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Companding is the process of compression and then expansion. With

companded system, the higher amplitude analog signals are compressed (amplified
less than lower amplitude signals) prior to transmission and then expanded
(amplified more than the lower amplitude signals) in the receiver.
Or we can say For audio analog signals, the amplitude of weak signals is raised
and the amplitude of strong signals is decreased, thereby altering (compressing and
expanding) the dynamic range of the signals. The technique is helpful in improving
the quality of amplified voice and musical instrument sounds. Dolby and dbx noise
reduction also employ companding.

Companding is employed in telephony and other audio applications such as

professional wireless microphones and analog recording

Figure shows the basic process of Compression & Expansion

This diagram shows that the amount of amplifier gain is reduced as the level
of input signal is increased. This keeps the input level to the modulator to a
relatively small dynamic range. At the receiving end of the system, an expanding
system is used to provide additional amplification to the upper end of the output
signal. This recreates the shape of the original input audio signal.
For digital audio signals, companding is used in pulse code modulation
(PCM). The process involves decreasing the number of bits used to record the
strongest (loudest) signals. In the digital file format, companding improves the
signal-to-noise ratio at reduced bit rates. For example, a 16-bit PCM signal may be
converted to an eight-bit ".wav" or ".au" file.

Compression and Expansion of Dynamic Range

The data rate is important in telecommunication because it is directly

proportional to the cost of transmitting the signal. Saving bits is the same as saving
money. Companding is a common technique for reducing the data rate of audio
signals by making the quantization levels unequal. If the quantization levels are
equally spaced, 12 bits must be used to obtain telephone quality speech. However,
only 8 bits are required if the quantization levels are made unequal, matching the
characteristics of human hearing.
The human ear is more sensitive to quantization noise in small signals than
large signals. A-law and m-law coding apply a logarithmic quantization function to
adjust the data resolution in proportion to the level of the input signal. Smaller
signals are represented with greater precision – more data bits – than larger signals.
The result is fewer bits per sample to maintain an audible signal-to-noise ratio







In this experiment, we observed how the CODEC converts the input signals
into PCM code and the effect of companding in the quality of the voice signal. In
the first part of the experiment, we set up a central office with the Telephony
Training System (TTS).
Then, we proceeded to the measurement of the quantization intervals in the
CODEC without companding. We made sure that the address of the TSAC in ALI
A is set to 01 and that the two telephones can establish a connection. We turned off
the companding in the CODECs of the ALI A and B. Then we connected the
oscilloscope probes 1, 2 and 3 to the CODEC analog input, CODEC digital output
and TP17 respectively.
After setting the specific parameters, on the host computer, we set the output
voltage of the DC SOURCE in the ALI A so that the serial PCM code at the
CODEC digital output is 0DH (0000 1101). The DC voltage is 120 mV. Then we
increased the voltage to 270 mV to obtain 1DH (0001 1101). We calculated that
the quantization interval is 9.375 mV. Then we measured the quantization interval
for medium-level and high-level signals by increasing the DC SOURCE voltage
and we observed that the quantization interval remains constant even when the
input voltage is increased.
In the next part of the experiment, we measured the quantization interval of
CODEC with companding. We tested with low-level signals 0DH (0000 1101) and
1DH (0001 1101) and we observed that the quantization interval is low. Then we
measured the quantization interval with medium-level and high-level signals and
we observed that the quantization interval increases as the DC SOURCE voltage is
increased. It varies with the input voltage.
In the last part of the experiment, we observed the effects of the companding
on the quality of voice transmission, we observed that the quality of the voice
signal is high when the companding is on and the quality degrades when
companding is off.
After performing the experiment, I conclude that the when voice signals are
digitized and recovered without companding, the quality of voice transmission is
reduced because the quantization process produces noise in the recovered signal.
The quantization interval is constant even if the voice signals is increased. It causes
the quantization noise level to be constant no matter what the voice signal level is.
When the CODEC operates with companding, the quantization interval
increases with the voice signal’s level. It causes the quantization noise level to
increase with the voice signal level. It results with high and constant S/NQ ratio
and provides good quality voice transmission.
µ-law - a companding law used in North America and Japan.
A-law - a companding law used mainly in Europe.
Bit - is a basic unit of information used in computing and digital communications
CODEC - a device or program that compresses data to enable faster transmission
and decompresses received data.
Companding - a compression and expansion process that improves the overall
signal-to-noise ratio during PCM encoding and decoding
Companding law - a compression and expansion process that improves the overall
signal-tonoise ratio during PCM encoding and decoding a logarithmic relationship
used for companding.
Quantization - the process of converting a sampled amplitude into a numbered level
called a quantum based on the number of bits in the PCM signal.
Digitization - is the process of converting information into a digital (i.e. computer-
readable) format, in which the information is organized into bits.
Pulse-code modulation (PCM) - is a method used to digitally represent
sampled analog signals
Sampling - is the reduction of a continuous-time signal to a discrete-time signal.
Telephone - is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to
conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. A
telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into
electronic signals that are transmitted via cables and other communication channels
to another telephone which reproduces the sound to the receiving user.
Telephony - is the field of technology involving the development, application, and
deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic
transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties.
1. What is the main difference between linear and non-linear quantization?
The quantization noise amplitude remains constant no matter what the value of the
sampled voltage is. This is due to the fact that the quantization is linear, that is, equal
quantization intervals are used throughout the input voltage range.
Non-linear quantization causes the quantization noise to increase proportionally
with the voice signal level, and thereby, greatly helps in maintaining a constant S/NQ ratio
as a function of the voice signal level.
2. Briefly explain why the voice digitization and recovery process introduces quantization noise
in the recovered voice signal.
Quantization process introduces error (noise). The quantization error (or quantization
noise) is the difference between the actual value of the analog signal at the sampling time
and the nearest quantization interval value. The largest (worst) quantization error is half of
the interval. The precision of the digital audio sample is determined by the number of bits
per sample, typically 8 or 16 bits. The quality of the quantization can be measured by the
Signal to Quantization Noise Ratio (SQNR)
3. Complete the following sentence. — Comparing linear quantization to nonlinear quantization
shows that non-linear quantization increases the S/NQ ratio at low voice signal levels, but ...
At the price of a decrease in the S/NQ ratio at high voice signal levels.
4. Referring to the curves in Figure 2-19, determine the improvement in the S/NQ ratio due to
the use of companding, when the relative voice signal level is -30 dB.
The S/NQ increases by 17.5 when non linear quantization is used.
5. Briefly explain why companding is perfectly adapted to voice digitization and recovery in
telephone systems.
In telephone systems, the use of non-linear quantization in the PCM CODEC of the analog
line interfaces is referred to as companding. This name comes from the early
implementations of electronic-type, analog line interfaces. In these interfaces, non-linear
quantization was implemented by compressing the analog voice signal before the A/D
conversion, and expanding the recovered analog signal after the D/A conversion. This is the
technique used in telephone systems to achieve high-quality voice transmission.