Using voice chat

Started ‎02-24-2011 by
Modified ‎03-19-2012 by

Using voice chat

This article describes Second Life's voice features and how to use them.

Prerequisites and setup

To use voice chat you need a:

  • Computer that fulfills the System Requirements.
  • Broadband (DSL or cable) connection to the Internet.
  • Headset (strongly recommended), or a microphone and speakers for your computer. Using earphones avoids annoying echoes of your own voice.

Configuring device settings

Your device settings determine the microphone and speakers that Second Life uses. To configure  your device settings:

  1. Choose Me Preferences.
  2. Click the Sound & Media tab.
  3. Click the Input/Output devices button.
  4. Click the Input dropdown to select a device for your microphone
  5. Click the Output dropdown to select a device for your speakers.

In some cases, you may need to exit and restart the Second Life Viewer.

If you prefer, you can change the default input and output devices on your operating system.  See your operating system documentation for more information.

Technical requirements

Voice requires at least 32kbps upload and 64kbps download bandwidth, regardless of the number of speakers.

UDP ports 5060 or 5062 must be open. For information on using voice behind a firewall, see Configuring your firewall.

Enabling and disabling voice

By default, voice is enabled in the Second Life Viewer.  To turn it off:

  1. Choose Me Preferences.
  2. Click the Sound & Media tab.
  3. Deselect Enabled next to Voice Chat

Voice will be disabled immediately, and all of the voice settings will be grayed out.  This means you can't hear anyone talking nor be heard yourself.

Testing voice

Teleport to Voice Echo Canyon and start talking. Whatever you say there will be repeated back to you so you can test the quality of your voice.

Overview of voice in Second Life

There are the following types of voice chat in Second Life:

  • Nearby voice chat among people in close proximity inworld.  See Nearby voice chat.
  • Individual voice chat (also called a voice call), a private conversation between two people.  See Individual voice chat.
  • Group voice chat among members of a Second Life group.  See Group voice chat.  See Group voice chat.
Important: You can only participate in one type of voice chat at a time. For example: If you're talking to people around you in spatial chat and then start an individual chat, you won't be able to hear those around you anymore in spatial chat, nor will they hear you. 

Voice-enabled land

voice enabled1.jpgTo use  voice, the land you are on must be voice-enabled.   If the land you're on does not have voice enabled, the Speak button will be dimmed and you can't click it.

To check if the land you are on is voice enabled, choose World > Place Profile.  This window will show On next to Voice if the parcel has voice enabled, as shown at right.

Voice dots

Voice-enabled avatars have white "voice dots" floating above their heads (including your own). 

Green or red waves radiating from the voice dot indicate someone is speaking. This is the voice intensity indicator, and also indicates their volume: green indicates the volume is within normal range; red indicates the volume is too loud (causing distortion or clipping).

Important: If the voice intensity indicators turn red, then either:

  • You're speaking too loudly.
  • The microphone is too close to your mouth.
  • Your microphone's volume control is turned up too far.

Adjust these things until the voice indicator stays green when you speak and seldom flickers to red.

Using toggle-to-speak mode

In toggle-to-speak mode, you turn and off your voice chat microphone by pressing a certain key. To configure toggle-to-speak:

  1. Select Me > Preferences > Sound & Media.
  2. Select Toggle speak on/off when I press.
  3. Click Set Key. A popup prompts you to Press a key to set your Speak button.
  4. Press the desired key and click Set Key.
  5. Click OK to save your changes.

Now pressing that key toggles the microphone on or off.

The VOICE SETTINGS window

Click voice settings icon1.jpg to display the VOICE SETTINGS window that displays the people in your current chat, either spatial, group or individual chat.   People who are talking are shown at the top of the list.  To control the speaker's volume:

  1. Mouse over their name in the VOICE SETTINGS window
  2. Click Info_Over.png.
  3. Use the slider to set their volume.

You can also engage voice morphing from the VOICE SETTINGS window.  Click Voice Morphing Off and then  select a voice morph.  See Using voice morphing for more information.

Blocking people

Block someone to silence their voice chat, instant messages (IMs) and text chat: Right-click their avatar choose BlockAlternatively, use the VOICE SETTINGS window to block someone.  This should always be your first step if someone inworld is irritating, attacking, or griefing you.

For more information, see Blocking.

Speech gestures

Second Life speech gestures are animations that automatically play as you are speaking.  The speech gestures are randomly selected from nine different animations in your Library's Gestures folder, based on the intensity of your voice. There are sets of gestures for low, medium, and high-intensity speech volumes.

  • To enable speech gestures, drag the folder labeled "Speech Gestures" from your Library on to your avatar.
  • To disable them, right-click the Speech Gestures folder and select Take Off Items.

For more information on gestures, see Gestures and animations.

Nearby voice chat

Nearby voice chat is when you are talking to someone you can see inworld.  It is sometimes referred to as spatial voice chat.  If you're on voice-enabled land, simply walk up to another voice-enabled avatar and click on the Speak button at the bottom of the Viewer window to talk to them.

When others speak, you see their intensity indicators and hear their voices as they hear yours. As you walk around someone speaking, you'll hear their voice move around in 3D. For example, if you turn toward someone and move closer, for example, his or her voice grows louder. 

Volume and camera position

By default in nearby voice chat, a speaker's volume depends on how far the avatar is from your camera's position. For example, if you walk up to someone who is speaking, their voice becomes louder. As you move away, the voice becomes softer, until you can't hear it at all.

Use the camera controls (Alt-mouse zooming, for example) to create a momentary "audio focus" on a given speaker. This is helpful to pick a voice out of a crowd of talking avatars without moving.

You can set whether to listen from your avatar's position or your camera's position as follows:

  1. Choose Me > Preferences > Sound & Media
  2. Click Listen from: Camera position to listen from the camera position.
  3. Click Listen from: Avatar position to listen from your avatar's position.
  4. Click OK.

Listening distance

The listening distance for nearby voice chat depends on a preference setting.  You can hear voice chat up to 60 meters from your listening position. Therefore, if you selected :

  • Listen from: Avatar position, you can hear voice chat up to 60 meters away.
  • Listen from: Camera position,  you can hear voice chat from up to 110 meters away (because your camera can be up to 50 meters from your avatar, plus 60 meters from your camera).

Group voice chat and indivdual voice calls have no distance limitations.

Controlling speakers' volume

To adjust the volume of people in nearby chat:

  1. Mouse over their avatar
  2. Click  Info_Over.png.
  3. Adjust the slider at the bottom of the window or click on the speaker icon to turn off someone's speaking volume altogether.

Alternatively, you can control volume using the VOICE SETTINGS window as explained below.

Individual voice chat

You can talk to another person directly, no matter where you are inworld. This is sometimes referred to as a private call or private voice chat.

If you're using IM to talk to someone and they have voice enabled, you can click Call to initiate a individucal voice chat session.

To start a individual voice chat session with a friend:

  1. Click People button1.jpg at the bottom of the Second Life window. The PEOPLE window opens.
  2. In the NEARBY or MY FRIENDS tab, mouse over the person to whom you wish to talk.
  3. Double-click on their name.
  4. In the window that opens, click Call
  5. A pop-up advises you that you'll be leaving nearby voice chat; meanwhile the person you're calling will see a pop-up asking if they want to accept your call.   If they do so, your private conversation will start.  If not, then you'll be returned to nearby voice.

Ad hoc conference call

An ad hoc conference call is a private conversation among a set of people you choose.  They don't have to be your friends or in a group.  To start an ad hoc call:

  1. Click People button1.jpg at the bottom of the Second Life window. The PEOPLE window opens.
  2. In the NEARBY or MY FRIENDS tab, Ctrl-click on the people to whom you wish to talk.
  3. Right click on the selected people and choose Call.

An ad hoc group conference starts among the people you chose.

Group voice chat

To start a voice chat session with a group:

  1. Click People button1.jpg at the bottom of the Second Life window. The PEOPLE window opens.
  2. Click the MY GROUPS tab.
  3. Double-click the name of a group.  A new window opens.
  4. Click Call Group.

In general, when you're talking to a group, the window works exactly like it does for nearby chat.  It:

  • Displays a list of everyone in the group who's talking or typing
  • Tracks the volume of individual speakers
  • Displays the group text chat history
  • Offers individual volume and mute controls

Voice settings for landowners

Voice is available by default across all of Second Life, but you must be on land that has voice enabled and with other Residents who have voice enabled.  

As a landowner, you can enable or disable voice for a single parcel and for an entire estate.  To use voice, it must be enabled for both the estate and the parcel you are in.

How to enable or disable voice

To enable or disable voice for a parcel you own:

  1. Stand on the parcel.
  2. Right-click the ground and select About Land or choose World > About land.
  3. Click the SOUND tab.
  4. Select (or deselect) Enable Voice.
  5. To restrict voice to the parcel, select Restrict voice to this parcel; those outside the parcel won't be able to hear those in the parcel talking.

To enable or disable voice for a whole estate you own or control:

  1. Go to a region within the estate.
  2. Choose World Region/Estate.
  3. Click the Estate tab.
  4. Select (or deselect) Allow Voice Chat.

Maturity ratings and voice

If you are in an Adult region, you can speak in nearby voice chat only with other Residents who are also in Adult regions.  See Maturity ratings for more information.  

Troubleshooting

If you are having voice issues, check the following: 

  • Make sure you've downloaded and are using a Second Life Viewer that has voice chat. Voice is part of the standard Second Life Viewer, but some unsupported alternate viewers exclude it.
  • Make sure  Skype isn't running. Even if you're not engaged in a Skype call, having Skype open can affect your audio settings.
  • Check your Viewer preferences:
    1. Choose Me > Preferences.
    2. Click the Sound & Media tab.
    3. Make sure the Enabled checkbox next to Voice Chat is selected.
    4. Check that the Voice Chat slider is at a good level (it's halfway by default) and not muted.
  • Ensure the estate you're on is voice-enabled:
    1. Click World > Region / Estate.
    2. Click the Estate tab.
    3. Check that Allow Voice Chat is selected.
  • Ensure the parcel you're on is also voice-enabled:
    1. Click World > About Land Place Profile.
    2. Make sure Voice is On.

If your volume works but some people can't hear you, your microphone:

  • May be too far away.
  • May not be working properly.
  • Settings may be incorrect or have changed for some reason.

If you've followed all these steps and voice still doesn't work, make sure your headset and/or microphone are set up properly as detailed above. Also check if your headset or mic has a mute switch and it is off. The same goes for mute settings on your computer.

Reducing background noise

To reduce background noise when using voice chat:

  • Use the toggle-to-speak feature. By only "transmitting" when you have something to say, you won't inadvertently broadcast any ambient noise or side-conversations happening around you.
  • Make sure the room you're in is as quiet as reasonably possible: close doors to noisy rooms, turn down loud music and ask your friends and colleagues to quiet down. No amount of noise-cancellation will filter out a wild party!
  • Get a computer headset with a noise-canceling microphone.  Using a headset ensures that you won't transmit the sounds made by your computer's speakers, and a noise-canceling microphone can filter out unwanted ambient noise from your surroundings when you speak.

Voice morphing

Voice morphing transforms your natural voice into something bigger, smaller, bolder, or completely different. As you speak, the technology seamlessly modifies the pitch, speed, tone, and other key attributes of your voice. Depending on which morph you choose, the effect can be subtle or quite dramatic. Since the system is not a text-to-voice synthesizer but instead builds on your own voice, you can continue to speak naturally into your microphone while your new, morphed voice is heard inworld.

How to preview a voice morph

Voice Morphing.png

You can preview what your voice will sound like with any of the available morphs before you decide to subscribe to a Morph Pack:

  1. Click voice settings icon1.jpg to display the VOICE SETTINGS window.
  2. Click Voice Morphing Off.
  3. Click Preview Voice Morphing.  The VOICE MORPHING window opens
  4. Click Record then speak a sample phrase into your microphone.
  5. Click Stop.
  6. Click the name of a voice morph in the list to hear your sample phrase under the influence of that morph.

 

How to get voice morphs

Voice morphs are available exclusively in themed Morph Packs. You can subscribe to a Morph Pack in 30-day increments by paying a scripted vendor object inworld:

  1. In the VOICE MORPHING window, click Subscribe Now to open your web browser to:http://secondlife.com/landing/voicemorphing.
  2. In your web browser, click Teleport to Voice Island.
  3. In the PLACES window, click Teleport.
  4. Find a voice morph vendor that contains a voice morph you like.  Be sure to preview each voice morph before subscribing, as described above.
  5. Click the vendor. Then click the L$ amount in the Pay Resident window to confirm your 30-day subscription.

 How to use a voice morph

  1. Click the up arrow next to the Speak button to open the NEARBY CHAT window.
  2. Choose a voice morph from the dropdown list below your name.
  3. When transmitting, your voice is now altered by the selected voice morph.

Image:Choose a voice morph.png

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