Gear Guide for Music Streaming
Whether the idea of performing music online is new to you, or if you’ve been wanting to try it out but aren’t sure what equipment to get, this guide will show you what you need to get started.
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RECOMMENDED STARTER SETUP
Here’s what we would recommend as a starting package for recording, producing and broadcasting live music from the comfort of your own home.
A large diaphragm condenser mic will be the cornerstone of a studio of any size. There are plenty of affordable LDCs to choose from, and any of them will get the job done. There is absolutely no need to spend a lot of money on your first recording microphone. The BM-900 can be used on virtually anything from lead vocals to drums and electric guitar. It might be the only mic you’ll ever want or need.
Get more detailed information about microphones and potential alternatives to the iSK BM-900 in our post Microphones: An Introduction
An audio interface provides mic preamps and analog-to-digital conversion, allowing you to plug your microphones into your computer. The Scarlett 2i2 is a great choice because it has two inputs for either microphones or 1/4″ sources (like electric guitar/bass, electric piano or synthesizers), plus the Focusrite drivers are solid and widely in use, which will reduce the likelihood of software related technical difficulties.
Get more detailed information about interfaces and potential alternatives to the Scarlett 2i2 in our post Audio Interfaces: An Introduction
Get more detailed information about headphones and alternatives to the UR40s in our post Headphones: An Introduction
Capable of 1080p, it’s surprising that such a high quality USB camera could be so affordable. Logitech recently released the more expensive c930 (also 1080p), but the upgrade in quality over the c920 doesn’t seem drastic enough to make the higher price worth it.
Both PC and Mac are viable choices, but we recommend PCs for folks who don’t already have a computer capable of streaming. With a PC, you will be able to get a much more powerful machine for the same price, and you will have access to more free software used for streaming and audio production. Chances are you already have a computer capable of streaming, but an example of an appropriate computer build is provided below.
You can check your home internet’s current speed at http://www.speedtest.net/ While streaming, you will be using the Upload Speed. You can achieve a stable stream with about 2 Mbps, but you’ll want an average of 5+ Mbps if streaming at the highest possible video quality.
This software is what you’ll use to broadcast to a streaming platform (you can check out various platform options in our post Comparing the Top Streaming Platforms). OBS is free, available for both PC and Mac, and is the most popular choice for streamers. However, OBS set-up is a bit more technical than the more user-friendly XSplit. But, the free version of XSplit is limited to 720p and mono audio, so XSplit users will want to consider purchasing the full license. Both choices will work, so it will be up to you to decide which one is for you.
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
Using a DAW like Reaper is not necessary, but incorporating a DAW into your signal path will allow you to have more control over your sound with free EQs and compressors, or add effects like reverb or delay. Reaper has a “60-day trial” that never actually expires. Please purchase their license if you become a regular user. The folks behind Reaper are bringing audio production to the masses by giving away software that’s worth hundreds of dollars! They deserve our support.
Read about how to get your audio set up and ready for streaming in a DAW like Reaper in our post How to Set Up a DAW for Streaming
THE LEAST EXPENSIVE OPTION
For a lot of folks, the most affordable option is always the preferred place to start. Whether that’s because you consider yourself merely a hobbyist, or because you’re an accomplished musician struggling to pay rent, here’s the cheapest route to start performing music from home.
USB Microphones are an affordable and easy way to get started with audio production at home, but they certainly have their limitations. For example, only a single USB Microphone can be reliably used at once, your audio-video sync will often drift apart, you must use the mic’s built-in AD/DA conversion and sample rate, and you cannot use the mic without a computer. All that being said, the iSK USB-800 is a great sounding microphone for the price.
Logitech c270 or a laptop’s built in webcam
The picture isn’t too great, but it works.
To find out more about various streaming platforms where you can perform music online, check out our Comparison of Streaming Platforms.
Finally, read about how to get your audio gear set up and ready for streaming in our guide to Streaming with a DAW.