Streaming Setup

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Introduction[edit]

This will be a beginners guide to streaming. It will go over the basics of what you need in order to stream and how to set it up, but it will not show you how to put on a production like MLG or EVO. Don’t expect to find information in here about how to stream like Team Sp00ky or Level|up. These two streaming entities have years of experience and thousands of dollars worth of equipment. If you have either of these things then you are probably not reading this guide because you already know what you are doing.

This will be a guide aimed at streaming fighting games from a console. If you’re looking for info on how to stream yourself playing LoL or a random indie game you found on Steam: this is not the place. If you've come here because you want to start streaming/recording fighting games at a local event or your living room then this is the guide for you!

Capture Devices[edit]

The very first thing you need to stream (or record) from a console is a capture device. The first question you need to ask yourself is: do I want to stream from a laptop or a desktop? The answer to this question will determine whether you buy a PCIe card or a USB device (although a USB device can also be used on a desktop as well). For the most part, streaming from a desktop will net you greater quality early on because PCI devices can handle higher bitrates (read: higher quality) feeds. There are USB devices that can give you equal quality, but they will cost you a pretty penny and/or you could run into some compatibility issues.

The capture devices listed here will mostly cover the mid-to-low price range, and therefore PCIe devices will get you better quality. But, it should be noted that just because you have a decent capture device doesn't mean your stream will look and sound amazing. There are a lot of other factors that determine this (but these will be covered later).

Another thing to note is that these devices will be aimed at 720p 59.97FPS capture and recording since that is what all current PS3/360 games run at. Some devices will support higher resolutions but that’s for you to research if you so desire.

Avermedia Live Gamer Portable[edit]

Live Gamer Portable
Retail Price
$179.99
Purchase URL
Newegg Amazon
Device Type
USB 2.0
Input(s)
HDMI, Component (/w included dongle)
Output(s)
HDMI
Software Included
REC Central
Official Site
Gamerzone
Additional Notes
This is probably the best bang for your buck right now, whether it be a USB or PCIe device. The quality is good and it doubles as a splitter. It can also record without a PC if you have a spare class 10 SD card (though not at the same time as streaming). Compatible out of the box with XSplit streaming software. Also note that this is a USB 2.0 device so it is compatible with older laptops. Most good USB devices require USB 3.0 and a certain chipset.


Avermedia Live Gamer HD[edit]

Live Gamer HD
Retail Price
$219.99
Purchase URL
Newegg Amazon
Device Type
PCIe
Input(s)
HDMI, DVI/Component
Output(s)
HDMI
Software Included
REC Central
Official Site
Avermedia
Additional Notes


Avermedia Live Broadcaster HD[edit]

Retail Price
$149.99
Purchase URL
Amazon Newegg
Device Type
PCIe
Input(s)
HDMI, VGA
Output(s)
None
Software Included
Avermedia MediaCenter, REC Central
Official Site
Avermedia
Additional Notes


Avermedia AVerTV HD DVR[edit]

Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle USB 3.0
Retail Price
$109.99
Purchase URL
Device Type
PCIe
Input(s)
HDMI, Component, S-Video, Composite
Output(s)
None
Software Included
Avermedia MediaCenter
Official Site
Avermedia
Additional Notes


Blackmagic Intensity Pro[edit]

Blackmagic Intensity Pro w/ Dongle
Retail Price
$199.99
Purchase URL
Amazon
Device Type
PCIe
Input(s)
HDMI, Component, S-Video
Output(s)
HDMI
Software Included
Blackmagic Media Express
Official Site
Black Magic
Additional Notes
Used by Team St1ckBuG. Works with XSplit but the drivers and settings can be very picky.


Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle[edit]

Retail Price
$266.00
Purchase URL
Amazon
Device Type
USB 3.0
Input(s)
HDMI, Component, S-Video, Composite
Output(s)
HDMI, Component, S-Video, Composite
Software Included
Black Magic Media Express
Official Site
Black Magic
Additional Notes
The most frequently used high-quality USB device. Requires a 3.0 USB and certain chipset (x58 based computer or better) so make sure you do your homework before purchasing.


ExtremeCap U3[edit]

AVerMedia ExtremeCap U3
Retail Price
No price yet.
Purchase URL
Device Type
USB 3.0
Input(s)
HDMI, Component (Dongle)
Output(s)
None
Software Included
Avermedia MediaCenter
Official Site
AVerMedia Gamerzone
Additional Notes
Newest USB 3.0 streaming device to hit the market.


Stream Software[edit]

If you only want to record, there is a very good chance that the software that came with your capture device will get the job done. If you want to stream, most software that comes with your device either has no streaming capabilities or very little. You won’t be able to switch between different cameras, scenes, or be able to display overlays and score counters. So while recording software will come with your capture card, if you want to stream you'll need to choose a software to meet your needs.

XSplit[edit]

Retail Price
$39.95/year for Personal, $59.95/year for Premium.
Official Site
XSplit
Additional Comments
Your current go-to software. Affordable and does everything you’d need it to do. Very easy to use and compatible with most capture devices.


Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)[edit]

Retail Price
Free
Official Site
OBS Project
Additional Comments


Wirecast[edit]

Retail Price
$495 Regular, $995 Premium
Official Site
Telestream
Additional Comments
Super expensive but it’s aimed at more of the professional user.


Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE)[edit]

Retail Price
Free
Official Site
Adobe
Additional Comments
Basic streaming software. No scene changing or possibilities for overlays unless you screen capture. If all you want to stream is your capture device and nothing else then this is a good free solution.


Overlay Software[edit]

Score overlays are those things you see that display player names and the current score at most tournaments. How is this done? Special software built for it. If you want to let your viewers know what is going on at all times then this is a must. 3 years ago you used to have to edit the overlays manually but times have changed. Most software now makes this extremely easy.

8WAYRUN Panel Writer[edit]

Retail Price
Free, $10 Pro
Links
FreePro
Additional Comments
The standard overlay software. Easily customizable, and very easy to use.


StreamControl[edit]

Retail Price
Free
Links
farpnut
Additional Comments


Stream Settings[edit]

Recording is very simple because almost every device you buy will come with decent recording software. The software will also be very straight forward: the higher the recording bitrate then the higher quality you will get. Streaming, on the other hand, can get tricky. Your limiting factor of quality will be how much upload bandwidth you have. The best streaming equipment in the world can look terrible if there isn't enough upload there to support it.

Sometimes you might have the necessary upload for high quality streaming but your viewers are complaining about frame loss and skipping, yet you aren't dropping any frames! If you're not partnered with your stream provider then there's a good chance that the bitrate you're using is too high for some of your viewers. Other times you might be streaming at a venue with very bad internet and you have to make the best of the upload you're given. You also need to understand that there is a point where you will increase your upload rate but the increased quality you get from doing so is negligible. So where should your settings be?

Before we list a few tables of settings there's one thing that you should know: dropping frames is worse than low quality. The following settings are merely examples. Your settings will change depending on your upload bandwidth and if you're partnered or not, but what you need to understand is that a choppy stream is worse than a cloudy one. You'll want to play with your settings to the point where you're pushing out the highest quality while not dropping any frames.

C-Tier (Cheap ISP/Bad 4G Service) ~1500 kbps upload
C-Tier (Cheap ISP/Bad 4G Service) ~1500 kbps upload
Video Settings
Codec X.264
Bitrate 1404
Mode CBR
Apply Strict CBR Yes (Checked)
Max Keyframe Interval 2.0
VBV Buffer 2808
Resolution 852x480
FPS 30
Audio Settings
Codec AAC LC HQ
Bitrate 96
Sample Rate 44.1KHz Stereo


Middle Class (Cable/Decent 4G Service) 2000-2500 kbps upload
B-Tier (OK Cable/4G Service) ~2000 kbps upload
Video Settings
Codec X.264
Bitrate 1872
Mode CBR
Apply Strict CBR Yes (Checked)
Max Keyframe Interval 2.0
VBV Buffer 3744
Resolution 852x480
FPS 30
Audio Settings
Codec AAC LC HQ
Bitrate 128
Sample Rate 44.1KHz Stereo


A-Tier (Average Cable/Good 4G) ~2500 kbps upload
Video Settings
Codec X.264
Bitrate 2340
Mode CBR
Apply Strict CBR Yes (Checked)
Max Keyframe Interval 2.0
VBV Buffer 4680
Resolution 852x480
FPS 30
Audio Settings
Codec AAC LC HQ
Bitrate 160
Sample Rate 44.1KHz Stereo


S-Tier (Fios/High-end Cable) ~3000 kbps upload
S-Tier (Fios/High-End Cable) ~3000 kbps upload
Video Settings
Codec X.264
Bitrate 2840
Mode CBR
Apply Strict CBR Yes (Checked)
Max Keyframe Interval 2.0
VBV Buffer 5680
Resolution 1280x720
FPS 30
Audio Settings
Codec AAC LC HQ
Bitrate 160
Sample Rate 44.1KHz Stereo


S-Tier 60FPS (Fios/High-End Cable) ~3000 kbps upload
Video Settings
Codec X.264
Bitrate 2840
Mode CBR
Apply Strict CBR Yes (Checked)
Max Keyframe Interval 2.0
VBV Buffer 2808
Resolution 852x480
FPS 60
Audio Settings
Codec AAC LC HQ
Bitrate 160
Sample Rate 44.1KHz Stereo


Audio Mixers[edit]

Now that you're streaming game footage, the next step you're going to want to take is adding commentary to your matches. In order to mix the game sound with commentary you're going to need a mixer.

Mixers come in all shapes and sizes, and for what you're trying to do you probably don't need to think about what you need too much. You're going to need 1 channel per input (Game + Commentary = 2 Inputs, Game + 2xCommentary = 3 inputs, etc.) and each mixer will always come with at least 1 output which is all you're going to need.

Makie Onyx 1220 12-Channel Mixer[edit]

Samson MDR1064 10-Channel Mixer
Retail Price
$475.00
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments
Used by Team Sp00ky.


Samson MDR1064 10-Channel Mixer[edit]

Retail Price
$199.99
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments
Used by Team St1ckBuG.


Yamaha MG102C 10-Input Stereo Mixer[edit]

Retail Price
$129.99
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments
Used by Kurushii


Behringer Xenyx 802 Premium 8-Input 2-Bus Mixer[edit]

Retail Price
$61.25
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments
A very good entry level mixer when you don't have a need for a lot of inputs.


XLR Headsets[edit]

In order to actually record the commentary you're going to need a headset or microphone. Good headsets aren't cheap. This is one of the few things that I will say that you actually get what you pay for.

Audio-Technica BPHS1[edit]

Audio-Technica BPHS1
Retail Price
$279.00
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments
Very good mic: sensitive and clear. The headset cord is detachable which is a nice extra feature. The headphones themselves are good but the padding can get pretty uncomfortable after long periods of wearing them.


Sennheiser HMD281-XQ[edit]

Retail Price
$338.94
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments
Used by iPlayWinner.


Headset Amplifiers[edit]

Most mixers only come with one headset output, so if both commentators want to hear the game (and each other) you're either going to have to split the output using a Y-connector or put the output through an amplifier to split it. The downside to using a Y-connector is that you're splitting the power behind the signal as well as reducing the audio quality you end up hearing. If you're in a loud venue there's a good chance that even with the mixer headset output turned up to max the commentators won't be able to hear one another. An amplifier not only splits the sound, but it will amplify the signal behind it so that you're not losing any volume. Definitely worth the money!

Samson S-amp 4-Channel[edit]

Samson S-amp 4-Channel
Retail Price
$49.99
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments


ART HeadAmp4 Headphone Amplifier[edit]

Retail Price
$80.00
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments


Behringer HA400 4-Channel Stereo Headphone Amp[edit]

Retail Price
$29.99
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments


Cables[edit]

Choosing cables is very simple as all cables will pretty much yield you the same quality. The big difference between a quality cable and a cheap one is how well it's built. More expensive cables will tend to last longer and sometimes come with lifetime warranties.

Low End
Monoprice
High End
Hosa Technology

HDCP Strippers[edit]

To put it simply, HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) is why your capture device will show a blank screen when trying to capture 720p and higher resolutions through an HDMI output from a PS3. An HDCP stripper converts the video signal from digital to analog, and therefore strips the signal of it's HDCP encoding, allowing you to stream content on non-HDCP supported devices. Note: you only need this device if you plan to capture a PS3 HDMI signal, as you do not need it for a component signal.

A 360 doesn't have HDCP encryption, so if you own a 360 you've just saved yourself some money!

Sewell HDMI Splitter[edit]

Sewell HDMI Splitter
Retail Price
$24.96
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments
This is sort of a secret HDCP stripper. It's only meant to act as a splitter and amplifier but it strips HDCP as well!


ViewHD (3.5mm L/R)[edit]

Retail Price
$28.95
Links
Amazon
Additional Comments


HDMI2HDMI[edit]

Retail Price
$48.20
Links
DHGate
Additional Comments


HDFury3[edit]

HDFury III
Retail Price
$249
Links
HDFury
Additional Comments
Use by Team St1ckBuG. Has two selectable HDMI inputs. Outputs to a component dongle (video) and 3.5mm (sound). Works like a charm!


HDFury2[edit]

Retail Price
$179
Links
HDFury
Additional Comments
Probably the most used HDCP stripper. Has 1 HDMI input. Outputs to a component dongle (video) and 3.5mm (sound).