Streaming video games on Twitch, YouTube or another service is great enjoyable – and for numerous, it’s ended up being a full-time task. If you have actually messed around with streaming and wish to take things to the next level, this page is for you. We’ve checked and advised a few of the very best entry-level streaming devices readily available, consisting of mics, cams, lights and the other AV devices you’ll require to place on an expert broadcast.
We’ll begin with a choice of video gaming microphones and audio user interfaces, as audio tends to be the hardest thing to master when you begin streaming. Whether you choose a basic plug-and-play USB microphone or a more expert XLR setup with an audio user interface, our suggestions need to assist you discover the very best worth choices on the marketplace from £50/$50 to around £400/$400 at the upper end.
If streaming has actually ended up being a severe pastime or real occupation for you, then committed video devices ends up being more beneficial. For our part, we have actually checked a couple of entry-level cams and lights, each less than £200/$200, to make sure that you begin on the ideal foot.
While we do have a complete variety of suggestions here, for the sake of brevity we have actually focused on what you’ll require to stream gameplay from a single PC. That implies we have actually left some classifications out in the meantime – consisting of handy bonus like capture cards, 2nd screens and develops for devoted streaming PCs. However, we do have actually committed pages for the very best graphics cards and finest video gaming screens which you might discover handy and a Frequently Asked Question area at the end of this post that enters into a bit more depth.
With all that out of the method, let’s get directly to the suggestions.
Best mics, lights and cams for streaming on Twitch 2021
Best low-cost USB mic: Blue Snowball Ice
- Excellent audio quality for the cash
- Plug and play USB operation
- No physical controls or included functions
If you have actually just got $50/£50 to put towards updating your recording setup, you’ll get one of the most value from the Blue Snowball Ice. This older desk mic offers remarkably great audio quality, sufficient for beginning your streaming profession. It’s likewise simple to utilize – simply plug it in and strike record, without any software application or extra devices to set up. However, in regards to both audio quality and functions, the Snowball Ice can’t compare to microphones in the next cost bracket up, which begins at around $100/£100.
Best USB mic for streaming: HyperX QuadCast or PreSonus Revalator
With the Blue Yeti as our runner-up choice
- Detailed audio quality with 4 recording patterns
- All 3 choices featured an integrated stand, although a boom arm is finest
- Quadcast looks the part; Revelator has much better software application
The QuadCast is the very best worth USB microphone we have actually discovered for streaming thanks to its outstanding audio quality and its long list of well-implemented functions. There are 4 taping modes available – cardioid, stereo, bidirectional and omnidirectional – and a physical gain dial, permitting the mic to be adjusted for one audio source or numerous voices with ease. This is a condenser mic, so the sound caught is detailed, however it’s likewise simple to get external sound, especially if your microphone is some range from your mouth.
Being able to silence your audio rapidly can be vital, and the tap-to-mute system on the Quadcast – accompanied by the whole microphone dimming – is the very best application we have actually seen. Other helpful functions consist of an internal pop filter that guarantees p and b sounds do not lead to a frustrating pop, a shock install constructed into the offered desk stand and lag-free audio tracking. The just genuine downsides here are that the LED lighting isn’t optional and the default stand is a little brief, so utilizing an appropriate boom arm or another install is advised. The Quadcast S, launched in late 2020, includes RGB lighting however otherwise acts much like the initial.
The PreSonus Revelator is a strong option with the very same concentrate on taping comprehensive noise and 3 taping patterns to pick from, however the Revelator has a more expert look (that you might have found on a recent DF Direct Weekly) and provides more extensive controls. The addition of a 3.5mm earphone jack comes in handy, as it implies you can plug in earphones to keep an eye on precisely what the mic is hearing, and there are likewise buttons on the front to switch on tracking and toggle in between various presets, each with their own associated colour. The consisted of stand is sturdy and steady however a little brief, so once again for finest outcomes you’ll wish to utilize an install of some kind.
The software application here is exceptional, and together with the integrated DSP, actually sets this mic apart. Selecting and customizing various results is simple and you can hear the outcomes live, making it simpler to call in the ideal noise. The integrated presets are typically great right out of package, and there are 8 more ‘slots’ for your own custom-made profiles. The Universal Control app likewise consists of loopback controls – really helpful for getting audio in and out of different programs, whether you’re serenading your colleagues with karaoke in multiplayer video games or streaming to Twitch without the requirement for a hardware mixer.
If you like to actually have fun with those knobs, the Revelator deserves the additional financial investment over the Quadcast – however both are excellent USB condenser microphones for streaming. Our previous choice, the Blue Yeti and Blue Yeti X, are likewise strong options here.
Best low-cost XLR mic: Audio-Technica AT2020
- Warm, accurate noise
- Professional, practically confidential look
- Allows entry to the complex however effective XLR environment
The AT2020 is a popular entry-level XLR condenser mic, providing the possibility of incredibly clear audio if you want to assemble the required devices to get it running. All that is available in package is the mic, a stand and a bag adapter, so you’ll require to supply a minimum of an XLR cable television, a stand and an audio user interface or mixer that offers a minimum of 48V of phantom power. Once all of these elements remain in location, your benefit is warm, comprehensive audio that works well for streaming or commentary work.
Best XLR mics for streaming: Rode Procaster or Shure SM7B
- Professional-grade audio quality with distance impact
- Dynamic microphones indicate less undesirable background sound
- Requires some set-up, consisting of audio user interface and boom arms
If you want to invest more, there are much better XLR microphones readily available too. The 2 we’re suggesting are both vibrant microphones, which are much better geared up to separate your voice compared to the Quadcast, Yeti and AT2020 condenser mics we took a look at earlier. This is excellent for streaming video games, as it implies background audio like the clatter of your keyboard or your housemates will not be audible on stream.
The initially is the Rode Procaster, that includes an integrated pop guard and offers spick-and-span audio, especially when the mic is put simply a couple of inches from your mouth. The Procaster typically features simply the microphone itself and is fairly heavy, so think about getting an excellent boom arm (like Rode’s excellent PSA1) to guarantee it remains in that ideal pick-up place.
Our 2nd suggestion is for the Shure SM7B. This famous microphone is utilized by audio experts of all stripes, consisting of recording artists and radio hosts, and obviously it’s a favourite of banners also. The quality here is top notch, and you can come close to the mic for a warmer tone if you like. It does require a fair amount of gain, so choosing a top audio interface (like some of the examples below) is important.
Best audio interface for streaming: GoXLR / GoXLR Mini
- Simple all-in-one audio interface and mixing solution
- Convenient assortment of ports, faders and buttons
- Reasonably priced, but buying individual components can be cheaper
The TC Helicon GoXLR is the most convenient all-in-one audio interface we’ve tested for streamers, offering 48V of phantom power to XLR microphones and up to 70dB of gain to drive almost all mics on the market. While the GoXLR is more costly than a simpler audio interface of equal quality, the added convenience of the hardware controls like faders, buttons and knobs on this unit is substantial. Combined with the system performance benefits of accomplishing your mixing and routing via hardware rather than software, and you’re left with a convincing package.
The impressive audio hardware and controls are backed up by a powerful – and even somewhat intuitive – software package that allows microphones to be dialled in and various processing to be done to keep your voice sounding just the way you want it. You can also adjust how audio is routed to any of the unit’s multiple USB audio devices. For example, you can set your game to one audio device, your mic to another, your chat to another and so on. You can also set up various fun voice effects and samples, if that’s your style. Finally, the lighting is also adjustable, which makes it a nice visual accessory as well.
While the original GoXLR is impressive, the smaller GoXLR Mini offers much better value to money. The ports and processing hardware remain unchanged on the Mini, although you do lose out on the sample and effects controls from the right hand side. Honestly, these are the least important parts of the unit, so they’re a very acceptable sacrifice given the substantial difference in price.
Best camera for streaming: Logitech C920
- Provides clear video with autofocus at 1080p30 or 720p60
- Mounts easily on most monitors and laptops
- Includes a microphone, but we recommend a dedicated mic if possible
While the most popular streamers invariably use high-end mirrorless, DSLR or action cameras to record video, often hooked up via a Cam Link, simple USB webcams are the best way to get started for most Twitch streamers.
The most popular option – and a personal favourite – is the Logitech C920, a well-constructed webcam that mounts easily to most monitors and provides good quality video at 1080p 30fps or 720p 60fps. It’s noticeably sharper than typical budget USB webcams, and substantially better than the webcams built into most laptops. It also includes a microphone, although we recommend opting for a USB or XLR microphone (particularly one of the ones listed above) when you can.
If you have more money to spend but don’t want the hassle of setting up a DSLR or mirrorless camera, then a high-end webcam can be a good shout. The best premium webcam we’ve tested is the Logitech StreamCam, which provides high quality 1080p 60fps video in a convenient package. However, there are a few gotchas – the connection here is USB-C, so you’ll need an adapter or a spare USB-C port on your computer, and there’s no privacy shutter to block the camera’s view – you’ll need to physically disconnect it instead. Still, the upgrade in video quality and frame-rate may make the extra expense worth it.
Best lighting for streaming: Neewer Softbox or Elgato Key Light
- Softboxes are cheap and effective, but take up a lot of space
- The Elgato Key Light and Key Light Air are pricier, but compact and convenient
When the first game streamers got their site on Justin.tv – the site that would later become Twitch – they tended to use fluorescent lights and softboxes to get favourable lighting conditions. These were bulky and produced a lot of heat, but they got the job done. Today, LED lights can provide that same healthy glow without the accompanying heat stroke, whether you opt for softboxes to diffuse the light of a bulb or panel lights for a more compact setup.
If you have a few feet of space behind your desk, the softbox approach can produce the best results. There are plenty of ready-made kits on retailers like Amazon; we like this one from Neewer that includes two lights and stands for around £65. In terms of colour temperature, a switch on the back of each light lets you swap between a warm 2700K and a more neutral 5500K, while a knob allows you to adjust the brightness. These lights do include a built-in fan to aid in cooling the equipment, but it shouldn’t be audible on your microphone from the distance you’ll be working at.
If you’d prefer a simpler and more compact solution that still produces great results, then the Elgato Key Light is an excellent choice. These lights are a little larger than a sheet of paper and provide up to 2800 lumens, which can be adjusted from a warm 2900K to clinical 7000K. Setup is a cinch too, with the lights clamping onto the side of your desk, telescoping out to the desired height and tilting to find the perfect angle. From here, you can connect to the lights via Wi-Fi (2.4GHz only) and control them in their own software or from an Elgato Stream Deck. The Elgato Key Light is relatively expensive, especially if you pick up a pair, but being able to adjust your lighting from your desktop makes the premium feel worthwhile.
There’s also the smaller Key Light Air, which sits on your desk instead of clamping on and produces a respectable 1400 lumens across the same range of colour temperatures. This is a great choice if you want a convenient and compact lighting solution at a lower price.
Frequently asked questions
What PC hardware do I need for streaming?
Generally speaking, modern PCs can handle the extra demands of streaming pretty well, thanks to hardware media encoders like Nvidia’s NVENC and the prevalence of multi-core processors. So, if you can run your favourite game at a good frame-rate and you have a modern gaming machine, streaming shouldn’t introduce much overhead.
In terms of processors, we recommend a modern Ryzen 3000-series CPU if you’re building a PC from scratch for playing and streaming, as the extra cores that Ryzen provides are very useful and these processors pair well with inexpensive B350 motherboards. The six-core Ryzen 5 3600 is a particularly good value choice, but there are arguments to be made for the eight-core 3700X, 12-core 3900X and even the 16-core 3950X. However, some games still perform best on Intel CPUs, which tend to offer fewer cores but higher frequencies than their AMD equivalents. Here, a recent (8th-gen or later) Core i5, Core i7 or Core i9 should work well.
For graphics cards, the latest NVENC on the RTX 20-series and GTX 16-series cards is more advanced than its AMD equivalent, but cards from either manufacturer can still work well. You can see our round-up of the best graphics cards here.
Otherwise, the speed of your internet connection will limit the bitrate, resolution and frame-rate you can stream at. It’s worth connecting your computer directly to your router via an ethernet cable rather than using wireless to get the most out of your connection, especially if you have high-speed fibre broadband. As with most things, spend some time testing your internet connection speed and stability, and consider upgrading if you’re not able to stream in at least 720p at 30fps – with 1080p at 60fps being the ideal.
What’s the most important accessory for streaming?
We’d say that good-quality audio is the most important, assuming you’re spending most of your stream time in-game. After audio is sorted, consider upgrading to a mid-range webcam and adding lights if necessary. A second monitor, stream controls (like the Elgato Stream Deck or Corsair K95 Platinum XT keyboard) and a capture card from the likes of Avermedia or Elgato can also be helpful.
For that second monitor, we recommend a value-oriented option – something that is 1080p and 60fps will work just fine. If you have a decent budget for this, then an IPS screen with wide viewing angles works nicely, and larger screens with higher resolutions will give you more screen real estate to put your chat window, video preview window and other controls.
What microphone accessories are useful?
There are a range of accessories we could discuss, but the most important for newcomers are boom arms and pop filters. Rather than relying on the short stands included with many USB and XLR microphones, a proper adjustable arm makes it easier to position your microphone so that it picks up your voice without taking up too much of your screen (if you’re playing a game) or your camera’s point of view (if you’re streaming). When adjusting your arm, take your microphone’s style of address into account.
Side-address microphones, like the Blue Yeti, work best when you’re speaking into one side, while top address microphones should be pointed directly at your mouth. We utilized a Blue Compass arm and Radius 3 shock mount for testing these microphones, but there are many other options available at a range of price points.
Pop filters and wind shields are the next accessory you should consider, as they reduce the impact of plosives – sounds like p and b that are harsh on the ears if they are recorded by a bare microphone. Pop filters and wind shields are normally mounted onto your mic or boom arm, and need to be positioned between you and your mic to be effective.
For XLR mics, you’ll also need an audio user interface (like the GoXLR mentioned above or the Focusrite Scarlett linked listed below) and an XLR male to female cable to hook up your microphone.
Is it better to use USB or XLR?
If you’re just going to use your single mic at your PC, then a USB microphone is ideal – it’s plug and play, with no extra equipment needed. XLR mics need to be connected via an audio user interface, but these allow you to include other audio equipment like multiple microphones or mixers. If you’re just starting out, USB is the way to go, while XLR may be a better choice for dedicated content creators that want room to grow into more advanced setups. You can also split the difference – pick up an XLR mic, but use a simple XLR to USB adapter until you bring in a proper audio user interface.