VoIP software allows you to communicate efficiently with groups of people using various input devices, like gaming headsets. Where various VoIP applications differ is in the tools they offer and their inherent latency. Comprehensive administration tools help you create and manage chat servers for gaming. The inherent latency is determined by the codecs the VoIP software uses and other protocol considerations.
Let's take a look at some of the most prominent VoIP applications, discuss their merits and flaws, and help you figure out which one is the best. We'll consider Mumble and TeamSpeak 3. These VoIP applications differ in the services they offer and in the way they handle voice transmission. One method may lend itself more to your needs than another.
Mumble is an open-source VoIP application. What that means is you get the software for free. Finding a server to host your group's communication isn't always free, but you can find very cheap services. Mumble is fairly easy to use, but if you're new to VoIP software, then it can take a while to figure things out. For most people and situations, Mumble is often the best choice.
What makes Mumble nice is its accessibility. It gives you a plethora of streamlined and automated features, making the barrier to entry low and initial setup minimal. For example, Mumble automatically handles normalization, noise filtering and echo cancellation. With other VoIP software, you often have to set these up individually, which can be a convoluted process.
You can take advantage of the APIs that Mumble uses to see information about your voice chat in-game. For example, with World of Warcraft, the Mumble overlay will visually indicate when someone in your chat server is speaking and whether anyone is muted. This is useful at-a-glance information that ensures you're hearing everything you need to hear.
One of the most exciting features that Mumble offers is positional audio. Through plugins, when someone speaks to you on Mumble, you hear their voice coming from the direction of their in-game avatar. It may sound like a small thing, but this increases the immersion in your game experience immensely.
Mumble has repeatedly demonstrated surprisingly low latency compared to TeamSpeak 3 and other VoIP software. When latency matters, Mumble is your best bet. This VoIP software is able to achieve such low latency thanks, in part, to the CELT audio codec to compress audio.
TeamSpeak has been around in one form or another for a very long time. TeamSpeak 3 was built from the ground up to be one of the best VoIP applications for gamers. TeamSpeak does not offer server hosting, but it does have authorized host providers. The price for a server varies quite a bit depending on location, so take a look and determine what best fits your needs.
With TeamSpeak 3's user interface, you can open up tabs, just as with modern web browsers. You can connect to a different server in each tab, which gives you the opportunity to do some impressive multitasking. For each server you're connected to, you can just participate, or you can be in several servers doing administration work.
While TeamSpeak 3's 3D sound isn't quite as impressive as Mumble's positional audio, it's still a useful feature. Essentially, it allows you to determine where you want audio sources to originate, and it takes advantage of 5.1- and 7.1-channel systems. This works especially well if you have a primary speaker addressing a group of listeners.
With some communication solutions, file sharing can be a pain, because you have to deal with FTP and make sure your firewall is properly configured. TeamSpeak 3 simplifies the file-sharing process by allowing you to upload files directly to the server. Once on the server, they're stored in a folder tree that makes organization easy.
Compared to Mumble, there is a noticeable lag between speaking and being heard when you use TeamSpeak 3. While it isn't terrible, the latency is something to think about. Especially when in the middle of a raid or team fight, you want to be heard immediately. TeamSpeak 3's latency is still better than many other VoIP applications.
Mumble offers better latency and an intuitive user interface. It also automates many of the processes that affect audio quality, making it easy to achieve clear audio. TeamSpeak 3 gives you more fine-grained tools for administration purposes and lends itself well to handling large numbers of people. However, it generally has worse latency than Mumble. Mumble and TeamSpeak 3 are both great choices, but they have their strengths and weaknesses.