Best OBS Studio Settings for Broadcasting Live Streams [Updated for 2023]
As live video streaming becomes more prevalent in our day-to-day lives, many businesses are experimenting with broadcasting. For those new to live streaming, this involves learning to deal with the many technicalities involved in streaming live video. Some of them are calibrating live streaming settings according to optimal video bitrates and managing stream output quality, sound output quality, and CPU usage when you record videos.
OBS, or open broadcaster software, is one such tool that makes the technical side of streaming simpler to manage. Why do broadcasters need to learn OBS bitrate streaming settings? Because knowing the best OBS studio settings is how you can elevate your live streams to professional-grade broadcasts. Learning to play around with OBS studio settings for streaming also gives you greater control over the elements that make up your streaming content, such as video resolution, rather than relying on the default settings alone.
It’s pretty easy to create high-quality live streams today, but successful live broadcasts require a little know-how and technical experience or understanding. Learning output quality settings and how they impact your video content enables you to create better live streams within the internet latency and set-up capabilities you have available.
One critical technical topic related to broadcasting is live stream encoding software and the encoding process. Encoding is essential to professional live streaming for several reasons.
This guide walks you through the best OBS studio settings for streaming and professional broadcasting. We’ve put together our top tips for optimizing OBS settings for live streaming. First, we’ll review what OBS and Studio mode is and what it does.
Once we’ve covered the basics, we’ll outline the best stream settings for OBS Studio broadcasts.
We updated this tutorial in March 2023 to reflect the best OBS Studio settings for the latest version.
Table of Contents
- What is Encoding?
- What is OBS Studio?
- How to Configure Your OBS Studio Settings
- Best OBS Studio Settings for Streaming Audio and Video
- OBS Studio vs. Streamlabs OBS
What is Encoding?
Simply put, encoders allow you to convert your video files from RAW to digital to prepare them for transmission from your camera to your live streaming platform host. Along with a recording device and reliable internet, a functional encoder is a must for broadcasters.
The analog video signals your camera generates will be converted into digital signals that can be transmitted over the internet to a CDN (content delivery network) and then to your viewers.
Without encoding, you can’t transfer your live streaming content from your device to your viewers over the internet. The encoded content is decoded on the viewer’s end and this helps them watch your content.
Encoders come in the form of both software and hardware. Software encoders are typically free or low-cost, but hardware encoders can get quite expensive.
Research shows that 67% of viewers rank video output quality as the most important factor in a live stream. As a broadcaster, you can ensure high-quality video content for your viewers by choosing the best OBS Studio settings before you go live.
And that’s because your video bitrate determines the live stream audio and video output quality that the viewers will see. So, you need to get your OBS studio bitrates right to deliver quality content to your viewers.
What is OBS Studio?
OBS Studio is a community-developed, open-source live streaming encoding software application.
OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software, and it’s an invaluable resource for anyone looking to maintain exceptional video recording quality in the content they create. For broadcasters and content creators, regardless of their experience level in video-making, OBS studio is easy to use for multi-platform full screen recording, casting and streaming. The only investment required is the time to learn optimal OBS studio settings for streaming and video recording.
OBS Studio is a free, open-source RTMP-enabled encoder software perfect for new and experienced broadcasters. This open-source live streaming software allows users to capture and stream live video from any Mac, Windows, or Linux computer.
RTMP stands for “Real-Time Messaging Protocol,” and it is part of the technology that makes live streaming possible. RTMP’s primary role is to deliver content from an encoder to an online video host. This RTMP function is referred to as “RTMP ingest.” For OBS, the RTMP protocol bridges the gap between its encoding and streaming functions.
As we mentioned, professional live streaming requires either a software or hardware encoder. This equipment works to encode a live video feed into the correct format for streaming through your online video platform (OVP).
OBS Studio offers many great features for new broadcasters just getting the hang of live streaming. The software has a set of OBS-specific system requirements to ensure the most optimal live broadcasting experience. These settings include mixing multiple sources with custom transitions, using audio/video filters and correction tools, and more.
The latest version of OBS is OBS Studio 30.0.0 was released on November 11th, 2023. It is free to download for macOS 11 or newer and supports both macOS(Intel) and macOS(Apple Silicon), Windows 10 and 11, and Ubuntu 20.04 operating systems or newer. For the Linux version, FFmpeg is required.
OBS Studio is especially easy to use for Dacast users since we’ve created a custom OBS Studio portal that is free for our users. This article will help you configure the best OBS settings for your streaming content.
Why Do OBS Settings Matter?
Choosing the right OBS settings can make a huge difference in the output quality of your recording. If your settings are too low, your video may be blurry, pixelated, or choppy. On the other hand, if your settings are too high, your video may be too large, take up too much space, or be difficult to upload and share. Finding the right balance is key.
It’s particularly important to get your OBS settings right when you’re planning on live streaming using it. That’s because live streams should be light enough for your viewers to watch them in real-time. If you set up OBS to only upload the stream in the highest settings, there’s a good chance that the viewers will have to face long periods of buffering.
And that’s where full control over the OBS studio bitrate comes in. By choosing the right bitrate settings, you can ensure your audio and video output quality are the best possible for the viewers based on their data speeds.
How to Configure Your OBS Studio Settings
First, open the OBS Studio settings by clicking the “Settings” button in the bottom-right area of the application window.
The first tab, labeled “General”, doesn’t have anything too critical to review. However, you can choose your language and a light or dark theme here.
Next up is the “Streaming” tab, where the magic happens. To access the streaming tab, click on the next tab labeled “Stream” in the OBS Studio settings window. The streaming tab is where you can select your streaming service. In this case, Dacast.
For “Stream Type”, you should see “Custom…” by default. If not, please select it.
Next, you need to enter the streaming credentials provided by your online streaming service including the stream URL (server), stream key, username, and password. You can find these credentials on your OVP’s streaming encoder setup page.
On Dacast, fetching these credentials looks like this:
- Go to your Dacast account, and open or create the channel you want to live stream with OBS. Open your “Encoder Setup”.
- You will choose “Stream Name”, click on copy and go back to OBS to paste the key in the Stream Key field.
- You have to do the same for “Server”, copied in the Stream URL. Repeat this for the username and password.
Option with iFrame Embed Code:
<iframe src=”https://iframe.dacast.com/vod/3b67c4a9-3886-4eb1-d0eb-39b23b14bef3/08cebf46-2960-07df-89bf-4479e6b4be0e” width=”590″ height=”431″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” allow=”autoplay” allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>
Option with JS Embed Code:
<script id=”3b67c4a9-3886-4eb1-d0eb-39b23b14bef3-vod-08cebf46-2960-07df-89bf-4479e6b4be0e” width=”590″ height=”431″ src=”https://player.dacast.com/js/player.js?contentId=3b67c4a9-3886-4eb1-d0eb-39b23b14bef3-vod-08cebf46-2960-07df-89bf-4479e6b4be0e” class=”dacast-video”></script>
Option with Share link:
Best OBS Studio Settings for Streaming Audio and Video
To stream with the best quality output possible, it is essential to choose the best settings for your video encoder. Changing quality settings to optimize streaming is easy with OBS Studio; just use the Video tab and Audio tab to configure these settings.
Your encoder is responsible for the audio output quality recorded from multiple sources: your external microphone and audio track. It also ensures the video output quality of your live streams is as high as possible, depending on the CPU usage preset.
Here are a few of the best OBS settings for streaming audio and video content, including the bitrate settings.
1. OVP-Specific Setting Requirements
Different online video platforms have different encoder setting requirements. That’s because each video or multi stream platform uses different technology to bring streams to life. Another reason is differences in requirements such as stream output quality, video resolution, and the built-in CPU usage preset in the broadcaster’s system. That’s why selecting your OVP according to your needs and desired output as a broadcaster is important.
Dacast, for example, has a few required OBS settings that apply to this and any other encoding software you may use.
These required live encoder settings include:
|VIDEO CODEC||H.264 (x264 may work)|
|FRAME RATE||25 or 30|
|KEYFRAME INTERVAL||3 secs (or 3x frame rate)|
|ENCODING BITRATE||Constant Bitrate (CBR)|
|AUDIO BITRATE||128 kbps|
|AUDIO CHANNELS||2 (Stereo)|
|AUDIO SAMPLE RATE||48 kHz (48,000 Hz)|
2. OBS Output Settings
To change your OBS Studio settings, you must open the “Output Settings“ in your OBS Studio account. Here, you’ll find settings related to streaming and recording where you can set your bitrate for the video and audio, type of encoder, recording quality, recording format, and the recording path, among other things. You can also choose the output mode.
In the default settings, the selected output settings tab is selected as “Simple”. To optimize your OBS settings for streaming and to ensure your live stream is stable and fully functional we recommend you follow the configuration settings shared in the “Encoder Setup” window, pictured below:
Customizing these settings through the video tab and audio tab will ensure higher video quality and audio quality for your stream. In this output mode, you only need to focus on the video bitrate and the audio bitrate to optimize output resolution.
By default, the OBS audio bitrate and video bitrate settings will be in low definition. Here, you can control your stream quality by selecting the optimal video bitrate to broadcast high-quality video.
Our suggested video OBS bitrate settings for different resolutions include:
|Name||Ultra-Low Definition||Low Definition||Standard Definition||High Definition||Full High Definition|
|Video Bitrate (kbps)||350||350 – 800||800 – 1200||1200 – 1900||1900 – 4500|
|Resolution Width (px)||426||640||854||1280||1920|
|Resolution Height (px)||240||360||480||720||1080|
|Audio Bitrate (kbps)||64||64||128||256||256|
Let’s take a look at the audio settings now. You can easily customize these settings from the audio tab. You can add any audio device, such as desktop audio or external microphone. If you are only streaming audio, you can get away with OBS bitrate settings as low as 64 kbps. However, you should up your audio bitrate settings to 192-320 kbps for better audio quality output.
The higher the bitrate for your audio, the more crisp your live stream’s sound will be for the listeners. This is particularly important when they’re streaming videos in higher resolutions, and that’s why the audio bitrate needs to keep up with the video bitrate as the resolution increases.
We recommend downloading OBS Lua, which is an OBS-specific bitrate calculator. That’ll help you find the best OBS settings for your streaming needs.
3. Bitrate and Internet Speed
As you manipulate your bitrate settings, it is essential to consider your internet connection.
Your internet speed must be at least double your OBS bitrate if you want to produce a high-quality stream. Otherwise, you’ll run into buffering issues. Video quality isn’t the only element that defines the overall experience your content delivers to your viewers. Streaming with no buffering should be equally important as high video and audio quality output.
For example, if your internet upload speed is 2000 Mbps, then your OBS setting for streaming, audio, and video bitrates should not exceed 1000 Mbps.
You can search “internet speed test” on Google and click “RUN SPEED TEST” to test how fast your internet is.
Additionally, you can test your internet connection speed by going to the website testmy.net. By getting your bitrate right, you can ensure that the viewers won’t have to face constant interruptions for buffering when they’re watching your videos.
It’s equally important to consider your target audience when you’re determining the bitrate for your audio and video files. Are they going to watch your content on their smartphones or laptops? If they’re going to watch them while on the move, you might have to give them the option to lower the bitrates as their data speeds could fluctuate.
Alternatively, you can opt for adaptive bitrate streaming, which enables you to dynamically change the bitrate of your live stream based on the data speed of the viewer. This way, they won’t have to face prolonged buffering periods and will have a smooth streaming experience.
4. Advanced Output Mode
Advanced settings and rate control can also be accessed and changed through the output tab to produce better-quality streams. If you select the “Advanced” output mode, you’ll get access to more options for the best OBS settings.
Some of the settings available here include options for streaming, recording, audio, and replay buffer. You can set your bitrate, choose your encoder, set your CPU usage, and more. To ensure a quality stream output, you should use the following settings:
Pay close attention to ensure that your output mode is set to “Advanced”, the rate control is set as “CBR”, or constant bitrate, and the keyframe interval is equal to 3. You can also choose ABR (adaptive bitrate), VBR (variable bitrate), and CRF (constant rate factor). ABR is particularly helpful in situations where your viewers have fluctuating internet speeds.
The other setting on the Output OBS Studio settings page relates to recording your broadcast. This feature enables you to record the live stream to a local drive as you stream.
We recommend enabling this setting if you haven’t set up an auto-archiving feature with your live streaming platform. Use “Same as Stream” or “Indistinguishable Quality” for recording quality, “mp4” for recording format, and “x.264” for the encoder.
Hotkeys allow you to set up different scenes within your live stream encoding software. That way, you can switch between the scenes during your live broadcast.
How you configure your hotkeys will depend on your specific needs. For example, you could set up unlimited number of hotkeys for specific overlays and inputs.
There are several default hotkeys on OBS Studio, but they are turned off by default. You can check out the documentation for using hotkeys for streaming with OBS Studio on GitHub.
6. Video Sources
To add a video source, click on the “+” button in the “Sources” widget. You can select a display capture, screen recorder, video capture device, image, recorded video, etc. When you’re ready to stream live, click “Start Streaming”.
7. OBS Recording Settings
Recording streaming video and audio is a handy feature that lets broadcasters re-use live-streamed content with OBS Studio. Accessing this tool is very easy. Users must simply click “Start Recording” in the screen’s control panel in the lower right-hand corner of computer screen.
To access your stream recordings, click “File” on the top left-hand side of the screen and choose “Show Recordings”. If you’re using Windows, it’ll send the stream recording directly to your computer’s “Video” folder.
OBS Studio vs. Streamlabs OBS
While we’re on the streaming software and the best OBS studio settings, let’s quickly discuss Streamlabs OBS, which is software similar to OBS Studio.
Streamlabs OBS is a free and open-source streaming software designed for stream layout editing, replay buffer, selective recording, and remote streaming control.
It enables you to multistream to various platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and TikTok. You also have the option to create an RTMP server to live stream to any endpoint of your choice. This helps you reach a wider audience as viewers across different platforms can watch your streams as they happen.
You can also invite guests to join your live streams through the collab cam option. It enables you to bring much-needed engagement to your streams. Streamlabs OBS also offers lots of customizable transitions and overlay themes that you can add to your live stream to change its look.
Additionally, Streamlabs OBS offers a highlighter that lets you create highlight videos for short video formats like YouTube Shorts, TikToks, and Reels. You can easily cut and stitch parts of your videos to make them publish-ready.
It’s also possible to engage your viewers with streaming widgets like polls, games, and chats.
That said, multistreaming isn’t available on the free plan.
Users can upgrade to Streamlabs Ultra to access premium features. This upgrade costs $19/month or $149/year.
Streamlabs Ultra is particularly helpful for creators as it has options for accepting tips by creating a custom page and domain for it. You also get 10 GB of storage space, 3+ destinations for multistreaming, and YouTube thumbnail and Twitch panel maker.
Streamlabs OBS is a better option for beginners or broadcasters with little technical know-how since it has a graphical user interface (GUI). On the other hand, OBS Studio has a command-line interface (CLI) that requires users to use coded commands to execute functions.
Although Streamlabs is easier to use and provides the option to upgrade for access to premium features, many broadcasters prefer OBS Studio since it is more extensible.
1. What is a good OBS bitrate for 1080p?
If you’re streaming at 1080p, a good bitrate for you would be between 1900 and 4500 kbps. It would help ensure that you’re able to transfer enough video data to maintain the video quality output at 1080p. However, you should choose a bitrate that’s suitable for your viewers as a high bitrate would mean longer buffering times if the internet speed is low.
2. Is streaming 3000 bitrate good?
Yes, a bitrate of 3000 works out very well if you want to stream a video at a full HD resolution of 1080p. However, if you want to stream in 2K, 4K, and 8K, this bitrate won’t be enough on OBS Studio. Instead, you’ll need bitrates higher than 4500 kbps. As the resolution increases, the required bitrate will also increase.
3. Is a higher bitrate better on OBS?
A higher bitrate is always better on OBS Studio or any other platform for streaming as it enables you to stream at a higher resolution and deliver a crisp audio quality to the streamers. That said, you should choose the bitrate based on your targeted video stream quality. For instance, the bitrate required for 1080p is between 1900 and 4500 kbps. But this will also require faster internet connection for the viewer to stream without buffering delays.
4. What bitrate is 720p 60fps?
If you’re streaming at 720p at 60fps, your bitrate should be between 1200 and 1900 kbps. This would help make sure that the quality of your video and audio is maintained and sustained throughout the stream.
5. What are good audio settings for OBS?
You should consider setting your audio bitrate to about 320 kbps for the best audio quality on OBS. This is especially crucial if you’re streaming videos at 1080p and want the audio quality to remain crisp throughout the video playback. Lower bitrates would hamper the overall stream-watching experience for your viewers.
Hopefully, this blog will help you configure the best OBS settings for ideal streaming quality. Choosing the right encoder settings can be confusing at first. OBS Studio is free software that will allow you to test the features without investing any money.
We believe you’ll have a smooth experience if you follow these recommendations on the best OBS studio settings to get started. After a little experimenting, you’ll have no problem navigating the platform.
With these recommended video settings as your starting point, getting comfortable doing live streams should be straightforward and enjoyable. Do keep in mind that these are our recommended best stream settings. As you get comfortable with the platform, it will get easier to tweak settings until you truly learn the best settings for your needs and setup.
We encourage you to take advantage of our risk-free trial and test out all of our features free for 14 days (no credit card required)!
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Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your live broadcasts.