Best Live Streaming Software for Mac – A Comparison [Updated for 2021]
Table of Contents
With nearly a 90 percent share of users, Windows remains the leader of the Desktop OS market. Mobile device usage is also on the rise.
That said, Mac OS (formerly OS X) is becoming increasingly popular. As of October 2020, macOS usage accounts for over 13 percent of total computer usage. In fact, the core user base for macOS includes many multimedia professionals and business users.
For this reason (and others), streaming software for mac OS has become an essential tool for use with pro streaming solutions.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the best mac streaming software. We’ll review how to decide which software encoders to use. We’ll also discuss a few broadcasting applications that are compatible with macOS, and we’ll share some hardware encoders that can function as reliable alternatives.
We will also provide some insight on live streaming software that is not compatible with macOS so that you know what to avoid.
Live streaming hosting technology and features are changing all the time. Please note that this post has been updated to reflect the most accurate information on macOS streaming software as well as alternatives for Windows as of April 2021.
Table of Contents
- What is Live Streaming Software?
- How to Choose the Best Streaming Software for Mac
- Comparing the Best Live Streaming Software for Mac in 2021
- Hardware Encoder Alternatives to Mac Streaming Software
- Video Broadcast Software Alternatives for Windows
- Final Thoughts
What is Live Streaming Software?
Live streaming software is a tool that many broadcasters use to encode their live streams. This software can also be used to edit and mix broadcasts in real-time. Some live streaming software even supports the use of text and graphic overlays.
Streaming software is not the same as a streaming provider. A streaming platform is a solution designed to host and distribute your video content. These two tools work together to bring your broadcasts to life.
How to Choose the Best Live Streaming Software for Your Mac
Deciding on the right video streaming software involves consideration of three main elements: price, features, and compatibility.
Live streaming software for a Mac varies widely in price. For example, some professional suites cost $1000 or more. On the other end of the spectrum, other video broadcast software, like OBS Studio, is available for free.
While broadcasters with simpler needs can get away with free live streaming software, advanced broadcasters may be better off investing in professional tools.
Assess your budget and your needs, and see which software options meet your criteria.
First, it’s important to note that each video broadcast software offers a range of different features.
Some features look for in a Mac live streaming software include:
- Types of video sources supported (i.e., IP cameras, HDMI, NDI, etc.)
- Number of video sources supported
- Support for non-camera sources. (i.e., images, videos, screen captures, websites, PPTs, DVDs, audio files, etc.)
- Support for chroma key (e.g., green screen)
- Output formats and supported resolutions (i.e., full HD, 4K, etc.)
- Support for transitions
- Ability to insert titles, lower thirds, and graphics
- Support for instant replay, slow motion, picture-in-picture, and multiple camera angles
- Video effects and filters
- An interface that meets your needs, including potential mobile control via tablet/smartphone
Again, consider your broadcasting goals and determine which features make the most sense for your unique needs.
When you choose live streaming software for Mac, it must be compatible with your entire streaming setup. Obviously, if you’re using an Apple computer, you’ll need streaming software that is compatible with macOS
Your video broadcast software needs to support the digital cameras you’ll use for live streaming. This aspect generally interfaces with the capture devices you use. Typically, these devices are capture cards that you install inside a desktop computer or boxes that you plug in externally.
You can browse popular models here.
Additionally, choose video broadcasting software that is compatible with any hardware in your live streaming setup. For example, such hardware could include audio mixers, camera switchers, and more. Relatedly, you’ll want to ensure that the video ingest mode is compatible as well.
Finally, your chosen software needs to work well with the computer and operating system you’ll use for live streaming.
Comparing the Best Live Streaming Software for Mac in 2021
There are a few great streaming software alternatives for video broadcasting on a Mac. The two best streaming software for Mac are OBS Studio and Wirecast. Let’s take a look at each in more detail.
We will provide a full review of each based on price, features, pros and cons, compatibility, and technical specs.
1. OBS Studio
OBS Studio is one of the most popular live streaming software options available. OBS stands for “Open Broadcaster Software,” and it is a software package that supports live broadcasting.
OBS Studio is free. There is absolutely no cost associated with using this application.
Moreover, OBS Studio is open-source, which means that anyone can collaborate with their teams in the codebase. For individuals such as developers or programmers, it’s relatively easy to create modified versions of OBS Studio that integrate new features or streamline your workflow (as we have done at Dacast).
OBS has a fairly broad feature set, including the following:
- Ability to record live streams
- Unlimited number of audio, video, and file sources
- Supports FLV/MP4 video files, and AAC/MP3 audio files
- Supports transitions
- Includes filters for basic video effects, such as chroma key
- Includes built-in basic audio mixer
- Output RTMP-format stream to any compatible server
- Light and dark user interface themes
- Support for added functionality via plugins (there are MANY available)
- Free to use
- Easy connection to online video platforms (e.g., Dacast)
- Consistently reliable
- Does not support multi-bitrate streaming – it’s not possible to stream live at multiple bitrates at the same time with this software
- Can be a bit difficult to navigate at first
Please note that these specifications are based on the latest version of the classic OBS Studio Version 26.1.1 released on January 6, 2021
- Resolution: unavailable
- Processor: Dual or 4-Core (recommended)
- Input Sources: unavailable
- Output Destinations: 1
- Memory: 4 GB or more (recommended)
- Hard Drive: unavailable
For more in-depth information on OBS Studio’s functionality, please check out our post on the best OBS Studio settings for broadcasting live streams.
OBS Studio is cross-platform, meaning it offers versions for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Unfortunately, OBS doesn’t publish a definitive list of hardware that functions with its software. However, it does offer an active and comprehensive forum, which is a great place to ask questions and get answers.
To learn how to stream using OBS Studio with a Mac, check out the video tutorial click here.
2. Telestream Wirecast
The next offering we’ll look at is Wirecast from Telestream. Wirecast provides a wide range of services and software for audiovisual uses. Wirecast is a high-end live broadcasting software package with some great functionality. Let’s take a look at it in more detail.
The latest version of Wirecast is 14.1. It is the newest full version and was released on January 25, 2021. It features several enhancements and fixes, including FBLive polling, re-written WebStream plugin, and Virtual Camera improvements. To learn more about it, you can check out its tech specs here.
The software comes in two versions:
- Wirecast Studio for enhanced live production & streaming: pricing is $599 with a free trial
- Wirecast Pro for advanced live production and streaming: pricing is $799 which also comes with a free trial
Pro adds support for:
- 7 guests via Rendezvous
- 8-track audio output
- Instant replay
- 3D virtual sets for green-screen use
- Program feed
- Support for a wider range of capture devices
- ISO camera recording
- “Present” version of NewBlue Titler Live.
Additional Wirecast upgrades are available, including:
- Premium support: $299/yr
- Firewire HDV camera input support (Studio users only need to purchase this feature; the Pro version includes it): $99
- NewBlueFX Titler Live (for creation of animated graphics and titles): $245 Standard version, $445 Advance version, $945 Ultimate version
- Virtualsetworks (pre-made virtual sets for green screen use): $329
There is a free trial available that is fully functional, though it does contain a watermark.
Wirecast is a very capable application. Among its features are the following:
- Audio/video sync tool
- Use an iPhone or iPad as a wireless video camera source using the free Wirecast Cam app
- Twitter integration (pull Tweets directly into your live stream)
- Source switching with transitions support
- Audio mixer
- Editing of all sources via filters, crop, resize, picture-in-picture, and more
- Basic titling tool included with Wirecast Studio and Pro; advanced titling available via upgrade
- Chroma key (green screen) support
- Playlist and slideshow support to queue up content
- Stream live to integrated services, including Dacast’s RTMP server
- GPU-accelerated encoding
- Integrate Teradek streams wirelessly
- Instant reply function
- ISO recording for each camera source
- Virtual sets (three built-in, additional available via upgrade)
- Built-in scoreboard generator
- Simple connection to online video platforms
- Local program output feed makes it ideal for sending feeds directly to editing, effects, and broadcast design
- Unlimited sources, including cameras, microphones, webcams, IP cameras, capture cards, and computer screens
- Free email support
- Advanced support requires an extra annual fee
These specifications are for the latest version of Wirecast 14.0.4 released on October 14, 2020, which is the newest full version as of January 2021.
- Resolution: 4096 x 3072 (maximum)
- Processor: Intel i5 dual-core @ 2.3GHz, 6th generation (minimum); Intel i7 quad-core @ 2.8GHz+, 6th generation (recommended)
- Input Sources: Unlimited
- Output Destinations: Unlimited
- Memory: 4 GB (minimum); 16+ GB (recommended)
- Hard Drive: 2GB, 7200 RPM for record to disk (minimum); 500GB+, Solid State OS Drive (recommended)
Wirecast is available for both macOS and Windows at the same price. Telestream provides a list of supported cameras, webcams, capture cards, and other hardware here.
For a detailed tutorial on streaming with Wirecast, please check out our dedicated post.
Please check the Wirecast website for information on each version and the latest compatibility.
Hardware Encoder Alternatives to Mac Streaming Software
As we mentioned above, hardware encoders are viable alternatives to video streaming software. Hardware encoders pack the basic functionality of live stream encoding software into a single dedicated piece of equipment. They can be small and simple for mobile streaming, or larger and rack-mounted for studio use.
Now, let’s take a quick look at a few of the options available.
For many years, NewTek has been one of the top broadcast equipment companies on the market. Its flagship encoding hardware is TriCaster. TriCaster hardware is available in five product lines, varying from small boxes to large setups for full production studios.
The cost of TriCaster encoders ranges from roughly $5,000 to $18,000.
TriCasters are high-end units with abundant, wide-ranging features. You can learn more about TriCaster products on the NewTek website.
- Dedicated encoding device (which means it’s more efficient)
- Reliable technology
- Multiple models to choose from
- A very high price point
- Cannot be upgraded for free like live streaming software
NewTek offers several different products in the TriCaster line, including:
- TriCaster 2 Elite: Encoding device for advanced, television-grade broadcasting
- TriCaster 4k Mini: Portable desktop encoder
- TriCaster TC410 Plus: Encoding tool for mid-sized productions
- TriCaster TC1: Everything broadcasters need for end-to-end video production
TriCaster hardware encoders support HD-SDI inputs and a wide range of professional hardware and accessories.
You can also access Tricaster documentation here.
Next in our review of video broadcast software alternatives, is Teradek. Much like TriCaster, Teradek makes a great line of hardware encoders.
Teradek offers four encoder product lines. The T-Rax encoders come as large rack-mounted units made for professional users. The SLICE line offers a smaller rack-mounted H.264 encoder.
Lastly, the Cube and VidiU lines are portable, camera-mounted encoders. They integrate network-bonding functionality with encoding for journalists and other users on the go.
The cost of Teradek encoders ranges from $700 to $4000.
Teradek encoders come in a range of styles, with different options for different users. Visit the Teradek website to learn more.
- Dedicate encoding device
- More affordable than TriCaster
- Many options to choose from
- Options for broadcasting on the go
- Cannot be upgraded for free like live streaming software
Teradek offers a wide range of encoding devices for professional broadcasting. Some of their top products include:
- Bolt: A very powerful compact solution for on the go 4K HD cinema-quality video with zero latency
- Vidiu Go: Live streaming encoder that can be used for broadcasting on the go
- Bond: Backpack encoder for broadcasting on the go
- Prism: 4K encoding and decoding device
- Cube: Designed to support IP video
- Ranger: Encoder for wireless connection to OVP from television-grade capture equipment
The different Teradek encoder lines support HDMI and SDI video inputs and a wide variety of consumer and professional-grade hardware.
Video Broadcast Software Alternatives for Windows
Unfortunately, some of the best video broadcast software available is not compatible with macOS.
This disparity is most likely a holdover from the former era of consumers who generally chose Windows over macOS. Windows has long been the standard in the broadcast industry, mainly due to hardware and software compatibility.
However, this trend has changed in recent years. Mac computers are becoming more and more popular among a variety of users. In particular, broadcasters, in particular, are quickly adopting the macOS.
Some of the most popular live streaming software options include vMix, VidBlasterX, and XSplit. Each of these apps is widely used on Windows platforms to stream live, but these apps won’t function on macOS.
However, you can run Boot Camp on your Mac to use these apps. This gives you access to the Windows operating systems.
Here is a quick comparison of the three streaming software options for broadcasters that are using Windows operating systems or Boot Camp.
vMix offers five different pricing tiers for access to their standard software:
- Basic: free
- Basic HD: $60
- HD: $350
- 4K: $700
- Pro: $1200
These prices are for a one-time purchase. For additional information on each plan, please check out vMix’s pricing page.
vMix offers a wide variety of tools, including source switching, encoding, multicasting, and screen recording.
- Affordable one time purchase
- Fully loaded with the tools that broadcasters need for a professional-looking live stream
- Reliable platform
- Only available on Window
- Some difficulties with graphic and text overlays
- Streams at a lower bitrate than other alternatives
The standard version of vMix is only compatible with Windows operating systems. However, the vMix screen recording tool is available on both macOS and Windows.
VidBlasterX is a full-service streaming software that provides tools for video capture, streaming, and broadcasting.
VidBlasterX has three pricing plans:
- Home: $9/year supports 7 modules.
- Studio: $99/year supports 25 modules.
- Broadcast: $999/year supports 100 simultaneous modules. This version also supports multiple recorder & streamer modules in a single profile.
Some of VidBlasterX’s professional features include high-quality recording, audio mixing, lower thirds, text and graphic overlays, and multi-source streaming.
- Fully loaded with professional streaming tools
- Simple annual subscription pricing structure
- Small investment for professional results
- Modular platform for easy use
- Can be a bit difficult to use for beginners
- Some limitations on lower-priced plans
VidBlasterX is compatible with Windows, and it can run in cloud-based environments. Check out our tutorial to learn how to set up VidBlasterX with Dacast.
3. XSplit Broadcaster
XSplit provides a couple of different products and software offerings for broadcasters, but in this review, we’re looking specifically at their streaming software, XSplit Broadcaster. Their other two products are XSplit VCam and XSplit Connect Webcam.
XSplit Broadcaster is a tool for editing your live streams in real-time. Some of its top capabilities include source switching, text overlays, background blurring, and engagement tools
There are four ways to buy XSplit, and each includes a free license that allows users to test the software. The Premium license includes the following 4 tiers:
- 3 Month Licensing: $24.95
- 12 Month Licensing: $59.95
- 36 Month Licensing: $149.95
- Lifetime Licensing: $199.00
XSplit offers quite a few valuable features for broadcasters, including:
- Text and graphic overlays
- “Scene” switching
- Tools for quick editing
- Chat tools for Facebook, Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube
- A wide selection of editing tools
- Tools for boosting engagement on social streaming platforms
- Reliable software
- Reasonably priced
- No tools for encoding
- Some reports of latency issues
- Not currently available for macOS
XSplit is currently only compatible with the Windows operating system. However, XSplit will soon be available for macOS.
At this time, there are not as many options for live streaming software for Mac as there are for Windows. However, OBS and Wirecast both offer solid video broadcast software for live streamers who use Apple computers.
Of course, you can consider less commonly used streaming apps for Mac as well, but for broadcasters looking for more power, we’d recommend checking out a hardware encoder as an alternative.
If you’re looking for a live streaming solution to host your broadcasts, we invite you to give our platform a try. If you’d like to explore our streaming solution, you can test out our platform with our 30-day free trial.
Sign up today to get started without a long-term contract or hidden signup fees. No credit card required.
Do you live stream on a Mac? Which software do you use? Are you planning to stream live video on your website? Do you prefer streaming directly from your video hosting platform instead? We love to hear from our readers, so if you have any questions or experiences to share, let us know in the comments.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live broadcasts.
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