Have you been looking to make a leap into the world of streaming, but aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to picking up gear that’ll ensure everything you broadcast will look and sound great? Well, look no further, because we’ve done the hard work for you and put together a guide for essential live streaming equipment, along with a few recommendations that are worth adding to your setup.
Before we start, we’re going to assume you’ve got a solid gaming PC setup already, complete with a high-end CPU and a good GPU. If not, you’ll want to snag an upgrade as soon as possible because you’ll be putting your PC through the paces when simultaneously gaming and streaming.
We’re also going to assume you’ve got a strong internet connection with a good router on hand. Without strong upload speeds, your stream will definitely suffer from poor video quality. No one wants to watch a live stream that looks and sounds like it’s being recorded on a mobile phone camera from 2003.
One of the major appeals of streaming is the personality behind the stream. To help your audience connect with you and your personality, you’ll need two essential factors: a voice and a face.
For the former, you’ll need to grab yourself a microphone, so your viewers can hear your dulcet tones crystal clear. Luckily, there are a lot of great and affordable USB mics currently available, so it’s not hard to grab a great one for streaming.
If desk space is tight, or you’re looking to better position your mic while streaming, a microphone arm can make a world of difference. Just whack one of these boom arms to the side of your desk, and you’ll have a greater range of movement and positioning options for your mic that isn’t just stacking it on some books in front of yourself. You’ll also help decrease the chance of your mic picking up the clicks from your keyboard and mouse.
While not every live-streamer chooses to broadcast footage of themselves while gaming, if that’s something you want to do then you’ll need an external webcam.
Much like microphones, there are a lot of great webcams currently available at fairly affordable prices. You’ll easily be able to snag one that’ll let you stream in 1080p for around the $100 to $200 mark. Although if you’re looking to broadcast in something like 4K, you’ll have to pay extra.
If you happen to have a high-end DSLR or mirrorless camera on hand, you can hook it up and use it as your video capture device. Although if you’re just starting out and are working on a budget, you’re better off sticking with a webcam. If you do use a DSLR, you’ll need a video encoder to capture footage for your stream.
Looking to stream yourself playing games directly from your PS5 or Xbox Series X? Then you’re going to need a capture card. As its name suggests, this device is used to capture footage from an external source and then transfer it to your PC. It’s an absolutely essential part of console streaming, and the first thing you should be buying.
Some capture cards include their own software for recording and streaming, which can be an added bonus of one less thing you need to worry about when pulling together equipment. If not, you’ll need to use software like XSplit or Open Broadcaster Software.
If you plan to only stream yourself playing PC games, then you won’t need a capture card.
There are a lot of moving parts in a live stream. You’ve got whatever game you’re currently playing, your webcam feed and your audio, along with your audience chiming. With so many different interfaces open on your PC at any given time, it can feel a little overwhelming and hard to control. A streaming deck is a handy piece of equipment that’s designed to help make running your stream more convenient and easier to manage.
This device works like a video switcher – it’s a control board that you can customise so you can swap cameras, mute your audio or activate special effects, all at the push of a button. It’ll allow you to control your stream, so you won’t have to worry about sorting through open windows on your PC to find that specific one that you need.
A second monitor
You might already have an extra monitor on hand, so that’s one less piece of streaming equipment you need to worry about.
With this additional monitor, you can have a screen dedicated to your live stream’s chat, so you keep an eye on and interact with your audience. It’ll also help you keep an eye on a preview stream, so you can be sure that what you’re seeing is the same thing your viewers are watching. Trying to cram all of that, plus whatever you’re playing onto a single screen would be a visual overload.
A good lighting setup will help your stream look more professional. While you could just use the lights that are already in your room, it’s extremely rare that it’ll give you results that are good to look at. Your ceiling fixture isn’t going to be throwing light in a way that’s flattering, and your desk lamp’s single setting is either too bright or not bright enough.
If you just want plain warm or cool lighting, an adjustable ring light will give multiple options when it comes to tone and brightness, while also allowing you to position your lighting source better. Some smart light strips or bulbs can also go a long way to transform the vibe of your room and make it more aesthetically pleasing for your viewer. There’s a reason multi-coloured RGB lighting has become so ubiquitous with streamers.
If you’re not keen on using your room as a background while streaming, a green screen is a worthwhile investment. All you need to do is set up one of these green (or blue) screens behind yourself and you’ll be able to chroma key out the background and replace it with a visual of your choice.
There’s a pretty big range of options out there, from ones you can attach to the back of your seat to collapsable panels for easy storage. Just make sure that your green screen totally fills your camera’s frame.
We recommend: Neewer Collapsible Chromakey Backdrop (1.5 x 2m) ($139.69), Neewer Collapsible Chromakey Backdrop (1.8 x 2.8m) ($31.18).