Valve have today released a new update for their Steam PC gaming platform that upgrades the in-built voice chat to use the SILK codec developed by the Skype team.
“The SILK codec provides a significant quality improvement over Steam’s previous voice technology, at the cost of some increase in bandwidth usage,” writes the Steam team on the official blog. “Steam Voice used to require 15 kbps of bandwidth, whereas SILK is a dynamic bit rate protocol which varies in its use of bandwidth between 8 and 30 kbps, depending on the range of data in the voice signal and current network conditions.”
Once you’ve updated, you’ll be able to use the SILKy smooth voice chat in both the main client and games that use Steamworks’ voice API, such as Left 4 Dead and the upcoming Portal 2. The update apparently also improves the reliability of voice connections.
The update is available now; if you don’t get it pushed out to you, choose the “Check for Steam client updates” option from the Steam menu to pull it down manually.
Source: Steam blog