If you’re new to live streaming on platforms such as Twitch, YouTube or Mixer, 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 game play 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 of better sound quality over all frequencies), and dynamic mics are renowned for cutting out background noise.
The input connections may also vary. Condenser mics often come with a USB connection and most dynamic mics usually come with an XLR input. So if do decide to go with a dynamic mic you may need an addition USB interface such as a mixer or cloud lifter 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. However most popular podcasts or top tier broadcasters will been seen using a dynamic mic.
2. Pop filter
Pop filters are the black shields/ windscreens you see in front of microphones. They will simply block any fast-moving air that is caused when breathing to reduce or eliminate popping sounds. Pop filters can be applied to both condenser and dynamic mics and should help to alleviate any unwanted noises in your stream.
3. Mic Stand / Boom Arm
A mic stand and boom arm will help allow you to position your mic in front of your mouth at all times. This can be 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. Overall you might be pleasantly surprised at how many problems they can solve, in-turn helping to create a more comfortable streaming experience.
A reliable HD webcam is another streaming essential for the list. All of the top Twtich streamers have high quality image resolutions on their streams, which is pretty much expected 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, so 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 comes with 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, having 4K capabilities and a much crisper image due to the improved sensor quality.
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 wirelessly 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.
Click here for a guide on the best headsets for streaming in 2020!
6. Stream Deck
The stream deck in another extremely useful tool that makes using OBS and other streaming programs a pleasure to work with. The ideal 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.
The stream deck 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.
7. 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. This 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 this is another valuable asset at your disposal if used correctly.
If you have decided to go down the route of using a dynamic mic that has an XLR input, then you will be able to plug this into a voice mixer before connecting it to your PC via USB.
Voice mixers can range greatly in price and sizes. For steaming games there’s no need to go overkill. A small compact mixer that works for straightforward applications with minimal input needs is all that is required.
8. Capture Card
Capture cards are used to convert gameplay signals from external devices (such as your Xbox or PS4), to digital data so that it can be uploaded to the internet. It does this via a 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.
So, If you’re planning to stream from your Xbox, PS4, or Wii, 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.
9. HDMI Display Adapter Converter
A 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. They are simply a great essential that assists in high-quality data streaming from external sources.
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 is able to 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 colour smart lights, letting you to choose from thousands of colours to meet your steaming preference.
Click here for a guide on the best lighting for streaming.
11. 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 work-space. You might also want to own one for creating special effects on your videos similar to Dr DisRespect.
Green screens have their pros and cons. On the plus side they’re relatively cheap and can be easily attached to the back of a chair like this one below. However, they can also restrict your movement and require an even spread of natural lighting.
If you don’t have the luxury of having a large personalised area to do your streams from, then a green screen setup might be the perfect answer you’re looking for.
12. Video Switcher
A video switcher allows you to switch between different camera angles during your stream.
If you have more than one camera setup you may need a video switcher to change between different video or audio sources.
Video switchers are commonly used in video filming but the same principles apply for streaming games. They allow you to select incoming video signals and direct them into one single output (in this case, the monitor).
The use of a video switcher in gaming reduces the need for many monitors, so you won’t need to use up as much space. A good video switcher is efficient in streaming control and reliable to prevent any technical failures.
13. Gaming Chair
Gaming chairs are designed to be comfortable for long periods of time so you can so you can completely focus on the game. Proper posture reduces muscle strains and tension, this will in-turn increase your energy levels.
Gaming 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.
14. 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 an electronic customizable height memory setting, allowing you adjust the height automatically by pressing the remote, and also save your favourite. With memory settings you can quickly transition from sitting to standing without losing the focus on the game.
15. Gaming 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 silent key switches. e.g. Cherry Reds, which will help to prevent you from picking up any unnecessary clanking sounds during your 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.
16. Gaming Mouse
Gaming mice can come in many different shapes and sizes, and may even be specialized for FPS’s or MOBA’s. They do however typically have some common traits which make them far superior to the standard mouse.
Aside from making the game feel better on the whole, most streamers purchase gaming mice due to having better sensors, a high-polling rate, adjustable DPI (sensitivity), and assignable buttons that can be a real game changer.
The ergonomic design and build quality and are also important factors. A gaming mouse is definitively worth it for a streamer who is looking to be comfortable for long periods of time, 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.
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 in order to mask out the outside noise will increase your risk 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. This can make moving or changing your setup a near impossible job.
Cable management increases safety and reduces maintenance time. There is no need to invest a lot of money to have good cable management. These accessories will provide a neat and tidy gaming space that you can show off to your friends.
Signing up to high-speed internet connection is another crucial essential for streaming online as 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 also your game-play.
Streaming with a bit rate of less than 3mbps might result in stuttering for your audience due to a loss of information. Like-wise, instead of using Wi-Fi where packets can be lost, use an 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.
20. PC / Second Monitor
Assuming you don’t already have a Gaming PC, Twitch recommends your computer have an Intel Core i5-4670 processor or AMD equivalent, at least 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM and Windows 7 Home Premium or higher.
The majority of streamers will have specs much higher than this, with some streamers like Shroud having a separate gaming and streaming PC to help deal with the heavy programme resources, or in the event of a crash.
A second monitor can also really help a lot. This will allow you do things that you don’t really want to do on your first PC, such as: responding to chat, controlling the stream and generally anything else that needs to be done.