What isAcoustic Coupler

Acoustic Coupler

Have you ever heard of an acoustic coupler? It’s a device used to send and receive data over a telephone line by using sound instead of electrical signals. Acoustic couplers were used in the early days of the internet when traditional modems weren’t always practical. Nowadays, they are primarily used in countries with less advanced telecommunications networks and in devices used by the deaf to make telephone calls.

How Does an Acoustic Coupler Work?

An acoustic coupler is simple to use. A standard telephone handset is placed in a cradle that has rubber gaskets which fits around the handset’s microphone and earpiece. The microphone then acts as a speaker while a microphone in the earcup picks up sounds from the speaker. Signals are transmitted in both directions using this method. The first device of this type was the Acoustic Data Coupler 300 modem which had a speed of only 300 bits per second (bps). This was considered very slow compared to today’s standard of 28,800 bps.

The phone industry eventually deregulated and electric connection to the telephone network became legal. Therefore, acoustic couplers became increasingly rare. However, they’re still utilized today while traveling to countries where electronic connections to the telephone network are illegal, impossible, or impractical.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is an acoustic coupler modem?

An acoustic coupler modem is a device that enables you to connect your computer to the internet via a phone line by using sound signals. The modem’s rubber-cupped microphone and speaker headsets fit onto the telephone’s receiver, creating a direct connection to the phone line.

Can acoustic couplers still be used?

While it’s unlikely that you’ll see an acoustic coupler used in developed areas with advanced telecommunications networks, they can still be used in countries with less developed networks and areas where electronic connections to the phone network are illegal.


Acoustic Couplers were very popular in the early years of internet connection when electrical connections weren’t practical. Nowadays, their use is limited, but they are still found in some countries and by some people with hearing disabilities for telephone communication.

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