Simple tips and advice to help get you started with live streaming. We’ll continue to add content over the coming days and weeks. Check back for updates!
1. Your Phone (or other portable device)
The simplest solution is to use your phone. It’s technology you know so you’re going to be more comfortable using it. The camera and microphone are built in so picture and sound will be in sync. Your phone is also portable, allowing you to be more spontaneous with your live streaming. All at no extra expense.
*Image and audio quality will depend heavily on the make and quality of your phone.
2. Your Phone + an External Microphone
An external microphone is the easiest way to increase the quality of your live streaming shows; not least, because it allows you to position the microphone to better suit the requirements of your setup. Recording of picture and sound is still rooted through one device (your phone) which keeps things simple.
However the external microphone comes at extra expense and may cause you sync problems (when sound lags behind picture).
3. Webcam (via laptop or desktop)
Depending on the quality of your phone, using a webcam may or may not bring you an improvement in streaming quality*. Using a webcam offers you many of the advantages of using your phone; the camera and microphone are built in so picture and sound will be in sync, but portability will be hindered by a laptop and negated by a desktop.
*Before buying a webcam, be sure to check the quality of your phone (it may be better).
4. Webcam + External Microphone
As is the case with your phone, an external microphone is the easiest way to improve the quality of your live streaming via webcam. And as is the case with your phone, it comes at additional expense and may also bring the same additional complications*.
*Some webcams come with external microphone included; which, at least in theory, suggests sync problems between picture and sound should be less of an issue.
A WORD ABOUT MICROPHONES: DIRECTIONALITY
Directionality refers to the physical area from which the microphone picks up sound. The following is intended as a simple guide to help you make an informed choice when buying an external microphone. It is not meant as an exhaustive technical breakdown of microphone directionality and should not be taken as such.
Imagine a room where all the walls are made of glass; a person would be able to see in all directions. In the world microphones, this is called “omnidirectional”. Omnidirectional microphones pick up sound from all around them. This makes them ideal for conference calls.
Now imagine a room with only one window; a person would only be able to see in that one direction. Unidirectional/directional microphones pick up sound from one specific direction*. This makes them ideal for recording the sound of one specific instrument or voice.
*All microphones suffer from “mic bleed”. This is sound picked up from unwanted sources. For example, vocal mics will often pick up the sound of drums and electric guitars during live recordings. Unidirectional/directional mics help to reduce this problem, they do not eliminate it.
Now imagine a room with two windows, located on opposite walls; a person would be able to see straight ahead and directly behind, but not left or right. Bidirectional microphones pick up sound equally well front and back, but not on the sides. This makes them ideal for Q&A sessions.
Finally imagine a room with three windows; a person would be able to see straight ahead and from side to side, but not behind them. Cardioid microphones pick up sound from the front and sides (left/right), but not from behind. This makes them ideal to pick up a group of musicians arranged in a semicircle.