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 February 2019, Mac OS usage accounts for over 10 percent of total computer usage. In fact, the core user base for Mac OS includes many multimedia professionals and business users. For this reason (and others), video broadcast software for Mac OS has become an essential tool for live streaming.
In this post, we’ll take a look at live stream encoding software options for Macs. First, we’ll review how to make a decision about encoding software. Next, we’ll share applications that don’t work properly on Mac. We’ll also discuss a few applications that are compatible with Mac OS. Finally, we’ll share some hardware encoders that can function as alternatives to video broadcast software for live streaming.
Now, let’s turn to a discussion of how to choose the best video broadcast software for your needs.
How to Choose the Best Video Broadcast for You
Deciding on the right video broadcasting software involves consideration of three main elements: price, features, and compatibility.
Video broadcast software for live streaming varies widely in price. For example, some professional suites cost $1000 or more. On the other end of the spectrum, other video broadcast software is available for free. Still others, like OBS Studio, are open-source.
First, it’s important to note that each video broadcast software offers a range of different features. Features you’ll want to consider, which may or may not be present in a given software application, 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
Whichever app you choose, it must be compatible with your setup. First and foremost, your video broadcast software needs to support the cameras you’ll use. 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 (browse popular models here).
Additionally, choose video broadcast 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 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.
Video Broadcast Software *not* Compatible with Mac OS
Unfortunately, some of the best video broadcast software available is not compatible with Mac OS. These include the popular applications vMix, VIDBlaster, and XSplit. Each of these apps is widely used on Windows platforms to stream live. If you use Windows, any of these is suitable for a wide range of uses. However, please note that these apps won’t function on Mac OS.
This disparity is most likely a holdover from the former era of consumers who (overall) chose Windows over Mac OS. 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 to the Mac OS.
For earlier reviews of Windows-compatible video broadcast software, check out our previous blog post.
Live Streaming Software Options for Mac OS
Fortunately, there are some great alternatives for video broadcast software on a Mac. Two top contenders include OBS Studio and Wirecast. Let’s take a look at each in more detail.
First up is the popular OBS Studio. OBS stands for “Open Broadcaster Software.” OBS Studio is a software package that support live broadcasting.
OBS Studio is free. There is absolutely no cost associated with using this application. Moreover, OBS Studio is an open-source, which means that anyone can manipulate the code. For 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!)
- Easy connection to online video platforms (e.g., DaCast)
Note that OBS Studio does have one major drawback: it’s not possible to stream live at multiple bitrates at the same time with this software.
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, click here, or check out the video tutorial below:
The next offering we’ll look at is Wirecast from Telestream. Wirecast provides a wide range of services and software for audiovisual uses. Unlike OBS Studio, Wirecast is a high-end live streaming software package with some great functionality. Let’s take a look at it in more detail.
Wirecast offers two versions: Studio and Pro. The Studio version costs $695. The Pro version costs $995, and it adds a number of additional features (see below). 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:
- Unlimited sources, including cameras, microphones, webcams, IP cameras, capture cards, and computer screens
- File sources such as videos, images, etc.
- 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, or any RTMP server
- GPU-accelerated encoding
- Simple connection to Online Video Platforms (e.g., DaCast)
- Use another IP stream (RTSP, RTMP, HTTP, or MMS) as a source in Wirecast
- Integrate Teradek streams wirelessly
- Instant reply function
- ISO recording for each individual camera source
- Virtual sets (three built in, additional available via upgrade)
- Built-in scoreboard generator
- Local program output feed, ideal for sending feeds directly to editing, effects, and broadcast design
Users converting from OBS to Wirecast can import OBS scene collections directly into Wirecast. This makes the transition much easier.
Wirecast is available for both Mac 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 Wirecast 7, click here. For a written tutorial on Wirecast 8 & 9, click here. Wirecast 12 is now available as of 2019; read here to learn more about Wirecast versions and compatibility.
Hardware Encoders: Alternative to Live Streaming Software
As we mentioned above, hardware encoders are viable alternatives to video broadcast 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.
TriCaster hardware encoders support HD-SDI inputs and a wide range of professional hardware and accessories.
You can also access Tricaster documentation here.
Second in our review of video broadcast software alternatives, Teradek also 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 for 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.
The different Teradek encoder lines support HDMI and SDI video inputs and a wide variety of consumer and professional grade hardware.
In short, Mac OS does not support as wide a variety of live streaming software as with Windows. However, OBS and Wirecast both offer solid video broadcast software for live streamers. Of course, you can consider less commonly used streaming apps for Mac as well. For broadcasters looking for more power, we’d recommend checking out a hardware encoder as an alternative.
Thanks for reading! Do you do a lot of live streaming 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 online video platform host instead? We love to hear from our readers, so if you have any questions or experiences to share, let us know in the comments! For regular tips on live streaming, feel free to join our LinkedIn group.
Of course, we do hope you’ll give our platform a try. DaCast is proud to support a wide range of businesses get started with live streaming. If you’d like to explore our streaming solutions, you can check out how the DaCast platform could boost your business with our 30-day free trial (no credit card required). We’d love to help you meet your streaming goals today. Just click the button below to start streaming live in a matter of minutes.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your live broadcasts.
By Max Wilbert.