There’s full-duplex, and then there’s FULL-duplex.

Here’s a note sent by Response Point hardware partner, Clearone.

By Mark G. Child

It seems to me there is a fair amount of confusion out there surrounding the term “full-duplex.” And since we’re the audio experts, I thought an attempt to clear things up a bit was in order.

First of all, some technical definitions:

Duplex: A duplex communications system is composed of two connected parties or devices which can communicate with one another in both directions (e.g., telephone). Radio and TV broadcasts are an example of communications systems that do NOT need duplex capabilities.

Half-duplex: A half-duplex system allows communication in both directions, but only one at a time—not simultaneously. A “walkie-talkie” is an example of a half-duplex system, since the listener must wait for the speaker to finish transmitting before he or she can begin speaking.

Full-duplex: A full-duplex system allows communication in both directions, simultaneously. Land line telephone networks are full-duplex, since both callers can talk and be heard at the same time.

Have you ever had a conference call where you and several other participants all huddled around a speakerphone and tried to have a meaningful conversation? You strained to hear the far side of the conversation; you had to yell to be heard. And, when someone tried to speak, the far side caller couldn’t hear you because she started to speak at the same time, and so you both talked in fits and spurts. Sound familiar?

Aside from a desire for good audio quality, full-duplex communication is a worthy goal, since this allows more natural conversations to take place. If the audio equipment you are using is not full-duplex, the microphones won’t pick up your voice if the person on the other end of the call is speaking. And this problem is compounded when both callers are using speakerphones, making it very frustrating to those trying to bring up new points or add to the conversation.

So, when is full-duplex not really FULL-duplex? Many speakerphones claim to provide full-duplex technology. Unfortunately, since their main job is not conferencing, they may actually perform at a level that is closer to half-duplex, or like our walkie-talkie example. Most telephone users spend a vast majority of their time on the phone speaking into the handset. However, once the speakerphone is activated, the device’s conferencing shortcomings soon become apparent.

Enter the experts. A conferencing phone is purpose-built, containing the high-performance technologies that will deliver a hands-free call that is as close to the participants being in the same room as possible. By combining state-of-the art acoustic echo cancellation with full-duplex performance, a good conference phone can give call participants crystal-clear audio without listener fatigue. And after all, isn’t effective communication the whole point?

ClearOne has been designing and building the best audio conferencing equipment for over 20 years and is recognized as the experts in the field. The MAX IP Response Point tabletop conference phone is the industry’s first—and only—conference phone for Microsoft’s Response Point phone system. And fortunately, just because it’s the best conference phone on the market doesn’t mean it’s expensive. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.