A Comprehensive Guide to Audio/Video Setup for Live Streaming

 

I am writing this article because in my own research, I have had to dig through multiple forums, websites and seemingly endless tech support calls to finally get my setup running exactly as I wanted it to.  You would think that with such a large gaming/streaming community, someone would have posted some sort of “how-to” article located in one convenient place!  But, I digress…I dedicate this article to not only my veteran gamer friends as seen on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Twitch, but also to those who are just starting out!  May this article serve you well!  Now…onto the meat of it!!!

 

First off, I am going to list the PC, miscellaneous peripherals, TV and various systems that I have as well as all the necessary cables, couplers and splitters that connect them all together!  Off we go!
 
PC:
AMD Phenom II Black Edition PC 3.5 GHz (custom build)
Windows 7
8 GB RAM
Capture Card:
Elgato Video Capture (SD)
(NOTE: ANY USB capture card should work with this setup! It doesn’t HAVE to be Elgato!)

Current Connected Systems (always interchangeable):
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo 64
Microsoft XBox
Atari Flashback 2
Sega Genesis Arcade Motion
 
2 AV Switch Boxes (multiple inputs and one output per box):
One with one (1) output and four (4) inputs
One with one (1) output and three (3) inputs
(Look like this:)
 
Couplers and Splitters
Four (4) Phono (RCA) Splitters 
 
Two (2) RCA Female-to-Female Couplers (usually sold in pairs)
 
Two (2) RCA Male-to-Male Couplers (usually sold in pairs)
 

One (1) RCA Stereo-to-3.5 mm Jack Splitter (Red & White)
 
3 AV (Red, Yellow, White) Cables
One (1) from AV Switch Box to TV AV Input
One (1) from TV AV Output to Elgato Video Capture
One (1) from Splitter to Stereo 3.5mm Jack (insert jack-end into PC’s microphone port, usually red or pink) 
 
Webcam
One (1) Logitech HD Webcam (USB) with built-in microphone
 
TV:
Mitsubishi CRT 27″   with AV (Red, Yellow, White) jacks (one set for input, one set for output) and Coaxial input
(The back should look like this:)

(Note: In order to control the game volume from my PC while capturing, I had to put male-to-female splitters in the Red & White TV OUTPUT, with both the Elgato and switchbox cables connected to it.  The Video cables can remain in their normal places, but if this were true with the Audio Cables, your TV’s volume control MAY control the sound being captured!  Test your TV to see if this occurs, and if so, use the splitters!)

Now, I know what your thinking: that’s a LOT OF SHIT!  Bear in mind that much of this stuff I have acquired over time as my needs/workstation changed (i.e. before I started streaming).  I would have to guess that my total investment, minus the PC and systems, came to around $100.  Most CRT TV’s can be found on Craigslist for FREE (mine was), I got a good deal on the webcam (clearance sale), and the PC was collecting dust before I began using it for streaming and video capture.  Comparable PC’s can be found for CHEAP, just as long as it has plenty of processing power (quad-core or higher) and over 2GB of RAM (I would not suggest going lower than 4GB of RAM, or your system might start to struggle juggling all of the programs).
 
So how do we set this all up?  Let’s get started!
 
1) Connect all systems AV cables to the switchbox of your choice.
 
2) Connect the Elgato Video Capture (or USB device of your choice) to your PC.
 
3) Run the output AV cable from the switchbox into the back of your CRT TV (usually marked “input”).
 
4) Connect an AV cable to the TV’s output.
 
5) Connect the Video (Yellow) cable from the TV’s output into the Elgato Video Capture.
 
6) Connect two (2) female-to-female couplers to the Audio (Red & White) cables from the TV’s output.
 
7) Connect a splitter to each TV output’s Audio cable (Red & White), with the male-end of the splitter going into the other end of the female-to-female coupler from the TV’s output.
 
8) Connect the RCA male-to-male couplers to each of the female ends of the splitter.
 
9) Connect the Elgato Video Capture’s Audio cables (Red & White) to the male-to-male couplers.
 
10) Connect Audio Cables (Red & White) to the couplers and run them into the RCA Stereo-to-3.5mm jack.
 
11) Connect the RCA Stereo-to-3.5mm jack into your PC’s Microphone port (usually red or pink).
 
12) YOU’RE READY TO ROCK AND ROLL!!!
 

In the end, your cable setup should look something like this:

I know, not the best picture!  But notice how the TV output’s Video (Yellow) cable is directly connected to the Elgato Video Capture, while the audio cables (Red & White) have to be piped through a complex splitter/coupler system?  This is because the black AV Cable (near the bottom) runs to the RCA Stereo-to-3.5mm jack that goes directly into my computer’s microphone input. 

 

This is necessary to record both audio and video simultaneously while streaming with ZERO LAG AND pipe audio into the Elgato while it directly receives VIDEO!  Before this setup, I would have to disconnect the TV output’s audio (Red & White) from the Elgato and attach them to the RCA Stereo-to-3.5mm jack manually.  This setup not only allows me to stream my console play with audio and video in OBS (Open Broadcast Software), but to also utilize the Elgato’s native software if I choose without disconnecting/reconnecting cables!

Why do this, you may ask?  When I performed my tests within OBS over the last week and a half, I noticed that the recorded file would be created using a number of different codecs, some of which are not recognized by Windows Media Player!  Sure, I was able to play the video in different players, but what if I wanted to post my streams online and YouTube or Dailymotion didn’t recognize the movie format produced by OBS? 

 

Yeah, I could download a video converter and convert the file into a format that is more site-friendly, but I have had issues with degraded quality going this route in the past.  Unless you are a serious “video nerd”, this entire process can be unwieldy and extremely time-consuming.  Due to this, I wanted to be able to have more control over the output that is recorded.

With my Elgato Video Capture, I always get a neat video file that always acts predictably and gets along well with iMovie on my editing computer (which happens to be a 2011 Mac Mini).  Video captured from my webcam saves as a .WMV file, and I ALWAYS have to convert these before I import them into iMovie.  Elgato uses a universal video capturing process, which can be used in Windows Movie Maker, iMovie and a number of other editing programs (though I haven’t really tried any others).  This reduces the risk of having to convert my file and potentially losing video quality in the process.  I HIGHLY recommend this setup to prevent having to perform extra steps!

If you are simply capturing gameplay, you can use Elgato’s Video Capture software to record the action!  This gets more complex, however, if you want to perform live commentary, perhaps with video!  Those of you familiar with my reviews on YouTube will notice that I not only commentate the action onscreen, but also provide video of me doing so.  How I accomplish this is that I record the gameplay using Elgato’s software and shoot myself with my iPhone while playing. 

 

Reason I use my iPhone instead of my webcam?  The webcam and Elgato’s capture software DO NOT PLAY WELL TOGETHER!  System/software errors had occurred when I tried this, so bear that in mind!  However, the intros and outros to each video are usually shot using my desktop webcam, which provides a markedly higher level of quality, but are a pain in the ass to convert to a format that iMovie can use (I use a Mac-only program called Handbrake to do this).   During editing, I have to perform cues before “action” so that I can line up the commentary video with the gameplay video, which is ANOTHER pain in the ass! 

 

OBS could potentially eliminate some of these extra steps by allowing me to shoot commentary and gameplay video simultaneously (using audio repeaters), but again, the iffy video format that is saved is too much of a risk.  Bear in mind that sometimes, you have to go that extra mile to deliver quality to your viewers!

Next, I will cover Audio Repeaters while streaming and how they can make your life MUCH EASIER!

Audio Repeaters
 
When trying to using OBS to capture in-game audio as well as my own webcam audio/video, it proved to be a massive challenge in and of itself.  The first test resulted in audio echo, another test resulted in no in-game audio, and yet another had serious audio lag.  I found out later that this may have been due to low light settings, so ensure that you have sufficient lighting while shooting.  For now, I will discuss Audio Repeater and the setup you will need to use in order to get it working for your PC and console game streaming.  Using Audio Repeater reduces the risk of audio lag and frees up processing power, SO USE IT!
 
First, you will need to download Audio Repeater (it’s FREE, so no worries).  Using your favorite search engine, type in “audio repeater” and scan the results.  What you are looking for is a download link for “Audio Repeater 2.3”, so once you find it, click it and follow the onscreen instructions.  Once downloaded, open the Audio Repeater Control Panel.  You do not have to change any settings inside the Control Panel, except for the number in the “Drive Parameters” box. 

 

I recommend starting out with three (3), but you can always go back and add more if you need to.  Once this is completed, you will want to open up three (3) instances of Audio Repeater.  The two dropdown boxes in the resulting windows are labeled “Wave in” and “Wave Out” and you will need to change their settings, depending on what you are doing.  I have the settings below for both PC and console game setups.
 
(IMPORTANT: Before performing these steps, set your PC’s Default Playback Device to Line 3).
 
PC Audio Repeater Setup
Audio Repeater Window 1
Wave In: Mic
Wave Out: Virtual Audio Cable 2
 
Audio Repeater Window 2
Wave In: Virtual Audio Cable 3
Wave Out: Virtual Audio Cable 2
 
Audio Repeater Window 3
Wave In: Virtual Audio Cable 3
Wave Out: Headset or Speakers (Plug Headset into Speakers to prevent echo).
 
Console Audio Repeater Setup
Audio Repeater Window 1
Wave In: Line-in (Mic)
Wave Out: Virtual Audio Cable 2
 
Audio Repeater Window 2
Wave In: Webcam Mic (!)
Wave Out: Virtual Audio Cable 2
 
Audio Repeater Window 3
Wave In: Line-in (Mic)
Wave Out: Headset or Speakers (Plug Headset into Speakers to prevent echo).

*During console setup, it can be very easy to confuse your “line-in” mic with your “webcam” mic. Mixing up these settings will DEFINITELY cause echo!
 
After changing the settings, click “Start” to enable the settings you have just changed.  If all went well, you will not hear yourself in your headset, but rather in-game audio and NO ECHO!  Now, onto my findings for OBS!
 
Settings in Open Broadcast Software
 
(Note: This is not meant to be a step-by-step guide to tweaking OBS to your specific setup or bandwidth speed, but rather basic use. Refer to http://help.twitch.tv/customer/portal/articles/1262922-open-broadcaster-software for more assistance).
 
First of all, Open Broadcast Software, or simply OBS, can be downloaded for FREE! You know the drill: open your favorite browser, search “Open Broadcast Software” and download it.  After opening up the program, you will be greeted with window where you can add “Sources” (right click in the “Sources” field).  The order of these Sources is VERY IMPORTANT, so make sure you set them correctly.  I generally like to have some text in a top corner with my brand (Lumpz the Clown), my webcam in the opposing corner, and the game itself taking up the entire screen.  To accomplish this, you will need to put them in this order:
 
1) Text
2) Webcam
3) Game (PC), or Video(Capture Card), Capture
 
Before going on, I want to talk to you about Game and Video Capture. After adding the Source for the first time, you will have to name it and assign which game to capture.  In order to do this, you will need to have the game OPEN for OBS to recognize it in its dropdown menu.  If you are playing a fullscreen PC game, simply hit your Windows button on your keyboard or press CTRL+ALT+DEL to go to the Task Manager.  Once the game is open, OBS will see it and you can select it from the dropdown menu.  No other settings should need to be changed.  Click OK.
 
If you are doing Video Capture from your capture card, you will add the Source the same way.  Make sure that your Video Capture Card is listed and selected in the “Device” dropdown menu, and no other settings should need to be changed at this point.  Click OK.
 
To edit the scene, you will need to click on “Preview Stream”, which will provide you with a Preview window of your scene.  After that, click “Edit Scene” and you will be able to position your text, webcam and gameplay as you desire.  Right-clicking on a specific scene will allow you to change its position and size.  Set these to your specifications.  You can even click-and-drag on the sides or corners of a video feed to reduce or increase its size!  Once done, click “Stop Preview” and you will be taken back to the previous screen.
 
Next, you will want to check your settings to ensure that everything is nominal.  At the top of the window, click “Settings”, and then “Settings” (yeah, I know, redundant, right?).  Click on the Video Tab, and uncheck “Disable Aero”.  This is checked by default, and leaving it this way can cause video pickup issues and horrible audio lag.  Even in my previous tests, this setting, above low lighting and everything else, caused the most issues, so don’t forget to UNCHECK “DISABLE AERO”.  Click “OK”.  After that, click “Audio” and ensure that your “Desktop Audio Device” and “Microphone Audio Device” are set to “Line 2”.  Once done, Click “OK” to return to the main screen.
 
On the main screen, ensure that your OBS Microphone volume is MUTED (not doing so will result in ECHO) and that your PC Speaker level is set to a comfortable level (start with 100% and work your way down, as needed).  I haven’t had much luck in changing volume settings in OBS, but feel free to adjust your Line 2 volume on your PC and in OBS to a comfortable level.  In all volume settings, I recommend starting out at 100% and working your way down.
 
To stream a console game, use the above-stated Audio Repeater settings for Console Streaming and you should not have to change anything in OBS (except the “Source” in the main window as needed).  Again, play with the volume settings to a comfortable level.  You want your viewers to hear the game music, yes, but not to the point where it drowns you out!  After all, YOU are the real show!  You just happen to be playing a game people would love to watch!
 
In conclusion, short of the cable/switchbox connections, I can only provide limited support for OBS settings.  I would urge you to check out the link (http://help.twitch.tv/customer/portal/articles/1262922-open-broadcaster-software) for specific troubleshooting steps and support.  What works for me may not work for someone else, but I am confident in my SD cable setup and have tested it thoroughly with OBS. 

 

I hope that this article has greatly helped those who need it, and maybe enlighten hardened veterans who are simply tired of having to swap cables constantly.  If you like this article or know someone who would benefit from it, I would STRONGLY URGE YOU TO SHARE IT, as information such as this tends to be very scarce online.  Take it from someone who has mucked through countless forums and support articles! (-: Thanks for reading and Lumpz the Clown OUT!

c8219-photocopy2Lumpz the Clown is an avid gamer who does Let’s Plays, reviews and other assorted clowny goodness   He aspires one day to make video games his full-time career and enjoys interacting with like-minded individuals with the same passion for gaming.  

 

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