Microsoft Upping Xbox 360 Online Voice Chat Quality

One problem with the Xbox 360’s online play is it’s often difficult to determine exactly which swear words, racial slurs and homophobic epithets the teenager on the other end spews after you off him in Modern Warfare 2. Aware of the problem, Microsoft says it will upgrade the quality of the sound that pumps through your headset.

Eurogamer reports Microsoft will use a Fall firmware update to upgrade the infrastructure that determines voice quality, wiping out much of the static and distortion that drags down the current voice chat.

If you game on Xbox Live, what do you make of the sound quality?

Xbox headset sound quality to improve [via Destructoid]


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  1. grucifer says:

    I forget what my friends who live far away actually sound like so when I (rarely) get to see them I freak out and punch them in the face because they don’t sound the same in person.

    Is that solid enough an explanation for how I feel about the current XBL voice codec?

    • buckeyegoose says:

      Agreed, and while were at it, how about improving when games merge, then fail, thus causing the team ahead to lose. Biggest issue with MW2 when a host is migrated 75% of them fail, and says connection closed, when 5% away from winning.

  2. agent 47 says:

    Xbox Live is the worst. I’ve stopped using my headset. Does anyone want to buy a wireless headset?

  3. Bluth_Cornballer says:

    The only time I use my headset is when playing with people I actually know. If I want to listen to a bunch of teens swear like drunken sailors, I’ll just watch Jersey Shore.

  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I’ve been playing lots of Monday Night Combat, a game that requires a degree of teamwork and communication. I go into a new room, and most times NOBODY is talking. It’s creepy. Then when someone does, they have nothing of value to say. Just complaining about stuff,or cursing, or yelling at someone in their house.

  5. Preyfar says:

    Ahh, great. Nothing more than I love than a kid screaming, calling me a “n***er jew fag” because I missed a shot and apparently my life is “fail” and I need to “die in a fire”. Now in stunning high definition.

    Frankly, I mute most mic comments now in most games. The level of maturity on the 360 is ghastly. I’d sad the PS3 would be better, but I doubt it. The reason it’s so bad on the 360 is you get a free headset with every console.

  6. SonarTech52 says:

    PS3 voice is pretty good… Just sayin..

  7. daveinva says:

    When Xbox Live first came out (the *first* Xbox), I signed up a whole slew of friends, used my headseat constantly, really enjoyed playing with groups, etc.

    That was, what, ten years ago now?

    With my 360, I hardly ever use the headseat. In fact, the only time I ever do is when I need to yell at someone for doing something insanely stupid that ruined my game. Otherwise, I don’t even bother– half the group is made up of stoners, racists (of all colors), and children who I would hit upside the head if they ever used that language in public.

    Seriously, on the latter, I know a few months back there was a big to-do about requiring people’s real names in online fora. I don’t agree with that, but when it comes to Xbox Live, I think that anyone under the age of 18 should have to put *their parents* name on the account. I’ve lost track of the times I wanted to call these snot-nosed shits parents and be like, “WTF are you letting your child play this game at midnight on a school night, cursing up a storm and calling random people the N-word… WTF is wrong with you?!?”


    Anyway, good players don’t use the headsets anymore. Unless you’re with good friends, it’s pointless, especially in FPS games– there is NO coordination, no tactical finesse, nothing. You just leave the headset off, hop into the game, and *hope* that some sort of “psychic connection” can be established through gameplay to make it worth your while.

    • c!tizen says:

      +1 on the kids comment.

      I always picture these kids in a trailer with a drunk dad passed out on the front “porch” and the mom frying up spam in dirty frying pan with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and an infant clinging to her waist getting splashed with grease.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      LOL,,,per your first para I do the same thing. I hardly use my headset unless someone does something such as in COD that causes me to lose points or gain any ground for my team. I never really cared about the quality and I never really considered online gaming conversation like a one-on-one conversation quality as though you guys were in my living room. I could care less. And what this article does not take into account is that some gamers are using secondary devices that have an awful computer-tone, strange automated tone that isn’t Xbox’s fault. In my case, for $50.00 I bought a nice Turtle headset four years ago that is extremely solid and with a nice mic, but I can’t use it. The microphone causes a constant feedback and buzz and my other teammates tell me that unless I turn it off, I am out of the game. I’ve tried turning down the vol to almost zero but it doesn’t help. It’s not Xbox’s fault. Just a worthless purchase.

  8. c!tizen says:

    Awesome, now I can clearly understand the 8 year old on the other end tell me how he’s going to rape my mother while he tea-bags my rotting corpse!

  9. FilthyMonkey says:

    Well speaking strictly to sound quality, it’s not horrible. I think the bigger issue is the random missing/dropping of sound to only certain players. There have been numerous occasions where you’ll hear one side of a convo drop in and out during a game.

  10. t-spoon says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. I play a lot of Left 4 Dead, which pretty much requires use of the headset. I almost always have a difficult time hearing people clearly.

  11. jefeloco says:

    I use an aftermarket 5.1 headset that can handle voice and it does a pretty good job of sounding awesome, when I actually plug the controller into it. I usually just have the cable plugged into the controller to trip the “headset output” for voice and then leave it unplugged from the mixing unit. The lone exception is when I am playing friends/family and then I set the chat options in the party to “party chat.”

    I got sick of racial epithets being slathered about by anyone under the age of 15 (seemingly 95% of the xbl scene). I do love having to plug it in to tell people to stop attacking our own m-com in bad company 2, it just makes my day to see dumb asses hitting the thing we’re trying to defend with ‘nades.

  12. RxDude says:

    “We’ve upped our voice quality, so up yours!”

  13. ZekeDMS says:

    I can’t wait to hear people mouthbreathing into my ear with a new crystal clarity, then shouting epithets when I ask them to switch the microphone off when they’re not talking.

    Microsoft needs to split their rating systems. One rating for game behavior, one for voice behavior. I’d expect a hell of a lot of 5-1 splits.

  14. Right On says:

    I sometimes have a hard time understanding people that don’t have their headsets right in front of their mouths, so maybe this will do a better job of filtering noise from voice. I’ve also noticed that Xbox Live voice seems to shift people’s voices down a few pitches, which in my opinion is great. There are still some very shrill voices out there and I can’t imagine how awful they would sound in their regular pitch. At the same time I sound like I’ve been on a 7 day whiskey binge.

    Really, I wonder what games have all these infamous kids screaming racial slurs that come up in EVERY DISCUSSION ABOUT XBOX LIVE. I can’t remember ever playing with them. Xbox’s TrueSkill matchmaking service seems to put me in good company whenever I’m playing games that require headsets. I can’t imagine I’m the only fortunate one in the world, so I can only assume everybody that uses that played out cliche doesn’t actually play on Xbox Live.

    • jake.valentine says:

      Really? Maybe its the type of games you are playing (Battlefield Bad Company 2 mostly for me). I am continuously amazed at the ignorance people so happily displayed when talking over XBox Live. It is almost entirely young kids using racial remarks in my experience. When I meet an actual mature person who enjoys playing without getting too serious I add them to my friend list. The friend list is nothing more than a list of people who have been vetted as being mature. Combine that with use of the XBox Live Party chat and you don’t have to deal with the ignorant people as much.

    • ZekeDMS says:

      What games are you playing? The bigger the title, the bigger the jackass population. Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield are absolutely laden. Ace Combat, meanwhile, not so much.

  15. Destron says:

    I don’t even use the headset anymore because I get sick of listening to the other people. I have to admit that while I come across these people on PS3 as well, its not near as common. Im much more like to use a headset on PS3 than 360.

  16. Dyscord says:

    It really depends on the person. The majority of the people I’ve played with sound fine, but there are some people who sound like crap.

  17. coren says:

    I’m…confused. Did Chris write this? This can’t be by Phil, it’s an Xbox article that doesn’t take a negative slant.

  18. The Marionette says:

    It’s about time they’re updating that. Although it’s too late because I recently bought a graphics card for cheap from a friend (geforce 8800gts 640mb) for $30 so now I can play my games on the pc. Although the cursing isn’t any better on the pc at least I don’t get called a “N*gger” or “aim bot” when I constantly head-shot people in team fortress 2 lol.

  19. I just blue myself says:

    I wish they could update it so I could filter my boyfriend while he plays Modern Warfare 2. I bought him a pair of Turtle Beaches for his birthday so he could have the volume on the TV turned down while he played solo but it just makes him talk LOUDER.

  20. jhofker says:

    You guys know there’s a global setting you can change on your profile that makes it so you can only hear your friends, right?

    What’s that? Fixing the problem for yourself isn’t nearly as fun as complaining about little kids talking? Hmm, okay.

    • ZekeDMS says:

      Fixing the problem would be if MS started verifying account ages and if the system wasn’t so skewed toward positive ratings. Every asshat out there still has 5 stars.

      We shouldn’t HAVE to turn off voice communications in a game, because when it’s used right, it’s a valuable tool. You can coordinate with your team, or just joke around with other players.

      We can remove ourselves from the system, you are correct. It’s easily done. It shouldn’t be necessary, though, for a feature seen as important enough to get equipment by default to be shut off to avoid harassment by jackasses.

  21. Chaotic Evil says:

    I’d given up on Xbox Voice, my friends and I all use Skype now. It was annoying asking “hey, did you hear me” every 10 seconds–after, of course, the Locust had disemboweled me with a Lancer. I may have to give it another chance.