Your Guide to the Best Live Streaming Equipment [2023 Update]
Video content is booming across many industries. Whether connecting with customers, streaming events, or managing remote teams, a live streaming setup is necessary. If there’s one thing companies should invest in these days, it’s streaming equipment.
But what if you need to start streaming right away? You can use the equipment you already have, such as your mobile phone and built-in microphone or your tablet with built-in audio-video recording.
Want to create a professional live streamer for your business? In that case, you should invest in some professional equipment.
Not sure what to purchase? Don’t worry! We have you covered with a complete guide to the best live streaming equipment.
So if you’re wondering which equipment to create a professional live stream, this guide will surely help you. We’ll help you put it together and be ready when it’s time to press record and broadcast live video.
In this article, we’ll cover in detail what equipment is best for broadcasting by category, including:
- 4 Major Components for a Live Streaming Set-up
- Video Cameras
- Audio Equipment
- Mixing Equipment
- Control and Automation Equipment
- Mobile Live Streaming Equipment
- Streaming Equipment for Churches and Houses of Worship
- Video Streaming Accessories
- Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
- Final Thoughts
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4 Major Components for a Live Streaming Set-Up
You may be wondering, “How do I set up a live feed?” or “What video streaming equipment do I need to stream?”
When it comes to live streaming, there are four main components you need to start:
- Video and Audio Source: First, you need video and audio to stream! That can come from multiple sources. Your video will generally come from cameras or your computer or mobile screen. Audio will come from microphones, mixer feeds, and other audio sources.
- Video Encoder: A video encoder will capture your audio and visual content and format it to be sent over the Internet. You can use a hardware encoder, software encoder, or RTMP encoder.
- Streaming Destination: This is where you’re sending your content. Your streaming destination will be the video streaming platform that you’re working with. It can be a professional video streaming platform or one of the several free streaming platforms you can find if you look hard enough.
- Internet Connection: If you want to broadcast live, you need a stable internet connection. Fiber internet is ideal for streaming (especially HD or 4K) but only sometimes necessary.
You’re going to need to connect your audio and visual sources to your encoder and connect your encoder to your video streaming platform. When everything is connected, you can hit the “Go Live” button on your video streaming platform, record on your camera, and start your live stream.
Let’s examine these components and learn the best live streaming equipment for professional live broadcasting.
The most important piece of equipment for a professional live stream is a video camera. You’ll need a high-quality camera to capture your content. There are thousands of different live streaming cameras available, each with different features and price points.
Three categories of cameras are entry-level, prosumer, and professional. Here we’ve broken down our favorite cameras in each category to help you choose.
Entry-Level Video Camera
An entry-level camera tends to be lightweight and relatively simple to use. Entry-level cameras also tend to be more affordable than advanced video cameras. Most entry-level video cameras can produce quality video content with the right lighting conditions and proper technique.
Entry-level cameras tend to emphasize automatic settings and typically don’t have a lot of manual controls. Also, their internet connectivity functions are often relatively basic. They make great mobile live streaming cameras because they’re typically lightweight and affordable enough to take anywhere.
The average price for an entry-level video camera is $300 to $700.
- Smartphone cameras
- Action cameras
- Entry-level camcorders
Our top entry-level camera pick: Panasonic HC-VX981K, $797.99
Prosumer Video Cameras
A prosumer camera’s high video quality is designed for consumers with professional-level skills and needs. It’s a mid-range option. Prosumer cameras’ image quality is typically much higher than your average consumer cameras.
Most prosumer cameras feature HDMI connections. There are more manual controls, but they typically don’t have the fully customizable layout of a professional-grade camera. Prosumer cameras cost between $800 and $3,000.
- DSLR cameras
- Mirrorless cameras
- 4K cameras
- Prosumer camcorders
Our top prosumer video camera pick: Sony Alpha a7 III, $1,998
Professional Video Cameras
A professional camera produces excellent images using large, high-resolution sensors. Professional cameras include more manual controls with advanced settings than the other cameras. They also give you more control over the quality of your video files.
With a professional camera, you may even be able to use interchangeable lenses. You can use professional connection standards like XLR and SDI. The price for a professional high-quality video camera varies widely, from around $1,500 up to $25,000 or more.
- Professional camcorders
- EFT cameras
- Cinema cameras
Our top professional video camera pick: Panasonic AG-CX350 4K, $3,695
If you’re just getting started with broadcasting, an entry-level camera will probably suffice, at least for now. For more professional live streams, you’ll want to invest in a prosumer video camera or even a professional video camera.
If you’re going to produce high-quality professional live streams, consider investing in a few professional video cameras or at least a prosumer video camera. It may be different from what you need at the moment. Over time, your investment will likely pay off if you’re in it for the long haul.
When it comes to videos, audio quality is extremely important. Viewers are likelier to stick around when the audio is good, even if the visuals stutter. There are even studies to back that up.
Just like with video cameras, there are three different levels of audio live streaming equipment:
Low to Medium Quality Audio Devices
- The built-in microphone on the phone or computer
- Built-in microphone on entry-level and prosumer cameras
Medium to High-Quality Audio Devices
- USB microphones
- 3.5mm microphones
- Built-in microphones on professional cameras
Professional Quality Audio Devices
- XLR microphones
Using a basic wired 3.5mm lavalier mic instead of the built-in microphone on your phone, tablet, or entry-level video camera can significantly improve your audio quality, although using a higher-end 3.5mm microphone will improve it even more.
To achieve the highest quality audio streaming, use an XLR microphone. For decades, XLR microphones have been the professional standard for quality and durability. If you want the best possible audio experience for your live broadcasts, invest in at least one XLR microphone.
You should also be aware of pickup patterns on microphones. Especially in the case of higher-end microphones. That’s because you’ll probably have more options for pickup patterns the higher up the price ladder you go.
In audio recording technology, a pickup pattern refers to how a microphone picks up sound. There are several different pickup patterns for microphones, but the most common include the following:
- Cardioid: This pattern captures the audio in front of the microphone and around the sides. When visualized, the pattern appears somewhat heart-shaped.
- Figure-8: This pattern captures sound from opposite sides of the microphone equally. When imagined, it looks like the number 8.
- Omnidirectional: This pattern captures sound from all directions equally. When visualized, it looks like a circle.
When you’re looking for a microphone for your live streaming video, make sure that the pickup pattern fits your needs and your goals for the broadcast. You want a mic that can pick up an audio mixer to make up ambient sound for some broadcasts, like live events. For others, like video tutorials, you need a mic that picks up a single voice and no outside noise.
Choose the right microphone with the right pickup pattern, and it will help optimize the quality of your live stream.
You’d benefit from mixing equipment to broadcast large, multi-camera live streaming sequences. That lets you switch between multiple video and audio sources during a live broadcast.
Mixing is essential for events such as:
- Music productions
- Sporting events,
- Church services,
- Business conferences.
Hardware switchers are ideal when you’re shooting a lot of camera angles. These devices allow you to press a button and easily switch between cameras. Here are three great hardware switchers for newbies and veteran broadcasters:
The Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K Live Production Switcher, which costs $3,245.
This device allows you to connect up to 4 HDMI cameras and 4 SDI cameras and has an 8-camera SDI version also available. That allows you to easily switch between cameras using software on a mobile device or a connected computer.
Another second hardware switcher is Black Magic’s Atem Mini which starts at just $277. Aside from the impressive price point, it boasts features such as multi-camera support, live switching, and a built-in audio mixer.
It’s compact, broadcasts to multiple video platforms, and supports picture-in-picture which makes it ideal for live streamers on the go.
Last on our list is the Roland V1-HD. This portable and ultra-compact video switcher is perfect for live events. It has a full built-in 12-channel audio mixer, 2 HDMI outputs and can be controlled remotely via USB or MIDI.
It supports the highest quality Full HD 1080p live videos and is ideal for creating the green screen effect on the go thanks to Chroma key support.
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 typically end up with multiple audio sources. That requires some sort of audio mixing. If you’re using live stream encoding software, you may be able to mix audio signals digitally on your onsite computer (“on the fly”).
A more expandable option, however, is to use a separate audio mixer to capture the audio from multiple video sources. In this case, you can individually adjust levels and other qualities muting audio sources and importing a clean sound signal into your encoder.
When looking for the right piece of audio mixing equipment, consider the following traits:
- 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’ll probably need more advanced broadcasting equipment, such as tools for mixing video and audio that also allow you to broadcast multiple camera angles and customize the audio experience.
You often don’t need mixing equipment for small and simple live broadcasting experiences.
The fourth key piece of equipment you need is an encoder. Video encoding is the process of compressing video files from external sources so they’re not saved as individual images but as one fluid video. Video encoding compresses the video files with as little compromise on quality as possible
Here are the top eight reasons 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 particular 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 encoders
For a live streaming setup, you’ll need to invest in either a hardware or software encoder. It’s the final piece of gearyou need to create quality live streams.
Hardware encoders are dedicated processors that use an algorithm to encode video and data into streamable content. These encoders for live streaming come in small, portable boxes or large, permanent fixtures.
They can support various sources, but HDMI and SDI are the most common. They’re usually built to last and can support 24/7 streaming without crashing, which is ideal for professional use. Some specialty hardware encoders use battery power and 5G LTE connections to stream live video from remote locations.
Software encoders are media-encoding programs that run on a computing device, like a laptop or desktop computer. They need to be paired with a capture card or other means of capture video by connecting your live streaming cameras to your computer to capture video. Some examples of popular software video encoders include:
- 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. They appeal to live streaming startups because of their low cost and customization features.
However, software encoders need to catch up on speed compared towh decent-quality hardware encoders, 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’ll need RTMP (real-time messaging protocol) compatible hardware or software. Regarding 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. The most modern use for RTMP ingest technology is transmitting video content from an encoder to a video hosting platform.
Control and Automation Equipment
Speaking of streaming innovations that make the job easier for broadcasters, there are multiple gadgets available now that automate parts of the live streaming process.
Elgato’s Streamdeck is an intuitive audio mixer with customizable LCD keys that can be programmed to perform functions such as launching applications, switching scenes, and controlling audio levels.
Due to its multi-platform support and mobile app integration, Elgsto’s Streamdeck helps content creators send chat messages, and make different and customizable transitions seamlessly during and post-production.
Mobile Live Streaming Equipment
Mobile live streaming requires a different setup than what you’d need for streaming from a studio. It’s possible to live stream with just a smartphone, especially if it’s one with a high-quality camera like the new iPhone 14 Pro. But there’s also equipment in which you can invest for even better mobile live streaming.
Here’s a short list of ideal kits setups 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 streaming equipment add-ons will help enhance and improve your online streaming setup quality while streaming from a mobile device. They’ll also help to ensure that you can broadcast quality live content on the go.
In addition to the physical list above, for mobile broadcasting, you should take advantage of 2 essential 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 using mobile devices for broadcasting, to stream your church services you’ll need to invest in live streaming tools to make streaming accessible. That’ll also give your recordings a more polished and professional appearance.
While you could record and stream using a smartphone and a free platform such as Facebook Live or Youtube Live, there are limits to the quality and length of service you can stream that way. To give your congregation 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’s a wide range in price points and complexity for each of these items, and they, fortunately, include some relatively inexpensive options. As you become more experienced and knowledgeable, consider spending a little more to upgrade your live streaming equipment.
Whether you’re a small community congregation or want to expand your reach online, live streaming your church services is an excellent opportunity to maintain the engagement of your current congregation. It can even help you be prepared for unforeseen circumstances interrupting in-person worship.
To give 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’re ready.
Video Streaming Accessories
To tie together your production, you’ll need various live streaming tools. This will include cables, tripods, batteries external sound card, and light stands.
These accessories will help set your live streaming up the best for your business. Just as every business differs, streaming equipment’s needs will also differ. 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 arguably the most crucial accessory. You don’t want a shaky video or your camera to fall off its makeshift tripod. A steady camera is essential for a quality live stream setup.
Continue improving your setup by adding accessories that make your live broadcasts even better. Oftentimes, it’s the smaller video streaming and other 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 effective and professional broadcasting equipment 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 organizations.
The best alternative is a professional video streaming platform. A quality online video player (OVP) provides tools for video security, monetization, and customization. That’s available with 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.
A CDN comprises a network of servers in various locations worldwide. This network exists to “cache” content. Cached media is stored on the CDN servers so that when a user requests the media, it can be delivered from the closest CDN server to the user. 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 can create the shortest route for video streams. Additionally, when a business uses a multi-CDN solution, it eases scalability in the event of a viewership increase.
Some other benefits of 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 bandwidth you need, required features, and the region to which you will be streaming.
- 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. As you purchase your streaming gear, ensure that each piece of individual equipment will work with one another. That information should be readily available via official online product descriptions if not directly on their physical packaging.
Once you’ve ordered each piece of live streaming equipment, it’s time to put it all together. Create your ideal streaming setup and place everything where you want it to go when you plan to hit “record.” Before you begin live streaming, here are some things to consider:
- Practice – Write a script and practice it. Practice recording videos to ensure everything goes right, so you know what to do when you start live streaming to your audience.
- 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 differ from the content you create for employees.
You’ll also want to start thinking about multistreaming for your content to reach a broader audience. Multi-destination streaming, or “multistreaming” for short, is a broadcasting technique that simultaneously streams a single feed to multiple destinations. The main benefit of multistreaming is that it helps broadcasters reach a larger audience than traditional streaming.
By streaming to social media sites like YouTube or Facebook as well as on your own website and leveraging a multistream platform, it’s possible to tap into your existing audience and grow a more “social” community.
The best equipment for streaming you use is extremely important, especially regarding your live streaming setup. Without the right audio and video, viewers will not stick around.
In most cases, 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’ve read this article, you know what it takes. We reviewed the best cameras, microphones, encoders, mixing equipment, and CDNs for a killer live streaming setup. 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! That’ll give you two weeks of our services to see if Dacast solves your content needs.
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