Mar 29 2022

Streaming Equipment: What You Need to Get Started

With more employees working remotely, now is the time to invest in home livestreaming setups, from high-end DSLR cameras and ring lights to lavalier microphones.

Whether your goal is to build a stronger audience on social media or to put on effective virtual events, livestreaming is a great opportunity to reach your audience through the power of live video.

It was already a growing trend before the pandemic, with platforms such as Amazon’s Twitch and Google’s YouTube hosting a number of livestreams, but the professional contexts for live video and hosted virtual events are also on the rise.

Salesforce’s State of Marketing study found that 73 percent of digital marketers are using livestreamed video, compared with 81 percent using pre-produced video. In the wake of the pandemic, livestreaming became an increasingly popular strategy for retailers looking to increase online commerce. It also helped nonprofits boost their fundraising during a time when more traditional in-person options were harder to come by.

Now, with more employees than ever working remotely, the need for livestreaming equipment at home is growing — including for CEOs and other executives, who might take part in virtual events or TV interviews from home.


The percentage of digital marketers currently using livestreamed video

Source: Salesforce, "State of Marketing in 2021: 78% Report New or Reprioritized Metrics," August 2021

What Are the Basics of a Streaming Setup?

At its core, a streaming setup needs four things:

  • A modern computer capable of delivering live video
  • A camera
  • A microphone
  • A fast internet connection that prioritizes both uploads and downloads

Of course, it’s not necessarily limited to those four things, and the context may differ based on your goals. For example, if you’re producing a podcast, sound dampening becomes an important consideration.

You may need mounting equipment for cameras and microphones, to ensure your equipment is properly positioned when recording. Your setup may also require capture equipment that can feed in video from another source over industry-standard video technologies such as HDMI and DisplayPort. For example, the content from a video game console might be an important element of esports streaming.

LEARN MORE: Find out how livestreaming helped professional sports leagues during the pandemic.

Streaming Setup: Back-End Considerations

In building a strong livestreaming platform, it’s important to consider the quality of the connection and the underlying technology that’s used to manage the livestream.

During the early months of the pandemic, for example, Zoom became a popular choice for livestreaming. And tools you already use can be integrated into livestreams. For example, with plug-ins that use the Network Device Interface standard, Adobe’s Premiere Pro video editing tool can be integrated with Zoom to allow professional live video editing in real time.

If your goal is to use a hosted infrastructure to distribute video, resources on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and other cloud services can be important to making that work. An outside eye, such as that offered by CDW AmplifiedTM services, can help you figure out what makes the most sense for your needs.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Learn how to prevent bottlenecks in your infrastructure.

DSLR vs. Webcam for Streaming Video

The camera you use can greatly affect the quality of your stream, so it’s a good area to invest if you have the budget. While your laptop’s built-in webcam may be able to do the job, it probably won’t have the fidelity of an external webcam, a high-end digital camera or even a smartphone.

A high-end streamer may prefer a high-end digital camera, such as a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) or a mirrorless digital camera. Their quality is often significantly better than a webcam can produce, due to the generally wider options for use of camera lenses and increased capabilities of the camera’s shutter. Even smartphones, which often have better cameras than many webcams, can pale in comparison to a moderately priced DSLR (though artificial intelligence has helped close the gap). When professionalism is the goal, a high-end camera, such as those made by Canon, might be the best option.

However, DSLRs often require proprietary software to use in streaming contexts, some of which may not work on every platform. This is an area where webcams shine. More traditional webcams have grown increasingly capable in recent years; for example, Logitech’s Brio camera can provide 4K images. While higher-end cameras can capture more, they may not be the right option for a more complex streaming setup in a studio setting.

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Finding the Best Lighting for Your Video Streaming Setup

Another area livestreamers may want to invest in is lighting, which can bring a more professional look to the stream.

While fixed lighting for a livestream isn’t nearly as extreme as shooting a Hollywood film, it does require some setup. Three-point lighting, for example, uses a key light in front of the subject and a fill light to the side with a backlight illuminating the subject from behind. In a more traditional studio setup, this could be a good option.

An alternative to multipoint lighting that has grown popular among livestreamers in recent years is ring lighting. Videos are shot through a large circle of LED or fluorescent lights, which simplifies the lighting setup for those shooting at a desk or via a smartphone.

READ MORE: Find out how videoconferencing technology has advanced in recent years.

What Microphone Is Best for Audio Streaming?

You may have seen people using Bluetooth earbuds when doing interviews on television. That approach certainly works in a pinch, but it may not be the best if you’re regularly livestreaming, as quality can often be lost with Bluetooth headphones. (Again, wired is preferred for a high-quality audio connection.)

If audio quality is vital to your setup, it’s important to invest. Consider the following for a livestreaming setup:

  • Dynamic microphone. This type of microphone, as noted by the website Producer Hive, is often used in recording studios to pick up certain instruments. It captures loud sounds effectively while avoiding unwanted noises. While durable, they are best for microphone setups where the goal is to minimize external noise.
  • Condenser microphone. While these tend to pick up more outside noise, condenser mics also capture broader frequencies overall, allowing a fuller sound. Because of their structural design, they can be more sensitive than dynamic microphones. They also require an external power source to function properly — a phenomenon called “phantom power.” If fidelity is paramount, however, condensers are a good choice.
  • Lavalier microphone. For streaming setups that need a more minimal microphone, a lavalier mic, which can attach to a shirt collar, is often desirable. Generally these are wired, but wireless options that rely on higher-bandwidth 2.4-gigahertz wireless connections are available.

Ports are another consideration for microphones. Many basic streaming microphones use USB connections, but others rely on traditional XLR plugs for audio input. While USB microphones are fairly simple to plug in, you could gain more flexibility with an XLR, although your setup will probably also require a mixer. A number of popular brands, such as Logitech’s podcaster-focused Blue Yeti line of microphones, are built with USB in mind.

Getty Images/ Tirachard

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