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  • Using voice chat

    Jeremy Linden


    This article describes Second Life's voice chat 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 potential issues with feedback or disruptive echoes.

    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 is 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

    Second Life has a special region set up for testing voice chat --  Voice Echo Canyon. When you want to test your voice chat and check how you sound, teleport to Voice Echo Canyon and start talking. Whatever you say there will be repeated back to you on a slight delay so you can test the quality of your voice. No one else will hear anything that you're saying, so it's an easy and private way to troubleshoot your voice chat's sound.

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

    To check whether the land you are on is voice enabled, choose World > Place Profile.  This window shows On next to Voice if the parcel has voice enabled.

    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, potentially causing distortion or clipping.

    Important: If the voice intensity indicator turns 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 Conversations window

    Click the Chat button to display the Conversations 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 Conversations window
    2. Click Info_Over.png.
    3. Use the slider to set their volume.

    Blocking people

    Block someone to silence their voice chat, instant messages (IMs) and text chat: Right-click their avatar choose BlockAlternatively, right-click the Resident's name in the the Conversations window to block them.  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 in voice chat.  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 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 are calling sees a pop-up asking if they want to accept your call.   If they do so, your private conversation starts.  If not, then you are returned to nearby voice chat.

    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 FRIENDS tab, Ctrl-click on the people to whom you wish to talk.
    3. Right click on the selected people and choose Voice 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 GROUPS tab.
    3. Double-click the name of a group.  A new window opens.
    4. Click Call.

    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.  


    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 alternate viewers may not include 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.
      • This may apply to other VoIP (Voice over IP) apps as well, so if you're having problems, it's worth closing those programs while you're testing for issues.
    • Make sure that your computer has a microphone enabled and that it can receive sounds.
    • 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.
      5. Click Voice Input/Output devices and confirm that the Input is set to a microphone that your computer recognizes and can hear.
        • You can also adjust your Mic Volume in this section, if others say that you sound too quiet.
    • Ensure the estate you are 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 whether your headset or mic has a mute switch and it is off -- many headset microphones have a mute switch that's easy to accidentally toggle. 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. Choose Communicate > Voice morphing > Preview from the top menu bar to open the Voice Morphing Preview window.
    2. Click Record then speak a sample phrase into your microphone.  The Record button turns into a Stop button.
    3. Click Stop.
    4. 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

    Premium and Premium Plus members

    Premium member voice morph kiosk

    Voice morphs are available as a Premium and Premium Plus member perk at no extra charge. To activate your voice morph perk, visit the Premium Voice Morphing region and select your preferred voice morph pack by clicking on the pillar in front of the sign. 

    ⚠️ If you see a green L$ button on the pillar, do not click it! You might be in the non-Premium voice morph region, Voice Island. The Premium Voice Morph vendors do not have a green button; all morphs are available in the Premium Morph Services region at no Linden dollar cost.

    You'll receive a link in your viewer's Chat window asking you to click to activate the new voice morphs in your viewer. Once you've clicked, your viewer will send a message confirming that you have new voice morphs available.

    Premium Voice Morph - Refresh Link.png


    Non-Premium members




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

    1. Choose Communicate > Voice morphing > Subscribe to open your web browser to: https://secondlife.com/destination/voice-island.
    2. In your web browser, click Teleport to teleport to Voice Island.
    3. Find a voice morph vendor that contains a voice morph you like.  Be sure to preview each voice morph before subscribing, as described above.
    4. Click the vendor.

     How to use a voice morph

    1. Choose a voice morph from Communicate > Voice morphing.
    2. When transmitting, your voice is now altered by the selected voice morph.




    Edited by Maggie Linden
    Premium Plus update

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