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Find out how to stream on Twitch from a PC, PlayStation, or phone

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Being a star Twitch streamer has become a dream for many, but the first step on this journey is actually figuring out how to stream.

For those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy, the sheer amount of hardware and software required to stream can be daunting. This isn’t even getting into the fact that different hardware or software comes into play depending on what sort of content is being made.

The good news is that with the sheer number of streamers out there, users have figured out ways to stream basically anything. Here’s how to stream on Twitch, what tech is required, and what resources are out there for those who need help.

What you need to stream on Twitch

A standard Twitch stream done via PC requires broadcasting tools, a microphone, a webcam, and a strong internet connection. Depending on what you intend to stream and what features you want to include in your stream, other pieces of hardware or software could be required. Here’s a general breakdown of the necessities of Twitch streaming, what they do, and what options are available.

Broadcasting tools

The bread and butter of streaming is some manner of broadcasting tool. This is software that captures video and audio from various sources, then broadcasts it. There are a number of different broadcasting tools available, with each one having its own set of pros and cons. A list of the most popular options can be found on the Twitch Creator Dashboard

Arguably the best option available for a new streamer is Twitch Studio, a broadcasting tool designed by Twitch. Twitch Studio is designed to be easily usable and has direct integration with Twitch features. The big drawback is that it is designed specifically for Twitch, so those who might want to check out YouTube or new Twitch rival Kick might want to look at other options.

Likely the most popular independently operated broadcasting tool is Open Broadcaster Software, which is referred to as OBS. OBS is free and open-source, making it usable on all streaming platforms and versatile enough to let streamers customize their broadcast in a variety of ways. It’s not as intuitive as Twitch Studio, but is more powerful and more flexible.

Next to OBS in terms of popularity is Streamlabs. Streamlabs has all of the adaptability of OBS with greater usability and more built-in tools that streamers can utilize. The catch is that it requires more computing power and has a price tag for many of its best features. It’s the go-to broadcasting tool for many of the biggest professional streamers but the fact that it requires a stronger PC to run effectively and isn’t free may make it more difficult to commit to.

There are a slew of other options available beyond these three that have something to offer. The Twitch Creator Dashboard has info and set-up guides for these and several alternatives.

Webcam

A standard Twitch stream has a streamer on-camera as they play a game or watch a video. Naturally, that requires a webcam. Webcams can run anywhere from around $15 to hundreds of dollars, and the price point may be justifiable based on what kind of content is being made.

Dota 2 stream by Mason
A high-quality camera isn’t critical for those with a stream setup like this.

Generally speaking, aspiring streamers won’t want to use an extremely cheap webcam or a webcam built into a laptop under any circumstances. However, a Dota 2 streamer tucked into the corner of the screen can get away with using a mediocre camera while a hot tub streamer needs something better. Those looking to stream crafts or cooking will also need to consider investing in multiple cameras.

Each creator will need to figure out how much they want to spend on streaming and whether a pricy webcam is worth it. Do keep in mind that Twitch only allows viewers to stream at 1080p, so a 4K camera isn’t necessary unless there are plans to re-upload broadcasts on platforms that offer better quality.

Microphone

Purchasing a solid microphone is arguably more important than getting a webcam. Many viewers have a stream on for background noise and nothing will chase people away faster than low-quality audio from a laptop’s built-in area mic or a mediocre headset. Thankfully, there are plenty of microphones out there that will provide solid audio for streaming at a reasonable price.

Twitch’s compression will often leave a $100 microphone and $500 microphone sounding the same, and that is doubly the case for those who are streaming video games. A USB microphone between $70 and $150 will do the trick for most casual streamers. The only serious exception is anyone that plans to release streams in a podcast form, in which case an XLR microphone and audio interface may be worth considering.

Almost every major PC peripheral manufacturer has microphones in this price range, and there are plenty of audio equipment companies that also have something available. Online and physical retailers often run sales for the most popular options, so it’s likely worth adding a few options to a wishlist and waiting for one to go on sale.

A good internet connection

Most people think they have a good internet connection, but they’re often judging based on how quickly they can download things. Streamers have to worry about how good their internet connection is at uploading as well.

You’ll need something better than this.

Visual fidelity is only as good as what the streamer’s internet allows. Even with a $500 webcam and $3,000 gaming PC, viewers won’t be able to tell the difference if the streamer’s internet connection tops out at 480p quality. Streamers will need to make sure that their connection can handle broadcasting at a reasonably high quality, which is something that needs to be hashed out directly with an internet service provider.

Other things you might need for Twitch streaming

While people can often get by simply with their PC, a microphone, and a webcam, other tech might be needed for some types of content. Here is some extra hardware that streaming hopefuls might want to consider getting before getting started on Twitch.

PC upgrades

Broadcasting tools can be taxing on a PC. If someone wants to become the next Michael “shroud” Grzesiek but has a PC that can barely keep up with the tactical shooter Counter-Strike 2, stacking Twitch Studio or OBS on top of that could be too much for the hardware to handle. A souped-up PC isn’t necessary for those who aren’t planning on streaming games, but those who are will want to make sure they have all the horsepower they need.

Extra cameras

While a standard-issue gaming stream only needs one camera for the streamer’s face, streaming music, arts and crafts, cooking, or other creative subject matter may need to get multiple cameras. Most streams of this nature will have a camera on the streamer’s face while having another trained on their workspace, allowing viewers to see the creator and their creation at the same time.

Arts and crafts streamer JapanesePrintmaking
Arts and crafts streamer JapanesePrintmaking uses three cameras for his broadcast.

Capture card

A capture card serves as an extra method of video input for a PC, with the most notable use for streamers being the ability to broadcast console games. Capture cards can be found at a variety of different price ranges, with both internal and external options available. Those looking to capture 4K footage from a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S at 60 FPS will need to consider a pricy internal option while those streaming Nintendo Switch and older consoles may be able to get by with an external USB 3.0 option.

Lights

Anyone that is going to have their face on-stream will want to have good lighting. What “good lighting” entails is going to vary wildly based on a number of factors though, including the type of content being made, the layout of the room, windows, and whether you’ll be in front of your monitors while making the content. Some webcams and streaming software can help deal with sub-optimal lighting, but users may need to get some extra lighting or adjust what they have on-hand.

How to start streaming on Twitch

A Twitch stream can be started through the broadcasting tools by clicking a “Start Streaming” button or equivalent.

The “Start Streaming” button (OBS seen above) will boot up your Twitch stream after it’s linked.

While one might expect a stream to begin through the Twitch Creator Dashboard, that’s not actually the case. Instead, streams are brought online through the broadcasting software.

In order to start streaming, users will need to link their broadcasting tools to their Twitch account. This is typically a quick process that is done directly in the software, requiring a simple login and authentication code. Once that’s done, starting a stream is just a click away.

How to stream on Twitch with PlayStation 5

PlayStation 5 owners can stream on Twitch directly through their console using built-in broadcasting tools, a PlayStation Camera, and a microphone.

Streaming on PlayStation 5 is quite rudimentary, with its only features being a face cam, chat module, and the ability to toggle some sound options. Still, for those wanting a no-hassle way and comparatively inexpensive method to start streaming, this is a good way to go about it. Here’s a step-by-step guide on setting up a Twitch stream through the PlayStation 5:

  1. Hit the Share button on the DualSense controller
  2. Select “Broadcast” option
  3. Link PlayStation and Twitch.tv accounts
  4. Connect PlayStation Camera and/or USB microphone to PlayStation 5
  5. Press home button twice to return to main menu
  6. Press Share button, select Broadcast, press right to access options menu, and select Broadcast Options
  7. Select “Display Camera” if you want to have a face cam, then set up the overlay including notifications, camera placement, and Twitch chat location on your screen
  8. Press home button twice to return to main menu
  9. Press home button again and select “Mic”
  10. Select the microphone you want to use and adjust the microphone levels
  11. Leave menu, hit Share button, select Broadcast, Twitch, and Go Live

The PlayStation 5 allows the use of almost any USB microphone for audio capture, but it does not offer that same flexibility when it comes to webcams. The PlayStation 5 only allows users to put together a face cam using the official PlayStation Camera. The PlayStation 4’s camera is usable, but requires a separate adapter to use on PlayStation 5.

There are a long list of limitations when it comes to streaming through the PlayStation’s built-in streaming tools. Streamers are limited to one camera, one perspective, and one screen. Putting everything onto the PlayStation 5’s display interface and controls also limits the amount of interaction the streamer can have with viewers and what they can actually do.

The PS5’s streaming tools are definitely usable for someone that wants to stream gameplay for people they know, but its limited functionality makes it unwieldy for those who actually have an audience. For those who want to put together a quick stream at a relatively low cost without having to worry about a PC, this can work. Anyone that wants to take a relatively serious run at streaming should opt in the direction of streaming on PC with a capture card to stream their console games.

How to stream on Twitch with a mobile device

The Twitch mobile app allows users to stream directly using the app after following a few simple steps.

Users can put together a rudimentary stream by using the “Create” feature in the Twitch app. While there are a number of limitations, this allows streamers to create content on the go. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Sign in on Twitch app
  2. Hit “Create” button in the top right corner
  3. Hit “Go Live” button in the bottom right corner
  4. Give Twitch app permissions for overlay, camera, and microphone usage
  5. Select category
  6. Set stream’s title and tags
  7. From Twitch overlay, hit the broadcast button

As with streaming on the PlayStation, streaming directly off a mobile device is quite limited. The chat and some features can be accessed via a menu on the overlay. The screen also can’t be freely swapped from portrait to landscape in many games, which means that there will be awkward black bars on the broadcast for games like the ever-popular Pokemon GO.

While IRL streaming has seen production quality elevated in a major way over the last few years, putting together a stream similar to those seen from top streamers typically requires more hardware and software. This can still work for those looking to stream an event with little commentary, but otherwise going directly through the Twitch app is not ideal.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2.

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