Being a streamer these days isn’t easy.
It takes a lot to stand out, and you’ve got to work hard to make a killer show on Twitch to attract new viewers. The last thing you want is to worry about your gear and tools.
Whether you’re a beginner streamer just starting out or a seasoned pro, having the right equipment will help you elevate your production value. From mics and cameras to software that tracks your eyes, we outline below all of the top tools streamers need in 2021.
Which microphone is good for streaming?
Your microphone is the heart and soul of your stream setup. You could have a high-quality cam and top-of-the-line features such as eye tracking software, but if your voice is crackling or muffled, then nobody’s going to stick around to watch.
Beginner Gear – Affordable Smooth Audio
For the streamer still feeling out the waters, this USB mic is a great choice. It’s cheap at half the price of the typically recommended Blue Yeti while still producing great audio. The main downside is its round shape that can look somewhat odd on camera.
Pro Gear – Big Changes, Big Decisions
When you’re finally ready to step things up, you have a big decision to make. You can continue using USB mics or step it up with an XLR dynamic mic.
If you’re not ready to ditch the USB cable quite yet, the Elgato Wave 3 is the best audio quality and functionality combination. Like its younger sibling, it has a companion mixer app that can also be controlled with your Stream Deck. The Wave 3 has some added controls on its body for some extra flexibility. We’d be lying, however, if we said that the construction was any better than the Wave 1’s.
The gold standard of content creator XLR mics, the Shure SM7b is a must for any pro-level streamer. With barely any EQ settings, this bad boy will produce that radio broadcaster sound everyone loves. Pair this with a mixer, and you’ll instantly enter the next level of production value. Is there a downside? It will run you at least $400 to pick one of these up, and that’s without a mixer or audio interface.
What is a good webcam for streaming?
Twitch streaming is an interactive experience. It’s what sets it apart from every other type of content out there. This main selling point is greatly diminished when viewers don’t have a face to engage with.
Beginner Gear – Crystal Clarity for the Masses
This webcam has been a content creator favorite for nearly a decade, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a 1080p resolution webcam that handles even low lighting levels reasonably well, requiring minimal fiddling with settings. Its main drawback is that it’s locked at 30 fps, but that matters very little when you’re starting out.
Pro Gear – Upping the Visual Ante
When you’re ready to start cooking with fire with your cam setup – say for complementing your eye tracker – you’ll find yourself at yet another crossroads.
Should you choose to remain firmly in the webcam realm, the Brio is the best of its class. This ultra 4K webcam produces a vibrant and well-balanced picture at 1080p resolutions with steady 60 fps performance. It’s not going to be as clean as a mirrorless camera, though.
This USB dongle is a mini capture card that allows you to connect to any mirrorless camera with clean HDMI output, such as the Sony a5100. The Camlink itself isn’t expensive at about $100, but combining it with a solid camera will run you a bit of a tab. It’s worth it, though, if you want your visuals to go next-level.
What is a Stream Deck?
These nifty little devices give you unparalleled control over your broadcast. You can use them to turn your music on and off, pop up your best memes, and activate your eye tracking, among other things.
Elgato is the best-known company when it comes to stream control decks. Their products are what popularized the term stream deck, after all. The Mini is the best entry point for a beginner streamer. You get six buttons to play around with, which isn’t a lot, but you can have multiple button profiles.
Pro Gear: Got Enough Buttons?
When you’ve finally hit the big-time, you’ll need a fair bit of real estate on your stream deck. That’s where the XL comes in. With 32 face keys, you’ll struggle to run out of space, and all of your necessary activators will be right at your fingertips. It takes up a fair bit of desk space, though.
What is eye tracking software used for in streaming?
People watch streams for two main reasons: they want to witness epic moments and learn from skilled players. Eye tracking software enhances both of those experiences. Viewers can get a natural feel of where your eyes are during tense moments, which adds to the thrill while also teaching them how to manage their awareness of the screen best. To top it off, having an eye tracker on your stream just elevates the polish of your production regardless of your streamer level.
Beginner & Pro Gear – Following Your Gaze
Eyeware Beam is an iOS app that takes the effort out of setting up eye tracking on your stream. By taking advantage of the iPhone’s TrueDepth technology, you’ll get eye and head tracking without the need for extra devices. It’s by far the most affordable way to add eye tracking to your setup, and you can download the beta for the iPhone/iPad & PC combo today here.
What VR headset should I get?
VR is all the rage these days, especially in the Twitch streaming world. Whether you’re a Vtuber or just an immersive technology enthusiast, playing virtual reality games will make your stream stand out.
Beginner Gear – Immersive & Financially Healthy
The recently released Quest 2 by Oculus is the most affordable standalone head-mounted display on the market. It can also be connected to your PC to take advantage of your GPU via the Oculus Link cable. It won’t magically turn your quest into the superior Oculus Rift S, but it’s a good bang for your buck.
Pro Gear – Enter the Matrix
At the pro level, you want the best, and in the VR space, that crown belongs to the Valve Index. Its price may be beefy, but that means it’s got a lot of solid specs. The Index’s screen resolution is the highest among all other HMDs. It also has the widest field of view to enhance the immersive experience further.
Which streaming software is best?
Every streamer needs this unique piece of software that allows them to broadcast to Twitch and other platforms. Thankfully this space has some solid free options that are great for beginners and pros alike, both of which can broadcast your eye tracker, among other add-ons.
Beginner Gear – No Fuss, All Business
Also known as SLOBs, this popular Open Broadcaster Software version is a great pick to kick off your streaming career. It’s got most of standard OBS’s key features and flexibility with the bonus of having Streamlabs baked in, so you don’t have to use browser sources for your overlay. Streamlabs OBS, however, trades some of OBS’s more powerful features for a more user-friendly experience.
Pro Gear – The Gold Standard
The gold standard of broadcasting software, the standard version of OBS Studio, is the only app you’ll need. The app’s leading superpower lies in the vast number of plugins and add-ons built throughout the years by the streaming community. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but your effort will be rewarded.
How to decorate your background for streaming
When viewers see your cam, they don’t just take a look at your face. They also take a peek at your world by having a view of your room. Having a well-decorated room behind you, therefore, is a must.
Beginner Gear – Light ‘Em Like Xmas
An inexpensive way to add some color and pizzazz to any room is by picking up a few rolls of RGB light strips. These can be stuck onto walls, behind gear and furniture, or even surround wall decorations, such as posters. You’re only limited by your imagination.
Pro Gear – Future Vibes
These futuristic-looking RGB panels are one of the hottest commodities for streamers these days. They’re a bit on the pricey side, especially when you buy several expansions. However, adding them in fun and unique patterns to your walls will take your background lighting to a whole other level.
That will be all folks. We hope our recommendations will help you level up your streaming game and serve as a starting point for this type of research. Eat, sleep, stream & repeat!