Comparing the 12 Best Live Streaming Encoder Software + Hardware Solutions [Updated for 2022]

By Fanny Elise Lagarde

22 Min Read

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Fanny Elise Lagarde

Fanny Elise was a part of the Dacast engineering team, and with her technical knowledge, helped the marketing team to engage readers with streaming content.

    Live streaming’s popularity has steadily risen, especially after the covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, viewers’ expectations regarding high-quality content and an excellent viewing experience have also been linear as more and more viewing choices have become readily available.

    One primary factor that can make or break your audience’s experience is The quality of your live stream. Lagging video and shaky audio becomes a distraction from the message you’re trying to share. That is why you need a live streaming encoder. 

    Encoding your video content, which is converting RAW video files into digital ones, is one of the best things you can do to maintain professional quality. That requires a dedicated live streaming encoder, which can come from hardware and software.

    Be it live streaming or video on demand, streaming encoders play a crucial role in the end experience you deliver to your audience. In this post, we’ll talk about what exactly a streaming encoder is, what purpose it serves, and some processes related to encoding. 

    To wrap up, we’ll compare the best video live streaming encoders on the market so that you can choose the best encoding software for your needs.

    Table of Contents:

    • What is a Live Streaming Encoder?
    • Hardware vs. Software Encoding
    • Encoding vs. Codecs
    • What is Transcoding?
    • Cloud Video Transcoding vs. Encoding
    • The 12 Best Live Streaming Encoders: A Comparison
    • How to Choose the Best Encoder for Streaming
    • Conclusion

    What is a Live Streaming Encoder?

    streaming encoder
    An encoder converts the format for your video from RAW to digital.

    A live video streaming encoder is a tool that converts video content into a different format. The purpose of encoding a video is to create a digital copy of your video that can be transmitted over the internet. Digital video content can be embedded or streamed live right on your website. 

    Live streaming is very time-sensitive, requiring an encoder capable of processing the video feed in real-time. You need a video encoder for streaming.

    Broadcasters have the option to choose between a hardware or software encoder. Which way you go will largely depend on the purpose of your stream and what sort of budget you are working with. Most professional broadcasters will go with a video hardware encoder, but since HD live streaming encoders come with a high price point, most beginner to mid-experienced broadcasters go with live streaming encoder software.

    Hardware vs. Software Encoders

    While hardware and software encoders are slightly different; they function similarly. Both kinds of HD live streaming encoders take RAW video files and convert them into digital files, allowing you to stream video content online. 

    The main difference that sets hardware and software encoders apart—and the characteristic that allows video hardware encoders to perform more effectively—is that hardware encoding devices have the sole purpose of encoding. Software encoders work with your computer’s operating system, so encoding isn’t the primary function. Software encoders are doing additional work beyond encoding your videos. 

    Highly advanced streaming setups often require the support of a video hardware encoder. Still, due to the high price point, most beginner to mid-experienced broadcasters will go with live streaming encoder software. In addition to the affordability, a software encoder may be a better fit for basic to mid-level streaming setups since they are often easier to use.

    Of course, the difference in performance capabilities is reflected in the price tag. Hardware HD live streaming encoders run upwards of $600 to $1000. Encoder software is often less than $100 and can be found by some providers for free. The price for HD video live streaming encoders varies based on the professional level of the encoder. 

    The bottom line is that video hardware encoders are best suited for experienced, professional broadcasters, and software encoders work well for beginner broadcasters. It is natural to use both hardware encoders and software encoders as you grow as a broadcaster.

    Encoding vs. Codecs

    Encoding vs. Codecs
    Although there is a distinction between the two, the terms “codec” and “encoder” are often used interchangeably. 

    There is a bit of overlap between encoders and codecs. While encoders serve the sole purpose of encoding, codecs are designed to encode and decode.

    Codec is short for “coder-decoder,” and it encodes a video for storage and decodes for broadcast. Often, the term “encoder” is used to describe hardware or software codec.

    What is Transcoding?

    Transcoding and encoding are often misused interchangeably. Rather than converting the format of a video, video transcoding converts a video to a smaller size, making your videos ready for online transmission. 

    The purpose of transcoding a video is so that your viewers can watch the video in the best size with their internet speed. For example, somebody with a slower internet connection would watch your video in lower resolution to minimize buffering. That ensures that each viewer gets the best viewing experience. 

    There is an overlap in transcoding and encoding tools. Some live streaming encoders have transcoding capabilities, and some transcoders have encoding capabilities.

    Cloud transcoding is typically considered a simple alternative to a hardware encoder. While a hardware encoder stores multiple versions of one video, cloud video transcoders convert and broadcast each version as it’s created.

    The 12 Best Live Streaming Encoders: A Comparison

    There are several live streaming encoders available today. Each is equipped with unique features and functionality at different price points.

    To determine which is the right video streaming encoder, you have to consider your unique goals and needs. As you compare video encoders for live streaming, you’ll want to ask yourself:

    Keeping those questions in mind, let’s explore the top video encoders for streaming. In this article, we’ve reviewed the top live streaming hardware and software encoders on the market today so you can choose the best streaming video encoder software for your needs. 

    1. Wirecast

    wirecast Live Stream Encoding Software
    Telestream’s Wirecast is a high-end software encoder.

    First on our list is Wirecast, a high-end streaming video encoding software. This live video streaming encoder from Teradek is widely compatible with many online video platforms, which makes it a popular pick. The professional video streaming services that Wirecast works with include Dacast, IBM Video Cloud, and Wowza. These streaming platforms, among others, allow you to live stream your event to any RTMP-enabled streaming destination. They also support recording MP4 or MOV files to any drive.

    The software comes in two versions: Wirecast Studio and Wirecast Pro. The Wirecast Pro enhanced program adds several other specialized features, including:

    • 7 guests via Rendezvous
    • 8-track audio output
    • Instant replay
    • Scoreboards
    • 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

    These advanced features of Wirecast Pro make it a better choice than the basic Wirecast program for most live-streamed events. With all those features, Wirecast’s biggest downside may be the price. You can download a free trial version of the basic software.

    Wirecast recently launched a new streaming encoder with several enhancements and fixes, including Facebook Live polling, a rewritten WebStream plugin, and Virtual Camera improvements. Wirecast is compatible with a variety of capture cards, devices, and camera inputs.

    Wirecast supports live video compositing via a “layers” architecture similar to many graphics programs. The encoder facilitates live switching, picture-in-picture composition, titles, audio delay, and many other fine-tuning compositional elements.

    Wirecast’s streaming video encoder software easily incorporates pre-recorded video content into your broadcast. It also supports encoding HD and SD sources for streams broadcast simultaneously to multiple servers and platforms.

    Key Features:

    • Support for unlimited sources, including cameras, mics, IP cams, capture cards, and NDI
    • Multiple bitrate streaming
    • Built-in graphics and titling tool
    • Integrates with Facebook Live and Twitter for sharing comments on-screen
    • Includes instant replay, scoreboard, and timers for sports
    • Free wireless camera app turns iOS devices into mobile live video sources
    • Stream to multiple destinations simultaneously
    • Integrated video chat via “Wirecast Rendezvous”
    • Local program output

    Pros:

    • Easy-to-use, user-friendly platform
    • Compatible with most popular operating systems
    • Fully loaded with valuable features
    • One-time purchase
    • The program requires minimal input from broadcasters, perfect for you if you’re a one-man show
    • Makes recording, editing and ‘re-using’ live streaming footage easy
    • Great for event production and event live streaming

    Cons:

    • High price point
    • Many features are locked in the “Studio” version
    • Consumes a lot of computer memory
    • Some consumers report having to restart their session if there is a glitch or bug mid-session.
    • Upgrades are costly as compared to other HD streaming encoders.

    Pricing:

    As we mentioned, the Wirecast video streaming encoder comes in two versions. The prices for each are as follows:

    1. Wirecast Studio for enhanced live production & streaming: $599 for a one-time license with a free trial
    2. One-time Wirecast Pro license for advanced live production and streaming: $799, which also comes with a free trial

    Additional Wirecast upgrades are available, as well. These include:

    • Premium support: $299/year
    • Firewire HDV camera input support (Upgrade for Studio users): $99
    • NewBlueFX Titler Live:
      • $245 for the Standard version
      • $445 for the Advance version
      • $945 for the Ultimate version
    • Virtualsetworks (pre-made virtual sets for green screen use): $329

    Compatibility:

    Wirecast’s video streaming encoder is compatible with both Mac and Windows.

    The latest version of Wirecast is 14.3.4. The newest full version was released on November 22, 2021. It features several enhancements and fixes relating to LinkedIn Live scheduling, audio glitches, and screen capture.

    If you are looking for a multi-stream encoder that is compatible with both Mac and Windows and comes with a lifetime license, Wirecast is a good option.

    2. Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS)

    OBS studio encoding software
    Dacast offers access to OBS Studio to our users for free.

    OBS Studio is an open-source software encoder for live streaming. OBS Studio is a great option for those new to live streaming as it’s effortless. It’s also been hailed as the best encoder for YouTube out there.  OBS Studio’s broadcasting software offers Windows, Mac, and Linux downloads.

    This video encoder for live streaming is equipped with a powerful API, which enables community-generated plugins and scripts. These add-ons can provide further customization and functionality specific to your needs.

    Advanced features of this streaming encoder software include:

    • Real-time video/audio capturing and mixing
    • Unlimited number of scenes and custom transitions
    • Intuitive audio mixer
    • Modular “Dock” UI

    Please note that OBS Studio does not support multi-bitrate streaming. Multi-bitrate streaming can be crucial when broadcasting to diverse users in distinct locales.

    Regardless of this minor setback, we still highly recommend this encoder, particularly for those who are testing or becoming familiar with live streaming.

    Key Features:

    • Real-time video/audio capturing and mixing
    • Unlimited number of scenes and custom transitions
    • Intuitive audio mixer
    • Modular “Dock” UI
    • HLS Live streaming and recording functionality
    • Audio and video mixing, filters, and transitions
    • Support for hotkeys
    • Chroma key / green screen support
    • Scenes allow you to prepare overlays in advance for rapid switching
    • Support for a wide range of video, audio, and image sources, as well as screenshots
    • Expandable via plugins to add NDI functionality, remote control via WebSockets, advanced scene switching, and more
    • Detailed wiki and highly active online user forum for support/help

    Pros:

    • It’s free
    • Easy-to-use for beginners
    • Frequent updates
    • Able to function on lower-quality internet
    • Great video quality
    • Contains all the basic tools for live streaming
    • Great for music-related video content

    Cons:

    • Some limitations on features
    • Room for improvement for plugins
    • No user support
    • The interface can be confusing for newbies
    • Some users report glitches

    Pricing:

    OBS Studio is open-source and completely free. There is no cost to accessing and using this software, which makes it ideal for beginners with a bit of technical know-how who want to start live streaming.

    Compatibility:

    OBS Studio is compatible with macOS 10.13 or newer, Windows 8, 8.1, and 10, as well as Ubuntu/Linux 18.04 operating systems. For the Linux version, FFmpeg is required.

    Version 27.1.3 was released on October 4th, 2021, and is available for download here for both macOS and Windows operating systems.

    Additionally, Dacast offers a customized version of OBS Studio that easily connects to save our users time. We offer our customers a customized version of OBS Studio’s live broadcasting software. This version makes it easier to connect directly to your Dacast live streaming service account.

    With this option, you don’t need to enter details manually. Instead, simply login to your Dacast account via OBS to start streaming live in minutes.

    Check out our OBS for Dacast guide for Windows users. You can also review this OBS for Dacast guide for Mac users.

    OSB is a free streaming encoder that works seamlessly with Dacast and allows you to easily start live streaming without investing in an expensive hardware encoder.

    3. VidBlasterX

    vidblasterx Live Stream Encoding Software
    VidBlasterX is a budget-friendly software encoder.

    Like Wirecast, VidBlasterX is a professional-grade streaming encoder software. VidBlasterX is also one of the best encoders for YouTube.

    They offer three video encoder packages for streaming

    • VidblasterX Home
    • VidBlasterX Studio
    • VidBlasterX Broadcast

    The main difference between each version is the number of modules each supports. Each successive video encoder module for streaming adds advanced features that pro broadcasters will appreciate.

    The Home editions support up to seven modules, enough for basic live streaming. The Studio edition supports up to 25 modules, and the Broadcast edition supports 50. 

    VidBlasterX Studio has several features for the studio production of videos and allows for more versatile videos. The Studio version supports HD and full-screen television-quality production and community support.

    VidBlasterX Broadcast incorporates all the features of VidBlaster Studio, adds more module capacity, and is recommended for professional broadcast studios. With Broadcast, you get direct email support from the developer. The Broadcast edition also supports UDP streaming, multiple streaming sources, and recorder modules in a single profile.

    The VidBlaster help site provides a walk-through on setting up VidBlasterX as your encoder for live streaming.

    Key Features:

    • Modular user interface
    • Everything is customizable
    • Includes macro and scripting functionality to automate or hot-key actions
    • Supports overlays and lower thirds
    • Chroma key support
    • Live streaming and recording up to 4K resolution
    • Compatible with social media platforms as well as most OVPs, including direct integration with Dacast
    • Audio mixer
    • Multiview support
    • SyncLoc: This feature auto-syncs timing on all hardware and software used to live stream, eliminating mismatched frames and delayed audio. 
    • Performance analytics.
    • Text overlay

    Pros:

    • Has plans for a wide range of budgets
    • Feature-rich
    • Easily customizable
    • Works well on low-latency connections
    • Built-in audio mixer
    • Supports high-potency operations thanks to its custom scripting language 
    • 4k live streaming encoder delivers ultra-high video quality.

    Cons:

    • Not compatible with macOS
    • Not well-suited for inexperienced live streamers
    • Slightly complex

    Pricing:

    VidBlasterX is available in three versions. Each of the following options is priced with an annual subscription model:

    • Home: $9/year; supports seven modules
    • Studio: $99/year; supports 25 modules
    • Broadcast: $999/year; supports 100 modules and multiple recorder & streamer modules in a single profile

    Compatibility:

    One drawback of VidBlasterX is that it does not come in a Mac OS version, so it requires a Windows machine to operate.

    This VidBlaster help site provides a walk-through on setting up VidBlasterX as your encoder for live streaming. For more information on VidBlaster, you can also click here.

    If you need a live stream encoder that offers professional features, VidBlasterX offers tier subscriptions to fit your broadcasting needs.

    4. vMix

    vMix encoding software
    vMix offers professional broadcasters live video production, encoding, and streaming software solutions.

    vMix is another amazing 4K live streaming encoder. This Windows-specific live video streaming encoder software has all the tools that broadcasters need to support their streaming setup.

    This Australian-based software is a strong option in terms of encoding software.

    What’s nice about vMix’s streaming video encoding software is that it offers several live streaming platform integrations, including integration with the Dacast streaming platform. It makes it very easy to connect to your streaming setup.

    It includes a wide range of excellent features, and the vMix app includes regular software updates. vMix provides support for various inputs, including webcams, cameras, capture cards, DVDs, sound cards, playlists, photos, PPT presentations, and more.

    vMix Social also allows you to pull and display content from popular social media platforms, which is a definite value add.

    Key Features:

    • NDI support
    • Chroma key and virtual streaming sets
    • Built-in titling tool that supports animation via XAML
    • Instant replay, slow motion, and scoreboards
    • Training videos available
    • vMix “reference systems” ease the difficulty around building a custom live production system
    • Vision mixing
    • Audio mixing
    • Live streaming
    • Recording

    Pros:

    • Wide range of features
    • Support for a wide range of inputs
    • Plans for different budgets
    • Free updates to the software
    • Easily incorporates multiple cameras
    • User-friendly interface
    • Makes broadcasting on multiple popular platforms seamless 
    • The Green Room feature lets broadcasters work out the kinks and rehearse before the live stream

    Cons:

    • Not a dedicated encoder
    • Some features are a bit tricky to use
    • Only compatible with Windows
    • Requires a reboot after any settings are changed
    • Difficult to master for newbies
    • Requires a speedy internet connection
    • Restricted guest allowance can be an issue for larger broadcasts

    Pricing:

    vMix’s HD streaming encoder is available for Windows computers only, and it comes in five different lifetime license editions. Each purchase never expires, and all editions include free updates for a year. The versions are:

    • Basic: Free; supports four (up to two camera/NDI) inputs and video up to 768 x 576 resolution
    • Basic HD: $60; supports four inputs (up to three camera/NDI) and video up to Full HD 1920×1080 resolution
    • HD: $350; supports 1,000 inputs, adds vMix call functionality, four overlay channels, and supports full HD video in 1920×1080 resolution
    • 4K: $700; supports 1,000 inputs, 4K resolution video (4096 x 2160), PTZ control, two recorders, instant replay, four SRT outputs, and much more
    • Pro: $1200; supports 1,000 inputs, includes all 4K features and two records, plus up to eight callers, up to four cameras for instant replay, and four SRT outputs

    The following is a subscription license that’s charged monthly:

    • MAX: $50/month; supports 1,000 inputs, 1,000 NDI inputs, and includes all 4K resolution video (4096 x 2160), PTZ control, two recorders, instant replay, four SRT outputs

    vMix also offers a 60-day free trial and has all the features of vMix Pro including the ability to use resolutions greater than HD such as 4K, particularly to ensure vMix supports your computer hardware works with it before purchasing. It’s a great perk, as most encoding software offers only up to a 30-day free trial.

    Compatibility:

    vMix is only compatible with Windows at this time. While vMix 24 is for Windows only, the software can be installed on a Mac via Boot Camp if the machine has a Windows partition.

    The latest version of vMix is 24.0.0.72 and includes an upgrade to a free 60-day trial of vMix PRO for download. 

    vMix isn’t a dedicated video encoder live streaming software. Still, it allows for a wide range of inputs, making this a good live streaming encoder if you want to input various sources.

    5. LiveU Solo

    LiveUSolo encoder
    LiveU Solo is a reliable hardware encoder.

    The LiveU Solo is a highly capable hardware encoder for live streaming that is well-suited for encoding and producing remote streams. It is a powerful device that supports up to 5G 4K HEVC streaming.

    This 4K live streaming encoder is globally renowned and has contributed to massive streams, including Presidential events, World Cups, Olympic events, Super Bowls, and more. It is one of the market’s top 4K live streaming encoder solutions. 

    Key Features:

    • Seamless integration with modems and cellular data
    • Robust remote streaming
    • Lifetime support
    • Responsive bandwidth consumption for uninterrupted streaming
    • Boost up to three connections at once
    • Easy set-up
    • Preview display is a handy feature 
    • Long battery life, 2+ hours

    Pros:

    • Suitable for live event streaming
    • Team friendly
    • Some issues with streaming to social media platforms
    • Supports network bonding
    • Geared towards remote streaming
    • Great customer service and user support
    • High-quality video

    Cons:

    • Can get a bit complicated
    • Access to some basic features require a hardware upgrade
    • Expensive upgrades
    • UI could use some improvement
    • Bonding service needs separate purchasing
    • Doesn’t support USB modems well

    Pricing:

    LiveU Solo’s pricing is based on location. In the USA, the device costs $995. Please check out their pricing page to see how much this video encoder for live streaming costs in your region.

    Compatibility:

    LiveU Solo is compatible with USB sources.

    If you are looking for a 4k stream encoder, you’ll want to consider using LiveU Solo. 

    6. Teradek

    teradek RTMP encoder
    Teradek technology offers video and encoding solutions and is used around the world by professional and amateur broadcasters to capture and share content.

    Earlier, we discussed Wirecast, a software encoder from Teradek. However, Teradek offers a variety of HD streaming hardware encoders that are perfect for live streaming on the go or from a remote location. For broadcasters that multi-stream their content, Wirecast is one of the best encoders for YouTube options. 

    Unlike many other hardware video encoders available for live streaming, Teradek’s streaming video encoding products are light and sleek. Some are built with portable chassis designed especially for remote location streaming experiences.

    Key Features:

    • Sleek design
    • Capable of remote streaming
    • Built for streaming on the go
    • Top-tier video quality
    • Expensive
    • Ideal for multi-streaming 
    • 4K HDR Image Quality
    • 10-bit Color Depth
    • 4:2:2 Color Accuracy

    Pros:

    • Good for mobile streaming
    • High-quality video streaming
    • Compact and portable
    • Data sharing function makes the integration of apps easier

    Cons:

    • Very expensive
    • Not well suited for beginners
    • Some users report intermittent loss of audio during live streaming
    • A monthly subscription fee is required to unlock all features which gets expensive
    • Doesn’t give an internet signal reading.

    Pricing:

    Teradek’s encoding devices range from $700 to $17,000. Some of their top products are priced as follows:

    • Bolt: A very powerful compact 4K live streaming encoder for on-the-go 4K HD cinema-quality video with zero latency ($1,600 – $17,000)
    • Vidiu Go: Live streaming encoder that can be used for broadcasting on the go ($990-$1690)
    • Bond: Backpack encoder for broadcasting on the go ($5,490-$5,990)
    • Prism: 4K encoding and decoding device ($2,000 – $3,000) 
    • Cube: Designed to support IP video ($1500 – $4600). Some models are on sale right now for as low as $1499!
    • Ranger: Encoder for wireless connection to OVP from television-grade capture equipment

    Compatibility:

    The different Teradek encoder lines support HDMI and SDI video inputs and a wide variety of consumer and professional-grade hardware.

    We have two tutorials to stream with different Teradek models: VidiU and Cube.

    Teradek is a good choice for an HDMI live stream encoder for advanced video professionals.

    7. TriCaster

    tricaster rtmp encoder
    TriCaster is an innovative live streaming encoder that enables broadcasters professional-grade tools for encoding and video production.

    TriCaster is a premium encoding hardware designed for advanced live streaming. Its capabilities extend beyond encoding, so it is a helpful tool for broadcasters looking for additional production support.

    TriCaster’s hardware encoding tools are built to connect to capturing devices to encode video content in real-time, making them quite powerful for live streaming. 

    Key Features:

    • Real-time encoding for live broadcasting
    • Live stream recording functions 
    • Tools for mixing and editing
    • Accepts up to four HDMI inputs
    • Built-in titles make it easier to add text on the fly
    • The convenience of built-in special effect library 

    Pros:

    • Real-time moving graphic processing
    • Auto-archiving for on-demand playback
    • Mixing and editing tools
    • Live streaming support
    • TriCAster Mini comes in a compact design, perfect for on-the-go streaming
    • Operates quietly, great for use with open mics.
    • Built-in display is very convenient 

    Cons:

    • Very expensive
    • Requires support of costly accessories to use
    • Can be a bit difficult to use, especially since most models don’t come with manuals.
    • The hardware of the original models is bulky
    • Some models require expensive HDMI converters.
    • Features such as “LiveText” require an additional investment of up to $1,000 
    • PTZ control isn’t up to mark 
    • Does Not work well with low-latency connections

    Pricing:

    The cost of TriCaster encoders ranges from roughly $6,000 to $18,000.

    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

    Check out TriCaster’s “Where to Buy” page to find pricing from local resellers.

    Compatibility:

    TriCaster hardware encoders support HD-SDI inputs and a wide range of professional hardware and accessories.

    You can also access Tricaster documentation on Dacast’s Knowledgebase.

    Some users have reported issues pairing their GoPro camera feeds with TriCaster encoders. 

    If you need real-time encoding hardware with advanced mixing and editing capabilities, TriCaster is a solid HD live streaming encoder.

    8. Niagara Video

    niagara video encoder
    Niagara is a less popular but equally capable streaming encoder.

    Niagara Video is an online streaming brand that offers a wide range of functionality. They offer nearly 20 different hardware encoder options and a few different software encoders.

    Niagara Video has been at the forefront of encoding for nearly two decades, and the company is often considered a trailblazer in the industry. If you want various live streaming encoder choices, Niagara Video has you covered. 

    It is important to point out that these HD streaming encoder tools are built for both encoding and transcoding.

    Key Features:

    • Many hardware encoding options
    • Encoding and transcoding support
    • Solutions for education, government, and more
    • Live event streaming
    • Portable
    • Compatible with analog and digital inputs 
    • NTSC/PAL Support
    • XLR & RCA Audio Inputs
    • Pre-programmable live streaming options library 
    • Bult for multi-streaming

    Pros:

    • Wide variety of encoding tools to choose from
    • Many functionalities
    • Professional grade equipment
    • Stream multiple formats and resolutions simultaneously at different data speeds.

    Cons:

    • No pricing transparency
    • Difficult to use for smaller productions
    • High-tech features can be confusing

    Pricing:

    Niagara has many products, but their pricing is not listed on its website. Users must contact the company for pricing for each product.

    However, to give you a better idea of their price points, we found a price of $1,299 for the GoStream Mini 150 posted online.

    Niagara’s encoders for live streaming currently include several model lines, each of which is available in various configurations. Each model also includes a 1-year limited warranty. Although we don’t have specific pricing info, here is a breakdown of a few of their top hardware encoders for live streaming:

    1. The new Niagara 9300 Series is a 1U rack-mount unit that supports HD and/or SD SDI inputs with up to 8 stereo pairs (16 channels) of embedded audio. The 9300 allows you to deliver multiple simultaneous streams. It also includes a web SDK to enable customizations and integrations. Additionally, it supports the new SCX Linux software or SCX+ software.
    2. The GoStream Digital and Analog encoders are powerful, compact two-channel streaming encoders for live streaming with integrated solid-state drives. They’re available in SDI or DVI-I versions, as well as versions that support Component/Composite/S-Video and HDMI/DVI VGA. Additionally, they support Transport Stream (UDP/RTP), Adobe Flash (RTMP), Windows Media, and Apple’s HLS protocol.
    3. The GoStream B264 encoder is designed for hard use in broadcast and streaming applications. This small unit (3 fits in 1 RU) features two SDI inputs, two ASI outputs, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, and various other connectivity options.
    4. The GoStream Mini 200 is a flexible, affordable video encoder for live streaming with low power consumption and support for common consumer and prosumer video formats such as AVC / HEVC, H.264 / H.265. The device includes inputs for SDI, HDMI, component, composite, DVI/VGA, and unbalanced audio. Additionally, it also can record a file as MP4 while streaming live.

    Compatibility:

    Compatibility depends on each model.

    If you are looking for a range of encoders with impressive streaming options, Niagara is a good choice. 

    9. Resi

    resi streaming platform
    Resi is an end-to-end live streaming platform and offers both hardware and software encoding tools.

    Founded in 2014, Resi is an end-to-end live streaming platform equipped with various streaming tools. Among these tools is a collection of live streaming encoders.

    What’s nice about Resi is that the platform offers all the streaming video encoding tools broadcasters need to get started with live streaming.

    Key Features:

    • Hardware and software offerings
    • End-to-end live streaming support
    • Simulcasting capabilities
    • Some encoding support
    • Automation tools
    • Cloud streaming
    • Monitoring tools
    • Real-time Analytics
    • Automated subtitles 

    Pros:

    • Produces high-quality streams
    • Wide range of functionality
    • Highly reliable product
    • Great customer support
    • Solutions for multiple use cases and industries
    • Works well even with spotty internet connections.
    • Works well on autopilot after the initial settings are done. 

    Cons:

    • Can only use it with Resi software
    • Expensive 
    • Limited package options
    • Interface experience needs improving 
    • Live stream scheduling process is complicated
    • Initial set-up can be challenging 
    • Limited user control over stream delay. The encoder is pre-set at a 90-sec delay to prevent buffering. 

    Pricing:

    Resi offers several hardware encoders for broadcasters with different needs and budgets. Here are the available options:

    • RAY E1210: $1,299.99
    • Server-Grade E1200: $3,249.99
    • GENLOCK  D2202: $4,499.99
    • 4K live streaming encoder E4300: $7,999.99
    • PRISM SINGLE E1200: $2,999.99
    • PRISM DUAL E2211: $4,499.99

    Compatibility:

    When it comes to live streaming software compatibility, the Resi hardware encoders are quite limited. The encoders for live streaming only work with their own software. There is not much other information available on compatibility with these tools.

    If you want an end-to-end live streaming platform, with everything included in one package, Resi’s live streaming encoder is one of the many tools included with their platform.

    10. Magewell UltraStream

    magewell ultrastream
    The Magewell UltraStream is a reliable live streaming encoder.

    Magewell is a company that offers advanced streaming technology to support different parts of the streaming setup, including HDMI live streaming encoding. The Magewell UltraStream encoders are another great option for professional broadcasters.

    What’s nice about this encoder is that Magewell offers great support for users, ranging from a thoroughly documented knowledge base to live customer support.

    Key Features:

    • Computer-free streaming
    • Can be controlled by remote devices if you choose
    • SDI and HDMI inputs
    • H.264 or HEVC video codecs
    • AAC audio codec
    • Compatible with RTMP and RTMPS ingest
    • Capable of RTSP streaming
    • Video recording
    • Supports simulcasting 
    • Supports mountainous multi-streaming 
    • Records stream onto USB drives
    • Web UI enabled device configuration

    Pros:

    • Easy to use
    • Many professional-grade features
    • Connects to any internet connection (Ethernet, Wi-Fi, roaming)
    • Reliable customers support
    • Well-documented for easy use and troubleshooting
    • Great for newbie broadcasters

    Cons:

    • No pricing transparency
    • No backup power/battery supply

    Pricing:

    Magewell live streaming encoders are only available through verified Channel Partners. Contact your local Channel Partner for more information.

    Compatibility:

    Magewell’s HDMI live streaming encoders are compatible with both HDMI and SDI inputs and Windows and macOS

    For those looking for an HDMI live streaming encoder with professional features, Magewell is a good choice.

    11. Matrox

    matrox encoders
    Matrox has a variety of live streaming encoder options.

    Matrox is a streaming technology company that offers a variety of tools for broadcasters, such as 4k live streaming encoder technology.  This brand offers several hardware live streaming encoders, including Monarch HD Encoder Appliance, Maevex 6122 Dual 4K Encoder, and Maevex 6152 Quad 4K Encoder.

    The live streaming encoders from Matrox are highly capable, so they are well-suited for supporting professional streaming setups. It is a robust hardware encoder for live streaming

    Key Features:

    • Hardware encoders
    • Live stream recording
    • 4K encoding and decoding
    • Uses H.264 codec
    • Large collection of other streaming tools
    • Low-latency encoding
    • Up to 6 streaming protocols
    • Great for streaming on the move

    Pros:

    • Capable of high-quality streaming
    • Many different encoding options
    • Dedicated software to support hardware encoders
    • Travel-friendly

    Cons:

    • No pricing transparency
    • Complicated array of features not best suited to beginners 

    Pricing:

    Pricing for Matrox live streaming encoders is not available on the Matrox website. Interested broadcasters must inquire about pricing from a verified Matrox distributor

    Compatibility:

    Matrox is compatible with both macOS and Windows.

    If you want to broadcast content in 4K, you need a 4K stream encoder. Matrox is a solid 4k hardware stream encoder option.

    12. OSX by Streambox

    OSX Hybrid Software Encoder
    OSX is a Hybrid Software Encoder from Streambox.

    The Streambox OS X Software Encoder is a 4K live streaming encoder tool capable of 4K encoding necessary for producing high-quality streams. It is equipped with a variety of professional tools that are designed to enhance the broadcasting experience.

    The biggest downside of this software is that it is only compatible with macOS, so it is not an option for Windows users.

    Key Features:

    • High-quality streaming
    • Low data consumption
    • Multiple color profiles
    • Multi-location video streaming
    • Live-to-VOD archiving
    • Reliable low-latency streaming 

    Pros:

    • Works on any internet connection
    • Saves money on bandwidth
    • The software can be upgraded

    Cons:

    • Has particular system requirements
    • Only works on macOS

    Pricing:

    OS X comes with Streambox Cloud subscriptions. The pricing plans for this technology are broken down as follows:

    • Trial: Free
    • Standard: $99/month
    • Enterprise: $499/month
    • Event: One-time fee of $295
    • Custom/Broadcast: Interested broadcasters should contact sales for a quote for a custom-built plan.
    • Chroma 4K 10-Bit 4:2:2 Hardware encoder:$3,450.00
    • Chroma X Bundle: $500.00

    Compatibility:

    This software is only available for macOS, and it requires a Dual Core i5 2.5GHz and 2GB RAM processor.

    If you are a dedicated Apple user and need an encoder for streaming, OSX  by Streambox is a solid and affordable software encoder.  

    How to Choose the Best Encoder for Streaming

    The live streaming encoder software you should choose greatly depends on the features you need to help you reach your goals. That said, no single live streaming encoder will be the perfect match for every broadcaster.

    To identify which features are most important to you, take some time to think about the following questions:

    • Is the encoder compatible with your streaming setup?
    • What kind of computer will you use, and with what kind of operating system?
    • How many camera feeds do you need to incorporate into your videos, and which camera will you use?
    • What features does the encoder provide? Is it the best option for your broadcasting needs?
    • What’s your budget?
    • How big is your target audience?
    • How much will you need to do in the way of studio effects or video editing?
    • What resolution of video do you want to broadcast?
    • What are the top requirements of your live streaming platform service?
    • How much money do you want to spend? Is this a flexible or fixed price point for you or your business?

    If you’re new to live streaming video, we recommend starting with OBS Studio to become familiar with how to stream live video on your website. After you get the basics down, you can upgrade later to a more powerful program if you like.

    Overall, it’s important to ensure that any encoder streaming software you choose helps you meet all your goals for producing and broadcasting your video content.

    Conclusion

    Today’s broadcaster needs to deliver on multiple fronts, and having the right live streaming encoder can help you do that better and streamline your entire production operation.

    The live streaming encoder that you choose ultimately plays a huge role in the quality of your live stream. When choosing one to operate your live stream, there are many options and live encoder configurations. Hardware encoders tend to produce better-quality streams. Although video encoders for live streaming software are easier to use and more cost-effective.

    If you’re new to live streaming video, we recommend Dacast’s custom version of OBS since it is free for our users and allows anyone to become familiar with how to stream live video on your website. After you get down to the basics, you can upgrade to a more powerful live streaming encoder tool if necessary.

    Overall, it’s important to ensure that any live stream encoder software you choose, as with your hardware, your cameras, and your live streaming platform, allows you to meet your goals for producing and broadcasting your video content.

    If you are looking for a unified streaming solution with both live and VOD streaming capabilities, give Dacast a try. Sign up for our 14-day free trial to test out all of our streaming tools. No credit card is required.

    Get Started for Free Now

    We hope this article has helped you to compare encoders for live streaming options for your business. Thanks for reading, and let us know your questions and feedback in the chat section below.

    For regular live streaming tips and exclusive offers, you can join our LinkedIn group.

    author avatar

    Fanny Elise Lagarde

    Fanny Elise was a part of the Dacast engineering team, and with her technical knowledge, helped the marketing team to engage readers with streaming content.

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