GAMING

How To Use Streamlabs OBS To Create Next-Level Livestreams

Whether you’re streaming your favorite game on Twitch, broadcasting a cooking show on YouTube or multistreaming an episode of your podcast on Facebook and Instagram, you need live streaming software to get your content online. Thankfully, Streamlabs OBS has everything you need to stream to all of your favorite sites in seconds. In this blog, you’ll learn how to stream with Streamlabs OBS, including the best settings for professional-looking streams.

What Is Streamlabs?

Streamlabs is an all-in-one live streaming software for PC and Mac based on the Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) platform. With simple controls, versatile features and customizable themes, Streamlabs is the perfect tool for growing your audience. In addition to broadcasting multiple audio and video feeds from your computer, Streamlabs offers a wide range of free widgets to customize the look and feel of your stream. Integrated tools like custom alerts, animations and overlays make it easier than ever to create a professional-looking stream.

How To Set Up Streamlabs

Setting up Streamlabs OBS is generally a pretty straightforward process, although it can become rather complex with advanced setups. In order to start livestreaming, you’ll need to set up a Scene (a collection of audio and video sources), neatly organized for all of your viewers to see. Here’s a quick breakdown of the steps you’ll need to follow to create a new Scene in Streamlabs OBS. 

  • Download and install Streamlabs for your computer
  • Log in and connect Streamlabs to your streaming platform of choice
  • Select your USB webcam and microphone as input sources

Next, you’ll be greeted with a blank Scene—an empty canvas for you to create your stream. Here, you can add and remove elements to your stream, and drag them around the screen to create a custom look and feel.

Create custom Scenes to give your stream a unique look and feel.

Sources

To add an item to your Scene, click the plus sign (+) in the Sources window. A popup window will appear, where you can select from a variety of audio and video source options. Here are some of the most common elements:

  • Image: Adds a static background image behind all other elements
  • Display Capture: Adds a video feed of everything visible on a given display, such as a web browser or desktop
  • Game Capture: Adds a video feed of just your gameplay
  • Video Capture Device: Adds a video feed from a webcam
  • Audio Input Capture: Adds an audio input such as a USB microphone
  • Audio Output Capture: Adds an audio output such as gameplay audio, background music, or chat software such as Discord to send your audience

It’s important to note that Sources are layered based on their order in the Source window, with Sources at the top of the list showing up in front, and Sources at the bottom of the list in the background. Resize and relocate the Sources in your Scene to create the desired look.

You can also create additional Scenes for different types of gameplay. For instance, if you’re streaming a fast-paced FPS, you’ll want the gameplay to be the primary focus, with a small video feed of yourself in the bottom corner. But, if you’re “Just Chatting,” you can make your video feed the focal point of the stream, and make the chat more prominent to encourage participation.

It’s also worth noting that you can add a variety of customizable widgets to your Scene from the sources menu, such as alerts, donation goals and a virtual tip jar. Each of these extensions are essential for making the most out of your stream. For more info on how to utilize these tools to increase the performance of your stream, check out our blog on how to make money on Twitch

Add Sources to your Scene and customize what your viewers see.

Mixer

After adding audio input and output Sources to your Scene, you’ll be able to see all of your audio Sources in the Mixer window in the bottom-right corner. Here, you can adjust the volume of each Source to ensure your stream sounds clean and balanced. 

For instance, it’s best to set your mic input at a higher level than your desktop audio to ensure that your viewers can always hear you clearly over the sound of your gameplay. You can also adjust the level of Alert Box notifications, aux inputs and more.

It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the chat and ask how everything's sounding, in case you need to make adjustments. Your viewers will be happy to tell you if they’re having trouble hearing you—but they may feel rude offering that info unless you ask first. 

Adjust all of your audio inputs to ensure your viewers can always hear your mic over the gameplay.

Themes

Now that you’ve got your Scene set up, it’s time to choose a Theme to give your stream a professional look. Click on the Themes window in the upper-left corner and browse for a Theme that resonates with your channel. Streamlabs offers a wide range of free Themes to choose from, as well as a number of premium Themes for Streamlabs Prime members.

Themes are a great way to give every element in your stream a cohesive look and feel. Themes typically include the following features:

  • Background images for common elements, such as Starting Soon, Be Right Back and Offline
  • Panels for your About Me page
  • Animated alerts
  • Overlays

Select a custom Theme to give your stream a cohesive look.

Streamlabs OBS Output Settings

After building a Scene and selecting a Theme for your channel, it’s time to adjust the settings of Streamlabs OBS to optimize performance on your computer. Click the Settings tab in the bottom-left corner. Here, you can adjust settings for audio, video and stream appearance. 

Under the Output tab, you can independently adjust settings for streaming and recording quality. First, start by selecting Simple as the Output Mode (unless you want to tweak every detail of your stream). Under the Streaming header, you can adjust settings for Video and Audio Bitrate, as well as Encoder. 

Video Bitrate

Video Bitrate controls the overall video quality of your stream—the higher the bitrate, the better the resolution. Twitch has a maximum Video Bitrate of 6,000 kbps, although many streamers use lower settings. Some users even suggest basing your Video Bitrate based on your internet speed—specifically, half of your upload speed (in kbps). This ensures that your stream isn’t straining to pump out the quality you want due to your internet connection.

In the end, it all depends on the resolution and frame rate you want to achieve, which varies depending on the type of game you’re playing. For more information on recommended video settings for different resolutions, check out this guide to broadcasting health from Twitch

Audio Bitrate

Much like Video Bitrate affects your video quality, Audio Bitrate controls the quality of your stream audio output. This includes your microphone, game audio and any other additional sources. Many streamers make the mistake of focusing all of their attention on video quality, when in reality, most viewers are listening to your stream more than they’re watching. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re delivering the best audio quality possible.

The recommended Audio Bitrate for most streaming platforms is 128 kbps, however, the maximum Bitrate of 320 kbps will provide the best audio quality. This is especially noticeable when using a high-quality USB microphone like Yeti X or the new Yeti X World of Warcraft Edition.

Encoder

Under Encoder, it’s recommended that you use the NVENC setting, which uses your graphics card to encode the stream and typically offers the best performance. The x264 encoder uses your CPU’s processor to encode data, which can cause issues with your game, stream quality or even overall CPU performance.

Adjust your audio and video bitrate settings based on the resolution you want to achieve.

Streamlabs OBS Video Settings

Under the Video tab in the settings menu, you can adjust your resolution and frames per second. The Base (Canvas) Resolution controls the resolution of your monitor, while the Output (Scaled) Resolution controls what you send out while streaming. 

Of course, you’ll want the highest Canvas resolution possible to ensure great graphics on your screen. But, since gameplay only takes up a portion of the screen while streaming, you can actually downscale the resolution to achieve the same image quality onstream, saving you precious processing power.

When it comes to Frame Rate settings, the gaming community has a lot of opinions. The general consensus is that for high frame rate games like fighting games or first-person shooters, you should use 60 frames per second, while games with less frame movement (like Among Us or World of Warcraft), will still look great at 30 frames per second.

Adjust your output resolution and frame rate based on the type of gameplay you’re streaming.

Streamlabs OBS Audio Settings

Under the Audio tab, you can select additional audio inputs for your stream. Create a desktop audio input to hear sound from your desktop, and create mic/auxiliary inputs for USB microphones and another external audio devices. Any audio input source you add here will show up in the Mixer window of the Editor tab. 

You can also select your Audio Sample Rate, which, much like Video Bitrate, controls the quality of your audio output. The default setting of 44.1 kHz delivers professional audio quality, but higher sample rates, such as 48 kHz, offer improved fidelity. Most games use a default sample rate of 48 kHz. To learn more about how to dial in great sound, check out this blog on how to improve mic quality in Stremalabs OBS.

Add audio inputs to the mixer to control the volume levels of each element in your stream.

Follow this Streamlabs OBS tutorial and you’ll be ready to stream on all of your favorite sites in no time. For more information on how to level up your live streams, including how to stream to multiple platforms, how to make money on Twitch, and how to build your personal brand on Twitch, check out our blog.