Want to start live streaming but aren’t sure you’ve got the right gear? Luckily for you, there’s a huge variety of live streaming equipment out there — and you don't need much to get started. You can find cameras, microphones, lights, switchers and more at just about any price. Whether you’ve only got $50 to spend on your live streaming equipment setup or want to invest $1,000+, you’ll find gear to meet your needs.
This guide covers the best live streaming gear for inexpensive, mid-range and larger budgets. We also look at the typical components of a basic streaming setup so you know what to look for.
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.
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. Streaming with a GoPro, for example, is easy to do and makes your streaming more engaging and dynamic.
Tip: A video encoder is a device that converts your live videos into a streamable format. An encoder is a necessary tool if you are using any professional video camera — except for webcams. You can get a hardware encoder device or you can use a software encoder, also called live streaming software.
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 from beginners to pros
Here are three great streaming setups for every budget.
Live streaming equipment for starters
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.
- Razer Seiren Mini. For a $50 budget mic, the Razer Seiren Mini is a good choice. It lacks features that other, more expensive mics have, but the sound quality is top-notch. It’s small and portable, and with a sleek design, it looks good on camera too.
Nowadays, most smartphones come with powerful video cameras that can be a good, budget-friendly option for your live streaming setup. If you want something more powerful, try these options:
- 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.
- Osbot Tiny. This webcam packs a punch for only $200. It’s got AI-tracking and autofocus, meaning you’re always in frame. It also does well in low-light conditions and lets you stream in 1080p at 30fps (you can upgrade to the 4K edition for another $70).
- 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 live 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 and at $189, it’s a good mid-range choice. 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.
- Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II. The Powershot G7 X Mark II is a mouthful but one of Canon’s best compact video cameras at a mid-range price point. The quality is similar to what you’d get with a DSLR camera but in a much smaller package. It can produce high-res videos and works well in low-light situations.
- Panasonic Lumix G100. For a powerful, feature-rich, mirrorless 4K camera designed for content creators, check out the Panasonic Lumix G100. You can control everything with the LCD touch screen, and the camera comes with several connectivity options so you can easily share your streams. At around $600, it’s a solid choice for creators looking to invest a bit more in their live streaming equipment setup.
- 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 live streaming equipment setup
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. It also 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.
- Blackmagic Design ATEM SDI Extreme ISO. Blackmagic Design’s live production video switchers are used by professional broadcasters to produce top-notch live streams. The ATEM SDI Extreme ISO can record nine separate H.264 video streams in real time, capture eight video camera feeds, record to USB for a saved video file, edit your live production using DaVinci Resolve, and so much more. Taking your stream to the next level will cost you though — the ATEM SDI Extreme ISO retails for $1,500.
- 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.
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. Restream has both free and paid features, so you can decide what suits your streaming budget best.
all at once
Additionally, Restream Studio offers useful features to improve your stream and attract more viewers. For example, you can invite guests onto your stream, add your own logo, personalize your stream with custom overlays, play copyright-free background music, display a live chat as an overlay on your stream, save and trim recordings of your streams to post later, stream a pre-recorded video, get robust stream analytics, and broadcast directly from your browser without any additional applications!
What equipment is needed for live streaming?
You don’t need much equipment to start live streaming. You can get an inexpensive camera and microphone, use free streaming software, and get started.
Is it possible to buy live streaming equipment for under $50?
Most cameras with decent quality for streaming will be at least $50. But you can get a small clip-on microphone for about $20, a ring light for less than $50, and other accessories like a tripod for less than $50 as well.
What is the top live streaming equipment setup?
The top live streaming equipment setup includes the Shure SM7B microphone, Panasonic AG-CX350 camera and the Blackmagic Design ATEM SDI Extreme ISO switcher. With these or equipment of similar quality, you can produce high-quality, professional-looking live streams.
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.