Realistically, streamers don’t need much. Give them a good internet connection, a decent PC, a microphone, and a webcam, and they’re sure to throw together some decent content. In fact, this is how many streamers start their career.
As you get deeper into your streaming career, you realize that there are plenty of tools that boost your stream quality and make your job easier.
That is where this guide comes in. Whether you’re looking for ways to appear more professional or simply ways to stay sane while streaming, there’s something for you on this list of 17 things every stream needs.
1. A Second Monitor
You can get by with a single monitor, but once you add a second to your setup there is no going back. Even gamers that do not stream like to have an additional monitor to use for browsing the internet, displaying walkthroughs, and hosting their Discord.
Streamers use a second monitor for these reasons as well, but it also serves as a valuable tool to improve stream quality and protect their privacy. A second monitor lets you keep your stream settings off your main screen, and it allows you to open or enter content that no one else needs to see (such as your username, password, and address).
2. Balanced Audio
Your viewers can overlook a lot, but poor audio balancing is something that creates too much confusion. If your game sound is too loud it’s difficult to sit back and enjoy the stream, and streaming with your mic too low then they lose out on your personal touch.
Learning how to balance your audio levels is something you should master early on to make sure viewers stay on your stream. Once you’ve got this down, adding in skills such as audio ducking make sure the audio levels automatically adjust to comfortable levels.
3. A Stream Deck
If you’re looking for something that makes it easier to get that hands-off magic touch to your stream, this is the solution. Stream decks feature programmable keys that run through multi-step processes at the push of a button.
Usefulness ranges from muting your mic to launching new scenes and so much more. You can bring this functionality over to edit content for other platforms, streamlining your marketing and making it easier to draw in new viewers.
The Elgato Stream Deck line is the most popular and has a great reputation, but there are alternatives for every budget and preference.
4. Proper Lighting
If you’re wondering why it looks like you’re kicking back and using the original iPhone for videoing your stream, it’s probably a lighting issue. The right lighting setup makes a world of difference, and anyone who puts their face in front of a camera should have at least a basic ring light for streaming.
Most webcams can push out decent video quality, but they’re not the best at working in low-light conditions. Unless you’re streaming from the great outdoors in beautiful, natural light, you must rely on artificial tools to get this right.
5. Professional Looking Graphics
If I told you I saw some cool streamer merch that had a blue spikey figure on it, but I couldn’t figure out who it was for, you could probably point me straight to Ninja’s page. The most successful streamers have a bulletproof brand that bleeds into their stream panels, alerts, and merchandise for easy recognition and a professional image.
You don’t need a degree in graphic design to accomplish this. Sometimes it’s as simple as coming up with a smart color scheme and using free tools for professional looking graphics. If you can afford it, hire a designer to create a custom logo and templates for your social media pages.
This helps your viewers identify your content on multiple platforms, and it separates you from hobbyists.
Check out these articles for more information and inspiration.
6. An Ergonomic Chair
It’s rare for someone to sit down, stream for 30 minutes, and then sign off until next week. Odds are you spend a lot of time in your streaming chair, and it can wear you down after a while.
Investing in an ergonomic chair is one of the best decisions you can make for your streaming setup and your physical health. They do wonders in preventing long-term musculoskeletal issues, but also offer immediate benefits to performance and focus.
7. MORE Viewers
While you shouldn’t measure happiness off of your popularity, your success depends on your ability to draw in and retain viewers. Whether you’re working on getting your first three viewers or aiming for affiliate status, there are things you should do to reach your goal.
Beyond making sure your audio and visual settings are palatable for your audience, you need to focus on consistency and engagement.
Creating a schedule (and sticking to it) helps viewers understand when they can look forward to your next stream. They won’t forget you exist because you dropped off the face of the earth, and you spend regular time building your relationship with them.
Make sure it’s a balanced relationship as well. While some people don’t mind a bone-dry gameplay stream, there’s something special about creators who acknowledge viewer existence.
If you’re in a rut, consider these ideas for switching up your content. You just might find yourself with a few new viewers.
8. Streamer Tools & Extensions
Tools like clipping using your voice, AI highlights reels, and closed captions make it easier to create useful content. Some extensions do wonders for boosting viewer participation, and media management tools let you tie in other programs with little issue.
These boost your stream well-beyond simple gameplay and chat, and all you need to do is set them up.
If you’re just getting started or need a simple upgrade, the Logitech c920x is one of the most affordable quality webcams out there. More advanced streamers looking for professional quality should consider a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
10. Audio Mixer
While you can achieve balanced sound without an audio mixer, this is one upgrade that makes your life easier.
Your on-screen mixer has limited functionality, and it’s a pain to access (especially in the middle of your stream). With the right hardware, you can fine tune your mix with a few knob turns and get back to business.
You have better control over a greater number of audio channels, and you can use the mixer to provide phantom power for your XLR mic.
11. Foot Pedal
If you like the idea of a stream deck but don’t want to use your hands, you can accomplish something similar with a foot pedal like the Elgato Stream Deck Pedal. This lets you keep all hands on deck while you launch multi-actions or control various settings.
A foot pedal is not as versatile, but it’s more comfortable for some streamers. Many have both to offer simple controls in any situation.
We like the Elgato Stream Deck Pedal because it comes from a reputable streaming brand. Elgato has plenty of experience in the area, and this pedal has several native integrations you won’t get with a generic USB model.
Soundproofing is a lifesaver for live streams. Not only does it cut down on echo and reverb when you’re talking, but it can hide your noisy neighbors or roommates.
There are plenty of ways to soundproof. The cheapest and easiest involves arranging curtains, blankets, and furniture in a strategic way to dampen sound. If you’re handy, you can DIY your own panels with egg crate foam.
Acoustic panels like the Elgato Wave Panels cost more, but they’re specifically crafted for this task and look like art on your wall.
13. Quality Microphone
On the topic of audio improvement, nothing beats a high-quality microphone. The built-in mic on your webcam or headset may get you through the beginning stages, but more mature streamers use an external mic so they can separate the sound and capture their unique tone.
If this is your first upgrade, Logitech’s Blue Yeti USB mic is a great place to start. It comes in several colors, and provides a significant quality boost while introducing you to different pickup patterns.
If you can swing it, many professional streamers swear by the Shure SM7B. The mic has everything you need for solid sound as well as unique electromagnetic shielding perfect for use around your streaming setup.
If your mic doesn’t have a pop filter, it’s one of the simplest upgrades you can do. This tool helps reduce “plosive energy” that causes popping and clicking when you speak.
A pop filter lets your normal sound waves through while dissipating the plosive energy, and your viewers reap those rewards.
14. Cable Management
Some people seem naturally blessed when it comes to cable management, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us mere mortals shouldn’t even try.
You may have learned the hard way that poor cable management makes it difficult to rearrange your setup, add or remove hardware, and deal with repairs.
Do yourself a favor, order some adjustable cable ties or wraps, and dedicate about an hour to fixing your current cable management system. In the end, you’ll have a safer and cleaner setup, and you may even find room for some fancy new gear.
15. Green Screen
If you think about it, streaming is (by extension) inviting strangers on the internet to peek in on your room. This may not be an issue for some, but others don’t like the idea of constantly tidying up or they just want to maintain their privacy.
A green screen is an easy way to cover up your normal environment, and it allows you to add in any background image you want (including maximizing your gameplay). Many streamers use a green screen full-time, while others reserve it for certain occasions.
Keep in mind that green screens are not created equally, and low-quality screens usually run into issues with chroma settings and the included hardware. Check out our list of the best green screens for streaming to find your perfect match.
16. A Stable PC
A stable PC is essential for streaming success. Just because you can tackle graphically demanding games like Elden Ring or God of War does not mean you can stream off the same rig.
Live stream encoding takes a lot of power, and it gets more demanding with a greater number of high-quality audio and visual channels. As you upgrade to more professional gear, you may need to look into an upgrade or a separate PC for streaming purposes.
17. Patience, Passion, and Personality
Keep in mind that buying the right tools is only part of the process. It takes plenty of patience, passion, and personality to become a successful streamer.
Patience involves understanding that gear will not get you to fame overnight, and that part of being a streaming is dedicating time to building your brand and your relationship with your audience.
This is done through an obvious passion for streaming and letting your personality shine. By staying true to yourself, you aren’t relying on external gratification to keep going.
Prove to the world that you’re on the road you want to be, and the rest will fall into place.