The Ultimate Church Live Streaming Equipment List
What type of equipment should you use for church live streaming? If you want to create a professional live stream, your smartphone may not provide the quality or features that you need. For pro video and sound, you need pro equipment including cameras, microphones, video switchers, and audio mixers.
Decide What Type of Cameras and Mics You Need
The cameras and microphones that you use for your live steam directly impact the quality of the stream. If you use inferior cameras or mics, the mixers and software that you use may not provide much help.
There are several different types of cameras for professional live streaming and each has its own advantages. Your main choices for video cameras include:
- Smartphone cameras
- Consumer HD video cameras
- Professional-quality consumer cameras
- DSLR video cameras
- Professional video cameras
- Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras
The camera on your smartphone and the consumer HD video cameras offer the lowest-quality video, compared to the higher-end options. These cameras typically record in 720p or 1080p HD. While you can get clear video in properly lit settings, smartphone cameras and handheld HD cameras have small imaging chips, which limits the overall clarity and brilliance of the video.
Professional-quality consumer cameras may cost between $1,500 and $20,000 and offer larger imaging chips than the camera on your phone. They also include the features that you need for professional streams, including a wide assortment of video filters and the ability to change lenses. You can also find cameras in this category that include XLR inputs for connecting professional microphones.
The DSLR video cameras are high-quality digital photo cameras that allow you to record HD video. These cameras tend to feature better imaging compared to standard consumer HD video cameras. However, they do not include XLR inputs or any of the video settings available with high-end video cameras such as audio control, exposure settings, and filters.
The final category of cameras includes video cameras used by studios, news stations, and professional videographers. These cameras often start at $25,000 and may cost millions. They are typically out of reach for most individuals. However, there are many companies that rent these cameras.
Along with a wide selection of video cameras, there are many types of microphones. While the cameras that you purchase likely have built-in mics, these mics cannot compare to a pro microphone.
Choosing a microphone depends on the setting. If you are recording music, you use a variety of microphones. For example, you may have dynamic microphones with large diaphragms for the singers along with multiple small diaphragm mics for the drums.
If you are recording a group of speakers or performers, you may prefer a microphone that is easier to conceal, such as a lapel mic. These microphones are compact and designed to clip onto a lapel or shirt collar.
Many lapel mics are also wireless, which allows performers to move around without cumbersome wires. However, the wireless lapel mic needs a wireless transmitter that delivers sound to the audio inputs on your audio mixer or video switcher.
Handheld mics are also suitable for live streaming when you do not need to conceal the mic on the speaker. For example, the speaker may use a handheld mic when interviewing guests or speaking to the public.
Similar to the lapel mics, a handheld wireless microphone is preferred for live streaming unless you are remaining stationary. For example, if you are live streaming from a home studio or your living room, these wireless options may not be essential.
The bottom line is that professional-quality cameras and microphones are needed for a high-quality live video stream. The pro-grade video cameras offer a great value as they cost much less than the true professional video cameras and provide much better video quality compared to the camera on your phone.
The best mics include wireless handheld or lapel mics, especially when your performers or speakers need to remain mobile. The mics that you choose should also provide superior sound compared to the built-in mics along with providing more sensitivity to prevent hisses and pops.
Choose Mixers for Your Professional Live Stream
Along with cameras and mics, you need equipment to compile the video and audio for live broadcast. In most cases, you will need a vision mixer, audio mixer, and computer software. The mixers allow you to use multiple cameras and microphones while sending a single feed to the streaming platform.
Vision mixers are also called video switchers, hardware encoders, or hardware switchers. They include multiple inputs for connecting more than one camera. The switcher plugs into your computer, allowing you to switch between cameras for your live stream.
Some of these devices even allow you to deliver video directly to your streaming platform, eliminating the need for separate software. These video switchers are often called hardware encoders as they can encode the video for live streaming.
You can even find video switchers with built-in audio mixers. With these all-in-one solutions, you do not need an audio mixer or computer software. You just need the switcher along with your cameras and mics.
Audio mixers are used in the same way as the video mixer. However, instead of mixing video inputs together, you are mixing audio inputs together. Using an audio mixer allows you to adjust the sound separately from the video. You also gain control of the levels of each mic.
There are two main types of audio mixers: analog and digital. The main difference between these mixers is that a digital mixer converts an analog signal to digital, allowing you to process the sound with various effects and equalizer settings before converting the signal back to analog.
With a digital mixer, you get a wider selection of special features, which is useful when you need to tweak the sound of a musical performance. However, you may not need these extra options for recording speech.
When using an audio mixer for live streaming, you may also need software on your computer to compile the video and audio unless you send the audio directly to one of the cameras or the video switcher.
Whether you choose analog or digital, you should pay attention to the number of inputs and channels the mixer offers. Your microphones will connect to the inputs on the mixer, which should include microphone pre-amps for amplifying the mic signals.
If you plan to use four microphones, the audio mixer should have at least four inputs. If you want to adjust the sound of each mic individually, the mixer should also have at least four channels.
Install Live Video Encoding Software on a Computer
The final piece of equipment that you need for live streaming is encoding software. The software is needed for encoding the video for streaming on real-time messaging protocol (RTMP) platforms.
There are also platforms that do not require separate software, such as Facebook, YouTube Live, Instagram, and Periscope. You may also skip the encoding software if you purchase a video switcher with hardware encoding. While many streaming platforms offer their own free software or include encoding in their app, the free options often have limited features.
The software that you choose should allow you to add audio and video from your mixers or directly from cameras connected to the video card on your computer. You may even have the option of adding graphics, text, and other effects.
The encoding software, video switcher, and audio mixer all need to work with your computer. The software may need a minimum amount of memory, the video switcher may require a specific graphics card, and the audio mixer may need a quality sound card. Depending on the equipment that you choose, your computer may need some upgrades.
The cameras, mics, mixers, and software are just the essential items that you need for a quality production. You may also require microphone stands, tripods, handheld camera stabilizers, and extra lighting.
Conclusion: Live Streaming May Require Extra Equipment
The equipment that you need for live streaming depends on the type of stream that you want to create. For the most basic video or music streams, you simply need one of the latest smartphones. If you want a professional-quality a video or music stream, you may need pro cameras, mics, mixers, and software.
The cameras and microphones are essential to a quality stream as they are responsible for recording the raw video and audio. The use of video switchers and audio mixers allows you to compile your video and audio for delivery to the encoding software on your computer.
Professional encoding software may include a variety of options that are not included when using the built-in features on Facebook and other social media sites. You may add graphics, titles, and credits to your live stream. However, encoding software may not be needed if you purchase a video switcher with hardware encoding.
In the end, the equipment that you choose depends on your specific goals. If you want the highest quality for your live stream, invest in professional equipment starting with the cameras and mics.