May 22, 2020

8 Components to Start Streaming from Scratch For Less Than $700

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You’ve been meaning to start streaming any day now and your old clunker laptop barely gets through it’s boot-up sequence before it calls it quits for the next week. You want to stream voice and music too, but you don’t have a microphone or literally any equipment except for your cell phone. I will be sharing the six vital components that I recommend for streaming. First of all, here’s the streaming platform that I’ve used recently which works really well.

StreamYard

A great new platform for streaming content is StreamYard. They offer a free account which includes 20 hours per month. That’s a lot of songs you could sing! The StreamYard logo is shown in the upper right hand corner of your stream for the free account. No worries if you like ducks! To maximize the quality of your stream, it will be important to have an ethernet cable to hook up your computer to your modem directly. Streams have higher latency (latency is not good) over WiFi. I seem to have collected enough ethernet cables for a big bowl of cable spaghetti, but it case you don’t have an extra cable lying around, you will need to pick one up.

And now onto the eight components you will need to set-up a nice quality stream to share your singing and/or speaking.

1. Audio Interface

The first component is the audio interface. An audio interface is a component that take the signal gathered from your microphone and transforms it into a digital signal that your computer can record or transmit. Quality is super important for this device because cheaper interfaces can be crackly or static-y which is very annoying. My absolute favorite audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett. You can buy any of the sizes which fits your situation best. For vocals and music, you’ll need the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 at a minimum because it has two audio inputs. The Scarlett will plug into your laptop with a USB cable. Next up is the microphone.

2. Microphone

The second important component is your microphone. With a vast array of microphone available, it is overwhelming to know which microphone to choose. If you are planning to sing in your stream, the Shure SM58 microphone is a standard microphone that has stood the test of time. Yes, there are more expensive microphones out there, but there’s no need to break the bank when you are starting out. (And I swear that if you buy 2 microphones, they secretly breed in the dark to make more microphones!) And now onto how to hook up your microphone to your audio interface.

3. XLR cable

The third component you will need is an XLR cable to connect your microphone to the Scarlett. Six feet should be enough but you are the best judge for your situation. And you will need a place to rest your microphone such as a mic stand.

4. Mic stand

The fourth component you will need is a home for your microphone. If you are most comfortable holding the microphone while you perform, then a scissor style mic boom doesn’t make sense. However, a mic stand is valuable to have to house your mic if you want to go hands-free.

5. Headphones

The fifth component you will need is headphones. Over-the-ear headphones are a necessity because you will need to monitor the quality of your recording as you perform and they are so comfortable! Not to mention they look very chic as well! OneOdio Headphones come with the proper cables that you will need to hook up to either your phone or your Scarlett. If you simply used your computer speakers to monitor your recording, then it could create a nasty feedback and that’s not fun for anybody.

6. 3.5mm to 1/4″ cable

The sixth component you will need is a small special cable. You’ll also want to have your vocal track run from your phone (mp3 player) through to the Scarlett audio interface. For that, you’ll need a 3.5mm to 1/4″ cable.

7. Laptop

The seventh component you will need is a computer. As far as a laptop, even though Chromebooks are absolutely great, there is limited ability to record audio for music and speaking since Chromebooks do not support a digital audio workstation. (More about those in a sec.)
For my money, I’d get the Lenovo IdeaPad. I’ve got one and it works great. I’ve got MacBook Pro too, but we’re talking about keeping this entire set-up under $700! Your Lenovo IdeaPad will not have an ethernet port, so if you want to maximize the quality of your stream, you will need a ethernet internet USB adapter.

8. Ethernet Internet USB Adapter

The eighth component you will need is an adapter. This is a basic no-frills ethernet internet USB adapter that will keep your stream humming right along because ain’t nobody likes a stuttering stream. StreamYard will have more details on how to maximize the quality of your stream. And finally let’s talk about how to record those sweet dulcet tones into your computer.

Digital Audio Workstation

A digital audio workstation (DAW) is software (an application) that helps you to record. Audacity is a great starter program to record audio and it’s free. To learn more about how to use Audacity, I’ve got a great instructional video on how to get started.

To summarize all the components:

1. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface – $159.99
2. Microphone – $99.00
3. XLR cable – $7.47
4. Mic stand – $19.99
5. Headphones – $36.99
6. 3.5mm to 1/4″ cable – $7.99
7. Laptop (webcam built in) – $349.99
8. Ethernet USB Adapter – $17.49
TOTAL – $698.91
It’s under $700!!!

Happy streaming!

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