Best streaming accessories and equipment for gaming on Twitch 2021: top tips from Rainbow Arcade
So you’re thinking about getting into Twitch streaming, but what’s the best way to go about it, and what equipment do you need?
It’s seemingly a million-dollar question, but you’ll be pleased to know that it doesn’t need to cost you a million dollars to get started.
In fact, the only equipment you need to start Twitch streaming is a capable PC or console. But if you really want to build a community, there are a few bits of “best-buy” tech you might want to invest in.
That’s why we spoke to members of the LGBT+ stream team Rainbow Arcade to get their top Twitch equipment tips.
Where to begin in terms of equipment?
You should start with what you already own or can afford. Streaming can become an expensive investment, but it’s perfectly possible to achieve on a budget. Besides, you might not even like it that much.
“I see a lot of streamers who spend tons of money on fancy equipment, only to find out three months in that they don’t enjoy streaming and it wasn’t what they thought it would be,” says J0hnJ0hnn.
That’s why you should begin with a test run using any equipment you already own. From there, consider these key basics: camera, microphone, monitors, capture card and lighting. As Justin_Nick says: “There’ll definitely be some up-front costs, but you’ll benefit from having these things.”
Looking out for versions of these on your budget is a great place to start as you begin your streaming journey. As Cheratomo says: “Stinks to spend hundreds of dollars on something you find out you dislike!”
The importance of audio
Of all the pieces of tech to invest in, a good microphone is the most vital. It’s the one thing every streamer agrees on. Good audio goes much further than perfect video – after all, you want viewers to hear you and see the game more than anything. As Biggus Bennus says: “Why would they watch you play a game with no interaction when they could just go to YouTube and watch a playthrough there at their leisure?”
Microphones can, however, get pricey quickly – but they don’t have to! There are plenty of USB microphones available at very affordable prices. The important thing is to upgrade over time.
“I streamed for 8 months using a $20 Amazon Basics microphone that sat on my desk. Then I moved to a Blue Yeti mic, and finally the Elgato Wave:3,” says J0hnJ0hnn.
For a cheap entry level option, consider the Mod Mic that can be attached to any headphones you already own. It comes in either wired form (via USB) or wireless.
Beyond that, the Blue range comes recommended by many streamers, such as the Blue Snowball or Blue Yeti mics. “They strike a balance between affordable and quality, and I haven’t felt the need to change microphones in the five years I’ve been streaming for,” says Project Ruby.
The Elgato range is also very popular with streamers, such as the Elgato Wave 3, which comes with audio mixing for a more professional sounding stream.
“I highly suggest it to anyone who’s looking to start, as it’s a great quality mic with built-in audio mixing software,” says Jeff Brutlag. “If you’re a beginner with audio setups, it might be a bit overwhelming as a starting microphone, but it’ll pay off to spend some time learning it!”
If you’re after something more top of the range, check out the Shure SM7B for smooth, warm vocals whether you’re streaming or podcasting.
Be seen with a camera
Not everybody chooses to have their face on stream. Some people simply choose not to, others stream with a character or fursona. It may help, though, when building an audience.
“I find that having a camera does help with building an audience, but understand it’s not necessary,” says J0hnJ0hnn. “Being able to see how a streamer reacts to certain things helps to build a more personal connection. That being said, there are plenty of streamers who start out without cameras or who simply never add one! Take time to understand what works for you.”
Biggus Bennus also feels a camera is worthwhile. “A cam isn’t essential but unless you’re a pro esports player, I feel it’s hard to get someone to click on you if they can’t see who they’re listening to.”
If you do decide to use a camera, consider starting with the webcam built into your current setup, or purchase a cheap one. As mentioned, audio is a more worthwhile investment to begin with.
From there, Logitech’s range of webcams are highly recommended. Says Dona Tarte: “If you Google streaming equipment, I can assure you that the Logitech C920 will pop up as the best camera especially in its price range and there’s a reason for that…because it absolutely is!”
Jeff Brutlag says similarly: “I’d suggest a Logitech C920 as a starter webcam, as it’s relatively cheap, easy to use, and offers a variety of quality options while looking quite good, considering the low price point.”
If you’ve got the cash then you can always splash out on a DSLR camera. Something like the Sony A5100, though you’ll need a camlink to connect to your PC (Elgato has one).
For a cheaper option, you could also check out the Razer Kiyo webcam for its built in ring light, which brings us to…
Ring light it up
While a fancy camera will make you look good, it’s often the lighting that really has an impact on the visuals of your Twitch streaming. But they don’t have to be expensive.
“Lighting is absolutely necessary with streaming,” says Dona Tarte. “Cheap, small ring lights or panel lights are very readily available online with a very small price range in the age of Instagram, so make use of that!”
“I highly recommend some form of key lights,” says Justin_Nick. “My first lights were just $10 lights off Amazon, and I rigged my own softboxes for them, and they worked great.”
If you really want to blow the budget on a ring light, then the Elgato Ring Light is for you. It comes with plenty of customisable features to get the perfect light, but only if you can afford it.
Capture gameplay with a capture card
If you’re planning on streaming console games through your PC, then you’ll need a capture card. But what is a capture card?
Essentially it links your console to your PC so you can stream the footage to your viewers. The card itself can be internal or external and usually connects to your console through a HDMI cable and the PC through USB.
Of course, it’s not strictly necessary if you’re a console player – both the PlayStation and Xbox consoles have the in-built ability to stream footage without the need for a PC at all.
But if you do decide to play console games through your PC then a capture card is a must. Justin_Nick recommends the Elgato range: HD60 Pro or 4K60 Pro if you want internal capture cards or the HD60 S or HD60 S+ for external capture cards.
More top tips
While that covers the basics, there are plenty of other elements you can add to your stream setup for more advanced users.
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Both SierraxMyst and Justin_Nick recommend a second monitor. Says Sierra: “I actually think that investing in a second monitor is something that is often overlooked but a huge change. Being able to see your streaming software, chat, and look up other info without interrupting the gameplay really helps smooth out your stream so much.”
Sealburn also recommends open-broadcast software (OBS) that “allows for more customisation and freedom in editing your stream”. He also notes that if you’re considering a green screen they can be pricey – it’s possible to use green fabric from a craft store as an alternative.
Lastly, Dona Tarte notes the difficulty in purchasing streaming tech at the moment. “Finding streaming equipment during isolation has become very difficult as a lot of people have turned to at-home meetings, streaming and family zoom calls, so expect to see microphones, cameras and lights to fluctuate [in price]. Keep an eye on your wishlists and when a good deal pops up, snag it!”
As AmethystMillennia says: “Will equipment alone bring in an audience? No, but it certainly helps people stick around if they can see your beautiful face and hear your beautiful voice!”
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