Even though Discord may be extremely popular nowadays with millions of active users and countless communities, we can’t forget that there are still other voice call and communication programs out there, and Mumble is one of them. Mumble and Discord have quite some similarities, but a ton of differences as well. Let’s compare both of them and see which one is really the best for you.
What is Discord exactly?
Discord is something that its developers call “a place to talk and hang out”, and that’s definitely an accurate statement for what the service provides. Originally aimed at gamers, Discord is now attracting a more mainstream audience with the goal of connecting people through text, voice, and video chat and building up countless communities online. With over a hundred million users per month, it’s one of the most popular and trending chat applications out there. It was initially founded in 2015 and is now available on pretty much every operating system imaginable. Wondering how they came up with the Discord name? Check out the meaning behind the Discord name over here.
What is Mumble?
Mumble is a piece of software that has existed for far longer than Discord but is still being updated today. It originated all the way back in 2005, and its goal was to provide voice communication to people all around the world (Voice over IP or VoIP), and just like discord, it was also aimed at gamers. Even though it was only available for computer systems at first, there are apps available on iOS and Android, just like Discord. In a way, these two services are actually quite alike, but there are some differences we need to check out.
What are the similarities between Discord and Mumble?
The core concept of both apps is incredibly similar: provide voice communications over the internet, with its core market aimed towards gamers. Gaming is pretty big, and back in 2005, things such as talking online and “TeamSpeak” were absolutely booming in popularity, hence the need for an app like Mumble.
Similarly, Discord fills a gap that other chat applications such as Telegram, Whatsapp, and Messenger fail to fill – by allowing to create own servers and communities, Discord managed to find a completely new market. Mumble and Discord are both free to download and use, although the latter does have subscription models with extra features.
Both apps also promise that their voice chats are secure and encrypted. This is something that is 100% verifiable with Mumble since it is open-source and there are control channels in the software which is responsible for using TLS 256 bit AES-SHA encryption for text messages and OCB-AES 128 bit for voice conversations. Discord has not specified which type of encryption it uses.
Both Discord and Mumble will also offer easy overlay programs, which are ideal if you’re in the middle of a game and need to adjust your volume settings, for example.
What are the differences between Discord and Mumble?
Now here is where the fun stuff starts. Let’s check out a full comparison between Discord and Mumble.
Well, the first thing you might notice is that Mumble and Discord differ a lot aesthetically – there’s no denying that Mumble is clearly showing its age and has a much more simple design, while Discord uses modern design elements and is just more visually pleasing to the eye. Just take a look at the example screenshots in this article – it really says more than a thousand words. You could say that Discord is extremely similar to another popular chat application for business users, Slack.
Discord Servers are usually just called servers, but a Mumble server is actually called a “Murmur”. Murmurs are also very limited compared to Discord when it comes to extra functionality – don’t expect to see any bots in here, file uploads, or some of the other things that you might have gotten used to from other apps. Mumble focuses purely on team speak (voice communication) and text and keeps it extremely simple. Discord, on the other hand, is clearly a much more versatile and sophisticated program, offering screen sharing possibilities as well as video calling. There are also bots on Discord for added functionality.
Is Discord or Mumble open source?
Another main difference is the licensing of both apps. Discord just uses a proprietary license that is fully owned by the company. Mumble, however, is completely open-source. That means that anyone with the coding abilities can go ahead and read the code, check if it doesn’t contain any malware (or backdoors), use the Mumble code to adapt things themselves, or provide community updates. Keeping software open-source ensures that the community will keep looking after it, and it also ensures the highest possible transparency.
Who owns Mumble?
Mumble’s iOS and Android applications were not developed by Mumble themselves but were actually made by fans. This is only possible because the software is a wonder an open source license. Discord is owned by Discord Inc., while Mumble is owned by no one. The latter was firstly developed by a single coder called Thorvald Natvig, but plenty of people have worked on the VoIP software over the years. You can check out all of their code contributions at GitHub. As mentioned above, open-source software is all about transparency.
What are the differences in the setup?
Discord is pretty much just install and go – there’s no setup needed, aside from creating your own account and sharing your account code with your friends. You can find plenty of Discord communities on the internet. Setting up Mumble, however, can take a little while and is a bit more difficult. Mainly because you’ll have to acquire certificates for the encryption, which is more of a nuisance than a regular login and password client.
Technical knowledge to set up your own server is preferred. Fun fact: you can even install Mumble on a Raspberry Pi client, one of the most popular microcomputers in the world. Discord does not offer the possibility to host your own server, it’s all done in the cloud. This is better for simplicity and ease of use, but some people might prefer to be able to control every single thing and host the server themselves.
What are the differences in audio quality?
Mumble used to offer sub-par audio quality, that was pretty much the standard for its time. Other applications started offering better audio quality in voice calls (such as Discord), but recently, Mumble has been updated with a new audio codec. This is present since version 1.2.4 of the software, and the new Opus audio codec promises to perform excellently with low latency while retaining clear voice quality. Discord does offer decent voice quality as well, but if you really want the best possible voice quality, you have to be on boosted (paid) servers. Want to know more about boosted servers? Check out our specific article and subsection about Discord Server Boosts.
Can you customize the layout in Discord or Mumble?
While Discord does offer light and dark modes, Mumble actually offers something better: skins. You can customize the way the app looks, or even create your own layout. It might not be as simple as flicking a toggle, but it does offer some methods to customize the UI to your liking.
Exclusively on Mumble: positional audio for certain video games
If you’ve noticed the press materials and advertisements for the latest Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 game consoles, you’ve probably already heard of positional audio. With this, you’ll be able to hear from which direction sounds or voices are coming from, for increased realism. Turns out that Mumble has already supported this for dozens of years, although it is limited to the voice conversation of your teammates in a game.
If your buddy is playing a Call of Duty match and is standing on your right side, you’ll be able to hear this positionally if you have a headset that supports it. This completely adds to the immersion of a game and sound experience. Wondering which games support this feature? You can find a full list over here.
Discord vs Mumble: which is heavier to run on your pc?
You probably won’t be surprised by the answer, but Mumble is considerably easier to run on computers and laptops that aren’t too strong or fast. The software is just much lighter, there’s a lot less bloat and it takes up a lot fewer resources. In other words, if you’re struggling with available RAM on your system, Mumble might be an excellent choice.
Optional paid subscriptions for Discord
We’ve already mentioned it above, but Discord does offer two paid subscription tiers for users who want a little bit more. With Discord Nitro and Nitro Classic, $10 and $5 months respectively, users can enjoy some extra features for their servers and bragging rights. Here’s our full comparison between Nitro and Nitro Classic, in case you’re wondering what kind of perks and benefits these paid subscriptions have.
Summary: Pros and cons of using Mumble over Discord
Even though Mumble is definitely older than Discord, we wouldn’t count it out for a number of reasons. For starters, it’s a very lightweight app that runs really well even on older systems, and it does its main task perfectly. It’s also open-source and completely free, unlike Discord with paid subscription services. People may find the audio quality slightly better as well, and the positional audio feature is definitely a huge plus for some gamers.
On the other hand, Discord does feel a lot more like the full package, offering seamless app integrations on iOS and Android, plenty of support, the possibility to add bots, video chatting as well as a large online community. Its overlay and gaming features are also much more tailored to a modern-day experience. Discord is the total package, and there’s also no denying that it looks a lot better and sleeker than its competition.
The best option for you really depends on your needs, but if you just want to talk with your friends and appreciate Mumble being open source, is is definitely a noteworthy alternative to Discord.