Connectix QuickCam Audio

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Connectix QuickCam Audio

What about the audio problems I'm hearing about?

On 13 Dec 1994 Thom Hogan ( said:

We have tried to duplicate QuickCam/CU-SeeMe audio problems in house and have not been able to. I have been led to believe there are two limitations: (1) CU-SeeMe is using audio input drivers that do not look at QuickTime device input (thus making the QuickCam microphone an incompatible device); and (2) CU-SeeMe doesn't always do audio when the data transmission rate is 14.4 kbps or less. I have no way of confirming (1) other than to believe Cornell's responses to users, and we have not been able to confirm (2) other than by anecdote. In every test I've tried here, audio has worked just fine, both using the Apple's mic and using QuickCam's mic.

We believe that any of the reported problems are due to the way CU-SeeMe is coded or user error, not to any problem with QuickCam's software. If there is a lingering QuickCam problem, we'd very much like to know how to duplicate it so we can fix it.

The issue of coding to the QuickTime 'vdig' interface seems to catch everyone by surprise (other than Adobe and a few others), despite being thoroughly documented by Apple in books that are available at most any bookstore. Apple's TV Tuner (supplied with the 630) doesn't correctly support multiple vdigs; when you go tune in CNN you get QuickCam instead! This is the second problem we've found where Apple engineers haven't read their own documentation.

As for whether any of this is news: I'm not convinced there is a problem. Have YOU [meaning msattler] ever had any audio problems using CU-SeeMe and QuickCam? At least one of the messages I've received indicating a problem was corrected when I explained CU-SeeMe's very strange (and non-standard) Press to Talk interface. [I blush. I forgot that I had push-to-talk turned on and wondered why nothing was happening despite my screaming at my PowerBook. My co-workers had a good time wondering when I'd gone around the bend.]

Whereupon on 16 Dec 1994 I said:

Having heard mutterings back and forth about broken audio when using the Connectix QuickCam and CU-SeeMe, I set out to beat the bushes. Let me begin by quoting the CU-SeeMe readme (CU-SeeMe0.70.README.11.30.txt):

***Now Hear This*** (and tell your friends):

If you are not hearing audio, and you're connecting via modem, this subtle warning may explain your woes. Don't ask me why it doesn't work, I'm not part of the CU-SeeMe team. The team knows about this problem; some team members have been nice enough to keep me up-to-date.

If you're using some other network connection method (ISDN, direct) and you're experiencing audio problems with this combination, please send a detailed bug report to, as they've been unable to reproduce the problem.

In a somewhat related note, the CU-SeeMe team is working with Maven's author, and the QuickCam product manager has said to me "We'd be more than happy to work with Charlie (we've never interacted previously) to resolve the problem. We believe it to be at the CU-SeeMe end, but are continuing to do testing and bug hunting at our end." Thom, Charley. Charley, Thom.

Connectix is also looking at technical issues like "Apple's sound channel can only be used by one application at a time. If an application doesn't let go of it because it thinks it is in operation, other apps will get no sound. We continue to look at these problems...."

That is all.

Of course that's not all: on 19 Dec 1994 Larry Chace added:

To everyone on our e-mail list who hasn't already heard this:

CU-SeeMe currently supports audio input ONLY if you have a Macintosh with a built-in audio input facility. That is, you must be able to plug your microphone directly into the back of your Mac. If you can't (because you don't have a Macintosh or your Mac doesn't have an audio input jack), then CU-SeeMe will NOT (should I repeat that word?) support audio input.

Therefore, the following are typical devices that will NOT currently support audio input:

  1. Mac IIci (no built-in audio input)
  2. the MacRecorder (it is not Macintosh built-in audio)
  3. the QuickCam (it is not Macintosh built-in audio)
  4. any Windows machine (it is not a Machintosh)
  5. a 1964 Chevrolet.
  6. etc.

The appropriate folks ARE working on getting non-built-in audio input working for the Macintosh versions of CU-SeeMe. The appropriate persons ARE working on audio input and audio output for Windows. We don't know when any of those projects will be complete.

It is sad that the Connectix folks tested their QuickCam with a very early version of CU-SeeMe (before non-built-in audio-in got broken!) and not with the more current ones, and it is sad that their manual nevertheless says that the QuickCam *does* work with CU-SeeMe, but all that is water over the bridge (or something similar)!

Apologies to those who have already figured this out. Apologies also for stating that replies go to this entire list by default; that is not the case, since Dick Cogger specifically set it up to do "reply to sender". (That means that any "private conversations" on this list are being sent on purpose!!!)

Now, don't get me started on trying to do "real" audio and video at 9600 Kbaud, 14.4 Kbaud, 19.2 Kbaud, etc.........

Happy Holidays!

Have you found errors nontrivial or marginal, factual, analytical and illogical, arithmetical, temporal, or even typographical? Please let me know; drop me email. Thanks!

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