why; 1) They usually provide used, last generation (i.e. lower quality) playback equipment that you won't own and therefore can't depreciate, 2) You pay a fixed monthly rate, say $79 per month (= $2,844 over the 3-year lease), for a service that you will most likely never fully utilize and will therefore pay many hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars more using their pricing STRATEGY. Our experience shows us that most companies buy only one production a year... maybe two if they do a Holiday version. Why then would you lock yourself into nearly a thousand dollars a year for regular "monthly upgrades" that you won't need? Do you really think you'll be doing it that regularly? If so, then ask us about our package deals and our ability to modify programs fast and cost effectively thanks to the new equipment that we offer. Our pricing should save the vast majority of MOH buyers at least 50% over the next three years while providing the BEST OVERALL SOLUTION AVAILABLE! Also, 3) if you are not 100% satisfied with us then you can vote with your feet and go elsewhere... and that's how it should be. Do you really want to be married to a service provider (involuntarily) for years on end without knowing the quality of their work or the frequency in which you will require changes? 4) What if they're not in business next year? In that case you can say "sianora" to your investment.
Q: Do you offer gift certificates?
A:Absolutely, and starting at only $150 (for $130.50)! This is a great gift when you're not sure what your friend or loved one needs but KNOW that they can benefit from one of our customized audio programs or new equipment. They will receive an attractive and customized gift certificate that can be applied to any of our services. (Check out our "Bargain Basement" packages.) Furthermore, you will be able to give more than your pocket allows in three ways. First, we will write the gift certificate for 15% MORE than your purchase price, second, we will pre-ship our V3 CD Sampler (a $20 value!), along with your gift certificate, and third, you can be certain that your gift will keep on giving for many years to come as our production helps to improve their customer service and drive new revenue opportunities into their business.
Q: We have an audio production company down the street from us. Why should we choose yours over one our neighbors?
A:We love that question because so few companies can compete with the comprehensive services that we offer. We focus on "audio productions for business" and that degree of specialization allows us to compete effectively with anyone. That means you're going to get the best bang for your buck right here… that is “if” you don’t delude yourself into thinking you can do a better job by trying to piecemeal together lowest cost providers at every turn. Provide us with a copy of your best quote and we'll prove it!
People who do that are "Penny wise and pound foolish.” as written by Edward Topsell way back in 1607. By focusing on COST these novices tend to buy from multiple vendors, often forgetting to factor in their own time and THEIR costs to the company, which include not only salary but benefits as well. They also forget to factor in such things as the QUALITY of the script writing service, the amount of LICENSED MUSIC that is IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE at NO EXTRA COST, the number of SUPERB QUALITY MULTI-LINGUAL VOICE-ARTISTS who can deliver their message in a TOTALLY PROFESSIONAL MANNER and not just some amateur who happens to have a nice voice but doesn’t have a clue on proper delivery techniques, they don't understand "THE FRESHNESS FACTOR", which simply means that a well produced MOH program WON’T HAVE TO BE REDONE EVERY THREE MONTHS, the speed at which the production can be produced and the overall PROFESSIONALISM, QUALITY, COST EFFECTIVENESS and most importantly, RESULTS OBTAINED. What it comes down to is that novices using the "low-price 1st" approach will cost your company significantly more money to produce an inferior program! Let I.O.S. handle the details and we'll provide the best overall solution QUICKLY, ECONOMICALLY and CORRECTLY... THE VERY FIRST TIME!
Furthermore, just because our HQs is in Vermont doesn't mean we aren't your neighbors as well. Our team hails from the following areas: California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Montreal AND Alberta Canada as well as the United Kingdom.
Being dispersed over most of North America doesn’t pose a problem for us due to advanced telecommunications. That fact, along with normal 2-3 day mail delivery (via US Priority Service) allows us to get your production(s) into your hands as quickly as someone across town from you. Think you need your programs faster than that? How's 5-minutes after it's finished sound? (via MP3 digital or wave files.) So the real question is; How do THEY mesasure up to I.O.S.?
Q: We’ve noticed that you sometimes recommend the ELE-2015, which you rate as #2, over your #1 rated USB-2020… why?
A:That’s true. For typical Message-On-Hold requirements the ELE-2015 has everything you need to provide superb audio quality and more than enough non-volatile memory to satisfy the vast majority of our clients who use customized MOH programs. The limitation of this unit is that there is only one track loaded at a time, which in most instances is not a problem. The ability to accept new MOH programs (over the internet) as MP3 or WMA files and then to easily upload them onto the ELE-2015 makes adding a new production, say a Holiday program, relatively quick and easy. The cost savings allows you to invest that money into a superior customized production, which will yield far greater benefits than the type of machine you have sitting in the equipment closet. That being said, the brand new USB-2020 is now the most advaced single-site playback unit in the market and has its place for clients wishing to have multiple tracks (up to 99) simultaneously loaded for frequent/easy program changes. It also has a virtually unlimited amount of capacity for those clients wishing to use it to feed their paging systems with many hours of programming in the "in-store broadcasting" function. A good example would be if you were not going to have a single customized program but wanted a great variety of “generic medleys” instead since we have many dozens of I.O.S. licensed medleys to choose from... then the USB-2020 would be the superior choice due to its capacity, medley variations and instant track selection. There's no longer any good reason to buy an outdated MOH tape machine with VOLATILE memory and limited capacity in order just to to save a few dollars. The USB-2020 and ELE-2015 units are so capable and so economical that they are BY FAR the best choices for anyone who has taken the time to truly understand this technology.
Q: You mention that the ELE-2015 (and USB-2020) are not appropriate for 2-4 line systems. I have an 4-line NEC phone system that was installed last year. My installer recommended the OHP-6000 / OHP-7000 for this purpose, but I was wondering if you had any less expensive solutions. I don't need anything fancy, just a device to replace the current beeping hold tone. Thanks!
A:Thank you for your question. If there is one thing that is more annoying than "silence-on-hold" it is those horrible beeping tones. The inventor of that band-aid solution must have been an MOH device manufacturer or a sadist! I'm guessing by your installer's recommendation that your phone system DOES HAVE an MOH port, which means the ELE-2015 will work perfectly. (Otherwise he would have directed you to the OHP-6500 & 7500 units instead of the 6000/7000, which we now place at 3rd and 4th in our recommendation list.) We were talking about “stand-alone” 2 or 4-line phones and not MOH equipped phone systems. PS: We now also have a solution for those stand-alone phones as well with our "Universal MOH Phone Adapter" so SOHO (small office home office) businesses will not only have the very expensive OHP-6500/7500 solutions to choose from.
Q: We have “call waiting” on our line… will music on hold solutions work for us?
A:Yes and no. “Call Waiting” is a service that was designed for residential use. It allows you to have one phone line and still receive two calls on it. What actually happens when you press the switch-hook of your telephone (to place the 1st call on hold and retrieve the 2nd call) is that you are actually holding the 1st call in the phone company’s central office, which means that it will never see your on-hold equipment. Should you place either line one or line two on-hold WITHOUT the “switch-hook transfer” feature being activated then the Universal MOH Phone Adapter and MOH playback device will work perfectly. This is due to the nature of how call waiting works and all MOH equipment and adapters will be affected in the same way.
Q: Okay, we understand the need to buy a digital announcer but there are so many options to choose from. What does your company recommend?
A:There are many DVA (digital voice announcer) manufacturers and each of them offer systems containing “similar” functionality. Our research has provided us with a favorite, which remains our #1 ranked product for companies with phone systems that have an “MOH port” (music on hold), the USB-2020. Our next two favorites are the brand new ELE-2015 and then the OHP-7000. The 7000 uses a "CD-loader" technology on top of the OHP-6000 platform but that inserts a "point of failure" into an otherwise solid hardware design. The OHP-6000 has slipped into 4th place and the OHP-5000 and ELE-2020 are now "manufacturer discontinued" products.
We have all witnessed the evolution of technology and a few key advantages seem common to them all. Newer systems are generally smaller, faster, of higher quality, more reliable and, surprisingly enough, more economical. This also holds true in the world of digital announcers.
I.O.S.’ primary mission is to provide business with “the highest quality audio productions at very reasonable prices”. We also offer the playback devices in order to provide you with "one-stop shopping". We DO NOT represent a single manufacturer and are free to utilize the technologies that make the most sense, both technologically and economically. When a new capability becomes available we seamlessly integrate it into our product offering while letting the older technologies "wither on the vine". (Like many of the Premiere products, the entire Bogen line and, the OHP-3000 & OHP-4000, OHP-4500, OHP-5000 and the DP-100.)
Q: Are there any specific questions we should be asking when comparing different playback devices?
A:Yes, here are a few questions that will allow you to build a solid matrix in order to compare units objectively:
1) What is the equipped capacity? Can it be expanded?
2) What is the sampling rate? This addresses audio quality.
-->Lowest quality: 33 or 45-kbps,
3) What medium is the program loaded into memory from?
-->Lowest quality: Normal bias tape,
4) What's the actual process to change audio programs?
5) Is the memory volatile or non-volatile?
6) Can the unit be loaded from the internet? If so, how?
7) Is there a warranty? If so, how long is it?
Both the USB-2020 and ELE-2015 do all of these things exceedingly well and offer THE BEST VALUES AVAILABLE for phone "systems" with an "MOH port". If these questions aren't answered clearly in competing product ads then I would invite you to ask them "Why not?" If their product was competitive then they should be proud to answer these simple questions.
Q: Can you provide a more complete explanation of the wave file format? There seems to be a lot of confusing information out here.
A:Don't feel bad about being confused... this topic creates confusion even among professionals. I'll try and shed some light on a very long subject with a relatively brief answer and hope not to obfuscate the question even more.
The WAV format can be very confusing. Simply put, it's not a real format but just a 'package' of other formats. There are many formats that can be packaged into a WAV file, including the MP3. Therefore we can say there are many different types of WAV files.
For example, our ELE-2025i supports only one type of WAV file: the uncompressed PCM. This type is so common that many people refer to it simply as the (only) WAV file. Inside the uncompressed PCM format, there are many parameters such as;
bit resolution - 8, 16, 32 (higher = better)
In theory any combination of these parameters is a valid WAV file. For example, 8-bit + 16 KHz + mono is roughly = to AM radio quality and 16-bit + 44.1 KHz + stereo is exactly = to CD quality.
Also, it's incorrect to simply use '128kbps' when describing WAV files because it could mean any of the following combinations:
8-bit + 8 KHz + stereo (8 x 8 x 2 = 128)
If you take an uncompressed PCM format (any combination as described above) and compressed it with the MP3 technique, you get an MP3 file. There are many different compression rates for you to choose from. For example, if a 16-bit + 32 KHz + stereo (16 x 32 x 2 = 1024) format is compressed into a 128kbps MP3, the compression rate is 1024:128 or 8:1. You can also compress a 32-bit + 16 KHz + stereo (32 x 16 x 2 = 1024) format into a 128kbps MP3 with the same compression rate, but these two files would have different audio quality. The first file would have less dynamic range but higher frequency response, and the second file would have more dynamic range but lower frequency response.
Trust your professional audio production company to chose the best solution for your specific application, equipment and audience and then listen for yourself and let your ears be your judge.
Q: Which MOH storage medium is better, smart media or compact flash?
A:Neither, the new "state of the art" units use either internal memory or USB flash drive technology.
Q: What equipment do you recommend if we require transparent remote downloads over the net?
A:This question deserves a conversation and we invite you to call us toll free at 800-925-9025 to discuss it. The new ELE-2025i comes equipped as a one GIGABYTE machine and is available starting at only $325 for a single unit. Plus, the software is included at no extra charge vs. the competition's equipment, who charge between $800 to $1,000 for the software alone! The ELE-2025i software allows all of your locations to be remotely administered from any PC in the world and can do the remote changes virtually unsupervised so you can concentrate on your own work.
Q: Why do some companies rate digital announcers using the “kbps” scale while others use KHz?
A:That’s a very good question and it’s too bad that all companies don’t express their scores in the same manner so consumers can easily compare product audio quality. We’ll be happy to demystify this simple conversion so no one can pull the wool over your eyes. We’ve already explained in our previous question the levels we consider to be “Low, Medium and High” using the more typical “kbps” (kilo-bit-per-second) sampling rate scale so all that’s left to do is to give you the formula used to do the conversion.
When converting from KHz to find the kbps rate simply multiply the KHz number by 8. For example; A previous #1 announcer was the DP-100 and it had the ability to sample your audio program at three different rates; 11-KHz, 16-KHz and 22-KHz. When doing the math you find that the three sampling rates (when expressed in “kbps”) are 88-kbps, 128-kbps and 176-kbps (8 times the number in KHz). So put away your calculators and don’t be fooled by products expressing their quality vaguely.
Q: We just bought a used digital announcer in an on-line auction. Will you still be able to provide us with your custom on-hold production services?
A:Absolutely! That’s our core business and our primary reason for being here. All that we ask is that you provide us with is; 1) the exact model you'll be using; 2) the format required (CD, cassette, compact flash or secure digital card, USB flash drive, etc.); 3) if tape, then the of type used (i.e. normal bias or chromium / “CrO2”; 4) if digital file, then what is the preferred format? i.e. MP3, .wav, WMA, etc.
Q: We plan on updating our program on a regular basis, perhaps as often as four times a year. Do you offer pricing discounts for repeat customers?
A:Yes we do. We offer a number of different programs to fit your needs. Ask us about our "Buy 4 Get the 5th one FREE" program. Just contact us to discuss your requirements and we will be hapy to provide you with a firm quote.
Q: Do you offer voice-over "ONLY" work?
A:Yes we do. Our rates vary depending upon the application; MOH, automated attendants, Interactive Voice Response (IVR / VOX format), radio, TV, PowerPoint presentations, storecasting, equipment and game voices, audio books, website voicings, etc. Contact us to discuss your specific requirements and we will be happy to provide you with a firm quote.
Q: We’re looking at buying an “adapter” for our music on hold that will accept ANY input device. Is this a good way to proceed?
A:That depends on how many lines and phones you have. With only one or two 1 or 2-line phones that is a inexpensive alternative to the OHP-6500 and OHP-7500 products. With many telephones with up to 4-lines the OHP-6500 and 7500 products are the best way to go UNLESS you have an MOH port. This Q&A is for businesses that DO NOT have a phone system with an MOH port.
PS: Some people feel that an MOH adapter plus their old CD player is a good way to go but we DO NOT recommend this solution. You are MUCH better off buying our combo package for only $125 that includes both a 2-line Universal MOH Phone Adapter and the brand new ELE-2015.
PS: Simply plugging in the radio is illegal due to "Intellectual Property" Laws prohibiting its use in the MOH domain, which is considered a "public broadcast". You can legalize its use by acquiring annual licenses from Performing Rights Societies such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and in Canada, SOCAN but this is an expensive way to go and your money would be better off invested in a customized on-hold program for your business.
Q: What about those "record it ourselves" products, is that something we should be looking into?
A:When I was a child I used to watch Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris lift fastballs out of the park with effortless grace. “I can do that too…” my little dreamer said to me. Well, the older I became (and the harder I tried) the more apparent it became that being a big league player wasn’t in my cards. Everything “seems” easy until you actually set off to do it… or at least to do it well enough for people to sit up and take notice. Why then would you want to be you own Production Company? Is it part of your core business? If not, then let a professional team knock your production “out of the park” for you and don’t let others delude you into thinking that your company can do just as good a job (or even as cost effectively) as a company that does this every minute of the day… every day.
Q: What about used equipment? We’d prefer to invest our advertising dollars on the custom production.
A:That’s a very good point, especially since a customized on-hold program will yield a better return on your investment. However, new players are often LESS EXPENSIVE than the older ones and you should adopt a Buyer Beware attitude. Be sure to get a written commitment from the seller that they will provide you with a COMPLETE REFUND (including shipping BOTH ways) if their unit proves to be defective. Whenever possible, get a written warranty of at least 90 days... one year is obviously better and is our minimum warranty on used equipment. Don't be misled by companies dumping very old products at "GREAT PRICES", that's the old "Penny wise and pound foolish" mistake again. If the unit samples at less than 64-kbps then you are buying VERY OLD technology . The absolute lowest rate you should accept on used equipment is 64-kbps. Our top picks sample at 128, 176 or 192-kbps.
Q: Our on-hold application is pretty straight forward. Why would we spend more to get an announcer with a built-in CD loader?
A:The primary reason for this decision is "convenience". Most of our clients like the idea of updating their programs on a regular basis. Having a built-in loader, i.e. either a CD or cassette player, makes that step easier. A few of the CD-loaders are current technologies (the OHP-5500 os discontinued) and utilize the superior "NON-volatile" memory, whereas the cassette based units have been an "end-of-lifecycle" group of products for quite some time and they use the inferior "volatile" memory. Note: The newest technologies use internal flash memory, compact flash cards, smart media & secure digital cards or USB flash drives, which are all high-capacity, VERY economical and offer EXCELLENT quality! They are easy to change (or exchange) and most offer instantaneous track selection with the touch of a single button.
Q: What about “zero gap”… do your digital announcers have that capability?
A:Yes, all of our “Best In Class” units do. If someone starts telling you about their "zero gap" announcer listen closely and you'll learn about an obsolete technology. All current MOH playback devices have the ability to remove the gap since this is a function of how the program is recorded at the studio. Some dealers describe their units as “zero gap”, which means they were designed to remove the silence in a production. With todays tools removing the silence is a 10-second operation for the producer of your audio program. We suspect that their marketing department came up with this “feature” to try and differentiate their product by taking the emphasis off of having a poor sampling rate, limited recording capability or limited warranty. All of our "Best In Class" solutions can play your audio program without any gap at all.
Q: How much does a typical on-hold production cost?
A:There is no such thing as typical to us since every customer is unique. Our services start as low as $169 and range up to about $495 depending upon the voice(s) you choose, the length of the script and MOH program, which is typically between four and eight minutes in length. We have 18 superb voice-actors to select from and offer multi-lingual services. Our most popular packages are described in the “Bargain Basement”.
All of our productions use professional voice-over talent, include script-writing assistance (unless you opt out to save $s), offer you an extensive selection of music from LICENSED libraries and a medley of songs (instead of just one). Here's a good time to visit our Voice-Over Actor's page for a better appreciation of just this one aspect of your program; (i.e. the voice you'll select to represent your company, whether it's for your message-on-hold space, your automated attendant, your upcoming radio spot or any other AUDIO PRODUCTION that you have in mind.) This is among the most important differentiators and a partial clients list is provided to assure you that you will be in very good company.
This is not an area where saving a few dollars makes a lot of sense. (No pun intended.) Just multiply the number of calls that you receive (and also initiate) on a "typical" day by the 250 days you are open for business each year. According to statistics you are going to put a large amount of them on-hold. Is this a corner that's worth cutting? Or should you optimize this time with your clients and prospects with the most professional message possible? Are you looking to provide a warm and fuzzy "I haven't been disconnected" feeling to your callers... or do you want a message that will impact them with quality customer care that can actually be translated into additional revenues?
Q: We would like to upgrade our digital announcer...do you take trade-ins?
A:Generally no, but it really depends on the announcer you are offering us. For example, if you are trading in a 12-15 year old Bogen MMT 34 (or MMT 68) or even their more recent "ProMOH" models we aren't interested because of their VOLATILE MEMORY and use of low quality tapes. They sample at rates that are 64kbps (or less) and utilize "normal bias" tape which is an inferior medium. The Bogen ProMOH series are much better than the MMT units but we no longer offer them. Most older units no longer make any economic sense since they are dwarfed by today's technology, which we offer for as low as $89!
We will be happy to accept used equipment on the condition that: 1) It works... 2) When we sell it for you we will split the gross profit with you 50/50 after our eBay ad and PayPal fees have been subtracted. Otherwise, we suggest selling these yourself... or better yet, donate them to a needy charity for their phone system and take the tax write-off.
Q: How much should we expect to pay to have a digital announcer installed?
A:If you have a complex installation, such as a sophisticated ACD system (Automated Call Distribution), it might take as long as 2-4 hours and cost you hundreds of dollars. Otherwise, for standard on-hold applications you can expect to pay your local service provider between $75 to $150 depending on your location and whether or not you are having any other work done at the same time. (There is always a minimum dispatch expense from your local provider to cover their costs... even if the job will only take a few minutes.)
However, with most on-hold applications we recommend that you try and perform this simple installation yourself since it's so easy and will typically take less than 10-minutes. The hardest part is locating the "music on-hold" (MOH) port in your phone system, which is located in the KSU (Key Service Unit) or PBX (switchboard) equipment. Just check your owners manual under "music on hold port". Think of it as a toaster plus one output connector to the MOH port.
Q: We are considering your Generic On-Hold CD series but have multiple locations. Can we copy that CD ourselves for the other locations?
A:Thank you for asking, but NO. These CDs are licensed for only one business at one location. This includes large campuses, which may have multiple buildings all served by the same switchboard. However, we do have a sliding scale purchase program for multiple locations.
Thank you for considering I.O.S.'s products and services. If there are any questions that remain please feel free to call us at: 1-800-925-9025 or, e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org