If you’re new to live streaming on platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook, then you might be wondering what equipment/ essentials are necessary to get you started.
Building a full-stream set-up might seem like a simple task at first – but with so many different tools and peripherals to choose from, selecting the right essentials for your needs can become an even greater challenge.
In this post, we will cover all of the latest hardware, ranging from switchers to stream decks, and mixers to microphones that will enable you to advance your channel.
So, whether you’re a total beginner or a seasoned full-time streamer, you’ll love this useful list.
What essentials do I need for streaming?
A crisp sounding microphone is extremely important for a streamer. You will often find that the majority of viewers are more interested in the commentary of a stream than the actual gameplay – which is what sets channels apart.
When it comes to microphones there are two different types you can buy: Condenser mics and Dynamic mics. Both have their pros and cons, however, condenser mics are generally considered more sensitive (giving better sound quality over-all frequencies), whereas dynamic mics are renowned for cutting out background noise.
The input connections may also vary. Condenser mics often come with a USB connection, whereas most dynamic mics usually come with an XLR input. So if do decide to go with a dynamic mic you may also need an additional USB interface such as a Mixer and a Cloudlifter to be able to use it.
Your choice of mic should depend on how serious you want to get with your setup. If you’re new to streaming (and have a quiet background), then a USB condenser mic like a Blue Yeti should be more than sufficient for your needs. With that said, the most popular podcasters and top-tier broadcasters will be seen using a dynamic mic.
The Shure MV7 USB Podcast Microphone is a cheaper alternative.
2. Pop filter
Pop filters are the black shields/ windscreens you see in front of microphones. They simply block any fast-moving air that is caused by breathing. You can apply pop filters to both condenser and dynamic mics to reduce or eliminate popping sounds. When set up correctly, they should help to alleviate any unwanted noises from your stream.
3. Mic Stand / Boom Arm
A mic stand (boom arm) helps by allowing you to position your mic in front of your mouth at all times. This is particularly useful if your mic is struggling to pick up sound from a distance, and you get in the habit of learning forward every time you go to speak.
A suspension “boom arm” simply attaches to the top of the microphone stand so it can move in a horizontal plane. When you finally have one setup, you will be pleasantly surprised at how many problems they can solve. Overall, they create a more comfortable streaming experience.
4. Voice Mixer
A voice mixer can transform your voice using different vocal effects. It works by simply adding distortion or by changing the tone or pitch of your voice, which is a pretty cool way to add some style/ flair to your stream.
If you watch a lot of channels online, then you’ve probably noticed that Twitch streamers often do this whenever they get a new sub/ follower. Depending on the approach of your stream, these effects can be another valuable asset if used at your disposal correctly.
Furthermore, if you do go down the route of buying a dynamic mic (with an XLR input), then you will be able to plug this into your voice mixer before connecting it to your PC via USB-C.
Voice mixers can range greatly in price and size. For steaming games, there’s no need to go overkill. A small compact mixer that works for straightforward applications with minimal inputs is all that you really need.
Click here for a list of GoXLR alternatives.
5. Stream Deck
The Elgato Stream Deck is another extremely useful tool that makes using OBS and other streaming programs a pleasure to work with. The idea behind it is to simply eliminate the need for keyboard short keys, for a more interactive approach to studio control.
The main proactive features of the stream deck are designed to allow you to easily switch between scenes, launch media with a quick tap of a key, and level up your onscreen antics using GIFs, images, videos, and audio clips.
Each LCD key is completely customizable giving you immediate access to your most-used icons on your desktop, you are even able to turn each key into folders to amass as many actions as you want. This is especially useful if you wish to neatly organize multiple variations of the same command.
Stream Decks can also save unique key configurations as dedicated profiles for the different games and apps you use. What this means is that you can automatically switch between “key profiles” on the fly, or whenever you change the browsing window.
6. Capture Card
Capture cards convert gameplay signals from external devices (such as your Xbox or PS5) to digital data so that it can be uploaded to the internet. It does this via an HDMI connection.
Many streamers use capture cards in a second PC to help with the heavy CPU-intensive task of encoding video. However, this will not increase the performance of a “single-PC setup” as the “in-game” capture out-performs that of a capture card.
For this reason, if you’re planning to stream from your console, or have a spare laptop lying around that you could dedicate for video-encoding, then you’re going to want to invest in a capture card!
Click here for more information on how to use a capture card.
Click here for the best Budget Capture Cards in 2021.
A reliable HD webcam is another streaming essential for the list. All of the top Twitch streamers have high-quality image resolutions on their streams, which is pretty much what many viewers expect now that the technology is available.
It is possible to stream without a camera but we don’t recommend this. Your audience will remember you from what you look like. Therefore, if you don’t have an image fresh in their minds you will have to compensate with even more personality.
The majority of streamers use the Logitech C922 that shoots at a max resolution of 1080p at 30fps. This is beyond adequate for 95% of people who are just looking to stream games. The next step up is a Brio. Thanks to the improved 4K sensor, this produces even crisper image quality.
The correct lighting can improve the visual appearance of your stream, and increase the functionality of your game space. In contrast, bad lighting can ruin your overall gaming experience.
When using a camera/ webcam you will need to keep your room well lit at all times. This is required so enough light can reach the camera-sensor, creating a sharp video image. Green screens also require a perfect spread of natural lighting to function properly.
If you have a green screen then you will have to light it up independently. Use big, soft natural light sources, and a minimum of two lights to illuminate the backdrop.
Most gaming setups also use color smart lights, letting you choose from thousands of colors to meet your steaming preference.
Click here for a guide on the best Lighting for Streaming.
Click here for the best Elgato Key light alternatives.
9. Green Screen
An un-tidy background is definitely something to avoid when you’re streaming live. Green screens can be an effective solution to conceal any clutter in your workspace. You might also want to own one for creating special effects on your videos similar to Dr DisRespect.
Green screens do have their pros and cons. On the plus side, they’re relatively cheap and can easily attach to the back of a chair (like the one below).
For cons, they restrict your movement, and require a flawless spread of natural lighting to prevent any dark, fuzzy patches from showing up on camera.
If you don’t have the luxury of having a large personalized area to do your streams from, then a green screen setup might be the perfect answer you’re looking for.
Click here for the best Green Screens for Streaming.
10. Dedicated Streaming PC
More recently, a two PC setup has become a clever live-streaming solution for streamers wanting to play CPU-intensive games. This is because a second PC can help to remove the CPU-intensive workload of encoding completely from your main gaming machine.
As a result, there will be less load on the system running the game, therefore allowing it to reach greater FPS and run smoother/ better streams.
Besides taking the stress of your main gaming PC, this approach can benefit the steamer in several ways. If your game freezes or crashes and you have to restart, your stream won’t be affected.
Furthermore, as you won’t need a top-tier CPU or GPU in the main gaming PC, it can often save you money from having to upgrade to the most expensive parts.
If you think a dedicated streaming PC could benefit you… Click here for a list of the top pre-built systems in 2021.
11. Second Monitor
In addition to a second PC, a second monitor can really help a lot. This will provide plenty of extra display space for all the things that you wouldn’t want to do on your primary monitor. e.g. responding to chat, controlling the stream, etc.
Click here for the 6 best Monitors/ Second Monitors!
12. HDMI Display Adapter Converter
An HDML adapter-converter is a USB input device that makes it possible to record from an HDMI input (such as your DSLR camera). The HD signal from your DSLR or Mirrorless camera can then be captured, recorded, and encoded ready to be uploaded to any site.
Most of the newer products provide high-speed transmissions of up to 5Gbps. They are small in size making them portable and easy to carry. All in all, they’re a very useful essential that assists in high-quality data streaming from external sources.
Click here for the best Elgato Cam Link alternatives.
13. Mirrorless camera
As full-time streamers earnings start to rise on Twitch, many upgrade their webcam to a mirrorless camera to achieve that next level of image quality.
It goes without saying that an $800 camera can outperform a webcam in virtually every way. Besides the obvious increase in megapixels, expect far superior low-light sensitivity, additional auto-focus points, as well as an improvement in frames per second.
Furthermore, with higher operating temperatures and an AC adapter for extended use, you won’t have to worry about things breaking down. A mirrorless is far better suited for 8-10 hours a day of continuous operation in virtually every condition.
When things start to get more serious, it’s definitely a streaming essential worth investing in.
Another big pro of using a mirrorless camera is the ability to mount a large selection of lenses. This provides more versatility when you are searching for image quality or how much scene you want to view in the shot.
The Sigma 16mm – f/1.4 is often touted as one of the best lenses for streaming for those exact reasons.
15. Camera/ Lighting Mounting System
Another streaming essential you’ll want to invest in is the Elgato Master Mount L system.
This three-piece configuration includes the Master Mount L, the Flex Arm L, and the Solid Arm from Elgato. You’ll be able to mix and match these core components together to get the perfect mounting set up for your camera and lighting hardware, all without cluttering up your streaming space.
Elgato is famous for “overbuilding” their components and this space-saving mounting system is no exception. Each piece of steel tubing has durable ball joints that offer just the right amount of flexibility without sacrificing rigidity. This lets you reposition your camera/ lighting set up effortlessly before “locking it” into place when you have it where you want it.
You’ll love how simple Elgato makes holding a mirrorless camera, positioning your lighting pods, and keeping your space free and uncluttered. Your productivity and creativity will skyrocket, and the quality of your streaming productions will jump up, too.
16. Video Switcher
A video switcher allows you to flick between multiple cameras during a live stream.
Video switchers are commonly used in video production, however, the same principles apply to Twitch streaming.
Essentially, they work by channeling the incoming video signals (from your gaming consoles, or HD cameras) into one single output (in this case, the monitor). As a result, this reduces the need for multiple monitors.
With the ATEM Mini Pro Blackmagic listed below, you won’t need an Elgato Cam Link either. Much like the Cam Link, the ATEM Mini Pro also converts the video signals over a USB connection, in addition to offering the extra functionality that’s needed to control multiple HDMI outputs.
This makes it excellent for streaming multi-camera shoots on a budget.
17. Ergonomic Chair
Ergonomic chairs are designed to be comfortable for long periods so you can completely focus on the game. Proper posture reduces muscle strains and tension, which will in-turn increase your energy levels.
Ergonomic chairs often have a high tapered backrest and lumbar pillows to support your posture. This helps by removing the pressure from your neck while also keeping the spine in alignment. The thick padding absorbs the weight of your body.
The adjustable features allow you to adapt the perfect screen height for your size and find the right angle of the legs. A quality chair will cushion your body and provide relaxation at all times to maintain the right blood flow.
Click here for the 15 best Chairs for Streaming in 2021!
18. Adjustable Desk
Adjustable desks aren’t only capable of providing health benefits but they can also make you feel more engaged in the game. It’s often recommended to have “standing-in-between periods” to help improve blood circulation and reduce muscle tension.
The majority of adjustable desks feature high-lift-capacity to support all your gaming equipment and also come with a good cable management option. A good desk will be completely stable to make sure the mouse movement is accurate.
This desk comes with a customizable height memory setting, allowing you to adjust the height and save your favourite. With memory settings, you can quickly transition from sitting to standing without losing any focus on the game.
Click here for the 15 best Large Desks for Streaming!
Soundproofing is another streaming essential that can be used to maximize your gaming performance. It will allow you to focus on your game for the entire night without bothering anyone in the household.
There is a phenomenon called “auditory masking” which means that loud sounds can mask weaker sounds. External noises can affect your game but increasing the volume to mask out the outside noise will increase your chance of suffering hearing loss.
There are several ways to soundproof your room, however, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Some of the most popular options include thickening the walls by covering the area using titles, or purchasing a pair of Soundproofing Curtains for your window.
Cable management involves organizing and relocating the cables from the setup’s hardware. Gaming hardware comes with countless amounts of cables that can easily get tangled. Besides being generally annoying, this can make moving or changing your setup a near impossible job.
Good cable management increases safety and reduces maintenance time. There is no need to invest a lot of money to achieve this. These accessories will provide a neat and tidy gaming space that you can show off to your friends.
A top-tier headset will help to provide you with an accurate sense of your surroundings so you can identify enemy movement. Fortunately, there’s a large selection to choose from in the market right now, as many of the leading audio brands are also producing their own gaming headsets.
To meet the needs of a streamer, the headset should be lightweight and comfortable to wear for many hours, produce crisp audio when speaking into the microphone, and feature surround sound.
Other qualities may also include detachable cords with wireless capabilities, allowing you the freedom to move around seamlessly. If you are planning to use a standalone mic then you might even want to look for a headset with a detachable mic.
22. Gaming Mouse
Gaming mice can come in many different shapes and sizes, and may even be specialized for FPS’s or MOBA’s. However, they do typically share some common traits that make them far superior to the standard mouse.
Aside from making the game feel better, on the whole, most streamers purchase gaming mice for several reasons. These include having better sensors, a high-polling rate, and adjustable DPI (sensitivity). In addition to this, assignable buttons can be a real game changer.
The ergonomic design and build quality of a mouse are also important factors. A gaming mouse is definitively worth it for a streamer who is aiming to be comfortable for long periods, and not have to worry about the scroll wheel breaking.
Don’t forget a thick, large mousepad to compliment your mouse. Ideally, you want one with a super-slick surface that has a high amount of static friction, but a low amount of kinetic friction to get the best results. Different pads will give you different gliding speeds.
The right one for you might be subjective, but there’s no going wrong with this one.
23. Mechanical Keyboard
A good mechanical keyboard is a staple of nearly every PC gaming setup. They’re generally built a lot better than the average keyboard, actuate quicker, and produce less audible clicking during gaming sessions.
In particular, Razer, Corsair, ASUS, and Logitech are very well known within the PC Gaming community. Most of which use patented Cherry MX switches (e.g. Reds, Silent blacks), which will help to prevent you from picking up any unnecessary clanking sounds during your live streams.
Mechanical keyboards can also come with a ton of other preferential features that may even improve your gaming, such as additional keys, digital dials for volume or brightness, RGB backlighting, and ergonomic wrist-rests to keep you playing for longer.
Click here for the 17 best 65% Mechanical Keyboards!
24. Gaming Router
A top-of-the-line gaming router is a “must-have” upgrade, especially for content creators with large homes and multiple WI-FI devices spread throughout their network.
Unlike regular routers, gaming routers integrate many useful features, including Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities. QoS prioritizes traffic for specific groups of traffic (e.g. work from home, learning, gaming, etc.) or for individual connected devices that are a part of these groups.
Besides this, top routers have the latest wireless protocols, multi-band Wi-Fi frequencies, and gigabit Ethernet connections (some even offer up to 10 Gb Ethernet these days).
Naturally, having the latest next-gen wireless protocol results in faster max operating speeds, whereas dual or tri-frequency bands increases the number of available channels. That’s ideal for users who are living in congested areas and wish to improve their performance.
It’s also common for gaming routers to have much more RAM and a better processor than regular routers. When bandwidth is spread across multiple connections, this helps to decrease latency and provide more of a buffer.
Click here for the best routers for the PS5!
Signing up for a high-speed internet connection is another crucial essential for streaming. This is because your image quality will depend on your upload speed – the data packets you send out.
Twitch has a recommended upload speed of 3-6 megabits per second, however, you’re probably going to want a connection even higher than this if you plan on streaming in HD. Not only will a fast connection benefit your viewers, but it will also benefit your game-play.
Streaming with a bit rate of fewer than 3 Mbps might result in stuttering for your audience due to a loss of information. Likewise, instead of relying on a Wi-Fi signal where packets can be lost, use a Cat 6/7 Ethernet cable straight from the router.
If your router is too far from your setup, then a pair of WiFi Extenders with an Ethernet port is probably your best bet for a strong connection.