It seems so simple. I just want to be able to receive calls on my computer using my headset. I also listen to music on my computer all day long, though, and I use the speakers for that. I don't want the headset plugged in all day, because Windows automatically switches everything over to the headset when it gets plugged in, so if I keep the headset plugged in I'll have to listen to my music (not to mention all my other system sounds and alerts) through them instead of the speakers. I want to be able to hear or see that my phone is ringing, then plug in the headset, and then answer the call using the headset.
Finally, VOIP provider sipgate got some more phone numbers (they had run out!), and I snagged one (I think it's in California, because there are no Oklahoma numbers yet, but that doesn't matter to me). I downloaded the sipgate softphone software and got it all installed and set up. I saw that I could set my USB headset as the default audio device... awesome!
So I got everything set up right, tested it (success! A crystal-clear phone call on my headset!), and then unplugged my headset and got back to my regularly scheduled work. And that's when the problem happened.
The next time I received a call, I heard it ring... on my PC speakers! No problem, I thought... I can plug in the headset real quick. After all, my other software switches over automatically when the headset is plugged in. Some of it (like Rhapsody, for example) doesn't switch until a certain point (Rhapsody will continue to play the song it's playing through the speakers, but when the next song comes on, it comes on the headset), but they always switch.
Not sipgate! The only way sipgate will work with the headset, it seems, is if the headset is plugged in both when I start up the software, and when the call initially rings. If the headset isn't plugged in on the first ring, no luck. It won't even switch when you actually answer the call; presumably the software keeps the audio device open the whole time, from first ring to the call is terminated.
Now, when the headset is unplugged from the machine, it automatically disappears from the Control Panel "Sounds and Audio Devices" applet's Audio tab selectors, so if the headset is the default device (which it is on this machine), it is the default device only when it is plugged in... when it is disconnected, another device ("SoundMAX HD Audio" - my speakers) automatically becomes the default, which means when I'm ready to get on Skype or WebEx, I just plug the headset in and I'm ready to go. But just to experiment, I plugged in the headset and then opened up Sounds and Audio Devices from Windows Control Panel and automatically set up SoundMAX HD Audio as the default Windows device. Then I made sure the Logitech headset was the default device in sipgate settings. My music was coming through the speakers (the default device), but, in theory, sipgate should use the headset, as configured on the settings page.
Guess what happened? My calls went to the speakers! The setting in sipgate was not honored at all. I would accept having the computer speakers as the default output and having to switch other software manually from time to time, but the sipgate softphone apparently doesn't allow me that option. I even tried out some software called "Virtual Audio Cable" which I was hoping would allow me to intercept traffic coming from sipgate and send it directly to the sound card, but I'm pretty sure even it won't do that for me... or if it will, it would be an advanced configuration of some kind, and I don't have the time to explore it in enough depth to figure that out.
For the record, the sound quality of sipgate seems very good. The features of the service look impressive. I could definitely see myself using it on an ongoing basis... I could even see someone using it as a kind of voice mail-only drop box that was never even used for outgoing calls. If my company ever starts looking for a PBX in the cloud, I'll definitely throw their name into the hat (assuming they obtain some Oklahoma numbers before then, or make it possible to port over existing numbers). Presumably, sipgate works exceptionally well with hardware VOIP phones (that seems to be a core of their business). But they're not making it easy for poor little me, with nothing but the softphone and a USB headset.
9 months ago