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How to Stream on Twitch

Are you ready to join the virtual army of nearly 4 million Twitch streamers? In this guide, we’ll show you how to stream on Twitch by breaking everything down step-by-step, including where to get your Twitch stream key, how to go live on Twitch and more. Learn about the best gaming microphones, webcams and headphones to keep your streams looking and sounding professional, as well as popular streaming software like Streamlabs OBS and XSplit. Whether you’re into first-person shooters, MMORPGs, battles royal or variety gaming, this guide covers everything you need to know about how to start streaming on Twitch today.

Getting started on Twitch can be complicated. You need a gaming microphone for chatting, a gaming headset for in-game communication, a webcam for live streaming, and streaming software to broadcast your gameplay. Sometimes it can feel like a puzzle game trying to piece it all together. In this section, we’ll break down the best video game streaming equipment, show you how to stream on Twitch with a PC, and teach you how to create top-quality content that keeps the fans coming back again and again.

Topics in this Guide:

Best Microphones for Game Streaming

Yeti Nano premium USB microphone for recording and streaming

When it comes to gaming microphones, there are three basic types: USB, XLR and gaming headsets. Each type of microphone offers a unique set of attributes suited for different tasks.

USB Microphones

USB microphones like Yeti X and Yeti Nano are quick and easy. Simply plug them into your computer’s USB port and you’ve got a direct connection to gamers all around the world. Most USB microphones include desktop stands that make it easy to find the perfect mic placement. Since they don't require any additional gear, they often include gain controls and headphone outputs directly on the mic itself, and many offer advanced control via remote software.

XLR Microphones

XLR microphones like Spark SL and Ember offer more flexibility than USB microphones, but require more equipment to set up. In order to use an XLR microphone with your computer, you need a recording interface. Connect the microphone to your recording interface using an XLR cable, and connect the interface to your computer using a USB or Thunderbolt cable. XLR microphones can also connect to analog hardware devices for additional sound processing. Read more about the differences between USB and XLR microphones to find out which one is right for you.

Gaming Headsets

Gaming headsets like the Logitech G Series and Astro A Series are perfect for in-game communication. Typically used in conjunction with a separate streaming microphone to communicate with fans, gaming headsets provide an all-in-one solution for monitoring in-game audio and chatting with your teammates. Most headsets include high-quality headphones to help you hear crucial audio cues and improve your performance.

Microphone Accessories

Microphone accessories can help improve your sound even further. Shock mounts like Radius and Ringer are designed to isolate microphones from noise, shock and ambient vibrations. Quality microphone stands or microphone boom arms like Compass offer internal springs and built-in cable management to reduce unwanted noise when adjusting the microphone position. Pop filters like The Pop clamp on to your microphone stand and protect your microphone from hard consonant sounds.

Still not sure which gaming microphone is right for you? Check out our list of the best microphones for Twitch streaming in 2020.

Mic Placement for Streaming

Improve the quality of your Twitch stream with proper mic placement.

You may find that even after upgrading your microphone, you still suffer from poor sound quality. Maybe your voice sounds muffled or distant, or maybe you want to remove the background noise from your video. In most cases, these issues can be corrected with better mic placement, which can be the difference between your voice coming through loud and clear, or being completely overpowered by the unrelenting clatter of your keyboard. In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the ways you can improve the audio quality of your streams using professional microphone techniques.

In order to dial in a radio-ready vocal sound, the first thing you need to determine is which end of the microphone you should speak into. Most condenser microphones are side-address microphones, meaning you speak into the side of the microphone capsule—typically the side with the logo. Dynamic microphones, on the other hand, are usually front-address microphones, meaning you point the microphone directly at whoever is speaking. For more information about the difference between condenser and dynamic microphones, check out our FAQ page.

The actual placement of your microphone depends on what kind of stand you’re using. If you have a desktop microphone stand like the one that comes with the Blue Yeti, simply place your microphone on your desktop, roughly 6 to 12 inches away. A simple way to ensure you always place your microphone the proper distance away is to remember to hang loose. The shaka sign, commonly used in surfer culture to mean “hang loose,” is a great tool for judging how close the microphone should be to your mouth. Simply put your thumb on your lips and place the microphone at the end of your pinky to ensure proper placement every time.

You may notice, even with your microphone at a proper distance, your recordings still suffer from “plosives” or popping sounds caused by “p” and “t” sounds. To help prevent plosives, point the microphone at a 45-degree angle up towards your mouth. This will provide a more direct sound and help prevent bursts of air from hitting the microphone capsule.

Another option for preventing plosives is to use a pop filter, which provides a protective mesh or metal barrier between your mouth and the mic capsule. These affordable accessories are readily available on Amazon and help eliminate unwanted popping sounds.

If you have a microphone boom arm like Compass, attach your microphone to a shock mount like Radius or Ringer and swivel the microphone into position roughly 6 to 12 inches from your face. Just be cautious of the proximity effect—as the microphone gets closer to your mouth, you'll notice a build-up of low frequencies. This can be helpful to achieve that classic “broadcast sound,” but can also cause vocals to sound muddy and undefined, depending on the voice and the microphone. This method can also be used for front-address microphones with a traditional microphone stand.

Microphone Settings for Streaming

Yeti X professional USB microphone for gaming and streaming.

No two voices are exactly alike, which is why microphones are equipped with a variety of switchable settings for different sounds. Many condenser microphones feature selectable pickup patterns, or polar patterns, which control what the microphone hears. There are many different pickup patterns designed for different uses, including cardioid, bi-directional, and omni-directional.

  • Cardioid is the most common pickup pattern for solo game streaming and reduces unwanted ambient noise by rejecting sound from the sides and back of the microphone.
  • Bi-directional mode captures sound from both the front and back of the microphone—perfect for co-op or versus mode.
  • Omni-directional picks up sound equally from all directions, which makes it great for LAN parties or tournaments where you want to capture the whole gang.

After setting up your microphone and selecting a pickup pattern, it’s time for soundcheck. Start speaking into the microphone and use the gain control to set your levels so you can be heard clearly without any clipping or distortion. Think of gain as “microphone sensitivity”—the higher the gain, the more sensitive the microphone becomes.

Using low gain settings will only capture sounds that are very close to the mic—everything else will sound very quiet. Using high gain settings can capture sounds very far away from the mic, but they tend to sound distant, while sources close to the microphone are likely to peak or clip, which causes unwanted distortion.

To properly set gain levels, start speaking at a normal volume, and increase the gain knob until the meters in your streaming software are in the green. Next, speak a little louder to make sure the microphone doesn’t peak during loud passages. Imagine you just died from lag or didn’t get credit for that sweet no-scope headshot you just landed. Turn the gain level down just enough to prevent the meters from going in the red. This should keep your vocals sounding loud and clear without causing distortion.

Best Headphones for Twitch Streaming

Mix-Fi studio-grade headphones with built-in audiophile amp.

You may be wondering; “What’s wrong with my computer speakers? Why can’t I just use those? Do I need headphones for streaming?” Good questions! Yes, you really do need headphones for streaming, and here’s why. Your microphone is going to pick up every sound the speakers make, including the music, sound effects, chat dialogue and even the sound of your own voice captured by the microphone.

This causes an annoying echo effect that no viewer wants to sit through. If the speakers and microphone gain are turned up loud enough, it may even cause feedback, which is an awful squealing sound caused by your voice getting stuck in an infinite loop between the two devices.

Quality gaming headphones also offer great sound isolation and provide highly accurate in-game sounds, enabling you to stay one step ahead of your competition. They’re also designed to be comfortable and durable since streamers typically wear them for several hours each day.

Mix-Fi headphones let you hear every aspect of your stream. They offer superior sound isolation for blocking out background noise, and a built-in headphone amp to help cut through noisy environments.

Best Webcams for Twitch Streaming

Pro Streamer Pack with Yeti USB microphone and C922 Pro HD webcam

With more than 27,000 Twitch partners, there are a lot of options when searching for something to stream. That’s why a webcam is crucial when trying to build a Twitch following. It’s not just about being the best at whatever game you’re streaming, it’s about connecting with other gamers, which is much easier to do when they can see you.

Webcams are ideal for those who want to quickly capture an HD camera feed for their stream. When purchasing a webcam, there are three things to consider: resolution, frame rate and features. For HD quality streams, you need a resolution of 720p or higher. Webcams with 1080p resolution provide a sharper image, while 4K Ultra HD webcams will provide the best image quality.

When it comes to frame rate, 15 frames per second (fps) is the minimum for streaming video on Twitch, although 30 fps is much more common. Webcams capable of 60 fps provide the smoothest video. It’s important to note that most games stream at 30 or 60 fps as well, and streaming a 60 fps game with a 30 fps camera feed can look a little strange.

As for features, many webcams come equipped with auto-focus, which is great for gamers who tend to move around in their seats. This will keep you in focus as you lean in to read your chat window or lean back to take a victory sip. Automatic light adjustment is another great feature for keeping your camera feed looking great all day long, whether you’re up early gaming with the morning sun, or up late grinding in the dark. 

Still need some help narrowing it down? Here are some of our favorite webcams for streaming on Twitch:

  • Logitech C922 Pro Stream: The C922 Pro Stream lets you stream games in your choice of full 1080p at 30 fps, or HD 720p at 60 fps. Includes a free 3-month premium license for XSplit streaming software.
  • Logitech C920s HD Pro: The C920s records in full HD with 1080p at 30 fps resolution. Built-in HD autofocus and light correction help you fine-tune your video feed, while the convenient privacy cover is perfect for when you’re AFK.
  • Logitech C930E: The Logitech C930e is perfect for shooting in low-light conditions. And with 1080p resolution, 4x digital zoom and a wide 90-degree field of view, C930e lets you adjust the frame to fit any environment.
  • Logitech BRIO: The Logitech BRIO is one of the world’s most technologically advanced webcams. Choose between 4K Ultra HD video at 30 fps, or 1080p at either 30 or 60 fps. BRIO is packed with cool features too—including High Dynamic Range and RightLight 3 technologies that keep you looking good in any light.

Webcam Tips and Tricks for Streaming

Improve the quality of your Twitch stream with these simple webcam tips and tricks.

Webcams are pretty simple devices—just point them at what you want to capture and press record. Getting a professional-looking camera feed for your Twitch stream? Now that’s a different story. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are five of our favorite tips for leveling-up your webcam feed while streaming:

Put your webcam at eye level. 

No one wants you looking down on them from above your laptop. And you don’t want to look like a little kid sitting in your parent’s chair, staring up at a webcam perched atop a massive monitor. Instead, find a place to set your webcam up at eye level. Try mounting your webcam to a microphone stand and moving it around the room to find the perfect position.

Don’t shoot with a window behind you. 

You may think the natural light pouring in from the window behind you will help your aesthetic, but the truth is, you’ll get a better shot with the window in front of you. That way, all that sunlight is illuminating your face instead of the back of your head. Plus, you get a great view while recording!

Set up your own lights. 

Gamers are notoriously night owls, which makes it difficult to stream without proper lighting. Thankfully, LEDs are pretty cheap these days. You can buy full lighting kits from Amazon for as little as $100.

Adjust your settings. 

Don’t be afraid to fine-tune your camera settings. Logitech cameras come with a program for adjusting exposure, brightness, focus and more. Spend some time experimenting with these settings to find what works best for your environment.

Set up an interesting backdrop. 

No one wants to stare at a blank wall all day. Position your streaming setup so the camera has a good view of something interesting behind you. It could be a bookshelf full of kitschy knick-knacks, your video game collection, or even a cool poster.

Best Streaming Software

Streamlabs OBS streaming software

Streaming software enables you to capture your gameplay footage and live stream on Twitch. These programs are designed to coordinate your gameplay, camera feed, audio signals, chat windows, subscriber notifications and more for a polished, professional look. Check out some of these popular paid and free steaming software options to trick out your Twitch stream.

Streamlabs OBS trims some of the more advanced features from the original OBS platform for a more streamlined user interface with improved performance. Custom-designed for game streaming, Streamlabs OBS can take you from your first stream to your first paycheck. With an intuitive interface, a robust feature-set, and built-in monetization features, it’s easy to see why over 70% of Twitch streamers use Streamlabs OBS as their streaming software.

The free version of XSplit Gamecaster includes everything you need to start streaming quickly and easily, including automatic game detection and capture, one-button streaming and templates for in-game overlays. Upgrade to the paid version for advanced features like in-game Twitch integration, an image overlay widget and chroma key support for full green screen effects. A limited-time premium license for XSplit Gamecaster (PC only) is included with the Yeti Streamer Bundle, as well as the Logitech C922 Pro Stream webcam.

OBS Studio is an open-source streaming software packed with powerful features for advanced video production. Edit video sources in real-time, set up an unlimited number of scenes, and mix audio using built-in filters for noise suppression. While this highly customizable interface offers endless experimentation, it can be somewhat intimidating to first-time streamers.

How To Stream On Twitch From PC or Mac

Learn how to stream on Twitch from PC or Mac

Streaming on consoles like PlayStation 4 or Xbox One is a great way to get started, but both platforms have several technical limitations in terms of audio and video. In order to achieve professional stream quality, you’ll need to use a PC or Mac, which enables you to use external microphones, webcams and software to optimize your Twitch stream.

For minimal lag, you’ll need a quality processor. Most gamers recommend an Intel Core i7 or AMD equivalent for best results, but many streamers are able to use an i5 processor with few problems.

As for Internet speeds, if you want to stream in full HD, you’ll need a minimum upload speed of at least 3.5 Mbps. For 720p resolution, you’ll need at least 1.8 Mbps. You can test your Internet connection speeds for free at SpeedTest.net.

Once you’ve confirmed that your system meets the streaming requirements, it’s time to play some video games!

Here’s our step-by-step guide to streaming on Twitch!

  • Log in to Twitch.tv and go to the Dashboard.
  • Enter the game you plan to stream in the Playing tab.
  • Enter a title for your broadcast.
  • Launch your streaming software, go to the settings menu and sync to your Twitch account.
    • Some streaming applications require your Twitch stream key in order to connect and broadcast to your Twitch channel.
    • Return to your Twitch dashboard and select the Stream Key tab.
    • Follow the prompts to receive your Twitch stream key.
  • In your streaming software, add your game capture source from the main menu.
  • Add an additional source for video capture to include your webcam feed.
  • Preview your stream and choose “Start Broadcast” to go live!

This method works great for streaming gameplay directly from your computer, but what if you want to play some old-school 8-bit games? In order to connect your classic consoles to Twitch, you’ll need to purchase a capture card for your computer, which features HDMI, component and composite inputs for all your retro gaming needs.

Finding Your Unique Voice on Twitch

Pro gamer LoriiPops powers her Twitch stream with Blue.

Creating a successful Twitch channel takes a lot more than just streaming your gameplay. You have to connect with people and give them a reason to come back. Maybe you’re particularly funny and always keep your fans laughing. Maybe you know a lot about video games and engage in insightful conversations with your fans. Or maybe you’re just really, really good at the game you’re streaming. The specific approach isn’t important, just make sure you play to your skills and emphasize what you’re good at.  

Game selection can also help you get more Twitch followers. You may be tempted to stream some of the top-performing titles like Fortnite, Dota 2 or Grand Theft Auto V, but with thousands of other streamers to compete with it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. However, you don’t want to stray too far in the opposite direction and be the only person streaming 50 Cent: Bulletproof either. Instead, try streaming a semi-popular title with a good ratio of viewers to streamers.

Next, start following your favorite Twitch streamers. Subscribe to their channels and chat with them. The easiest way to become a part of a Twitch community is to show support for others in the circle.

Finally, it’s important to create a schedule and stay consistent. It’s better to underestimate your commitments so you can delight fans with extra streaming sessions instead of disappointing them when you miss one. Sticking to a nightly streaming schedule can be difficult. Start slow with a couple days a week, and as you grow your fan base, you can increase your stream time.

When you’re live streaming, remember to pay just as much attention to your viewers as the game. You can play video games at any time—when you have live viewers, you need to be interacting with them. Answer their chat questions over the microphone. Thank them for watching, subscribing and donating. Make them part of the stream!

Above all else, the most important trick to getting more followers on Twitch is to have fun! Remember, you don’t have to be better than everyone else—you just have to be more entertaining.

How to Improve Twitch Stream Quality

Improve your stream audio by balancing the various audio channels with an audio mixer.

Nothing sends streamers away quicker than bad audio. While Twitch is obviously a video-centric platform, plenty of streamers tune in just to listen—just ask the 2.7 million subscribers of Just Chatting, Twitch’s fourth most popular channel.

One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your stream audio is to balance the various audio channels using an audio mixer. Most streaming software lets you balance the volume levels between your microphone, game audio, chat audio, sound effects and more. Some streaming software, such as Streamlabs OBS, even offers advanced mixing effects for tweaking your sound.

For more tips on how to level up the sound of your Twitch stream, check out our blog on 5 Ways to Improve Your Twitch Stream Quality.

The Best Twitch Extensions

The Yeti Streamer Bundle includes six months of free premium access to OvrStream.

When it comes to streaming on Twitch, most streaming software includes everything you need to get started. But if you want to expand your options with image overlays, subscription alerts, chatbots and video streams, you’re going to need some third-party integration. In this section, we’ll detail some of the most popular Twitch extensions.

While StreamLabs OBS has plenty of advanced features for professional-looking streams, StreamLabs have also created a separate stand-alone Chatbot app. Chatbot connects to your Twitch account and lets you create custom commands that let you quickly trigger chat responses based on user-defined quick keys. Make your chats stand out with built-in timers, quotes, counters, giveaways, sound effects and more. 

OvrStream is an automated motion graphics app for streamers with custom graphics, alerts and overlays. Find the perfect look for your stream with an array of professionally designed alerts and overlays inspired by popular games, styles and themes. Animate your alerts and notifications with jaw-dropping 3D motion graphics. You can get six months free premium access to OvrStream for PC with the Yeti Streamer Bundle.

Discord is a free, all-in-one voice and text chat designed specifically for gamers. Discord lets you set up chat servers with streamers, viewers and bots so everyone can join in on the conversation.

Extensions open up a whole new world of possibilities for Twitch streamers. Make your channel more engaging with interactive overlays and panels. Make your stream stand out with heat maps, real-time game data, mini-games, music requests, leaderboards, and more.

How to Make Money on Twitch

Pro gamer DrLupo powers his stream with Blue.

It's every gamer’s dream to earn a living playing video games. But, just like any career, it takes a lot of hard work. In the beginning, the only way to make money on Twitch is by accepting PayPal donations, selling merchandise, or using affiliate link programs. However, with a little dedication, you can work your way up the ranks to become a top streamer and start earning some real cash.

How to Become a Twitch Affiliate

The first step to monetizing your Twitch stream is joining the Twitch affiliate program. Twitch affiliates can start earning an income while building an audience and working towards becoming a full Twitch partner. Affiliates can earn money by accepting subscriptions from viewers and enabling “Bits.” Bits are a virtual good that viewers can buy to “Cheer” on their favorite streamers in the chat window—and the streamer gets a share of the revenue. Affiliates can also earn revenue from the sale of games or in-game items on Twitch. In order to qualify for the Twitch affiliate program, you must meet the following requirements.

  • Have at least 50 followers
  • Stream at least 500 total minutes in the last 30 days
  • Streamed on seven unique days in the last 30 days
  • Hold an average of three or more concurrent viewers

How to Become a Twitch Partner

The affiliate program is designed to help gamers earn revenue on their path to becoming a full Twitch partner. While it’s not required to become an affiliate before attaining partner status, it’s highly recommended. After joining the affiliate program, you can work your way up to partner status, which enables you to make money through advertisements and even Twitch sponsorships. In order to become a partner, you must unlock the following three achievements.

  • Stream for 25 hours in the last 30 days
  • Stream for 12 unique days in the last 30 days
  • Reach 75 average viewers in the last 30 days

However, it’s important to note that unlocking these achievements doesn't immediately grant you partner status. Once you become eligible, you will see a button to apply to become a Twitch partner.

Got more questions about how to stream on Twitch? Check out our blog for more in-depth tutorials and guides for getting the most out of your Twitch streams.