Mumble - Group Voice Chat for Online Gaming

Clear Audio Quality and Free Client and Server Apps

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Mumble is a VoIP based chat tool group online group communication, but designed mainly for online gaming. There is no service behind Mumble, it is only a software tool offered for free, unlike some other online gaming VoIP apps. What makes it different is that it is open source, runs on nearly all modern operating systems and is very light and easy to use. Mumble is a good gaming chat tool that is comparable to TeamSpeak and Ventrilo, and even better than them to certain tastes.

Pros

  • Open source software, and therefore free.
  • Low latency, high quality voice and echo cancellation.
  • Runs on Windows, Mac OS and most distributions of Linux.
  • Free unlimited server software available, called Murmur.
  • Good authentication and encryption.

Cons

  • Requires some technical skills, especially configuration with the server.
  • Very basic interface.

Review

Mumble is one of the best online gaming chat tools and group communication tools out there, according to gamers themselves. The best thing about it is that it is free, both for the client app and the server app, which is called Murmur.

Mumble excels in voice quality. That’s because it has some technical things working inside that others do not have. Firstly, there is an echo cancellation mechanism in the system. It also has low latency, which makes things better for your ears, your connection and your computer memory. It contains some high end codecs like Speex, which contributes a lot to its superior sound quality. Speex also takes care of echo cancellation.

Although Mumble has a very basic interface that is not impressive, it does have a good set of interesting features. You can, for instance, use the in-game overlay that shows you who in the game is talking, and positional audio, that lets you sense the voice being directed from the character in the game’s virtual environment. You can also change the sound settings to fit your bandwidth and other parameters.

Mumble uses authentication, which includes codes and keys at a higher level, rather than password protection, as used by other apps of this kind. Encryption is enforced on all voice data.

What does Mumble require as resources? Nothing much. The bandwidth it requires turns around 20 kbps which is relatively light. It also is a light running app and is not hungry on memory and processor resources. The installation binary bundle that contains both the client and server software isn’t bulkier than 18 MB.

How does it work? You, and all other members of your group, need to have a client app (Mumble app) on your computers, which are connected to a server (running Murmur, the server app). You get both for free, but one inconvenience in getting the server app running yourself is the list of hardware requisites for running a server – having the computer on 24/7, controlling access, high bandwidth, security etc. You may alternatively choose to rent one of those host services offering Murmur service for gamers, in order to get a better group communication experience. They are very cheap, cheaper than those of TeamSpeak and Ventrilo. Some are even free. You just need to make a good search for them. You can start with this wiki list of Mumble Server Hosters.

To get started using Mumble on Windows is quite easy. You have an installation file downloadable from there, which contains both the client and server installation. This makes installation a breeze. For Mac OS and Linux, things are slightly more complex, but if you are using Linux, you must have readied yourself for such challenges.

Note as well that Mumble also exists for the iPhone and the Nokia phone running Maemo, which is Linux based.