Voice Logger

Voice Logger - Understanding how a Voice Logger is set up in multiple environments

The Desktop Voice Logger consists of multiple channels that monitor and store phone conversations. Each channel is one source of conversation. If you were looking to record 1,000 individual office phones, it would take 1,000 channels. The 12 Channel system, the Voice Logger 12, could connect to 12 of those phones. The Voice Logger 24 would be able to 'hold' up to 24 channels in order to connect to 24 phones.

So one channel is one source of conversation. That conversation could be from a particular telephone instrument. If the channel were connected to the audio of your phone on your desk, it would record your incoming and outgoing conversations. Connected means a physical wiring connection from your phone to the Voice Logger. The Voice Logger would not know if the recorded conversation was inbound, outbound or an intercom 'call' from another phone in the system, such as the phone at your reception desk, for example. This capture by the Voice Logger would be a dedicated connection. If it's channel number 1 of the 12 or 24 or 72 channels, depending on the Voice Logger you order, that channel would do nothing other than monitor your phone and, if it was in use, record the time and date you started talking, how long you talked, what you heard and said during the conversation, etc.

If your phone is in use, and your phone is connected to channel number 1 on your Voice Logger, then the recording will capture what you hear and say. However, if instead of a channel being dedicated to a particular phone, the Voice Logger were connected to a standard telephone line, then the calls on that line would be recorded, regardless of which phone handset user was talking on the line. In other words, let us say that instead of there being 1,000 phones in an office, there were only 50. Yet out of the 50 phones, the manager of the office wanted to only record incoming and outgoing calls on a particular phone line, then the set up of the Voice Logger would not be concerned with physically connecting to each phone base unit or handset.

So in another example, if the manager of a bank wanted to record the funds transfer department phone calls, the Voice Logger could be set up to record the phone line or specific phone handsets used for all incoming and outgoing calls related to funds transfers, by direct connection of one assigned channel to each phone (or phone line) that handles funds transfers.

If the bank had 6 phones in the funds transfer department, they would use 6 channels on those 6 phones. However, if it is a bank funds transfer department and they had specific telephone lines that are used for funds transfers, instead of connecting the channel to a phone instrument, it can connect to a telephone line and it would monitor that line regardless of who was using it.

In this example, the Voice Logger would simply record. Although it would not have any information on the phone line as to which phone in the building it was recording, it would simply know if that line was in use and it would record from the time it went off hook, what the phone user heard and said until the call was hung up. If it were a regular phone line with Caller ID and touch-tone digits, then the Voice Logger would also be able to capture the number it came from, if it was provided in Caller ID format, instead of an "unavailable" or "no data sent" type of format.

And on out-bound calls, the Voice Logger would have the DTMF touch tone digits (the number you dialed) stored in memory. Why is this important to mention monitoring a phone line instead of a phone instrument? Instead of monitoring a phone instrument, you are getting what they hear and say either on the handset or head set, yet you would not have the Caller ID in the format that gets to the phone system like you would if you were monitoring the actual phone line that the call took place on. It might show up on the display in the phone systems proprietary signaling, but it wouldn't be on the audio segment of the phone's handset.

Likewise, with most digital phone systems, when you dial, you hear tones in the earpiece, but every tone sounds the same when you tap the buttons. It simply lets you know that you hit the buttons but there is no information in those tones as to which number you hit. So if a channel is on a phone instrument that the Voice Logger is monitoring, such as the audio of the phone dedicated to that phone, then the Voice Logger would not record unless there is a conversation on that particular phone.

If a channel is connected to a standard phone line (not addressing VOIP lines or T1 or digital data coming into a phone system), but standard phone lines, then the channel is recording the particular hair wires it is connected to.

The audio recording feature begins and ends by sensing the drop in phone voltage on the line. When you pick up a phone, the phone line voltage is altered, just as when you hang up a phone, the voltage returns to on hook voltage. This change in voltage is what activates the Voice Logger to start and stop recording.

The Voice Logger would not know who used the line. It would merely record the line. Also, anybody that has access to the recordings, if you're recording phone lines, has access to all conversations on that line regardless of which phone used it.

In some small businesses, the boss wants everything recorded, such as a Taxi company for example. Say a Taxi company has 6 lines coming in, but only need to record incoming calls from customers. They do not need to record all lines, yet quite often they want supervisors or agents to be able to play conversations without stumbling across a conversation from the accounting office, or the upper management phone calls.

In this type of scenario, it is a matter of what Voice Logger requirement is required for the setup. One channel of the Voice Logger can record either a particular telephone instrument, if it's connected to the audio of the instrument, or a particular phone line if it's connected to a standard phone line. In this situation, we are not talking about multiple digital circuits. This particular setup could involve, say, a Desktop Voice Logger that would have anywhere from 4 to 24 channels, and say, 4 channel increments.

So in this instance, the number of channels as well as the number of phones or phone lines could range. The Voice Logger could monitor between 4 and 24 depending on which system was ordered. What would the Voice Logger look like? Well if the job requires a 4 channel Voice Logger, then the system would have connection jacks in the back to connect the four sources of conversation.

On the other hand, a 24 channel unit would have connection jacks for 24 channels. If someone had a 12 channel unit, for instance, and they wanted more channels, then because the system is scalable, the Voice Logger could be opened up and the user would be able to drop in a circuit card to bring it up to 4, 8 or 12 more channels. Is that hard to do? It is similar to adding memory to a computer. It involves an understanding of where to plug in the hardware, and from an IT / Telecom standpoint, it is fairly straightforward. From this point of view, the system is the same unit whether it has 4 or 24 channels with the exception of what channel cards are operating inside of it.

Note: It is less expensive, of course, to have a card for 4 channels then it would be to have two 12 channel cards in order to expand the system to be capable of recording up to 24 channels. But it would not be correct to say a 4 channel unit or even a 72 channel unit could record conversations on 1,000 phones (something asked about Voice Loggers most often).

It could be that a 1 channel unit (if there were a 1 channel unit because Voice Loggers start at 4 channels) , was connected to a particular phone line, it would record that line regardless of how many phone instruments were able to access that line in the building. But normally you do not have dozens or hundreds of phones connected to the same phone line. Normally, if they have that many phones, they have more than one phone line. If they wanted to record everything, they would have to connect to all of the lines.

Also, most places that have more than 10 or 20 lines may have some proprietary digital signaling that the Desktop Voice Logger is not going to recognize, such as a TI, VO1, or VOIP. In those instances, the Digital Voice Logger would have to be custom ordered for digital VOIP lines. It should also be noted that the manager may not require everything to be recorded at all times, because more often, they are looking for a particular conversation. They are more apt to know who handled the call than which of 20 lines happen to be used. And they want to go to a particular agent's call and they want to record only the phones that handle the conversations that need to be recorded.

However, in most cases, the Voice Logger set up is is one channel per phone, and it connects with the audio of a particular phone and if they have an idea of the approximate time and date and who handled it, they search to go right to the conversation. They can also give access to an agent, just to see and play the conversations on their phones, for reasons such as the need to clear up a phone number or credit card number, or something they may have incorrectly noted without having access to conversations on other channels. From the vantage point of security, the exception of who gets to review calls of that nature can be left in the hands of a supervisor. Most notably, about 90% of the applications per telephone are connected to one channel, one phone.

And in smaller cases, the Voice Logger will be connected to the actual phone lines. So it all boils down to the Digital Voice Logger set up.

Regarding the Voice Logger and its recording technology, the Desktop and Rack Mounted systems are basically the same in terms of their set up, be it through a cable that plugs into the phone line or an adapter that connects to an instrument. Even if there is one phone number, in reality there may be one number that you call but there are sure to be more than one phone line at the site, also known as a roll-over. If there are 100 phones, they might have 48 phone lines. Each phone line actually has a separate number that probably nobody knows, meaning, it is not common knowledge to know more than the primary phone number. It is just that if someone calls in on the primary line, say line 1, and at that moment, if nobody else has called in, then the call comes in on the first line that might be the published number that they dialed.

If that number is busy, then it rolls over and comes in on a second line that has it's own number. Note: There is no reason to know what that number (the rolled over number to the 2nd line) is. If you know what it is, you could call it and it would always come in on that line. but it would roll over so if they did have 100 phones and 48 phone lines, and you wanted to record everything, you would either have to have a channel of a the Voice Logging recorder dedicated to each of the 100 phones and connect to each phone or connected to each of the 48 phone lines that could have conversations. So inherent here is the idea that the set up of the Voice Logger is not the number, it is the number of lines that they have coming in. The number of simultaneous circuits that could be used.

The point here, is that a phone number is kind of misleading, as it is not simply a single line home phone that associates the line with the phone equipment on that line. The point is that one must know how many circuits they have that could be used. For instance, a Voice Logging system for hotel recording is something that is extremely rare to do. Number one, customers might be upset if you were recording phone lines regardless of where they are being used, if they consent to having their personal conversations recorded, and other logistical details. It is like having a security camera in every hotel room. However, hotels routinely record reservation areas where the people have dedicated phones are handling reservations just like airlines do, and they all dedicate a channel to a particular phone.

The only time you go to phone lines for most businesses is where they may have lots of lines coming in for routine conversation recording, but they have dedicated numbers, such as hospital emergency rooms that have a phone number that bypasses the switchboard and goes directly to the emergency room when the paramedics call in. You would record that line but note that it is a separate line for a specific purpose, not a regular line. Sometimes they have a dedicated number so you may call in on the regular number for a particular reason, as back to the case of recording calls in a bank's funds transfer department. Should a call be meant for a funds transfer reason, for example, the bank officer would not conference the call with the funds transfer department, but for security reasons, they would tell the caller to call back on the funds transfer line (the dedicated number) even though there may be a roll over to connect to that funds transfer department.

There may be four different numbers from the main number, plus 3 different roll-overs so there could be 4 simultaneous conversations on that number and approximately 4 channels to record, but the Digital Voice Recorder would be recording the calls coming in that are dedicated to the funds transfer department regardless of who the phone system switches it to. If they call in on the funds transfer line, the call is recorded.

And back to the example of an airline, some major airlines may have hundreds of numbers and they will record agents regardless of which line they are using for the scheduling, they also have lines for employees to call in to check if they have a run for them or to get their orders of what their schedule is that they will record individually. But there are dedicated, separate numbers just for a particular department. So it is very rare to have lots of lines and record everything at all times.

Say you managed a call center, that has 70 agents handling sales calls, or collection calls, or surveys. You would record on a per instrument basis how many phones and / or how many agents. You could record calls with the ability to find a call by a specific agent. If you had 70 agents and they all used at the same time a hundred phone lines, and those 70 agents are all working at 2:00 in the afternoon and you want to find a call that Agent 23 had at 2:00, you would go to Voice Recorder if it is recording a hundred phone lines on a hundred channels and you might have to search a hundred conversations to find the one for that agent and there would be no way to know if it is the agent without listening to it.

Yet if you had a channel connected to that agents phone, you could go directly to that agent, see the conversations around 2:00, then might have to click on one or two conversations if you were exactly sure when the call took place, like 5 minutes before or 5 minutes after. But the point is that assigning one channel per phone has its benefits, and assigning one channel per line also has its benefits.

If that channel is connected to the audio of a particular phone or one channel per line, not phone number but actual circuits that could be used for the conversation that needs to be recorded, such as a roll over line, then you would be able to figure out how many channels were required in your Voice Logger Set Up. And, you would need to have standard POTS (plain old telephone service) line to record on a phone line not a T1 or TRI where it's multiple circuits on a digital screen coming into the phone systems.

So in most cases it is one channel per instrument, and the Desktop Voice Logger does just that up from between 4 and 24 channels or instruments. And in other cases, the Rack Mounted Voice Logger is available between 4 and 72 channels or instruments or phone lines, but it is extremely rare to have standard phone lines coming in when they have more than 10 or 12 lines. In those cases, it would be normal they bump up to a 24 line circuit for PRI (Primary Rate Interface - used by large telecom centers with ISDN lines) but it doesn't have a pair of wires for each line to connect to. In instances where these larger recording volumes need to take place, the MX Voice Logger series is deployed to handle higher recording loads.

In this scenario, the cost is around 4 or 5 times more, and the Voice Recording Logging System is more involved for install. That means the MX Voice Logger series is not a plug and play set up. Now if you were going to connect with T1s or a VOIP phone system and that system does not have lines or audio, you can still connect to the instruments with a larger patch or we can have audio at the instrument regardless of if the phone system requires a 3LM series supervisory adapter or a 2A1 series adaptor for systems that do not have side-tones on the ear piece. . . This involves just taking off the audio at the instrument to record. Now there are VOIP phone systems, particularly from Cisco, that are quite active. So with those active applications, the MX Voice logger series would be recommended, which are specially ordered, and are installed by the same people that install the phone system because the phone system has to be capable of mirroring the packets of data to a recorder. In other words, you do not just connect the Recorder to a VOIP system and record all the phone lines going on. The phone system has to have special security and capability requirements met. And most VOIP phone systems tell the customers if they are not putting the recorder in, then it is not capable of interfacing. And if they say they will install it, and they do not set it up properly, it is extremely hard and expensive to confirm if they are mirroring the package properly (if the set up is correct).

So unless you are the servicing provider phone vendor, it is difficult to purchase and install the direct VOIP or MX Series. The Standard Desktop Voice Logger is plug and play, and it is easy to tell if something is not working properly, where the fault is, but you are connecting either to standard phone lines or to audio through telephone instruments on one channel per source.

It gets confusing if you are not a phone telecom guy and attempt to connect to your phone system. But it is relatively simple if you keep it where you are connecting to a channel phone instrument, because you know there is audio on the instrument. When ordering the Voice Logger, desktop or rack mounted, note that the adapters do not come with the voice recorder because there are so many varieties of adapters depending on how or where they will be connected.

For example, the most popular one is the 3LM as it is a modular adapter. If you say you have a channel in a Voice logger that you want to record the phone on your desk, the item, the 3LM, installs on the phone by momentarily unplugging the coiled handset cord. It is a 10 inch cord from a little block plugged into the jack on the phone, and that cord goes to the block that clips onto the phone or on the back. It has a jack to plug the handset or headset back into, and simply passes the wires through so you do not have to go inside of the phone or get involved in the phone system in any way. It will pass off the audio going to the hand set or head set and has a molded in 25 ft cord.

The user cannot unplug the cord, nor should they. The other end either plugs into the Voice Logger's channel or gets extended to it so that channel is recording what they hear and say on the phone. There are a small number of phones, probably less than 1% or 2%, that one of the inexpensive adapters we make available, will literally just capture the signal off of the ear piece.

And if you rub the mouth piece, you may hear a little bit of your own voice in your earpiece. This is called side tone or talk back. The adapter records off the audio that is on the earpiece. This employees a nice, high sensitivity feature, which is enough to drive the speaker. The earpiece has better balance, meaning both sides are more equal then you would have across the standard phone lines, where the distant side would be weaker than your side. Also, the recorder helps to take care of that but it is very good sound quality, and almost too good to be true even with the digital phones, that you can just tap off there and record regardless of what they do with the phone systems, software or hardware.

However, there is a small percentage of the phones from Nortel and Cisco that do not have side tones. If you were talking without side tone, it would be like you have the hand set with it unplugged, and it would not sound natural. You could not tell if you are disconnected. But, if it does not have side tones, the Trio M  adapter is only going to give the recorder the distant side of the conversation. If it is anything at all from the microphone side, then an alternative would be a 2A1 series adapter. This hooks up the same way, yet it is about 1/3 of an inch larger, has lots of micro-electronics that picks up the microphone near side of the conversation, (with audio separately), amplifies the sound, and combines it.

There is a couple of recess screw driver adjustments to balance it out, if needed. It also has a nice high level output, sometimes used if you are using more than a high level 100 ft distance to the actual recorder (Voice Logger). You can always tap off the audio at the phone, you can always connect to standard phone lines, there are trade offs using both methods.

With digital phone systems, you do not have any touch-tone information, you do not know the number somebody dialed that may be independently available in the call accounting software of the phone system (the phone software may keep track of everything, if they have that option built in). So from the phone equipment connection view, you record the audio, the time and date, you know which phone. On a standard phone line, you record the audio of that line regardless of who is using it, you have any Caller ID or touch tone information but you may not know who is using the line and you do not be able to record internal conversations.

While you can have digital phone systems where one phone intercoms to another phone, the Voice Logger may not be using the phone line that the caller is on. Therefore, it would be recorded on the phone line not going to record the conversation. If they dial their own number, then get switched to someone, then the call will be recorded but the Voice Loggers do not change or have any effect on how the phone system works. They simply record the audio on whatever channel it is connected to and, of course, the time and date and how long they talked and anything else that is there but in most cases, better than 95% even, the channels are used one channel for one phone.

It is very rare for the Voice Logger series to be used in large, 911 state-wide systems. For those types of systems, the MX Series Voice Loggers are used. There, very large call centers as used for banking and financial brokerage firm management have literally hundreds of agents that must have their calls recorded.

In addition to Voice Logger setup for phones, there also remains Voice Logger setup for radio channels. Some emergency dispatch crews, coast guard stations, fleet vehicle users, as well as taxi and limousine services use radio communications to keep in touch with their central offices. For communication management, they too must record their one and two way broadcasts. So in place of phone instruments per channel, the Voice Logger line can also connect to different channels that originate from the audio of two-way radios.

So with a Fire dispatch, they might have a couple of hot lines or phone lines coming from a 911 center to the Fire Department, for example. If the calls get transferred to them, they record directly. Yet they might have a phone or two in dispatch that has all the lines of a larger Fire Department but they do not record the lines that they use in the office of upper management or break rooms or personal calls taken in other places. So in instances of that type, they are not recorded but the setup of a Voice Logger there will include a dedicated couple of channels to the phone dispatch, in which they may have a phone that they do not want to record at all times.

And to accommodate those types of Voice Logger setup scenarios (where a particular phone should be either off limits, or manually set to record,) there is an FLM adapter that has box with a rocker switch, that says auto-record on/off. If the want to connect the phone to one of the channels of the recorder and have it switched by the phone, then they can disable recordings for personal calls or to monitor someone if permitted when dealing with a security issue. Yet you can still have channels that are connected to the audio from a two way radio.

For someone to monitor the audio on a handset, there are wires for a particular channel to be connected to the audio of a radio so whenever there is something coming through in the receiver or being transmitted, then that channel records it to the Voice Logger. Addition details can be found out, such as when the user signed on the scene, when they were dispatched or what is on their radio. Each channel is totally independent of the others and whether a channel or multiple channels are recording or not has no bearing on the unit automatically storing, backing up the CD/DVD, or its built-in drive.  

Who can access those radio or telecom calls? Someone with authorization at the unit, playing a call back, searching for data, or somebody or multiple people on a local network being able to remotely access the calls if they have a valid password. They can search, store, play, copy, email and so forth.  There are no licensing requirements with this Voice Logger, no per seat basis. It is usable with the software that comes with it.

You can also download from the web and put it on as many PCs as you want. They can are on the network so you can log in and see the calls. There is a kind of limit to prevent congestion, so if there are more than 10 or 15 people logged in simultaneously, there is nothing to stop the unit from continuing to operate on this type of remote basis, yet it could have an effect and cause a slowdown on your network connections. Effects can be a slow playback, where what would normally take seconds to transfer an hour of conversation in a couple of seconds can now take up to 2 minutes. This could happen if too many people are logged in at the same time.