There are a lot of voice chat utilities out there. Some of them target specific areas, such as home or business, but there aren't that many created especially for gamers on Mac OS X. Dolby Axon tries to fill in the gamer requirements by providing surround sound, permanent chats and very good audio quality.
Dolby Axon is a free application that you can take for a spin if your Mac can run OS X 10.5 or later. Dolby Axon's most interesting feature is simulated positioning, an audio characteristic that successfully recreates the atmosphere of a crowded room.
Because it has been designed for gamers, the app drops support for video chat and also lacks the ability to send files. Nonetheless, it makes up for it with other gaming-oriented, features, like permanent chat rooms. The Looks
The application was designed as a quick solution to build and manage your team while playing, thus getting the most out of your gaming experience. The interface builds upon this idea, as it's simple, intuitive and just easy to use.
Dolby Axon also comes with 3 skins: Default, Classic and Silver, which can be accessed via the Tools menu. The Works
All you have to do is create an account on the application's website, open it and then add some friends via the Users menu. Similar to other voice chat applications, it allows you to find other users with the help of a built-in search engine and add the ones you know.
Dolby Axon's main interface is designed just like a chat client. You can access online/offline users, create groups, access current and missed calls or read alerts.
After adding friends, you can find more information about them via the View Profile option accessible from the Users menu. The profile includes their user name, ID, city, and it even shows how much time has passed since you added that person as a friend.
The Users menu also allows you to group your friends – a very useful feature if you want to manage your friends based on the games you play with them. I’ve created separate friend lists for my MMOs and coop games since I tend to play each type of game with different friends. The fact that I can organize my friends list this way is just great.
There is also a feature that brings a social side to Axon, called Introduce, which enables you to present one of your friends to others included in your list. Since a game chat is all about talking, coordinating and having a good time with your friends, the developers made a great decision when they came up with this feature.
You can initiate a new chat with any user by double clicking his/her name in the friends list. You can also invite your friends to a text chat, create a permanent chat or remove them at any time just by right clicking on their name.
The chat window is simplistic, you can instantly move inside the virtual room and choose the position that suits your play style. The rooms are surround enabled so if a friend joins and moves around, you will surely hear each change in position.
Needless to say, Dolby Axon was created with stereo headphones using Dolby Headphone technology in mind. This creates a wonderful experience, since the application allows you to change your position on the map at any time during the game, and it's great for squad-based games where you need to command your team and organize it on the battlefield.
The map can be divided into up to four different areas and the virtual room can be visualized from 2 perspectives, isometric and 2D. I think 2D is the best since it gives a clearer view of each user's position.
You can create up to five different channels and switch between them using the CMD + the number of the channel; you can talk in all channels at any given time or mute one or two of them. This kind of customization is what makes Axon a great gaming chat utility.
Although I'm not an expert, I thought Dolby Axon also provided the best sound quality I’ve encountered while using voice chat apps on Mac. Of course, there are some occasional problems, but those are rare and without any great impact on the overall experience.
Dolby Axon includes voice activity detection technology, which detects real speech, and reduces echo and noise. These two features combined provide better sound quality by removing from your game's audio environment additional sounds picked up by the microphone.
Microphone leveling is also present and enables Dolby Axon to automatically adjust the microphone level based on your voice, soft or loud. This removes the need for calibration and makes the in-game chat a much more enjoyable experience.
Axon supports up to 50 players in a single chat, so you can invite your friends to have fun playing an online game. The Good
Dolby Axon gets the best out of various voice chat tools, adds surrounds support, great audio quality, enables you to manage your team using the integrated map and it even allows you to create permanent chats, so you can quickly immerse in the game with your friends. The Bad
Even if Axon is geared towards gaming, the lack of features (like file transfer or keyboard shortcuts for sound effects) can be noticed at times. It could also use a recorder and a better alert system, since the audio notifications aren't that loud, so you can ignore them by mistake while playing. The Truth
Dolby Axon is a great choice for any gamer who needs a voice chat solution. It's stable, providing good sound quality and a lot of customization options. Try it now and take your gaming experience to another level.
Here are some snapshots of the application in action: