UC Toolkit Part 2: Audio Tools

Author
William Bell
Vice President, Solutions and Products

Background

The audio tools I use came to mind when I was looking at my notes for a UCCX project I did a few months ago. Yeah, I do look at notes and deliverables from previous projects. Don’t ask me why. Anyway, I realized after looking on Cisco Support Community that there are a lot of folks who are asking for tools they can use to create ring tones or UCCX prompts. Well, I have been using a couple of audio tools for several years with great success and now is as good a time as any to highlight them.

Before going into the tools, lets do a quick primer on the audio formats you need to navigate in Ciscoland.

Audio Formats for Cisco UC Applications

There are several Cisco UC apps that allow administrators to create custom audio formats.

Application Format Sample Rate Sample Size Notes and Considerations                   
CME/CUCM
ring tones
PCM Raw
(no header)
8kHz 8 bit Max ring size: 1,6080 samples
Min ring size: 240 samples
Note: # of samples should be evenly divisible by 240
Note: Ring should start/end at zero crossing
CUCM MoH 16-bit PCM wav
8-bit CCIT a-/u-law
Stereo and mono formats supported
In later versions of CUCM, mp3 is no longer supported
CUCM converts accepted formats to various modulations
that IPVMS can use.
Unity/CUC CCIT u-law
(mono)
8kHz 8 bit Media Master can be used to record or upload media
Greeting Administrator (CUGA) can be used to record prompts from TUI
UCCX CCIT u-law
(mono)
8kHz 8 bit Can use a custom CRS script to create prompts.

The Tools
Ok, let’s get to it shall we? I primarily use two tools in my “audio toolkit”: Audacity and Switch.
Audacity
Audacity is a free audio editor and recorder that has been around since 2000. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and GNU/Linux platforms. Audacity has a pretty robust set of features for a free application. You can see a list of features here. The latest release is available on sourceforge (Audacity Download). I currently use Audacity 1.3 beta on Mac OS X. I also have Audacity 1.2.6 on my Windows VM. The 1.3 beta has crashed on me once or twice but the interface has a number of enhancements that definitely make it worthwhile.

So, how do I use this tool? I will say this now. I don’t use the tool to its fullest extent! I use only a fraction of its capabilities. That being said, some of the tasks I lean on Audacity for are:

[Click on one of the following to see a step-by-step walkthrough.]

You could also use it to create prompts for other applications or do things like convert mp3 files for use with Music On Hold.
Switch Sound File Converter

Switch Sound File Converter (Switch) is an audio file conversion utility from NCH Software. There is a free trial version of the software available. You can also purchase a full feature license. I found that I only need the free version for my menial tasks. They do have versions that run on Mac and Windows. I have both installed but I have had to rely on the Windows version for use with Cisco audio file formats. I can’t specify CCIT u-law format in the Mac trial version. On Windows I have used version 2.0(3) and on Mac I have used version 4.0(6).

So, how do I use this tool? Well, I have only had to use this tool for one specific purpose: Bulk converting UCCX prompts. Switch can batch process any number of files, converting them from whatever source format they have to a format used by your application.

Conclusion
It isn’t surprising that a Cisco UC engineer needs to deal with things like audio prompts, ring tones, music on hold, etc. I have always had to tweak some audio file in some way. I have found that with Audacity and Switch I have all of my bases covered.

2 responses to “UC Toolkit Part 2: Audio Tools

  1. This is a very interesting & useful series. I am looking forward to future posts on the UC Toolkit.

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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.

 

Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.

 

John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.