The rise of broadband internet and lower-cost video equipment has caused a boom in livestreaming. It’s easier than ever to turn your living room, bedroom, basement, or closet into a production-quality internet TV station. Twitch, the most popular livestreaming platform, has over 92,000 live broadcasts and more than 2.4 million viewers online as I’m writing this (these numbers increase at night and on weekends).
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Streaming on Twitch, or its main competitors YouTube TV, Facebook Live, and Instagram is totally free. That’s not even taking into account Zoom meetings, FaceTime or Skype calls where you’re interacting with your colleagues and friends on camera.
But as much as a livestream is based on the content you provide, you also want to make sure you’re putting your best face — and footage — forward. Nothing ruins a livestream quite like a shaky camera and too-dark image.
If you’re building a streaming setup from the ground up, or want to upgrade the one you currently have, we’ve collected 10 tech accessories that will improve the production value of your stream. We’ve covered the basics, from the right camera, to lighting and audio equipment you can use in your studio or take on-the-go for remote shoots. The only thing you need now is something to say, and someone to share it with.
1. A Reliable Webcam
The most important component in a livestreaming setup is the camera. Yes, your computer likely already has one built-in, but that camera was designed for video chatting, not livestreaming.
AUKEY’s Full HD Webcam can record video at 1080P, has stereo microphones with built-in noise cancellation for crystal clear voice calls, and requires no software to run on a PC or Mac. The webcam’s auto-focus will keep you looking sharp even if you move around.
This webcam is built into a clip that’s designed to give you the perfect angle during video calls, but you can also set it down on a table and angle it in any direction you’d like. This non-laptop mode is great if you’re making a presentation, and prefer standing up to sitting down.
If you’re tired of looking grainy and sounding compressed during your weekly meetings or important events, this is the first upgrade you should make to your setup.
Note: If you want a webcam that can handle 4K video, we recommend Logitech’s Brio, which is available for $199 on Amazon.
2. A Solid Tripod
If you’d like to shoot stable video but don’t want to be limited by the position of your webcam or camera, you’ll need a tripod. This one from AmazonBasics can be raised and lowered between 25 and 60 inches, and its rotatable ball head allows you find the exact angle for your shot.
This tripod has a maximum load weight of 6.6 pounds, and weighs just 2.7 pounds on its own. It comes with its own bag for easy transportation. If your handheld camera skills are a little shaky, or you want more flexibility when setting up video shoots, this is the tool to get.
3. LED Lights
Good lighting is crucial if you want to get usable video while livestreaming, and the Lume Cube Broadcast Lighting Kit is our favorite solution.
The Lume Cube itself is a fairly small LED panel that puts off a surprising amount of light. You can adjust its brightness and color temperature by using a small lever on the side of the panel, which is easy to reach, and find by touch.
This kit includes one Lume Cube, a tripod, and a suction cup mount, which you can use to stick the light panel to the back of your laptop screen or monitor. The suction cup is surprisingly stable, and we’ve had no problem keeping it on a monitor for weeks at a time.
Getting better lighting for livestreaming has traditionally required setting multiple lights that take up a lot of space. The Lume Cube delivers similar performance from a light panel small enough to fit in a pocket. There’re still cases where a full lighting setup is required (think multi-person streams, or broadcasting from far away in a big room), but Lume Cube is our go-to lighting system.
Prefer a ring light setup, like the ones favored by YouTubers and Instagrammers? This set comes with a reliable ring light, holder/stand and built-in phone mount for all your selfies, livestreams and TikTok videos. Ring Light Kit, $89.99, available at Amazon
4. A Smartphone Tripod Mount
The most expensive part of a livestreaming setup is the camera, but you can get around that by using your smartphone instead. YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram all allow you to start a stream with a push of the button, but nobody wants to watch a shaky camera.
Some tripods come with a smartphone mount, but if the one you have doesn’t, I recommend Woohoto’s. It can accommodate most phones, from iPhones to Androids, and it has a secure clip that locks your device in place for easy, hands-free streaming. It has a “hot shoe” adapter on top and an additional tripod mount on its front side, so you can attach other accessories with ease.
5. A Green Screen
You might livestream from the same place every day, but a green screen allows you to change your background to suit the mood of the stream.
This one from Esmart is 120 inches wide and 134 inches long, so you’ll have no problem fitting it behind your entire body — even when standing. The screen is held up by a pair of tripods, single bar, and clips (all included) to ensure its stability. Despite its size, Esmart says you should be able to set this entire system up in a few minutes.
Once you install a green screen, you could virtually be streaming from anywhere — like a beach resort or stadium — without stepping foot outside your door.
6. A Lavalier Microphone
If you’re planning on making your livestream sound professional, but don’t want any bulky audio equipment, your best bet is a lavalier mic. Lavalier microphones are small, clip onto your shirt, and have thin wires you can snake through your clothing to keep them out of sight.
I’ve had good luck with Rode’s smartLAV+, which delivers on the company’s claims of “broadcast quality” results. The small, omnidirectional microphone can connect to a computer through it’s microphone-in port, or a smartphone’s headphone jack (you may need an adapter on some phones).
Once it’s connected, your phone or computer will automatically detect the microphone, and the people on your stream will hear clearer, crisper audio.
7. A 4K Monitor
If you’re livestreaming from a computer, you’ll want to keep an eye on how your stream looks at all times. That’s easier when you have a big, high resolution monitor like this one from BenQ.
The 28-inch 4K display supports HDR (high dynamic range), so you can dial in the color of your stream. It also has a slim design that’ll look good on your desk. This monitor is so large that you could conceivably use it as a teleprompter if you’re livestreaming a news show or need to recite a lot of dialogue.
8. A Camera That Lets You Livestream On-The-Go
If you want the ability to livestream from anywhere, and don’t feel like setting up or carting around a lot of expensive equipment, the GoPro Max is the only piece of gear you’ll need.
The camera is only 2.7 x 2.5 inches, but it can capture video at resolutions up to 6K. It has GoPro’s Max HyperSmooth video stabilization, which reduces the jitteriness if you’re holding the camera, and 2X slow motion as a built-in feature. A screen on the front lets you monitor your recording, and six microphones spread around the camera to pick up audio from all directions.
But, the most important feature of the GoPro Max in this situation is that it can connect to your phone over WiFi and Bluetooth, and start a livestream directly from the camera itself. It only supports YouTube and Facebook Live, but the ability to start a 1080P stream from a really powerful action camera at the push of a button makes starting a livestream really simple.
9. A Selfie Stick
The humble selfie stick has become a must-have travel accessory for most folks, but it’s also a great tool for livestreamers. Whether you’re giving people a tour of your home, or want to show off a new part of the world, the selfie stick allows you to keep yourself and the action in frame at the same time. Like a tripod, selfie sticks also let you get video angles that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
We’re recommending this selfie stick from Mpow because it can fit any phone, and extend between 6.5 and 29.5 inches. A Bluetooth controller built into its handle allows you to start taking pictures or video, so you don’t have to awkwardly start your stream with your phone in your face. There’s also a pocket-friendly Bluetooth shutter button, which you can use to snap pictures if you’re using this selfie stick in tripod mode.
Selfie sticks have gotten a bit of a bum rap, but using Mpow’s can give you far more control (and better angles) when livestreaming events outside of your home.
10. A Gaming Headset
If you’re livestreaming video games, a headset will keep you immersed in what you’re playing, while making it easier to communicate to your viewers.
Razer’s Kraken is our go-to recommendation because it works with all major gaming platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android. It’ll connect to your console (or headphone jack in its controller) using a standard 3.5mm audio cable. Once it’s connected, the headphones will work automatically, there’s no app to install.
This headset offers a swath of immersive features, including simulated 7.1 surround sound, which you can use to hear enemies coming from all directions, and a retractable microphone that’s there when you need it, but gone when you don’t. The microphone is designed with noise isolation, so viewers will hear your voice without a lot of ambient sounds from your room.
The headset itself is a pair of over-ear headphones with large, 50mm drivers, and gel-padding in its ear cups and headbands. This design promotes comfort, which is important for multi-hour streams, like longplays or charity events.
If you’ve been using a pair of Bluetooth headphones (or earbuds) during streams, and don’t want to get a dedicated microphone for livestreaming, stepping up to Razer’s Kraken Gaming Headset will be a big improvement.
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