Not Your Usual Streaming Gear Guide

Streaming Gear

This blog needs more guides, so here’s the first one of 2022. For this streaming gear guide, I wanted to recommend gear that most other guides don’t. The problem with those guides is they’re usually written by freelance writers who are just trying to hit their quota so they can get paid. Their sources of information tend to be all the other run-in-the-mill guides you’ll find out there, so they just parrot the usual. Not this guide.

Mind you, I can’t do a guide to streaming success since I’m not a big-time streamer. I’ve had to deal with streaming anxiety for years, especially after 2017, just when I got the fiber optic connection necessary to stream in HD resolution. I have my system of content creation that incorporates regular streaming, but that’s something I’ve yet to act upon in 2022.

However, I’ve been a streaming hobbyist for almost a decade now. I’ve been playing around with equipment for quite a while now and I know what’s good. Nowadays, there’s plenty of cheap and cheerful streaming gear available out there, and I think they should get more attention. There are some hidden gems out there, and more streamers should use them.

It’s important to not focus too much on equipment. After all, it’s no good to spend tons of money on streaming gear, yet neither stream regularly nor work on your public speaking and ability to entertain viewers. The most important aspect of streaming is still the person behind the stream. If the streamer is not entertaining, then no one will want to tune into that stream. But while we’re here, we might as well talk shop.

NOTE: I’m not an expert. I’m just a hobbyist and I needed more evergreen content on my blog. Tell me if this was somewhat helpful in the comments section below.

Fundamental Streaming Peripherals

Let’s put the PC out of the way. If you don’t have a computer and still want to stream, then maybe get a PS4 and stream your gameplay, but that limits your streams to just gameplay. Having a computer still provides the most amount of versatility for broadcasting your own streams.

If you’re balling out of control, you can use a dedicated streaming PC to handle the encoding and broadcasting. Otherwise, just get the best possible computer you can get your hands on. There are famous streamers out there who started with crummy laptops, and they made it with both talent and persistence.

What you really need for your stream if you don’t want to just stream gameplay without a face cam and/or commentary is broadcast equipment. Audio input for being heard, video input for being seen, and audio output for hearing what you need to hear.

That means you need, by order of most important to least, are a microphone and audio interface, camera, and ear/headphones.

Microphones and Audio Interfaces for Streaming

This is the main focus for streaming gear. You can skip the webcam since it’s not super necessary as long as you’re streaming gameplay, but not talking while streaming is like not streaming at all. That’s like eating pizza without sauce.

Dirt Cheap: Fifine K669B (₱1,550)

Fifine K669BThere’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Fifine K669B. It’s actually a pretty good USB microphone, and its price makes it even better. The volume control, a feature that you wouldn’t expect at this price point, is quite convenient as you get to adjust your levels with the mic, which makes it newb-friendly.

Budget: Razer Seiren Mini (₱2,200)

Razer Seiren MiniIf you’re just looking for a mic with no gimmicks and don’t have an urgent need for professional-grade audio, then just get a Razer Seiren Mini. It’s small, unobtrusive, and easy to install and use. What I like about the Razer Seiren Mini is that it’s perhaps the smallest USB microphone you’ll ever find out there. If desk space is at a premium, this is a fantastic choice.

Lower Mid-Range: Takstar CM-60 + Behringer U-Phoria UM2 (₱5,700)

Takstar CM-60The Takstar CM-60 is a pencil microphone, which is a shotgun microphone with its long shaft chopped off. That long shaft is for noise cancellation on the sides; you can compensate for its absence with proximity effect. Since it’s small and thin, it’s convenient to set up as it doesn’t take as much space as a full-sized condenser microphone.

You can still get a full-sized shotgun microphone if you’re still worried about background noise. But at this price point, you’re not getting a Sennheiser MKH-416, the king of shotgun microphones. You’ll likely get something more like a Boya BY-PVM1000, which should be alright as long as you have a good interface and room treatment to go with it.

Behringer U-Phoria UM2As for the audio interface, you can go for the popular budget option, which is the Behringer U-Phoria UM2, a basic USB audio interface that’s tried and tested. Alternatively, you can get the Behringer Xenyx Q502USB instead if you’re looking for something with a few more bells and whistles, especially if you want to use it as an external sound card as well.

Upper Mid-Range: Samson C01 + Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 (₱7,800)

Samson C01This is close to my first ever condenser microphone setup. I still have my Samson C01, which I bought in 2013 when it only cost me ₱3,000, and it still sounds amazing. There’s also its USB version, the Samson C01u, which used to be a contender on the “baby’s first condenser” list before it got booted by the Fifine and the Blue Snowball.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22The Behringer U-Phoria UMC22 is the better version of the UM2, with a metal housing instead of plastic. Other than that, it’s more or less the same thing — just a basic audio interface. But with the UMC22, you can be assured that it will last longer, won’t break when it gets banged up, and may have better protection against interference.

Premium: PreSonus PD-70 + M-Audio M-Track Solo + Omtekno Fetamp DX (₱15,500)

PreSonus PD-70 This is my personal recommendation that bucks the trend. In my opinion, the PreSonus PD-70 is the poor man’s Shure SM7B. It looks and sounds quite similar to it while being a fraction of the price. You can also go for a Rode PodMic or Procaster, or a Shure MV7, but I go with the PreSonus PD-70 due to excellent price-to-performance ratio.

M-Audio M-Track SoloOut of all the audio interfaces I’ve seen online, the M-Audio M-Track Solo is perhaps the most promising for its price range as it’s not as costly as a Focusrite Scarlett, but it seems to have similar build quality, if not better. You can still go for a Behringer U-Phoria UM22 (the UM2’s big brother), but I think the M-Track Solo slightly edges it out in quality.

Since the PreSonus PD-70 is a dynamic microphone, it may not be sensitive enough unless you bring the gain way up. This is where a mic activator comes in to give you clean gain while keeping the noise floor down. There’s the Cloudlifter CL-1, as well as the Triton Audio FetHead.

Omtekno Fetamp DXBut if you’re looking for a more affordable option while avoiding the horrible ones from Alctron, then look for the Omtekno Fetamp DX. It’s made by an Indonesian guy, who has done a good job at creating his own FetHead while keeping the cost down. It should do nicely in boosting the signal while keeping the noise floor down.

Rich: Rode Procaster + Focusrite Scarlett Solo + sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite (₱32,000)

RODE ProcasterI just pulled this arrangement out of my ass, I admit. This is the best possible configuration I can come up with that doesn’t use the Shure SM7B. Anytime you find a setup that performs just as well as the SM7B but for less money, that’s a victory in my book. Mind you, the Rode Procaster isn’t cheap. It’s still one of the best dynamic microphones you can find out there in the market. It’s more expensive than the PreSonus PD-70 but much less than the Shure SM7B.

Focusrite Scarlett SoloSame with the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, which has been one of the most popular USB audio interfaces throughout the 2010s. You can go for the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 instead if you really want something more robust as solo audio interfaces were not as commonplace when the Scarlett first became popular in streaming. But the Scarlett Solo should do you just fine in most cases. 

sE Electronics DM1 DynamiteAs for the sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite, like the Omtekno Fetamp DX, it’s a mic booster for improving the signal-to-noise ratio of dynamic mics. It makes sure you won’t need as much gain and be able to better ensure that you get as little background noise as possible, which is why you would want to use a dynamic microphone in the first place.

Filthy Rich: Shure SM7B + TC-Helicon GoXLR + Triton Audio FetHead (₱82,000)

This is the absolute best you can get. This is what you get when you’ve “made it.” You’re earning millions from Twitch and have millions of subs on YouTube. (Then again, if you already made it, why would you read this unless you’re doing it for content?)

You can have the Shure SM7B, the mic that all the big streamers have. It’s the descendant of the mic that Michael Jackson used to record Thriller. You’re paying for both supreme sound quality and legacy.

TC Helicon GoXLRAs for the audio interface, the TC-Helicon GoXLR is an absolute luxury. You get the control afforded to you by the Voicemeeter software, but with physical controls. You get tons of features like a soundboard, autotune, and bleep button to really add some pizazz to your streams. It’s not cheap at $500, but it was designed specifically for streaming.

You can go for the GoXLR Mini if you don’t have as much money and desk space. I’d go for that instead as the one thing you’ll need from it is the bleep button.

Triton Audio FetHeadFinally, boosting the microphone is the Triton Audio FetHead. You may also use the Cloudlifter CL-1, but I would recommend the FetHead more due to its form factor. The Cloudlifter is better if you can’t attach something directly onto the mic. Meanwhile, the FetHead can be directly attached to the mic and needs only one XLR cable.

Cameras

I think having a crappy webcam is a cool stylistic choice for a novice streamer. Then again, if you ever decide to actually show your face online, it better show you in a good light.

Cheap: Rapoo C280 (₱1,500)

Rapoo C280It’s a 2K webcam for cheap. It may not have a high frame rate, but it’s more than enough for a face cam on your stream. You can go for something cheaper, but having that extra resolution to play with gives you more versatility, so you can use it for other purposes like as an overhead camera for unboxings or so on.

Lower Mid-Range: Logitech C920 PRO (₱3,800)

Logitech C920 PROYou can get a better webcam over time, especially if you start having a face cam at full screen for videos and just chatting streams. It’s hard to go wrong with the Logitech C920 PRO, a tried and tested product used by streamers around the world. You could get this and never upgrade ever again. There are plenty of top streamers who still stick with this webcam, especially since the software is pretty good and lets you use background removal and other features. There’s no real reason to stop using a Logitech webcam other than having tons of money to spend.

Upper Mid-Range: Anker C300 (₱6,000)

Anker C300If you have the cash for it, you can get something better than the Logitech C920. You can get the C922, but you can shelf out a bit more and get the Anker C300 for even better quality. You get this because you want to have people see the pores and pimples on your face better.

Premium: Sony Handycam HDR-CX405 + USB 3.0 HDMI Dongle (₱13,000)

Sony Handycam HDR-CX405This is my choice. I think the secret when it comes to having a good-looking face cam is to buy a camcorder with clean HDMI out and use it as a webcam with a dongle or cheap capture card. I’ve had this kind of setup for years, and it has done me well.

However, I do wish I had a camcorder with 60fps video, which is what the Sony HDR-CX405 has. There could be someone selling theirs on Facebook Marketplace right now for a lot less.

USB 3.0 HDMI Dongle: Coffee VersionAs for the HDMI to USB dongle, instead of spending up to ₱8,000 on an Elgato Cam Link, you can get one of these dongles from Shopee or Lazada. Make sure to get the “coffee version” to get the USB 3.0 one for 60fps video.

Rich: Sony Alpha a5100 + Elgato Cam Link (₱38,000)

Sony Alpha a5100While it’s more than thrice the price, it’s also top quality. You get the Sony Alpha a5100 because it’s the cheapest possible mirrorless that has good low-light performance and autofocus (Panasonic Lumix is said to have crappy autofocus for video).

Elgato Cam LinkAs for the HDMI USB dongle, the Elgato Cam Link is not something I recommend most of the time since there are much cheaper alternatives. However, if you can already afford a mirrorless camera, you might as well get the best one in the category.

Filthy Rich: Sony Alpha a7S II + 24-70mm Lens + Elgato Cam Link 4K (₱110,000)

Sony Alpha a7S IIIf you’re a big streamer making tons of money, this is the setup to get. Your face cam will look top-notch, especially if you have a good light to go with it. This is what really famous streamers end up with due to the low-light performance of the Sony Alpha a7S. If you’re balling out of control, you’d get the latest version and use it just as a webcam simply because you can.

You then need to get a good lens for it. The no-brainer choice is a 24-70mm lens that will be better than the kit lens while still providing the versatility of a zoom lens. It’ll make you look sharper, blur the background a bit for that cinematic look, and add a great degree of quality to your streams.

Elgato Cam Link 4KAs for the HDMI to USB dongle, you can go all out and get the Elgato Cam Link 4K. You can also use devices like a PCIe capture card with two HDMI inputs like the AVerMedia Live Gamer 4K that is designed to handle both a console and a webcam at the same time.

Headphones / Earphones

You can do whatever you want with this, as long as you have some way to hear audio without having it be picked up by your mic. I’m just using this as an excuse to talk about Chi-fi and budget audiophile gear.

Dirt Cheap: VE Monk Plus (₱350)

Since it’s hard to find the first version of the Monk these days, you might as well get the Monk Plus by Venture Electronics. When the first Monks first came out, it took budget audiophiles by storm because no one could believe that there were pairs of cheap-looking earphones that sounded amazing, but only cost a few hundred pesos.

Unfortunately, they then thought of “improving” it and came out with the Monk Plus, which a lot of people say is not as good as the first ones. However, these are the only ones you’ll find brand new on online marketplaces, so you’ll have to settle with them unless you have a friend who has a pair of original Monks to spare.

Budget: KZ ZSN Pro (₱650)

KZ ZSN ProYou might as well shelf out 300 more to get the KZ ZNS Pro, and maybe a few more to get good braided cables for them. You get the mind-blowing sound from its dual drivers and ergonomic comfort with its shape that should fit in your ear nicely unless you have cauliflower ears from wrestling or jiu-jitsu.

Lower Mid-Range: Blon BL-03 (₱1,300)

Blon BL-03If you want the best possible Chi-fi experience you can get, then you should go for the gusto and get a pair of Blon BL-03 IEMs. Sure, there’s also the BL-05, and you could get them if you can afford them. However, the BL-03 has everything you want right off the bat and the improvements you get from the BL-05 are too small for most people to justify the additional 500.

Upper Mid-Range: Samson SR850 (₱2,000)

Samson SR850If you are an avid viewer of DankPods like I am, then you’ll know how much he raves about the sheer value of Samson’s AKG clones. The SR850 is one of the best pairs of headphones you’ll ever get for your money. As you may surmise from this blog post, I’m partial to Samson as I think it’s an underrated brand, and these headphones prove that.

Premium: Taotronics TT-BH090 (₱3,800)

Taotronics TT-BH090With enough money, you might as well go for Bluetooth. The convenience of being able to go to the bathroom for a pee break without having to take off your headphones is quite nice. Being able to hear your friends talk shit about you on Discord when they think you can’t hear them while you drain the lizard is priceless.

Fuck Raycon. If you’re looking for budget Bluetooth earbuds and headphones, you should look at Taotronics. This particular model is almost 4000 because you shouldn’t be spending less than this if you want to have a quality true wireless listening experience. Do not buy those cheap wireless earbuds because they’re just going to end up being e-waste anyway.

Rich: Sony WH-1000XM4 (₱14,000)

Sony WH-1000XM4Yeah, those Bluetooth headphones from Sony. The ones with the name you can’t remember other than the “XM4” part. Sony has always been terrible at naming their products, and this is no exception. The only reason why you may find these headphones familiar is due to its clean and distinct design.

There may be other wireless headphones that have better sound quality, but this is already better than most things you’ll find in the market. They look pretty good with that streamlined design, especially with the gray ones, which will look nice on stream.

If they let you hear audio and be able to move freely without having to take it off, then that’s all you really need from Bluetooth headphones. However, it doesn’t hurt that it’s of high quality like these ones.

Filthy Rich: Sennheiser HD600 + FiiO BTR5 (₱27,500)

Sennheiser HD600You do this to flex on plebs with your copious amounts of money. It’s not entirely necessary, but you do want a Sennheiser HD600 if you happen to be an audiophile. You can connect that to your audio interface or mixer if it has adequate impedance.

FiiO BTR5But if you really want to take it to the next level, you can get the FiiO BTR5, both a compact audio interface and a Bluetooth dongle in one. Despite its size, it can power HD600s and make them wireless. You can make hands-free phone calls with HD600s.

That’s absolutely crazy, so much that it certainly isn’t necessary for your stream. However, both these devices are great luxuries — the best audiophile headphones in terms of overall quality and the sickest Bluetooth dongle on the planet.

The Cheapest Streaming Setup Will Test Your Potential

If you’re just starting out, you won’t need most of this gear unless you’re rich or have other uses for this equipment. You can do whatever you want with your own money, but it’s recommended that you work to “deserve” your equipment first before you actually buy them.

On the other hand, if you really want to prove your worth, try “poverty style” first.  Point your smartphone at your screen or yourself.

If you can make content with just your phone, have fun with it, and entertain an audience, you have a good future in streaming and content creation. There are a lot of legends made by this kind of setup, especially back in the pre-Xsplit and pre-OBS days.

If you’re destined to become a world-famous streamer, then you should have the talent to make such a poverty setup work. You can come up with gimmicks and formats that will be incredibly entertaining to your audience.

The most important part of creating a great stream is your ability to engage and entertain an audience. If you can’t do it with basic gear, you don’t deserve to stream with premium gear.

Got Feedback?

Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have in the comment section below.

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