I don't use Steam, but I hear - geddit? - its voice-chat isn't quite as polished as the rest of Valve's services. Well that's all about to change, as the Washington-based studio have incorporated Skype's proprietary SILK audio codec into Steam's chat, resulting in a far crisper, less inaudible experience for fans looking to chat while they play.
SILK is the same codec you use when communicating on Skype. Unlike Valve's former audio codec, which ran at 15 kbps, SILK is a much more flexible system, requiring as low as 8 or as high as 30 kbps. Early tests are positive, with Joystiq reporting a noted improvement over the likes of LIVE, PSN and what Steam formerly offered. Which is sure to delight regular users of Valve's service.
But why has Valve chosen this particular time to upgrade their audio codec? It's not chatty month - that's October - and the last I checked audio codec-improvement day was a Summer-based affair. It might have something to do with Portal 2's imminent release, and the small matter of it featuring online co-operative play that will require a fair bit of planning and communication. [Joystiq]