Are you on the hunt for a low-latency voice chat and recording software for groups? Mumble is a popular, open-source voice-over-IP (VOIP) solution that can intelligently differentiate between voice and background noise, making for a very clean sound. Many gamers and podcasters use Mumble.
Generally speaking, the name “Mumble” refers to either the Mumble protocol or a Mumble client application, while “Murmur” refers to the actual server component on which a group chat is running. Today I’m going to walk you through (A) using the Mumble client to connect to an existing Murmur instance, and (B) hosting your own chat room with Murmur. If you’re only interested in setting up the server, skip ahead.
Why Use Mumble Instead of Ventrilo, Skype, or TeamSpeak?
Mumble simply offers a better balance of low latency and sound quality than other popular VOIP software. Mumble has significantly lower audio latency than both Ventrilo and Skype, and the sound quality, which uses the open-source CELT codec, is higher than theirs as well. Mumble also uses positional audio, so output will be properly distributed among your surround-sound speakers. See this informative video for more information.
Using the Mumble Client
To connect to a group chat that already exists somewhere in Internetland, all you need is a Mumble client. You can get a third-party client (such as Cmumble, a command-line client for Linux), or you can go the traditional route and get the official Mumble client. Mumble runs on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.
When you run the client for the first time, a set-up wizard will walk you through some steps to optimize your sonic experience:
You can click “Cancel” at any time to abort the wizard and fall back to using default settings, but I’ll cover all the steps here.
The wizard will first prompt you to choose your audio devices. In most cases, you can leave the defaults selected, but you’ll probably want to change them if you’re using an external microphone and/or speakers.
Next, the wizard will play a sample voice recording and ask you to adjust your latency. Set it as low as you can without hearing jitter.
The next step will show you an animated volume bar. Make sure your microphone is turned on. Following the instructions the wizard gives you, speak into the microphone and adjust your system audio settings to ensure that as you speak, the volume bar stays as high as possible in the blue and green zone without entering the red zone.
Next, adjust the slider to help Mumble differentiate between your speech and any noises in the background.
Following that, the wizard will ask you to adjust your quality settings and decide if you want to use text-to-speech (TTS) or notification sounds for your chat notifications.
The next step tests your positional audio playback with an interactive graph. The tiny green box represents a moving sound source; you can click and drag to move it yourself. This part is just a test and doesn’t change anything.
Once you’ve finished the audio wizard, a certificate wizard will open up. If you don’t understand what this is for, I recommend selecting “Automatic certificate creation.”
After that, Mumble will prompt you to connect to a server. It will show you a list of public servers in your area along with the number of users on each one.
One friendly server you can check out is OpenSpeak.cc, which hosts many open source projects and podcasts. There are usually people hanging out in the Lounge channel that you can talk to. To join OpenSpeak, click “Add New…”
Enter any label you want along with the server information. These are my connection settings for OpenSpeak:
Hit “Connect,” accept the security certificate, and you’ll be on the server. Double-click on any room or sub-room to join it.
If all you wanted to do was use the Mumble client, you’re set! To host your own group chat, keep reading.
Download and install the Murmur server. You can find it in most Linux repositories.
The full instructions for configuring and running Murmur are on Sourceforge; I’ll just walk you through a basic example configuration for Linux.
Murmur’s settings are saved in the file “murmur.ini”. In Linux, this file is located in the directory “/etc/murmur”. Open it in a text editor.
gksu gedit /etc/murmur/murmur.ini
I recommend that you uncomment and fill out the lines that start with these phrases:
welcometext= #What your visitors will see when they enter your room port= #You can leave it at the default, 64738, if you want to serverpassword= #This MUST be uncommented and empty if you want your server to be publicly accessible users= #Maximum number of concurrent clients you will allow registerName= #The name of your server registerPassword= #Set a password here if you left serverpassword blank registerURL= #Put your website, blog, or whatever here
Save the file and run this command to set a superuser password:
murmurd -ini /etc/murmur/murmur.ini -supw [insert a password here]
To start the Murmur server at any time, run:
The last thing to do is set up port forwarding, opening up a port on your router or firewall to allow incoming connections from outside your local area network (LAN). In most cases, this is pretty simple. You can find instructions for your router at PortForward. The port to forward is the one you set in murmur.ini – probably 64738, unless you changed it.
This example shows my port forwarding settings for a Netgear router, where “Server IP Address” is my static LAN IP:
Once that’s set up, you and anyone else with a Mumble client can connect to your server! Just add a custom server like we did with the OpenSpeak example earlier, but fill out the “Address” field with your IP address and the “Port” field with your port.
When it’s all said and done, here’s what my channel looked like when I connected to it from another computer: