Best streaming setups for beginners

These are the products you need to get started streaming on Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook.

Tfue's streaming setup - Image via Eve Edelheit

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 programs, cameras, and microphones you need to run your first live stream. 

Beyond your computer, there are four things you need to produce a high quality livestream:

  1. Microphone
  2. Camera
  3. Lights
  4. Software

Here are some recommendations of the best beginner equipment to buy so that you can get to work producing high quality streams.

Microphone

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 great options for beginner USB microphone setups that won’t break the bank.

Neat Widget Series Microphones

Image via NEAT

The Neat Widget USB mics feature a cardioid pick-up pattern, easy plug-and-play functionality, and colorful stream-friendly designs. The Widget USB mics come in three different shapes—all of them are very affordable, however.

One nice feature Neat mics bring is they have a built-in pop filter and shock mount, helping the mic record clean audio straight out of the box.

The only downside to the Neat mic is that it only comes with one pick-up pattern, so it is less versatile than some USB mics which feature a variety of pick up patterns.

Blue Yeti

Image via Blue

For those who are looking for a slightly more versatile USB microphone experience, the Yeti is a great choice. The Yeti comes with four different pick up patterns: omnidirectional, cardioid, bidirectional, and stereo. That means the Yeti does everything the Widget Mics do, and more.

But the Yeti clocks in at nearly three times the starting price as the Widget. The Yeti does go on sale pretty frequently, so if you are looking to pick one up keep an eye out for deals.

Cameras

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 how much you want to spend. You can invest in a nice USB webcam or spring for a more flexible camera like a GoPro, which can be used as a webcam.

Logitech webcams

Image via Logitech

For the quick and easy option, Logitech’s upper-end webcams can be really useful. They automatically focus, don’t require any batteries, and come in a decent quality configurations. They will never offer the picture quality of a more expensive standard camera, but they are a great option for beginners who want a face cam without spending hundreds of dollars and without the hassle of setting up a full blown camera studio on their desk.

GoPro

Image via GoPro

The GoPro is a great alternative to traditional webcams and can be used in a wider variety of contexts when not streaming. The GoPro has decent battery life, a solid autofocus system, and is the right size for a desk. The GoPro is more expensive than a Logitech webcam, but it will be higher quality and you can use it for broader purposes than just the webcam. If you decide to go with the GoPro, you will likely want to pick up a small tripod to go with it.

Lighting

One of the biggest difference-makers in regards to video quality is your lighting. You can have an amazing camera, but if your 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, LED’s won’t make your room heat up the way traditional hot lights would. As an added bonus, they also aren’t a fire hazard like many video lights.

GVM 560AS Bi-Color LED 2-Panel Kit

Image via GVM

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. 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. If you are looking for a lighting set up you can use for a long time to come, this is a great option.

Neewer 2 Pack Dimmable 5600k USB LED Video Light Kit

Image via Neewer

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, though any similar product will also do the trick. This light kit is a great starter pack for those who need some LED lights with stands but don’t need professional standard equipment yet.

Software

The good news is that most streaming software is free and there are some great free options for video editing software as well.

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 better comes down to personal preference. Streamlabs does offer some nice quality of life features, like including some free overlays, however, so that program might be a good place to start if you are new to streaming.

As for video editing, there are some good 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 professional video editing program.

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