Streaming on platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook Gaming can be a great way to explore your creativity and join a vibrant community of online creators. For beginners, however, it can be daunting to gather all the hardware required to run your first live stream.
Beyond a computer with reasonable processing power, there are four things you need to produce a high-quality livestream: a microphone, a webcam or camera, streaming software, and, ideally, a lighting setup. Luckily, buying quality products at a bargain to fulfill these necessities isn’t a hard task these days.
Here are some recommendations for the best beginner equipment to buy so that you can get to work producing high-quality streams.
High-quality audio is a necessity in any decent online content. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to listen to someone speaking into a low-quality microphone. Luckily, over the past several years, the cost of high-quality USB microphones has dropped significantly. Here are two ideal options for beginner USB microphone setups that won’t break the bank.
AudioPro’s USB mic is a quality budget option that doesn’t receive a lot of love from the streaming community. This is likely due to a lack of recognition in the face of other, more recognizable brands. That said, this USB mic has a lot to offer an entry-level streamer.
This unidirectional mic has a cardioid pickup pattern, which helps to block out any unwanted noise that isn’t coming straight from the streamer’s position. In terms of quality, it boasts a sample rate of 124kHz and a 24-bit depth.
Simply put, this means that the AudioPro USB mic has a recording quality that’s reasonably higher than some of its famous USB competitors while also being a fair bit cheaper. Pound for pound, it’s hard for an entry-level streamer to find a microphone that can match this mic’s value.
For those who are looking for a slightly more versatile USB microphone experience, the Yeti is a common and reliable choice. The Yeti comes with four different pickup patterns: omnidirectional, cardioid, bidirectional, and stereo. That means the Yeti has a lot more versatility than the AudioPro USB mic. Thanks to these pickup patterns, recording in settings where there are multiple sources of audio, such as a podcast, is far more efficient with the Yeti.
Where the Yeti falls short is in the recording quality itself. The sample rate clocks in at 48kHz with a 16-bit depth. Luckily, there’s no guesswork needed to know if that quality is high enough to justify buying the Yeti for its other strengths. Plenty of videos testing this mic provide clear examples of what kind of audio quality you can expect.
The final aspect of this product to consider is price. The Yeti does price itself significantly higher than the AudioPro, despite the price still being low enough to consider as a budget option.
For the streamers who would like to have a webcam on their livestream, you will need a camera. There are a lot of different options for beginner cameras, depending on the budget.
Logitech’s C922 is a webcam that takes the mantle as the best budget option for entry-level streamers. The 30fps at 1080p setting offers surprisingly sharp image quality for the price. That said, moving to 720p to hit 60fps will drastically lower the image quality, and isn’t as viable for those who want to keep their streams or recordings looking clean.
The built-in microphone is a nice touch but should be avoided by anyone who wants half-decent audio quality to their streams. Not to belabor this point too much, but having an external microphone is an absolute necessity for streamers.
The C922 is one of the most popular budget webcams around, and as long as one sticks to 30fps at 1080p, it will do its name justice.
The Kiyo is a strong option for new streamers who either want a 60 frame option at 720p or would like a 1080p image at 30fps. The image quality isn’t anything extraordinary, and the Razer software that comes as a complimentary package with the Kiyo is somewhat clunky and doesn’t provide any extraordinary improvements over its default settings. That said, the Kiyo remains as a budget webcam that fills the niche for streamers who want to save a buck while getting some customization with their recordings.
As a cherry on top, the Kiyo comes complete with a ring light built around its camera, which may negate the need for any extra lighting setup for beginners.
One of the biggest difference-makers in regards to video quality is lighting. Beginners can have an amazing camera, but if their lighting is bad, the image will still look grainy and poor.
When it comes to lighting for streaming, nothing beats LED panels. LED panels provide a reasonable amount of light, don’t burn out quickly, and are highly adjustable in brightness. Most importantly, LEDs won’t make your room heat up the way traditional hot lights would. As a bonus, they also aren’t a fire hazard like many video lights.
This kit is a bit pricey but worth it for those who want the highest quality lighting. The kit comes with two full LED panels, stands, and a few different modifiers that will help you zero in the perfect lighting. This kit is a bit pricey but worth it for those who want the highest quality lighting.
The kit comes with two LED panels, stands, and a few different modifiers that will help you zero in the perfect lighting. The panels are dimmable, so you can make them exactly as bright or as dim as you need.
Another advantage of these lights over a cheap LED option is the ability to change the color temperature when needed. For beginners looking for a lighting setup to use for a long time to come, this is a dependable option.
For those who aren’t looking to drop $200 on lighting, there are a number of different lower-cost LED panels available. The Neewer 2 Pack LED video light kit is one example of a lower-cost option. Any similar product will also do the trick, though. This light kit is a suitable starter pack for those who need some LED lights with stands but don’t need professional equipment yet.
Most streaming software is free. Additionally, if making YouTube videos on the side sounds interesting, video editing software also comes in a variety of free options that boast high-quality.
Some of the most common software options for live streaming include OBS Studio and Streamlabs. Both programs are free to download and use. They both work on Windows, Mac, or Linux systems. Which one is best comes down to personal preference. Streamlabs offers some nice quality-of-life features, including some free overlays, so it might be a better place to start for beginners.
As for video editing, there are some impressive free options out there. The best free video editing software on the market is DaVinci Resolve. It’s relatively easy to learn and has all the options of a costly professional video editing program without the high price.
This article includes affiliate links, which may provide small compensation to Dot Esports.