You might think of live streaming as easy money and tons of fun when you watch your favorite streamers. They get to spend hours engaging and chatting with viewers, and they rake in the cash with donations and subscriptions, right? The top 10 Twitch streamers earn more than $20 million per year, but they certainly didn’t start out making that much. They built up to that income, investing in their streaming careers along the way.
Think of a live streaming career as a startup. It requires you to invest at the beginning and gives you a chance to start earning with time. Most streamers start from the same place, and every streamer has startup expenses. Those initial expenditures cover live streaming equipment, and like all investments, you should do some research before you buy. We put together this guide to help you choose the best equipment for your budget.
Before we cover streaming equipment by price range, let’s look at the typical components of a basic streaming setup.
Live streaming equipment: the basics
The first thing you need is a device to stream from. The most popular choice is a PC or Mac. However, you can also stream from your gaming console or smartphone. It depends on the type of content you produce, as well as the desired quality of your stream. Second, you need a stable and fast internet connection to transmit your live videos to streaming platforms.
Additional components of live streaming equipment include a video source, an audio source and accessories to improve your stream quality, like tripods, lighting and video switchers.
Audio sources primarily mean microphones. There are three types of microphones used for live streaming based on their connection type and sound quality: built-in, USB and XLR.
The most popular choice is a USB microphone, as it connects directly to your computer and produces great sound. A USB microphone is relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
An XLR microphone delivers the highest sound quality, but it requires an audio mixer to work. If you are an audio devotee, this purchase is definitely worth it, though.
- Good sound quality: built-in microphones
- Better sound quality: 3.5 mm and USB microphones; built-in microphones on pro video cameras (easy to use, relatively inexpensive)
- Best sound quality: XLR microphones (durable, require an audio mixer)
A decent video camera produces a higher-quality broadcast and attracts more people to your streams. There are four types of video cameras for live streaming:
- Webcams. For a simple and affordable video setup for streaming, a webcam is the first option that comes to mind. Webcams connect directly to your computer, have built-in microphones and are perfect for live chats, gaming streams, Q&As and more.
- DSLR cameras. If you want to invest a bit more in video quality, a DSLR camera is a good choice. You can also get a compact mirrorless camera, which offers the same excellent video quality and ultra-high image resolution. Both DSLR and mirrorless cameras require a video encoder to send your live videos to streaming platforms.
- Camcorders. If your budget allows you to fully commit to live streaming, a camcorder is the best option. These cameras are built for professional video recording, offering 4K resolution, producing crystal-clear HDMI outputs, and guaranteeing a smooth video.
- Action cameras. These small yet extremely powerful video cameras are designed to capture action-packed scenes. Action cams are great at recording sports or any other immersive videos.
Regardless of your streaming budget, you may need additional equipment. Such equipment includes a tripod for your video camera and an arm for your microphone, all sorts of cables to connect audio and video sources, light stands and LED rings to further improve your video quality, and a green screen (chroma key) to change your backgrounds.
Streaming equipment setups for three different budgets
We've selected three sets of streaming gear to help you better understand the pricing and possibly choose your live streaming setup. Here are three great streaming sets for every budget.
🤓 Starter pack
This starter pack includes basic audio and video components that offer moderate quality and aren’t expensive. It’s a great set for beginners who want to try out live streaming.
- Boya BY-M1. This small lavalier microphone is a wonderful option for starters, as it only costs about $20. The microphone is omnidirectional, meaning it picks up sound from all angles. The Boya BY-M1 comes with a lapel clip, uses its own battery (for a stronger signal), and plugs directly into your smartphone, camcorder, audio recorder, PC or most other cameras, so you don’t need any additional equipment to install it.
- Behringer XM8500. This is a cardioid microphone, which means it picks up sounds in the front and mostly ignores other background noises. The microphone costs around $20 to $25 and requires an arm to set it up properly. The Behringer XM8500 sounds great for its price.
- Your smartphone’s built-in camera. Nowadays, most smartphones come with powerful video cameras. Even so, the image quality is poor when it comes to live streaming.
- Razer Kiyo. For a webcam that costs just $100, this little one provides exceptional quality. The Razer Kiyo even has a built-in LED ring, which makes a huge difference for low-budget video quality and lets you save money on lighting accessories.
- Logitech StreamCam. Share your high-quality content with the world thanks to the Logitech StreamCam. This USB webcam supports versatile mounting options, has two built-in microphones, and can record in Full HD 1080p at 60 frames per second. It costs around $170.
- Canon VIXIA HF R800. One of the cheapest camcorders available, the Canon VIXIA HF R800 is both portable and durable. It has a built-in microphone, which works for beginners. This camera is great for recording and costs around $250.
- Live Gamer MINI GC311. A console capture card allows you to live stream high-quality videos straight from your gaming system. The Live Gamer MINI GC311 by AVer Media is probably the best deal for the price.
- Viltrox L132T. The cheapest way to set up your lighting is to take advantage of natural sunlight. However, that’s not always possible. A good alternative is the Viltrox L132T. It’s an affordable, powerful and portable panel light for your live videos. It also supports different color temperatures, from a cold 3300K to a warm 5600K.
😎 Intermediate streaming setup
The equipment in our intermediate setup represents a good balance between price and quality.
- Blue Yeti USB. One of the most popular USB microphones for live streaming, the Blue Yeti is a perfect example of good-quality sound in an easy-to-use microphone. For $130, you get a microphone that can switch between polar patterns and comes with a pop filter to prevent any popping sounds when you speak.
- Audio-Technica AT2035. The cardioid AT2035 is a professional microphone designed for both home and studio applications. It has an XLR output, so you’ll have to purchase an audio mixer. The AT2035 comes with a custom shock mount that provides more stability and less background noise.
- Panasonic Lumix G7. The inexpensive and well-balanced Lumix G7 is a portable, mirrorless video camera that produces high-quality content. It’s possible to record in 4K, and it has a changeable lens to further improve your live streams. The Panasonic Lumix G7 costs around $700 and is a great choice if you are serious about live streaming.
- Sony a6300. Super small and sexy, the Sony a6300 is a wonderful choice for anyone who wants both a high-quality image and some mobility. This portable video camera is amazing for live streaming basically anything, from outdoor events to video games at home. You will have to drop around $1,000 for this beauty, however.
- Elgato Key Light. Good lighting can substitute for an expensive video camera by consistently providing high-quality video. The Elgato Key Light is a professional LED panel that guarantees the best lighting in any conditions. It has an incredibly versatile color temperature range (2900K to 7000K) and can be adjusted remotely via an app. The price is around $200.
- BC Master Camera Tripod. A tripod’s main job is to prevent your camera from shaking. The BC Master does that and more for only around $80. The portable, 75-inch-tall tripod has a 360-degree rotation that can help record videos at virtually any angle.
🤩 All-star streaming set
If your goal is to achieve top-notch quality, and you don’t mind spending a fortune, then you’re ready for this all-star streaming gear.
- Shure SM7B. When it comes to professional microphones, every audio creator (or musician, for that matter) knows Shure. The SM7B microphone is an all-time favorite and is used by top streamers like Shroud, Tfue and Sodapoppin. For its price, the microphone provides both durability and clear sound. The XLR connection, however, means you will need to buy an audio mixer to connect it to your computer. The Shure SM7B also comes with a built-in pop filter and a detachable windscreen. The estimated price is around $400.
- Electro Voice RE20. An exceptional alternative to the Shure SM7B, this cardioid microphone perfectly picks up your speech and blocks surrounding noises. Moreover, the internal elemental shock mount and pop filter make your speech crystal clear. The Electro Voice RE20 is an XLR mic, so an audio mixer is necessary for this one as well. The microphone costs around $450.
- Panasonic AG-CX350. If you’re looking for the best quality, the Panasonic AG-CX350 4K camcorder will stun your viewers with exquisite video quality. The camera has a 20x optical zoom lens, supports 60 fps in UHD and a whopping 120 fps in HD, and sounds amazing thanks to the built-in stereo microphone. Furthermore, it allows you to stream your videos directly to streaming platforms. You’ll pay around $3,700 for the Panasonic AG-CX350.
- Sony PXW-Z90. If the previous video beast isn’t enough for you, let us introduce the incredible Sony PXW-Z90. This camcorder has everything. The PXW-Z90 lets you film in beautiful 4K with the widest color range. You can also stream directly to all major online platforms, and the Enhanced Fast Hybrid autofocus feature will leave your viewers speechless. The camera costs $3,000 or more, depending on the specifications.
- Roland V-1 HD Portable Switcher. High-quality video production requires you to use multiple cameras. But multiple cameras force you to have a prosumer switcher to control the production. The Roland V-1 is probably the most popular choice for a switcher. It accommodates up to four HD inputs and can be controlled manually or via your computer or iPad. This amazing little companion costs around $600.
- Manfrotto 509 Fluid Head Tripod. This tripod provides incredibly smooth and stable video recording, while the fluid head allows for precise movements. The four-step counterbalance system ensures stability and a quick setup, and the leveling ball helps you adapt the head to the tripod. The Manfrotto 509 Fluid Head Tripod costs around $2,000.
🚀 Live streaming software for all budgets
After you buy your live streaming equipment, the final step before going live is to choose your streaming software.
Restream Studio is a perfect solution for any streamer who wants to produce quality live content and grow their channel faster. With Restream Studio, you can broadcast your live videos on multiple top streaming platforms, like YouTube, Twitch, Facebook and LinkedIn — all at the same time.
Additionally, Restream Studio offers useful features to improve your stream and attract more viewers. For example, you can invite guests onto your stream and host a live interview or Q&A session. You can also add your own logo, personalize your stream with custom overlays, play copyright-free background music, and broadcast directly from your browser without any additional applications!
Don’t underestimate the importance of video quality for live streaming. However, the choice of your streaming equipment depends mostly on your goals, not the blind pursuit of quality. Go for the starter pack if you just want to try out live streaming. If you’re feeling more serious about streaming, invest in the intermediate streaming setup.
The all-star streaming setup proves that the sky's the limit when it comes to streaming. Huge investments will surely bring you exceptional quality, but quality doesn't translate directly into more viewers.