Whether you’re a creator new to the world of live streaming or a budding brand looking to step up your video marketing game, there are a few industry standard tools you’ll need in order to you share your content with the world.
This checklist is designed to serve as a beginner’s guide for those who wish to produce high-quality live video streams on a regular basis, utilizing entry level equipment and leaving out the next-level frills.
((Don’t worry. We’ll be back with another guide to address the frills.))
For now, let’s start with the basics. These seven streaming necessities will give you the power to simulcast with multiple cameras, display on-screen graphics, and capture high-quality audio.
While exact technical requirements vary depending on the software you use, almost any new laptop computer available today will work. Look for something with an Intel i7 CPU, at least 8GB of RAM, a solid state hard drive (SSD) and as many USB ports as possible.
A desktop computer is also a good option if you don’t need the portability a laptop provides. Desktops typically have more USB ports and more options for expansion, both of which are great assets if you plan to level-up your streaming activities in the future.
For individual creators and small brands, the easiest and most cost-effective cameras to use are standard USB webcams. A quick Google search will tell you which is the latest, greatest, and most popular camera for your live streaming needs.
If you’re not broadcasting from your desk or stable surface which you can affix your webcam on, or if you’re using a digital camera, you may also want to purchase a tripod.
Note: USB cameras don’t typically come with a long cord. To position them in various places you may need a USB repeater extension cable. This has a built-in component that boosts the signal.
Audio quality is one of the most important and most overlooked items in live streaming. Depending on your budget and streaming setup, there are a few different options to capture audio correctly.
If your stream involves people are sitting behind a desk or table — a stationary setup in which people aren’t moving around too much — you can use condenser microphones with a tabletop stand. These microphones are great because they don’t pick up a lot of background noise.
Lapel microphones are another great option, especially if your stream is more dynamic than the stationary sit-and-chat setup. These are little clip-on devices, and you’ve probably seen them on TV broadcasters. You can get these microphones in wired and wireless options, which make them a great choice if your stream features people standing or moving around. One thing to note, however, is that these microphones tend to pick up a lot more room noise.
If you plan to use microphones with a mixer, you’ll need to make sure they feature an XLR or ¼ audio connector. USB microphones will not work. You will also need audio cables to attach your microphones to your mixer/laptop, and these are sometimes sold separately.
4. Audio Mixer
An audio mixer will allow you to use multiple microphones and other audio sources in your stream. It also allows you to adjust each individual’s microphone volume to ensure everyone is at the same level.
There’s an endless number of mixer options for the modern streamer to consider. The biggest consideration for a beginner? How many inputs it has. To determine how many inputs you need, estimate the number of people you may want to have on microphones at the same time.
You should also look for a mixer that has a USB output, as this is the easiest way to get the audio to your computer.
The software is where the magic happens. This is what allows you take your multi-camera inputs and create a polished stream for broadcast, complete with scenes and transitions. This is also where you can take your logo or other graphics and overlay it on the live video.
There are plenty of video streaming and video switching software options out there, both free and paid, each designed to meet a variety of different needs. Before you go live, you’ll need to select and configure one of these packages. Most options offer free trials, too! Make use of those when deciding which package is best for you.
6. Internet Access
You need a quality Internet connection with enough bandwidth to put out a stable live stream. It’s highly recommended that you use a wired network connection and avoid Wi-Fi at all costs!
Once you have your connection, test the speed before you go live. While you can stream with less bandwidth, it’s recommended that you maintain an upload speed between 3 and 5 Mbps.
7. Streaming Channels
Where are you broadcasting to? Where do you want people to watch and react to your live stream?
Want to stream to multiple destinations but don’t have the excess bandwidth or input capabilities to make it happen?
That’s where Switchboard Cloud comes in. Switchboard Cloud is a one-input, kabillion-output platform that simultaneously sends your live stream to all the destinations you choose to broadcast on. Get the most out of your live video content, extend your reach, and maximize the number of potential viewers!