Connect YOUR performance to Second Life

If you’ve been to Second Life gigs and thought “I can do a better job than him!” – read on. This page has been created for the benefit of anyone who would like to be a Second Life performer and explains how to connect your voice and instrument to Second Life.

The single most important factor is the quality of your broadband; particularly the upload speed. I get a rock-solid upload speed of over 5Mb/s and hardly ever get any adverse comments about the audio quality of my performance. If you’re not uploading at least 2Mb/s you could find Second Life performance something of a problem. If upload speed is at 1Mb/s or below, you may need to forget it. Your performance will be notable for the dropouts, breaking up and looping rather than your virtuosity or charisma.

I use a PC with Windows 11. I know that this guide works with earlier versions of Windows. If you’re a Mac user, there is a Mac download of BUTT and I imagine the process is essentially the same. My apologies if it isn’t.

What do you need?

I have two semi-acoustic guitars – one six string and one twelve string. I used to plug them, together with a voice microphone, into a small Xenyx mixer, which was then plugged in to the audio input. Each input needed to be individually calibrated and there were cables everywhere. It felt awkward and uncomfortable and I found it difficult to give of my best.

I treated myself to a “Blue Yeti” digital condenser microphone that simply plugs into any available USB port. A few adjustments in sound and hardware settings and I was ready for my first performance. The microphone is VERY sensitive, so wouldn’t work in an environment where there is significant background noise. But it now means that setting up for a gig is much quicker. The microphone is on my desk and the guitars are by my side. I don’t feel hemmed in or encumbered. I still have to remember to tune the guitars, but I now deliver a completely acoustic set, which is what I prefer. Members of the audience who heard me when I used the mixer tell me that it’s a noticeable improvement.

Streaming into a virtual world

The process of getting your musical output into Second Life is known as “streaming” or “livestreaming” and is handled by servers and software that are completely independent of Second Life. So, during a performance your avatar may crash, but the audience can still hear you. It might be important to know that if you’re given to uttering expletives when something goes wrong.
There are quite a few stream providers in Second Life and I imagine that they are all providing essentially the same product. However, I have rented my stream from TRAX supplied by Bones Writer for several years now and have been extremely happy with his top-quality service.

The livestreaming process introduces a degree of lag. The audio output from your computer buffers for a few seconds on the server before it’s served into Second Life. This minimises (but doesn’t completely prevent) the risk of your output signal breaking up, looping or dropping out before it reaches the audience. The amount of lag is usually around twenty seconds or so, but varies according to your upload speed, bitrate and samplerate. After quite a lot of experimentation I selected a bitrate of 96K and a samplerate of 44,100Hz. There are lots of different opinions about the most appropriate settings for Second Life and most of it is plain guessing. I am guided by the stream providers and read their notecards carefully when setting up a new stream.

The only extra piece of software you need is free and it’s called BUTT (Broadcast Using This Tool)

BUTT allows you to pre-load stream details and move easily between different streams (some performers rent a backup stream and occasionally a venue prefers you to use their stream). Once you’ve downloaded and installed it, BUTT should look like this:-

You can use the Settings to input your stream details, for which you will need the address, port and password, all of which you’ll have sorted out with the stream supplier. If any of those are missing, it won’t work.

Once they’re loaded you can name the stream and then add any venue streams or other streams you might from time to time use.


You will know that you’ve entered all the details correctly when BUTT confirms that you’re on air and you can see the time counter climbing:-

You can also use BUTT to record the output from your audio input, but I’ll leave you to explore that on your own. In addition, the latest iteration of BUTT provides two audio inputs and a mixer, which should benefit anyone who uses backing tracks.

Remember that there are several volume controls between you and your audience. Of course audience members have their own volume controls, but there’s nothing you can do about that. Here is how I try to set up the parameters that are within my control.

The ultimate objective is to avoid making adjustments to audio settings during a performance. I’m trying to establish a volume level that works for the audience and for me. I get distracted when I read a comment in local chat along the lines of ” .. he’s sounding fuzzy to me .. ” or ” .. the guitar is so loud I can’t hear what he’s singing ..”. Suddenly I can’t focus on the next song because I’m thinking about the technical stuff. That never improves the performance! It’s well worth spending time to deal with the technical stuff outside of the performance; they’re not paying to listen to me tuning my guitar or fiddling around with settings!

The steps to setting up audio in a virtual world

1  I switch on my computer and plug in the Blue Yeti microphone and plug my headphones into the analogue jack output at the base of the microphone. I set the recording pattern to cardioid (the heart shaped pattern) so that I’m picking up most of the signal from the front. I set the gain to minimum.  I go through several songs making sure I include loud and quiet samples from my repertoire. I’m trying to ensure that the microphone position is collecting signal from guitar and voice at about the same level.

2  I log into Second Life and go somewhere where I can listen to my own stream. A friendly venue owner could be invaluable if you don’t have your own plot of land. When you have access to the stream, load the stream details into the “About Land” -> “Sound” -> “Music URL” box. This time I MUST include http:// in the address. I also need to include the port number. That means the address above would be loaded as :-

3  I unplug my headphones from the microphone and plug them into an audio output port on the computer. I listen to one of the hundreds of radio stations for a minute or so to get a sense of the appropriate volume level, remembering that there is yet another volume control in Second Life preference settings. I try to listen to a station that plays the sort of genre I’ll be performing .. in my case, folk music.

4  Now I open BUTT and establish that the stream is connecting. There is a volume control in BUTT. I leave it at 0.00dB because adjusting it would just introduce an unnecessary extra step into an already complex process. However, BUTT does indicate input levels and that can be very helpful. If you’re consistently in the red in BUTT, distortion of final output is almost guaranteed.

5  I then switch to my own stream (remembering to toggle the parcel audio stream) and play for around 20 seconds, which is the approximate length of the audio lag. Too quiet? I check the audio input level in Windows sound settings and try again. When it’s about right I do a few more 20 second bursts. Loud music to make sure that the audio isn’t distorting. Quiet music to make sure that I’m hearing every nuance of delicate finger picking. I’m trying to make sure that the volume of my output approximately matches the radio station, there is no distortion when I play loud songs and that balance between voice and instrument is maintained on quiet songs. I’m adjusting nothing other than Sound settings in Windows. I do have the option of increasing the gain on the microphone, but personally I’ve discovered that that isn’t necessary. Even when I’m trying to keep it as simple as I possibly can, this stage can take a while .. I allow myself around twenty minutes!

If I can, I recruit a willing volunteer to listen to my output on a completely different computer and I want them to comment on clarity and crispness of my signal as well as confirming that the balance between voice and instrument sounds OK to them. I prefer to communicate with them via local chat rather than voice to avoid confusion.

Now you’re ready to go and find your first gig! Each venue you perform in will need to know the web address and port number. Always keep the password to yourself unless you’re lending the stream to somebody (you trust) when you’re not using it.

Having gone through the steps above, I don’t assume that I’ve got it permanently nailed. Every couple of months or so I check again. What I play and sing is travelling a long way via several different servers and multiple bits of software. Something might change without my knowledge and I shouldn’t be waiting for the audience to point it out.

Thank you for taking the time to read through this lengthy exposition! If I’ve made a mistake or omission, or if you think I could explain something more clearly, please let me know via IM in Second Life, or email me at brendan.shoreland (at) And very good luck with your first few performances!