So I’ve been singing in Second Life for a little over ten years, and I know there are many ways to get started with live performing. This is not an article saying this is the only way to do it. If you have a different way that you think works well and would like to share it, then we welcome you to submit a blog. You can of course always add comments below.
So to get started, you’re going to need some hardware to get your voice and/or instrument into your computer software, and I suggest that it’s good to have a certain level of control, such as controlling the gain. Really it’s pretty simple. You need an audio interface and a microphone. If you have an instrument you have to consider how that connects. My guitar can plug directly into my audio interface via line input designed for guitars. If you are playing a Keyboard, then you have to consider if you are using MIDI or just sending a direct signal via a cable.
There are some great, audio interfaces on the market now. Here are some that I have experience of working with, so I feel I can pass judgment on them confidently. If you have experience with any of these or others, then please comment below!
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
This is probably the best selling interface for solo projects. Focusrite is famous for its quality pre-amps and rugged construction. This features two pre-amps, so you can plug in two microphones simultaneously, or two instruments, or one of each. It has Phantom power, to send 48v to any condenser microphones, as well as Gain control, and a monitor mix control. This allows you to either listen to the sound direct from the interface, the sound coming back from your computer via USB or a blend of the two.
Each channel has the option to be set as a Direct Input (for Instruments) or for a microphone.
This then connects to your computer via USB, and you can then set your DAW or Streaming software to use the sound from this device.
Focusrite is a GREAT choice, as you will get amazing sound quality and good control for not a huge amount of money. These currently cost around £150 in the UK and $160 USD.
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2
This is very similar to the Focusrite, and is in fact cheaper! You can purchase this for around £100 in the UK. The advantage this has over the Focusrite is that it has MIDI in and out on the back. If your keyboard needs MIDI, then this is a more obvious choice.
The features are exactly the same otherwise. You have the pre-Sonus pre-amps instead of the Focusrite, but most people wouldn’t notice the difference, especially not a stream.
Behringer U-PHORIA UM2
This is the cheapest on the market at around £49 in the UK. Behringer has a reputation for creating great products at very affordable prices. My experience with Behringer is varied. I have had some of their products, and they’ve not lasted well, and others have. MY son has this interface on his computer and has had no problems so far, but it does not get heavy use.
Behringer is actually owned by MIDAS, who make some of the best preamps in the world. They say that this has MIDAS ‘designed’ pre-amps. That does not mean that they are actual MIDAS pre-amps. MIDAS own Behringer, so of course, they are designing their pre-amps – but then if they were the same – they’d never sell MIDAS products would they?
This is a great entry-level interface, and if you’re unsure about making the commitment to performing in SL – this is a great way to start, but if you’re looking for higher quality and more functionality, look elsewhere.
There are way more interfaces on the market than this, and I’m sure people will suggest others. I’ve also used a Mackie ProFX USB mixing desk, and the one I currently use is an M-Audio AIR 192|14 which comes in at over £240 in the UK. If you want any advice, then please comment below.
Well, this is a minefield! There are so many options out there. Here are my top three choices based on my own experience.
The Rhode NT2A is an easy choice. This Australian brand has been making high-quality microphones for a long time, at very accessible prices.
I started out in SL with the Rhode NT1. I bought it second hand on eBay in 1997, and I still have it, and it still works. I do have a better quality Microphone now, but to start with it was excellent. This is the new version, and you can buy it with an XLR cable, shock mount, and a pop-shield for less than £200. BARGAIN.
It has a beautiful tone and warmth to it, and you can change the polarities of the microphone for different purposes. It has a highpass filter built-in as well as a Pad option to reduce the gain.
I highly recommend this Microphone.
This is a Chinese made microphone, and it’s currently what I use for my SecondLife performances. It is a true condenser mic but has a beautiful dynamic range. It is their equivalent to the Shure SM7B, but a lot smaller and MUCH better priced at around £100.
I have fallen in love with this microphone, which is saying something, as I have other mics, both listed here. The Rhode NT2A, and I have the Aston Spirit Microphone (£250), the big brother of the Origin as detailed below.
Unlike studio vocal microphones like the Aston and the Rhodes, it has a very near field activity, which means it’s not going to pick up any unwanted background noise easily. You have to have your mouth close to the microphone, and it will respond very well to you moving your face further away from it, and then closer again – helpful if you do not have a compressor to help manage your dynamics with levels (louder and quieter).
I can highly recommend this microphone as an entry-level mic. If you are in the UK, then get in touch with me, as I can help source them.
This is Aston’s starter vocal mic. It’s absolutely beautiful. I am in love with the sound that these mics gather. This is your premium mic. If you’re looking to record as well as put stream then this mic is wonderful.
I have used the Spirit (big brother to this) to stream in SL for the past 2 years. The reason I moved to the Superlux, was because studio mics like this are very sensitive. I play the guitar at the same time, and the Aston was picking up my guitar as well, which meant I didn’t have full control over my guitar level, which was separate on my interface.
This is a stunner but carries a price tag of around £180.
There are some amazing deals online, where you can get bundles of audio interfaces and microphones. Here are some you can consider.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio
They have a 3rd generation bundle that is available for around £226 in the UK. You can still get the 2nd gen bundles which come in cheaper. I mean – £225 for a microphone, headphones, XLR cable and a USB audio interface is not to be scoffed at. I have never used their microphone, but I can testify to the quality of the Focusrite equipment, and I’m sure you’re gonna get a great sound from all of this.
M-Audio AIR 192|4 Vocal Studio Pro
I currently use an M-Audio Air interface and I LOVE it. M-Audio makes some amazing products, and although I have never used their microphone, you know it’s going to be good quality and produce a great sound!
You can pick these up in the UK for around £180. This is very much worth considering.
I believe that Behringer does a bundle that would potentially be cheaper, but I could not find a seller in the UK. I also know PreSonus does a bundle too and it comes in around the same price as the M-Audio, so I would recommend the M-Audio.
ROCKET BROADCASTER – Windows
This a free software that you can use on your windows computer. You can mix a mic input (your audio interface) with other software on your computer if you need it. So if you are using backing tracks to sing to, then you can use this software to mix the two together and then stream to Second Life.
There is a pro version as well for $49, which gives you some added benefits. For example, if your stream gets disconnected, then there is a 20-second delay before it reconnects. With the pro version, there is no delay.
AUDIO HIJACK – Mac
This is the software I use on my MacBook to stream. It is just like Rocket Broadcaster in that you can mix audio from your computer with a mic input and stream to SL. I actually do things slightly differently, in that I mix my audio in Logic Pro X, add some compressors and EQ’s and then use Audio Hijack to stream the output from Logic. You could do the same with GarageBand (free on a mac) – or you could do the same with similar software on a windows machine using Rocket broadcaster.
SAM Broadcaster – Windows
SAM has been around a long time and is pretty much been the go-to software on SL for DJ’ing and broadcasting. However, it is pretty expensive at $299. In my experience, there have been a lot of people using pirated copies of it. Now you can do what you like, but as a developer myself, I don’t like the idea of someone stealing my creation and using it for their own financial gain. So unless you’re willing to fork out the $299 price tag, I’d advise you to stay away from illegal copies.
If you are going to stream into Second Life, you need a SHOUTcast server to do so. This is a unique URL that you use to broadcast your stream. You enter your stream details, including a unique username and password into your streaming software, and then “Go Live” – in Second Life, your stream URL is entered into the ‘sound’ option on the land parcel, and everyone who is on that land parcel will be able to hear your stream play using the “play music” button option.
There are a number of stream providers in Second Life. Most people, once they have one, tend to stick to it and not sway. I am the same – I have been using one Stream supplier for almost 8 years now.
I have never had the stream drop or not work. It goes forever and works great.
All streams have a limit on how many unique listeners they can have at one time. Mine is limited to 100. That is the maximum number of avatars you can have on a full sim anyway, so I do not need any more than that. Some streams are limited to 50 and some will give you 250, so just think about your audience when you choose a stream.
I am not paid to promote any of the products I’ve shared here and I do not want to represent any companies unfairly, so I will not give names of in-world streaming providers here. If you provide streams in SecondLife, or you know of someone who does, then they are welcome to add a listing here on this website, under the Music Services Category!
I hope all this helps in giving you an understanding of what you need to get set up ready to perform live in Second Life.
I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions below – I’m sure there are some other great kit and software out there that people use that I am unaware of.