With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ongoing, you’ve probably heard about the increase in live streaming. Streaming the game to Twitch, Facebook Gaming, and other platforms was already a booming business, but it’s only gotten bigger with everyone stuck at home.
We’ve also been dabbling in a bit of broadcasting on CBR with our new Twitch page. As for me, I have been streaming for a while and have slowly updated my settings over the past few years. I’m far from where I was as a beginner, but honestly, the equipment you can start with now is much more affordable and much better quality than it was five years ago. Whether you’re just starting out and dreaming of doing something great, or you’re a hobbyist looking to join your friends for a Minecraft At night, getting the right gear to start your streaming empire doesn’t have to go broke.
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MAKE SURE YOUR PLAYGROUND IS ON THE PART
First of all, you will want to decide what you are broadcasting. If you are streaming from a console, you may have the option to stream directly from your console; Both Xbox and PlayStation have supported direct streaming to Twitch since the last generation and offer support for some USB devices. However, you are limited in the design and management of your stream, so you probably want to send the signal to Twitch from a program like OBS Studio, XSplit, or Streamlabs OBS.
Streaming from your computer can be a problem if you don’t know what you’re doing, so before you dig too deep, you’ll want to check the tech specs. Even if you are only streaming from your computer, you will need enough power to run your game AND the streaming software. Also, be sure to check your ISP’s bandwidth with a tool like SpeedTest.net. Twitch has some helpful guides for the quality to which it should aspire when transmitting. Personally, my goal is 720P streaming with 6000 bitrate instead of 1080P; this allows me to maintain a stable 60 FPS stream when possible and makes it easier for viewers with slower connections to watch the streams. Your experience may be different.
I have personally used OBS Studio for years, but programs like Xsplit and Streamlabs OBS also have several great features. They are mostly free (although some may have limitations that require premium memberships), but they do have versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux so you can get started. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find the best solution for yourself! You can check the official documentation or search YouTube and you will find many tips and tricks for running these programs.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CAPTURE CARD
If you want to stream from your console and use third-party streaming software, you will need a capture card. The capture card is the interface that allows you to send video and audio from your game console to your PC.
If you are using a modern console, it is relatively easy. The Xbox 360 and later and the PlayStation 4 and later will connect via HDMI with no real issues (the PS3 has a built-in HDCP intended to deter piracy, so it will require a capture card that supports component or A / V cables ). Elgato is still the standard among most streamers, and the model you choose will depend on the gear you have. If you’re running a desktop, you can go for an internal capture card like the Elgato 4K60 Pro (which is what I use for my streams). The internal card is a bit more fiddly to install if you’re unfamiliar with the computer, but the ultra-low latency provided by installing directly to the motherboard makes a big difference.
If you are looking for something a little easier to set up or maybe you need to use a laptop, you can always go for an external capture card. Elgato is once again the most popular band here, with Elgato HD60S + being the newest model. These have a bit more latency due to the nature of the USB connection, so you may have to play around with audio and video delays in your streaming software. However, it will give you a sharp and stable 60 FPS image up to 1080P without having to dismantle your desktop, which may be all that some gamers want.
GET A GOOD MICROPHONE (AND PREFERABLY A POP FILTER!)
All right, you have your computer set up and your capture card is sending the signal to your software, so now is the time to add the most crucial element: you. Streaming is as much about your personality as it is about the games you choose, and for that, you need good audio.
No seriously, good audio is non-negotiable. You can stream at the lowest possible bitrate with the grainy webcam available, and people will still give it a go if it sounds good. You should keep in mind that several of your viewers are people who are listening to you in the background while they work on something else, so if your audio is too low, poor quality or full of static, they will leave. somewhere else.
If you take it seriously, you will eventually end up with a pretty sturdy rig. I started with an old Blue Snowball, but over the years I have upgraded to an Audio Technica AT-2035 XLR microphone via a Behringer USB mixer, which gives me incredibly clear audio, but also had to pay for it along the way. of the years. . If you’re just starting out, you just need something better than your laptop’s internal microphone. A quality headset like the Razer Kraken or a decent pair of Astros can help you set up, but a USB microphone will give you the best return on your investment.
There are several quality USB microphones that can help you get started. Blue’s Yeti has been a standard for years, but microphones like the Razer Seiren are quickly becoming the norm. Make sure you do the research. Read user reviews or search for YouTubers who specialize in audio reviews. And while you may be shopping on a budget, don’t fall into the trap of buying the cheapest mic you can find. An inexpensive microphone on Amazon might look attractive, but the difference in quality you’ll get from a $ 20 generic brand mic vs. a $ 60-80 mic from a reputable manufacturer can be staggering. Whichever you choose, consider investing in a decent mic stand or desk-mounted boom arm as well; a decent one should cost you around $ 20 and does wonders with correct mic placement. You’ll also want to consider an inexpensive pop filter to block out the sound of the wind and the impact of plosives on your speech.
DO YOU WANT TO BE SEEN?
A front camera is not necessarily required, and now more and more transmitters are left without it. Still, if you want to show your face on the stream, you’ll want to pick up a decent webcam. Most likely, your laptop’s built-in camera won’t cut it; its location will be at an original angle and it does not have the responsiveness of a good external camera.
Logitech’s line of webcams ranges from budget to budget, but as long as you get something that’s at least 720P and 30FPS, it should be gold. As with microphones, the larger investment will generally get a better quality return; The cheaper Logitech models will have good resolution and FPS, but poor light processing and color balance. Something like the newer Logitech Streamcam or Razer Kiyo will give you a really nice picture, but they can work almost as much as your capture card.
There are also some other options if you really don’t have cash. You can find some applications that allow you to turn your cell phone into a webcam and send the video directly to OBS. These get the job done reasonably well, since your cell phone probably has a really nice camera. However, latency can be a concern, and a weak wi-fi signal can result in a faulty webcam.
EVERYTHING ELSE CAN (PROBABLY) WAIT
There are many other things you can get that are completely optional but can increase the quality of your stream. Many streamers may be tempted to go green screen, and there are a number you can get. Elgato has a couple more expensive models that work great and store neatly, but you can also find cheaper green screens that mount on your chair or hang on a frame behind you.
Many streamers may also want to splurge on StreamDeck or similar, and they are very useful. However, they are a bit pricey if you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of things set up. Elgato recently started offering a mobile Streamdeck that is great on a budget, and there are some free options like the excellent TouchPortal that allow you to control your streaming software through your mobile device. Streamlabs OBS also has similar mobile app functionality built in.
No matter where your streaming journey begins, it’s all a matter of taking the time to do your research and set things up correctly. Stick with trusted brands that you trust and focus on your personality and the games you convey rather than trying to wow viewers with a flashy setup that you can’t afford to run, and you’ll do well.
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