Equipment is one of the most important aspects of streaming. Everyone is going to have a different vision of what they want their stream to become, and different equipment will be needed for different goals. In today's post we try to focus on key items that we believe are important to a successful stream. In future posts we'll dive a little deeper into the more technical aspects of equipment, while this post is meant to give you some recommended items to get you started!
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PC specs are going to vary from streamer to streamer and are going to be completely different based on what you want to stream. I personally use a very simple setup right now, that I will be upgrading in the near future. If you’re really looking to dive into some intense streaming, the following are what is suggested by Twitch themselves.
If you’re looking to stream…..Via Twitch
· CPU: Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD Equivalent (Compare Your CPU)
· MEMORY: 8GB DDR3 SDRAM
· OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
How far you want to push the visual quality of your stream is up to you. If you’re looking to stream immense HD games, you’ll want a nice rig, while if you’re looking to stream old school games, you can get away with that semi-old laptop that you carry around. I always suggest people start out small and improve the set up as they grow their stream.
This is probably one of the most important aspects of your stream if you’re looking for growth. This is how you’re going to be communicating and interacting with your viewers. A lot of people will simply leave your stream if your mic quality is bad, and making that first impression is huge! So what are some good microphones? It really depends on how much you want to spend. There is one main recommendation we're going to make here at Stream Big. Do not use a headset + mic that are combined. You're going to be hard pressed to find one that's going to give you good quality without spending a lot of cash.
This is one of the better deals out there if you're looking to get started streaming. This is a clip-on mic that has pretty high quality compared to how affordable it is. Pair this bad boy up with any pair of headphones, including ear buds and you'll be good to go for your microphone set-up.
If you’re looking for a great USB microphone that looks and sounds professional, I don’t think there’s a much better microphone on the market in terms of value. I’ve been using a Blue Yeti for almost a year, and the quality is great. The fact that it’s a USB allows for easy set up and less hassle when it comes to wiring. It has multiple sound options that allow you to set up the microphone to fit your setup and what you’re looking to do. While the price might be a bit steep for those who are just starting out, it’s a great investment that will last you a long long time. I’ve had mine since August of 2014, and I’ve never had any issues.
I bought the Siberia v2’s over a year ago, and the sound quality for the speakers are excellent for a USB headset. It comes with a built –in microphone that has pretty average to below average quality, but you can easily turn it off. Headset fits pretty comfortably on the head, and I’ve personally had no issues with the headset. I’ve heard from friends that defects do happen, but they’ve all been replaced with no real issue. Great headphones if you’re looking to pair them with the Blue Yeti
This is a very important piece to equipment if you see yourself as a console streamer. If you’re capturing directly from the console, you’ll need one of these devices in order to display it on your stream. What card you choose will really depend on what type of game you want to stream. If you’re going for more of an old school style stream where you play retro games such as NES, SNES, N64, PlayStation, you’ll want to use the Dazzle DVC 100. If you’re looking to stream more HD friendly games, you'll want something a bit nicer.
As someone who speedruns older games on SNES and N64, I’ve used the Dazzle DVC100 for the entirety of my streaming career. It’s an affordable and reliable option with very easy set up and little to no wiring issues, as it plugs in via a USB port. You can buy them brand new at Best Buy for a little more money, or you can get a used/ refurbished dazzle on amazon. They go for around $50 and I’ve only had to buy 2 over 3 years of streaming.
The GV-USB2 is the cheaper alternative to the Dazzle DVD Recorder. Those who have used both a Dazzle and a GV-USB2 usually prefer the GV when it comes to quality. The only downside to the product is that set up for the capture card is completely in Japanese, so certain steps can be confusing. But once you're past the set up, the quality is much higher than a dazzle.
Avermedia C027 Internal Capture Card. Internal cards are typically higher quality which is what I was going for. It also has SD and HD capabilities which is good for retro and modern consoles. HD has a dongle for component and also an HDMI port. SD has a dongle for composite and S-Video. Capture was definitely a step up from any other capture card I've had. Just a warning this is an internal card, so make sure you have space in your tower.
If you're looking for an HD capture card that isn't an internal card and want something a bit more on the go, the Live Gamer Portable is for you. USB based, so a lot easier to set up, and you're getting close to the same quality as the internal with just a little more delay. This is a bit more pricey, but it will allow you to stream off a laptop on-the-go.
This capture card is for those looking for the upmost in quality for a portable capture device. It allows for 1080p 60FPS capture and also has very little delay, meaning you can play off of the capture device if you so wish. I personally make getting low delay capture cards a priority because I always run the capture card sound through my headphones when I stream because it seems most convenient. The only thing that may be an issue for some is that this device absolutely requires USB 3.0 ports on your computer. It also doesn't encode the frames on the device itself which means that you'll need a reasonably beefy CPU to encode both the capture card video and your stream's video.
Ahhh the age old question - Do I use a webcam or not? Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different answer. My first recommendation is don’t use a webcam if you don’t want to. There’s nothing wrong with not using a webcam. There are a lot of top streamers in different games that don’t use one, and rely on great commentary and interaction. I will say this though, a webcam is a great way to make the stream more personal. Viewers love to see your reactions to different situations while you’re gaming, and it will definitely help you stick out. Just be aware that your webcam is always on and sometimes you might do something embarrassing like pick your nose without realizing. It can happen to anyone and be able to laugh at yourself when it does.
One point to note, the better your upload speed, the better quality your webcam will look. Even the nicest webcam out there will look bad if your upload is very low.
If you’re looking to make streaming something more professional I would highly suggest an HD camera like the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. You can usually get it for under $80 and it’s what I currently use on my stream. The quality is great, and it’s super easy to set up. There have been a few reported issues with this camera flickering while using streaming software so be warned.
If you’re looking for a more affordable webcam to get started, the Logitech HD Webcam C310 is a great starter webcam that you can snag for under $40. The quality won’t be as nice as the C920, but it’ll get the job done enough. I used this webcam for two years before switching to the C920.