One question that haunts many new streamers is: Do I have the right gear to live stream? While streaming does require some basic equipment, the fear of not having high-end, technical gear shouldn’t stop you from pursuing live streaming. Today, many companies have started developing video equipment geared specifically toward streamers — and much of it requires little or no technical know-how to use.
Restream recently partnered with tech company Elgato for a special Cyber Monday live stream to discuss live streaming gear. Elgato makes several products for live video production, such as webcams, microphones, lights, and more. Restream’s Director of Product Marketing, Anya Razina, sat down with Philipp Eggebrecht, Marketing Manager at Elgato, to discuss basic and advanced live video setups for creators at all levels.
Their conversation spanned how to get the best video quality on a budget, why audio quality is so important for live streams, and lighting tips for making your stream look more professional. Check out some of the highlights from their session below.
🤓 Why live streaming gear should be reliable
Going live can always have unpredictable elements, so it’s best to control as much as you can. When it comes to your equipment and software, you want tools that function properly throughout your entire stream, so you can focus less on tech and more on your content.
The length of live streams varies widely, some only lasting thirty minutes and others lasting up to twelve hours. You need equipment that keeps up with your stream and doesn’t make you too uncomfortable. The Elgato Facecam, for example, has a heat setting to prevent you from getting too warm while you’re using it.
Your live streaming gear should support your goals as a streamer, not prevent you from achieving them.
🚀 Choose high-quality gear that is easy to use
Most streamers would agree that having high-quality audio and video is essential. But using the gear that delivers high-end results can be complicated or difficult. As a streamer, look for the sweet spot: gear that’s easy to operate and still delivers on quality.
One piece of streaming tech that hits this mark is Elgato’s Facecam. When the company developed it, they sought to address common problems streamers had with their webcams, such as:
- Brightness and sharpness resetting every time you restart your computer
- Focus hunting that puts you in and out of focus if you move slightly
- Background noise that a webcam’s mic picks up
The Facecam also improves quality by using a glass lens, instead of plastic, and it comes with a camera hub app so you can control all of the settings with an Elgato Stream Deck.
📷 Using a DSLR camera for live streaming
A DSLR camera heightens the quality of your live stream and prevents lag between your audio and video. It improves the overall experience for both you and your viewers. It takes an extra step to set up compared to a webcam, however.
One way you can make your DSLR camera work for live streaming is by using the Elgato Cam Link. It functions as a sort of capture card, connecting any camera with an HDMI port to your computer via a USB drive. It’s the perfect device to turn your DSLR camera into a webcam, but only if your camera is HDMI-compatible. Some older cameras are not, so Elgato created a database where you can check whether the model of your DSLR camera works with Cam Link. The Cam Link isn’t limited to DSLR cameras, either. You can also use it to stream with a GoPro, camcorder, or mirrorless camera.
📱 When the best camera you have is in your pocket
For some people, the highest-quality camera they have is their smartphone. Streaming from a mobile device definitely has its perks, like ease of use and spontaneous, IRL streaming. You don’t have to limit yourself to streaming on the go with your phone, either. You can use your iPhone as a webcam and run a live stream on your desktop computer with Elgato’s EpocCam app.
If you want to stream with your iPhone and go live on multiple platforms at once, your ideal setup would be using the EpocCam app to connect your iOS device to your computer and streaming with Restream Studio from a web browser. Restream supports over thirty live streaming platforms, so you can be live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, and LinkedIn — from your phone — all at the same time.
The EpocCam app is also a great option for multi-camera streaming, behind-the-scenes streams, and tutorials. You can set up your webcam to film you as you speak and use your iPhone to film your workspace as you demonstrate something. This multi-camera setup works with Restream Studio as well.
👀 Audio quality vs. video quality
In general, viewers tend to be more forgiving of poor video quality than poor audio quality. So, while having a nice camera enhances your stream, you shouldn’t neglect your microphone and audio setup. Many people prefer to listen to live streams in the background, like radio or podcasts. If you have viewers who tune in for audio only, you should ensure the quality is top-notch.
Elgato has a line of microphones, their Wave series, to fit all budgets and streaming needs. Plus, each Wave microphone comes with Elgato’s Wave Link software to allow you to route audio from different applications separately, so you can keep your sources of audio for your music, your video game, and your voice distinct from each other as your stream. Wave Link also lets you control noise and suppression as well. And, like all Elgato streaming products, the Wave mics and Wave Link software integrate with the Stream Deck.
Another easy way to improve audio quality is simply by moving your microphone closer to your mouth. It picks up less background noise and lets you reduce the volume of the mic. If your setup doesn’t allow you to have your mic right next to your mouth, you can get a mic arm and position it wherever you want.
🎙 Should you choose a USB or XLR mic?
When it comes to external microphones for streaming, the top choices are USB and XLR mics. You can plug a USB mic directly into your computer, but you need an audio mixer for XLR mics. USB mics are great for beginners because they require little configuration after you plug them into your computer. Some argue that XLR mics have a better quality than USB, but it depends on the brand of microphone you go with.
With Elgato Wave mics, you get the same level of audio quality whether you purchase their USB or XLR microphones. The only real difference is that the XLR mic does not have audio mixing features built into its hardware, whereas the USB mic does. Keeping your mic and audio mixer separate may be less convenient, but it does allow you to upgrade each one separately if you want.
⚡️ Lighting your stream like a pro
Even if you have a moderate- to low-quality camera, you can brighten the video of your live stream significantly with appropriate lighting. You don’t have to invest much in your lighting either, as long as you place it correctly.
If you’re new to lighting, start with natural sources and set up near a window if possible. You can’t always rely on the weather to light your live stream, though. If you only get one light, get a key light. It will light up a large area, as opposed to smaller lights that only brighten particular spots. As you build your live streaming setup, you can add fill lights and backlights to make your video appear even more vibrant.
Another good option for streamers is a ring light. It encircles your camera so you have light shining directly on you. The effect of a ring light differs from a panel key light, so streamers choose a lighting setup based on their preferences. Elgato makes both panel key lights and ring lights for streaming that you can control with the Stream Deck.
💪 Getting the best gear for your streaming setup
As a new streamer, setting up your live streaming studio can feel intimidating if you don’t know much about the equipment you need. Fortunately, tech companies like Elgato make accessible gear that lets streamers focus on what matters: making excellent content. Streaming software is also a big part of your success as a streamer, and Restream’s live streaming tools allow you to start streaming on multiple channels at once in just a few clicks.
With Restream and Elgato products as part of your live streaming setup, you’re sure to accomplish your live video goals!