Free voice chat programs for your games

By Fredrik Olsson 05-09-15 08:05

Index
Introduction
Voice Chat - What you need
About the test
Tested Voice Chat Programs
Review of the programs
Conclusion
Voice Chat Glossary

Introduction
There is a jungle of voice chatting programs or VoIP programs as it is also called, this voice chat program comparison helps you select which of the free voice chat programs that best suits your needs and gives you an overview of the more popular ones.
Although all programs tested here are free, some charge for extra services, those are listed here.

Imaging how much easier it would be to voice chat in Warcraft, Quake, Unreal or whatever game that rocks your world at the moment. Think of all the extra frags and additional mana potions you could consume by not having to stop to write! Mindboggling =)


Voice Chat - What you need
To get started, you need a microphone, a voice chat program and of course speakers or headphones. Some webcameras have a built in microphone, but if you dont have a microphone and don't need a webcam, I would recommend getting a headset. You might find something you like in this headset review on tomshardware:
Headsets Gamers Can Love >>

Your soundcard also need to support full-duplex mode, this means it should be able to record and play back audio at the same time. Most soundcards support this feature today. You can test by recording while playing back a wave file or mp3.

About the test
The programs were tested in Warcraft 3, Quake 3 and in Soldier of Fortune 2. On two computers both with 1mbit internet connection.

Computer 1:
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2800+
Ram: 1024MB
Soundcard: SoundBlaster Live
Microphone: Shure C606 handheld microphone

Computer 2:
CPU: Intel Pentium 3 Ghz
Ram: 1024MB
Soundcard: SoundBlaster Live
Microphone: Steel Sound 5H


Tested Voice Chat Programs
Skype - Instant messanger providing voice chat functionality.
Ventrilo - Voice chat room program in two parts, server / client.
TeamSpeak 2 - Voice chat room program in two parts, server / client.
Roger Wilco - Voice chat room server / client.
Skipped:
ICQ - Only two users may chat, Skype is better for voice chatting.
MSN - Only two users can chat in MSN messenger too.



Review of the programs

Skype

    Instant messanger providing voice chat functionality.

    Installation (10/10)
    Very easy installation.
    1) Select a skype name, email adress and password.

    Usage (10/10)
    1) Add friends by searching for their name under Tools->Add a contact.
    2) Click on a person to start a voice chat.

    Voice quality (9/10)
    This is the best quality of the programs that were tested.

    What's free
    Free voice chat and all features.
    Possibility to call regular phones at a low rate.

    Summary A very easy voice chat program, just install and talk, good voice quality. The only downside is that you need another program if you wanna talk more than five at a time.

    Score:

    Download Skype >>

Ventrilo

    Voice chat room program in two parts, server / client.

    Installation (6/10)
    Client and server are separate.
    1) Install server.
    2) Start server and get your ip address. Configuration of the server is though the DOS command prompt.
    3) Install Client.
    4) Select a name after starting the client name->new->type in name.
    5) Add a server by typing in the ip adress and a name for it.

    Usage (8/10)
    1) Get the ip for the server and send to your friends.
    2) Clients need to type in the ip and set a name for the server to join, however for static ip numbers this only need to be done once.

    Voice quality (8/10)
    The audio quality is really good.

    What's free
    Free voice chat and server.
    Cost for more than 8 users, price is not shown on their homepage.

    Summary A nice VoIP program, installing was pretty painless even though you need both Server and Client, good voice quality.

    Score:

    Download Ventrilo >>

TeamSpeak 2

    Voice chat room program in two parts, server / client.

    Installation (7/10)
    Client and server are separate.
    1) Install server.
    2) Start the server and you will see login & passwords for the admin interface. Save this information, if you forget it you can recover teamspeaks server password in the server log-file, located in the TeamSpeak directory. You will need it to access the web interface server setup
    3) Install client and codecs.
    4) Click on the TS client icon in the quick launch bar to open the client. Then click "connection->quick connect" and fill out a name and the servers IP address to connect.
    5) Toggle voice activation, push-to-talk and setup your recording preferences in "settings->sound input/output settings".

    Usage (8/10)
    1) Get the ip for the server by righ clicking the server icon in the quick launch bar and selecting "your IP's", then send it to your friends.
    2) Clients need to type in the IP either through quick connect or by adding the server to the address book under "connect".

    Voice quality (7/10)
    A bit robotic, you can select many different codecs though, some are a bit better.

    What's free
    Free voice chat and server.
    Commercial version is required if you wanna rent out TeamSpeak servers for profit.

    Summary Good functions, like whisper (talk to some users only) and record raises the final score for TeamSpeak.

    Score:

    Download TeamSpeak 2 >>

Roger Wilco

    Voice chat room server / client.

    Installation (2/10)
    Too many things to fill in and setup.
    1) Two forms of personal information required to be filled in.
    2) Test full-duplex, select method of recording, select sound driver, select record driver, choose connection speed, set CPU usage, set transmit key.
    3) You can now change from push-to-talk to voice activated in the transmit-menu.

    Usage (8/10)
    1) Push Channel->Create to create a channel to talk in.
    2) Send your IP address, shown when starting a new channel, to your friends.
    3) Push Channel->Create to create a channel to talk in.

    Voice quality (6/10)
    Audio sounds a bit soapy when broadband set to ADSL.

    What's free
    Free voice chat.
    GameSpy subscription $4.95 / month for unlocking exclusive features in all 3 of GameSpy's software products (Roger Wilco, GameSpy Arcade and GameSpy 3D

    Summary
    Need you to fill out a lot of personal information when you install it. Requires you to setup a whole bunch of options

    Score:

    Download Roger Wilco >>



Conclusion
Skype takes home the first prize, thanks to its ease of use and a outstanding voice quality that you don't even have to configure! The downside is the 5 people limit in VoIP conferences.

If you want to talk more than five people or like to configure stuff, Ventrilo and TeamSpeak 2 shares the throne. I find the record conversation feature in TeamSpeak 2 to be pretty cool.

My setup: I use almost entirely Skype, it's so damn easy and let's me focus on gaming instead of configuring codecs and devices. If more than five people need to chat, I start up a TeamSpeak 2 server, but Ventrilo would probably work just as good.

Best overall
1stSkype Download Skype >>
2ndVentrilo Download Ventrilo >>
2ndTeamSpeak 2 Download TeamSpeak 2 >>
3rdRoger Roger Wilco Download Roger Wilco >>

Best installation
1stSkype
2ndTeamSpeak 2

Best usability
1stSkype
2ndVentrilo, TeamSpeak 2, Roger Wilco

Best voice quality
1stSkype
2ndVentrilo



Voice Chat Glossary

  • VoIP = Short for Voice over IP, the technique of sending audio over an IP network, such as the Internet.

  • Voice Chat = Another name for Voice over IP.

  • IM = Instant Messenger, a program for communicating usually in form of short text-messages, but many include voice chatting functionality in some form today.

  • Push-To-Talk = Speach is only sent when you are pushing a button, kind of like a walkie-talkie.

  • Voice Activated = Speach is automatically sent when you make some noise.

  • IP Address = Identifies your computer when connected to internet or a local network. Some voice chat programs require you to know the IP of the voice chat server. Click here to see your IP Address >>

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