Streaming Gear Setup Upgrade

How to upgrade your streaming equipment

Most streamers don’t start with their ultimate streaming setup. In fact, they shouldn’t. Streaming can be a costly hobby or career so you should live stream for a while first and make sure it’s something you want to do. As technology changes and new gaming titles demand more from your hardware, you will need to upgrade your setup continually. While premium gear isn’t necessary to succeed as a streamer, improving your streaming quality can set you apart from similarly skilled streamers.

When you first start out, you won’t be making much revenue and need to be smart about how you invest it. Every streamer will have different priorities based on their current needs. So how do you decide what part of your stream setup you should upgrade first?

Streaming Gear Setup Upgrade

Prioritizing Your Upgrade

Evaluate your current setup and make a list of things you know could be improved. Is your sound quality not where you want it to be or you need a light to brighten your space? Perhaps your internet speed is too slow or you’re sitting in a really uncomfortable chair?

Make a list of five things that could be better about your stream.

Order your list by priority and always optimize for your viewer’s experience first

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Prioritizing your upgrade

Upgrading Your Setup

Once you have evaluated your streaming setup and created a list of prioritized upgrades, the next step is to choose what item to purchase. Depending on your current needs, upgrading your "setup" may range from buying new peripherals to upgrading your PC. What you decide to upgrade and when is entirely up to you, but here are some common components to consider.

Dual PC Streaming Setup

When it comes to upgrading your PC, you can either improve your current setup or buy a new one. Upgrading your current setup is likely the more efficient option especially when you’re on a budget. In fact, most streamers will only need to upgrade one or two pieces of hardware at a time such as their graphics card or RAM. However, if you need to replace a lot of components, need to upgrade the computer processor itself, or are considering upgrading to a dual PC streaming setup, starting from scratch may make more sense.

Wait, what’s a dual PC streaming setup? Basically, some creators stream using two computers: one for gaming and one for streaming. Though you can stream and play a game from one computer, a dual PC streaming setup allows for a better distribution of the workload. It’s a great way to get even more control over your streaming experience and potentially improve the quality of your stream. That said, this setup can get kind of pricey though and there are plenty of successful single PC streamers out there.

Dual PC Streaming Setup

The easiest way to configure a dual PC streaming setup is by using a capture card to capture the gaming output (video and audio) and then pass that onto the streaming system to send off to your platform of choice. You’ll want the PC with the more powerful CPU to act as the streaming system while the one with the more powerful GPU is used to run your games.

The best dual PC streaming setup

Monitor

Do you find yourself constantly alt-tabbing between programs? Consider getting a second monitor if you don’t already have one in your setup. A dual monitor setup comes with a lot of perks especially if you are streaming games. You can play on a primary monitor while using streaming tools on a secondary one. With more visual real estate space, you can easily view a chat and respond to your viewers in real time. The more information you can see at a glance, the better you’ll be able to keep track of your community and produce the content they want.

Monitors for streaming

Microphone & Accessories

Your audio is one of the most important things outside of your content. One of the first things a viewer will notice is their ability to hear you, your team and the game. Viewers are more likely to forgive imperfect visuals than they are to forgive bad audio. If you don’t have a decent mic, upgrade it.

You have two options when it comes to microphones: USB and XLR. A USB mic connects directly to the USB port on your computer, while an XLR mic requires an external recording interface or a digital I/O. Neither option is inherently better than the other. In fact, many USB mics use the exact same components as their XLR counterparts, so the sound quality is comparable. However, each type of mic excels in different situations.

USB mics like the Blue Snowball or Yeti are a leading choice for gamers because they sound great, they’re easy to use and they don’t require any additional gear. USB mics are ideal for solo-streamers and gamers on-the-go, but if you want to incorporate additional pro audio gear into your set-up like multiple microphones, audio mixers or outboard signal processors, you’ll want an XLR mic.

From trusty handheld mics to iconic studio condensers, there are countless XLR microphones that can help you improve the sound quality of your streams. Dynamic mics like the Shure SM7B or Blue Encore series are great at handling loud noises, so if you’re a screamer or you "tilt" easily, a dynamic microphone can keep you from clipping and creating distortion. On the other hand, condenser mics like the Blue Spark SL or Bluebird SL are capable of capturing more detail and clarity than their dynamic counterparts. Ultimately, your decision will depend on a few factors: budget, microphone type and overall sound quality.

The best microphones for streaming

To connect an XLR microphone to your computer, you need an audio interface. Audio interfaces are complex devices that fill two vital roles in the recording process: preamps to amplify the level of the microphone, and digital converters to convert the analog signal from the mic into a digital signal that can be processed by your computer.

Audio interfaces also allow you to capture independent signals from multiple XLR microphones. If you’re planning on hosting any tournaments, LAN parties or couch co-op competitions with multiple players, a USB mic isn’t going to cut it — it’s time to pick up an audio interface and a few XLR microphones. When it comes time to record, setting up one or more XLR mics is just as easy as recording with a USB mic — simply connect your microphone(s) to the interface using an XLR cable and select the interface as the input source on your streaming platform.

The best audio interfaces for streaming

With a high-quality microphone, your streams should sound significantly better — but with a few accessories, you can improve the sound quality of your streams even more!

  • Microphone boom arms will allow you to get the perfect mic placement much easier and with better posture.
  • Shock mounts are used to isolate microphones from noise, shock and ambient vibration. Designed to work with virtually any microphone or mic clip that has a standard thread mount, shock mounts are the perfect solution for preventing noise from agitating the mic when streaming.
  • Pop filters offer protection from "plosives" or popping sounds caused by bursts of air from "p" and "b" sounds. Plus, as an added bonus, they help prevent spit from getting into the mic during heated moments.
The best microphone arms for streaming

Stream Controller

Even the most basic streams require interaction with the streaming PC like muting a mic, changing scenes or stopping the broadcast. While you can do that manually with your mouse and keyboard, many streamers use devices with programmable macro keys to do so quickly. Basically, you have a board with big buttons tied to a specific action that makes it easy for you to manage your stream without taking a lot of your attention. There are also software alternatives for these physical stream controllers like Streamlabs Deck.

The best Stream controllers

Camera

If you want to invest a bit more in video quality, upgrading your webcam to a DSLR or mirrorless camera might be a good choice. DSLR and mirrorless cameras offer beautiful image quality and since their lenses are usually interchangeable, you have more options for shot customization. However, keep in mind that if you use a DSLR as your webcam, you’ll need a video encoder like the Elgato Cam Link 4K to send your live videos to streaming platforms.

The best cameras for streaming

Lighting

While lighting isn’t the most important part of your stream, it can make your stream look better. In fact, good lighting can sometimes be even more impactful than an expensive video camera. After all, you can’t get a consistently high-quality video without good lighting. Great lighting is especially important if you plan to use a green screen while streaming.

Two of the most commonly used lighting devices by streamers are ring lights and softboxes. Ring lights are perfect for when you don’t have a lot of space. The circular ring-like shape allows you to position your camera in the center so that it’s facing towards you. Some ring lights allow you to adjust the color temperature as well.

Softboxes are often larger in size and use bulbs instead of LEDs. They create diffused light by bouncing light off a second surface and do a better job than ring lights to spread light through the entire workspace.

Softboxes are often larger in size and use bulbs instead of LEDs. They create diffused light by bouncing light off a second surface and do a better job than ring lights to spread light through the entire workspace.

The best Lighting for streaming

Green Screen

If you are streaming in a cramped or cluttered space, you should consider investing in a green screen. A green screen is a screen, cloth or other material that is solid in color. They are typically green or blue, but can be any color. Live streamers generally use a green screen to block out their backgrounds entirely, which is perfect for if you’re sharing space with someone. Some streamers will use it to superimpose their own images over photos or videos to create more unique, appealing scenes for their viewers.

The best Green Screens for streaming

Desk

Streaming involves using a lot of workspace and the foundation of it is your desk. From multiple screens, audio interfaces, streaming decks and other gaming peripherals, you’ll find your streaming desk quickly filling up.

When buying a desk for streaming you should consider these factors:

  • Depth: A deeper desk gives you more space to stay organized. You can add a stand to raise your monitors in the back or store items that are not being used often.
  • Size: You should have enough space available to fit all of your streaming gear and still feel comfortable while streaming.
  • Thickness: Obviously the thicker the top of your desk the sturdier it is. However, you’ll want to take into consideration compatibility with your streaming items like your microphone boom arm which has a maximum clamping width.
  • Height: Is the feet of your desk adjustable? This will be key to your comfort long term as you want to make sure that your desk is at the right height when sitting or standing.
The best desks for streaming

Chair

One of the most important things you need to invest in is a streaming chair. After all, you will be spending tons of hours sitting as you work to take your streaming career to the next level. Look for a chair that is built for comfort with features like lumbar support and adjustable armrests that will help you achieve good posture when sitting for long periods of time.

The best chairs for streaming