Your Guide to the Best Live Streaming Equipment [2022 Update]
Table of Contents
Streaming live video in 2022 is a must for many businesses. Whether it’s streaming video to stay connected with customers, streaming events virtually, or staying in touch with employees while they work remotely, video content is booming right now.
The fastest way to start creating live content is to use the equipment you already have, like your mobile phone and its built-in audio. As a business, you are going to want to use more than the basic equipment you have on hand, you are going to want to use professional live streaming equipment.
Not sure what to purchase? No worries! We have you covered, with a full guide of the best live streaming equipment. So if you find yourself asking: “What equipment do I need to live stream?” then this is your guide to the best live streaming equipment out there. We will help you learn how to put it all together and be ready to hit record and broadcast live video.
Table of Contents:
In this article, we’ll cover in detail what live streaming equipment is best for broadcasting by category, including:
- Video Cameras
- Audio Equipment
- Mixing Equipment
- Mobile Live Streaming Equipment
- Streaming Equipment for Churches and Houses of Worship
- Video Streaming Accessories
- Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
- Final Thoughts
How do I Set up Live Streaming?
To start, let’s break down what you’ll need to broadcast video. Setting up live streaming is pretty easy once you know the basics. There are four major components you need for any live streaming setup.
- Video and Audio Source – This will be the cameras, computers, and any other image source we discuss in the post. Audio will be microphones, mixer feeds and other sounds to be played in your stream.
- Video Encoder – This is a valuable piece of equipment we’ll dive into. It sends your video to the internet.
- A Streaming Destination – This is the video streaming platform you choose to stream your content to.
- Internet Connection – A stable internet connection is a must when you decide you want to broadcast video.
Your streaming setup workflow comes down to setting up your audio hosting platform and video solution to your encoder, setting up the connections, planning your stream, and establishing a connection between the encoder and the live streaming software solution. Once you’ve connected everything together, you’ll be able to hit record and others will be able to watch your digital content right away.
Now that the basics are covered, let’s dive into each of these major parts in more detail.
The first requirement for professional live broadcasting is a video camera. A video camera is essential streaming gear. There are thousands of different live streaming cameras available. Like most types of gear, live streaming video cameras come with trade-offs.
Entry-level video cameras tend to be cheaper and lightweight. Video quality can be good, but only if lighting conditions are ideal. Entry-level video cameras are great mobile live streaming equipment. They lack manual controls and include only basic connectivity. These cameras range from $300 to $700.
- Example: smartphone cameras, action cameras, entry-level camcorders
- Our top pick: Panasonic HC-VX981K, $647.99
Prosumer video cameras are the mid-range option. Image quality improves at this level, making the picture excellent. Connectivity is decent but not professional-grade, with HDMI being a standard option. There may be a few manual controls, but without the ergonomics and customization of a fully pro-level camera. These cameras range from $800 to $3,000.
- Example: DSLR and mirrorless cameras, prosumer camcorders, 4k cameras
- Our top pick: Sony Alpha a7 III, $1,998
Professional video cameras include pro-connectors like XLR and SDI. They tend to have large, high-resolution sensors that provide excellent image quality, even in poor lighting conditions. Build-quality is higher, with manual controls, making them more durable. Some professional cameras will even allow the use of interchangeable lenses. These cameras range from $1,500 to $25,000 +.
- Example: professional camcorders, EFT cameras, cinema cameras
- Our top pick: Panasonic AG-CX350 4K, $3,695
If you are just looking for some basic broadcasting camera equipment, an entry-level video camera is all you need. For more professional live streaming, you are going to want to purchase either a prosumer video camera or a professional video camera. A professional video camera is the best streaming gear for high-quality live streams for your professional business video content.
Various studies have shown that audio quality is even more important to viewers than video streaming quality. If a live streaming video stutters, the user experience may be fine as long as the audio quality remains high. The lesson here is not to skimp on audio equipment.
There are three basic tiers of audio live streaming equipment:
- Low—Medium Quality: For example the built-in microphone on entry-level and prosumer cameras.
- Medium-High Quality: USB and 3.5mm microphones, or built-in microphones on professional live video cameras.
- Professional Quality: XLR microphones.
A basic wired 3.5mm lavalier mic can greatly improve your audio quality over the built-in microphones on entry-level video cameras or phones. Upgrading to a high-end 3.5mm microphone can deliver great quality as well. But if you want to maximize the quality of your audio streaming to the highest level, consider XLR microphones. XLR microphones are the professional standard for quality and durability, and it’s been that way for decades. For the best video streaming equipment and experience, invest in an XLR microphone.
Mixing or switching live streaming equipment allows you to capture multiple video or audio sources, and switch between them during a live broadcast. This is optional, but if you’re doing a large multi-camera live streaming shoot, mixing is essential. Mixing is essential for events such as:
- Music productions
- Sporting events
- Church services
- Business conferences
Hardware switchers are ideal when you have a lot of camera angles. These devices allow you to press a button and easily switch between cameras. One example of a professional live video switcher is the Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K Live Production Switcher, which costs $2,995. This device allows you to connect up to 4 HDMI cameras and 4 SDI cameras and has an 8-camera SDI version also available. You can then switch between the cameras using software on a connected computer.
When looking for the right piece of video mixing equipment consider the following:
- Physical size
- Input and outputs
- Automation & connectivity
- On-board processing
- User interface
For a complex shoot, you’ll end up with multiple audio sources. This will require some sort of audio mixing. If you’re using live stream encoding software, you may be able to mix digitally on the computer. A more expandable option, however, is to use a separate audio mixer to capture the audio sources. You can then adjust levels and other qualities individually, and import a clean sound signal into your encoder.
When looking for the right piece of audio mixing equipment consider the following:
- The number of input and output channels
- Auxiliary and monitor buses and outputs
- On/off or mute buttons
- Digital inputs
- Control via a network app
For bigger live streaming events, you need more advanced broadcasting equipment, such as video mixing equipment and audio mixing equipment that allow you to broadcast multiple camera angles and customize the audio experience.
The fourth key piece of live streaming equipment you need is an encoder. Video encoding is the process of compressing video files so they are not saved as individual images but as one fluid video. Engineers developed video encoding which provided a way to compress files without compromising the quality, which is extremely important for businesses.
There are a variety of reasons why you might want to encode a video:
- Reduce file size
- Reduce buffering for streaming video
- Change resolution or aspect ratio
- Change audio format or quality
- Convert obsolete files to modern formats
- Meet a certain target bit rate
- Make a video compatible with a certain device (computer, tablet, smartphone, smartTV, legacy devices)
- Make a video compatible with certain software or service
There are two main types of encoders: hardware and software. For a live streaming setup, you need to invest in either a hardware or software encoder. It is the final piece of video streaming equipment you need to create quality live streams.
Hardware encoders are dedicated processors that use a designed algorithm to encode video and data into streamable content. These encoders for live streaming come in smaller, portable boxes or larger permanent fixtures. They can support a wide range of sources, but often HDMI and SDI. They’re usually built to last and can support 24/7 video streaming without crashing, ideal for professional use. There are also some specialty hardware encoders on the market that use battery power and 5G LTE connections to stream live video from remote locations.
Software encoders are programs that run on a computing device, like a laptop or desktop computer. To capture video, they need to be paired with a capture card or other means of connecting your live streaming cameras to your computer. A few popular examples are:
- vMix Video Streaming Software
- Wirecast Live Production Solutions
- OBS Studio Broadcasting Software
- VidBlasterX Video Production Software
These software packages also integrate mixing and production tools. These encoders appeal to live streaming startups because of their low cost and customization features. However, software encoders do lack the overall latency speed that hardware encoders offer, which is something to consider when deciding on the right encoder for your live stream.
If you’re using an RTMP encoder for live streaming, you will need an RTMP (real-time messaging protocol) enabled hardware or software. When it comes to RTMP encoding, broadcasters can choose from a wide variety of software and hardware encoders. There are options for every need and budget. vMix, Wirecast, OBS Studio, and VidBlasterX all support RTMP encoding, and the most modern use for RTMP ingest technology is transmitting video content from the encoder to the video hosting platform.
Mobile Live Streaming Equipment
Mobile live streaming requires a different setup than what you’d need for streaming from the studio. While it is possible to live stream with a smartphone alone, especially if it is one with a high-quality camera like one of the new iPhone 13 Pro, there is a bit of equipment that you can invest in to improve the quality of your end result with mobile live streaming.
Here is the shortlist of the ideal kit and setup for mobile live streaming:
- Handheld smartphone gimbal
- A multifunctional octopus tripod with a ball head
- A compact on-camera microphone
- Portable lighting gear
These mobile live streaming equipment add-ons will help to enhance and improve the quality of your online streaming setup, and ensure you are able to broadcast quality live content on the go.
In addition to the physical list above, for mobile broadcasting you should take advantage of 2 very important digital tools: a mobile streaming app and an RTMP-enabled video hosting and live streaming platform.
For more information on the ideal mobile setup, check out our tutorial on mobile live streaming equipment for broadcasting on the go.
Live Streaming Equipment for Churches and Houses of Worship
As opposed to mobile broadcasting, to stream your church services, you will need to invest in live streaming equipment and tools to make streaming easier and give your recordings a more polished, professional appearance.
While you could simply use someone’s smartphone and stream using a free platform such as Facebook Live or Youtube Live, there are limits to the quality and length of service you can stream with this method. To give your worshippers the feeling that they’re in a church with you, you’ll need to invest in some equipment, including:
- Video switcher
- Live streaming platform
There are wide ranges in price points and complexity for each of these items, so you could begin your live streaming journey with something less expensive. As you get more experienced and knowledgeable, spend a little more money to upgrade your live streaming equipment.
Whether you are a small community congregation or want to expand your reach online, live streaming your church services is a great opportunity to maintain the engagement of your current congregation, and be prepared for unforeseen circumstances that can interrupt in-person worship.
To give your worshippers a high-quality broadcasting experience, check out Dacast’s guide on church live streaming equipment and learn the tips and techniques needed to deliver your congregation the message you want them to hear whenever they are ready for it.
Video Streaming Accessories
To tie together your production, you’ll need a variety of miscellaneous live streaming equipment. This will include cables, tripods, batteries, and random things like light stands.
These accessories will make your live streaming set up the best it can be for your business. Just as every business is different, the needs for accessories will be different too. As you start to live stream content, make a list of live streaming accessories that could help enhance the quality of your videos.
With every live streaming production, a tripod is the most important accessory. You don’t want a shaky video or your camera to fall off its make-shift tripod. A steady camera is essential for a quality live stream setup.
Continue to work on improving your setup by adding accessories that make your live broadcasts even better. Oftentimes, it is the smaller video streaming equipment that will help take your content to the next level.
Content Delivery Networks
The final critical element in live streaming equipment is a solution for content delivery. You need an effective, professional way to get your content to your audience.
We don’t recommend using consumer video platforms like YouTube. They have major downsides. For example, workplaces and universities often block these platforms and since they’re not white-label, the ability to scale isn’t accessible to all businesses.
The alternative is a professional video streaming platform. A quality online video player (OVP) provides tools for video security, monetization, and customization. All this occurs in a white-label platform that can be customized for your branding and allows for embedding on your website.
An OVP uses a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to deliver content via the internet. This content can come in the form of text, images, video, and much more.
A content delivery network (CDN) is made up of a network of servers located in various locations around the world. This network exists to “cache” content. Using a CDN helps your business use a widely distributed network of live streaming servers for your content. When a viewer requests content from a CDN, they are routed to the closest server. This happens through the use of a viewer’s IP address. Distance between the server and the users adds potential video latency (lag time) to the internet connection.
By connecting to servers around the globe, live streaming CDNs are able to create the shortest route for video streams. Additionally, when a business uses a multi-CDN solution, it lets scalability become possible should viewership increase.
Here are some other benefits to using a CDN provider:
- Speed – Content delivery networks deliver content at low latency. While a local network is lagging, a CDN is in the passing lane, bypassing the local network and speeding to get to the viewer on time.
- Quality – High-quality video, with minimal lag time. Exactly what the viewer ones.
- Flexible Pricing – These factors typically include the amount of bandwidth you need, required features, and the region where you will be streaming to.
- Security – Businesses are full of confidential information. CDNs provide an extra layer of security because of that. Using a CDN will prevent security attacks that occur when a site or resource is flooded by attempts to breach it.
Putting it all Together
Now that you know what live streaming equipment is needed for an ideal streaming setup, it’s time to piece everything together. During your buying process, ensure that each piece of individual equipment will work together with the other live streaming devices you purchased. This should be able to be found on the feature page of each product.
Once you have ordered each piece of live streaming equipment, it’s time to actually put it all together. Create your ideal streaming setup and place everything where you want it to go when you plan to hit “record.” Here are some things to consider before you begin live streaming:
- Practice – Write a script and practice it. Practice recording videos to ensure that everything goes right, so when you start live streaming to your audience, you know what to do.
- Focus – Choose something to focus on for your video. Don’t just go live without knowing what you want to talk about. To keep viewers entertained, have a crystal clear focus.
- Audience – Know who you’re recording your video for. Every streaming audience is different. The type of video content you create for customers will be different compared to the content you create for employees.
For more exposure to your content, you will also want to start thinking about multistreaming. Multi-destination streaming, or “multistreaming” for short, is a broadcasting technique that involves streaming a single feed to multiple destinations simultaneously. The main benefit of multistreaming is that it helps broadcasters reach a larger audience. By streaming to social media sites like YouTube or Facebook, as well as on your own website, at once leveraging a multistream platform, it’s possible to tap into your existing audience and grow a more “social” community.
The equipment for streaming that you use for a live stream is extremely important. Without the right audio and video, viewers will not stick around.
For many, 90 seconds is the longest a viewer will tolerate a spotty stream. That means you only have one and a half minutes to capture a viewer. That’s how crucial quality audio and video are.
Now that you have read this article, you know what it takes. We went over what the best cameras, microphones, encoders, mixing equipment, and CDNs are that you need for a killer live streaming set up. Consider each piece of equipment carefully and scale when appropriate.
If you’re not already using Dacast for your live streaming and video hosting needs, you can sign up today for our 14-day free trial. No credit card information is required! This will provide you with two weeks of our services to see if Dacast solves your content needs.
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