Steam Gets Voice Chat Upgrade

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



  1. I’ll just stick with using Skype in the background as I play Dark Crusade or Dawn of War 2, easier for me :)

  2. Can’t wait until TSA have an article saying “PS3 gets Voice Chat feature” “/

    • Shall be a glorious day!

    • …it does have voice chat?

      • I think that they mean ‘proper’ voice chat – i.e. you can carry on chatting as you drop in and out of games or other apps.

    • Keep on dreaming

  3. I luffs Steam. Just got the deluxe ed of Mass Effect 2 as I’m nearly finished on ME1, and got suckered into getting Batman Arkham Asylum GOTY for £3.75 too.

    • That’s not being suckered – That’s simply being persuaded to pick up a great game at a great price! Enjoy!! :)

  4. I was kinda hoping for a built in Skype client. I don’t actually use Skype but I bet I would if it was built into Steam, I’ve always got that thing open.

  5. Sony, please take note. :)

  6. Great news as it was nasty beforehand. Sadly, I wonder if they’ve still left the voice volume (of your team-mates) linked to your game volume. If so, they get drowned out most of the time. :-\

    • Pretty sure that’s dependent on game. Valve’s for example have “voice volume” separate from game and SFX in the options.

  7. What pads do you guys use with Steam?

    • Keyboard and mouse, but I’m trying to get my old SIXAXIS to work with the likes of Red Faction Guerilla and GTAIV.

      • Red Faction was surprisingly fine with K&M. Only the driving really suffered but the benefits for gun-play far outweighed it, I feel.

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