(Pocket-lint) - For many gamers, the dream is to be able to make a living from your passion. Streaming is one way to do it, but in a world where everyone is already streaming, you need a professional-looking setup in order to stand out from the crowd.
There are plenty of guides out there on how to get started streaming to Twitch, YouTube, DLive or Facebook gaming. Those guides tend to cover the software you need and the intricacies of things like overlays, scene selection, chatbots and more. Very few though talk about the gear you need to make your stream look top-notch.
That's what we're here for. If you're starting out or looking to improve your current stream setup then stick with us as we break down all the things you need to make your stream look great and keep your viewers entertained.
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Good lighting is an essential part of a professional-looking stream. Get it right and you'll be seen more clearly by your audience and in a flattering way too.
There are various options available, some are controllable via software on your PC, an app on your phone or an Elgato Stream Deck
These lighting options include diffused lighting that's easy on the eyes. Which is essential if you're streaming for hours and hours.
A high-quality camera
A good webcam is clearly essential if you plan to be seen on your stream.
The best steamers use better quality cameras though. Did you know you can use your DSLR or another digital camera instead? We've written a guide on how to do this and the Elgato Cam Link 4K is a simple way to do it.
A plug and play capture card that allows you to convert your favourite DSLR camera into a far superior webcam which means you'll present a much better image online when streaming, on Zoom calls or whatever else you're doing.
If you have a camera knocking about, it makes sense to put it to use, doesn't it?
A convenient green screen
If you've got yourself a good camera and sufficient lighting, then the next logical step is a green screen. This is what you use to hide the mess of your room or to minimise the amount of disruption your webcam makes to the game.
With a green screen, you can apply a Chroma Key Filter to make anything green transparent and therefore make the camera feed simply show you, your chair and anything else you happen to put between you and the green.
Green screens can be a bit of a faff generally, as you not only need to get the lighting right, you also need to ensure the green screen panel is smooth and crease-free for the best results.
Elgato's collapsible green screen is a fantastic solution. It's huge but rolls up into a hefty base that can be stored out of the way when it's not in use. The design of this green screen means you don't need to worry about faffing about with pinning up a material screen or doing something drastic like painting a wall.
It's large enough to stand in front of, perfectly wide enough to fill your camera's view and it's sturdy and durable too. Convenience is probably our favourite part of this bit of kit though as it's easy to get out when you need it and roll away when you don't.
A high-quality microphone
Any streamer worth their salt will have a great mic to enable them to talk to and engage with their audience while they work their gaming magic.
Ideally, you want a good quality mic that blocks out surrounding noise, focuses on your voice and sounds great too.
We have written a separate guide to the best microphones for gamers and content creators. Spend your time researching as audio is highly important.
Audio routing and controls
Beyond having a good microphone, there are other things you can do to improve your streaming audio.
The Razer Audio Mixer is one interesting tool for routing and controlling audio. It works as both an XLR mic pre-amp and broadcast mixer that allows you to mix various audio sources into a single controllable output.
You can use this to control the levels of your game audio, mic, voice chat with friends, music, console sound and much more besides. Individually controlling the volume of each, muting when you need to and much more besides.
This mixer can even add noise gate, compressor and equaliser effects to your XLR or headset microphone to improve your sound quality. It's a fantastic box of tricks that is well worth a look.
Rodecaster Pro 2
If you're using an XLR microphone, but also want to add in extra things into the mix then you'll want to turn to Rode.
The Rodecaster Pro 2 is pitched as an "integrated audio production studio" and as such, it can take four XLR devices including mics, guitars and other instruments.
You can route all sorts of audio into the mix including Bluetooth devices, 3.5mm connections, smartphones and more, then control the audio of each source separately.
This is ideal for streamers and content creators as it lets you have full control over all sorts of audio with ease.
Despite all the buttons, one of the things we like most about this device is the simplicity of setup. It's pre-programmed with settings for various XLR mics, making initial setup a breeze but everything else is well thought out too.
It also has an industry-leading pre-amp setup which results in incredibly low noise and fantastic sound from even the most gain-hungry mics (like the Shure SM7B).
Throw in the programmable Smart Pads which can be used to change effects, play specific sounds and much more and you've got a serious bit of kit.
It might be pricey, but this is a powerful platform for upping your audio game. Rode is also constantly rolling out firmware updates to make it better too.
Roland UVC-02 presentation deck
If you want to improve the quality of your streaming efforts, then the Roland UVC-02 is an interesting option.
This is a compact box of tricks that can accept an XLR microphone (with phantom power), HDMI source (e,g, DSLR camera), aux and other inputs and then output them into whatever software you like - Zoom, Teams, OBS Studio and more.
We love this device as it can mix multiple audio sources into one output including a headset microphone, a studio-quality XLR mic and even something as simple as music from a 3.5mm device.
There are a lot of options with this device too. We recommend watching this tutorial to see what's possible. But we used to to go live on YouTube with a behind-the-scenes video of superb quality.
It's also tiny so great if you're looking to save space but do everything with one small box of tricks.
Easy streaming controls
Once you've learnt the basics of streaming, you'll soon begin trying to jazz things up with the addition of scenes, transitions, emotes and all manner of other things to keep your audience entertained.
You'll also soon realise that if you had the right tools you could make all this happen much more smoothly, without alt-tabbing out of game to mess around with streaming software or other controls.
Elgato Stream Deck
The Elgato Stream Deck is one of those things that it's hard to realise just how useful it is until you start using it yourself. At a basic level, this is a small control box that plugs into your PC and allows you to assign various actions to the massively customisable LCD buttons that litter the front of the deck. You can use these controls for all sorts of things.
When you start streaming, you can set buttons for all sorts as well. Starting the stream, switching between scenes, playing gifs, sending chat messages to your audience, muting your mic temporarily. All sorts. You can also set controls into folders (and even folders within folders), meaning just 15 buttons can give you access to all manner of controls, actions and more.
With multi-action buttons, you can also assign numerous events to happen with a single press. For example, we've got one setup that turns on Philips Hue lighting, switches on key lights, opens OBS Streamlabs, opens Discord and launches Twitch all with a single button.
Stream Deck is available in various sizes from the small, 6-button Stream Deck Mini to the 32-button Stream Deck XL. But you can do plenty with all of them.
Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini
If your efforts take off and you want to really up your streaming game, then you might like to consider Blackmagic Design's ATEM Mini.
This is an incredibly powerful piece of kit that allows you to pull in four different HDMI sources into your stream and switch between them with a click of a button - with live transitions, picture-in-picture options and more.
It's hard to describe just how powerful the ATEM Mini is, as it's incredibly flexible with programmable macros, live preview options, audio settings and much more besides.
At a basic level, you can just plug the box in via a USB-C connection and use the ATEM Mini as a webcam source that can be pulled into OBS Studio (et al) and then adjusted via the ATEM Mini with ease.
Multiple camera angles are a fantastic way to add a professional vibe to your streaming efforts, this control box makes that all possible.