How To Get Your Live Stream Sounding Perfect
Updated: May 2
Live streaming has become a popular way to connect intimately with audiences. And with the industry growing exponentially, many are interested in become professional streamers. To give off a "professional" vibe, you need to make sure that not only are your visuals on point (stream quality, overlays, background aesthetics) but also your audio. If your audience can't hear or understand you, or if other audio distortions or interferences occur, you will be unable to build a following. Ensuring your live streams sound perfect is critical in maintaining relevance in the competitive live streaming market.
The top considerations in achieving perfectly clear sound are:
Use professional equipment (microphone, audio interface)
Treat your room
Balance your sources of audio
Perform a soundcheck every stream
Use high-quality music
To begin, live streamers should start with the basics, such as the equipment being used. Using proper equipment ensures that your stream sounds professional at all times. The last thing you want is your audience being unable to hear you properly. The equipment we will be discussing today include: microphones and audio interfaces (if needed).
Most devices have built-in microphones but these are too low quality to use in a professional stream, so it is always best to buy an external microphone. The best microphones have a wide frequency response and low noise floor to best capture and flatter the human voice. Some microphones pick up sound from all directions (omnidirectional) whereas other microphones only pick up sound from one or two directions. Most streamers do not need an omnidirectional mic, but if you want to capture other people speaking or sounds in the background, it is something to consider.
In order to help you figure out the best microphone for you, we’ve found two blog posts just for you. In the first, Shout4Music outlines the best microphones for streaming, one of which is the condenser microphone Audio Technica AT2035. This mic has a large diaphragm that captures a rich, detailed sound, making it the perfect choice for streamers in search of professional quality. Its low self-noise and side-address cardioid polar pattern is also useful for recording in loud environments. Check out StreemTunes' roundup of the best microphones for live streamers on Twitch / YouTube here.
Meanwhile, this next blog post discusses the best microphones for streamers on a budget, which includes the Fifine K669B Condenser Microphone. You get great value for less than $50, as it reduces background noise and even comes with a tripod stand and a pop filter. With these attachments, you don’t have to worry about sound quality or having to hold the mic throughout your stream.
The next consideration is an audio interface (or mixer). This is not always required. Most streaming microphones are USB-based so you can directly connect to your computer, avoiding the need for an audio interface. However, you may already have a microphone with a 1/4 inch or XLR output, which will require an audio interface to connect it to your computer. Or you may have multiple sources of audio and need an audio interface to help manage them all.
Your interface connects the microphone to your device and controls the sound's power. Lower-quality interfaces can capture clear audio but won’t provide the warmth, depth, and high-resolution clarity that comes from modern higher-end interfaces offer. To help you decide, the product recommendation service Wirecutter reviews the best USB audio interfaces Wirecutter included a review of the best USB audio interfaces for your budget and needs. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen was the top pick, with its best combination of features from build quality and user-friendliness to affordability for musicians.
Audio interfaces come with various amounts of inputs and outputs, so consider your needs carefully before making a decision. If you think you might need multiple inputs or outputs, be sure to buy an interface that has them. For example, if you live stream a podcast that brings on special guests, you might need multiple inputs for each microphone and multiple outputs so each guest can have their own headphones and hear what is going on. If you want to bring on live performers, such as a small band, they too may need multiple inputs and outputs.
Treat Your Room
Reverberations occur when sound bounces off the surfaces around you. This is why a lot of home videos sound very echoey and unclear. A treated room prevents the sound from bouncing off surfaces by absorbing the sound waves. This makes your content more coherent and prevents distracting background noises from seeping into your live stream.
First check that there is nothing in your room that might be contributing to background noise, such as a noisy fan or fish tank. Next, it's time to assess your room to determine where sound might be bouncing off. Any empty wall or floor without a rug or carpet needs to be dealt with.
You can opt for commercial room treating / soundproofing options if you have the budget. MusicPlayers features the latest sound absorption panels in the market. One of their latest articles discusses Primacoustic’s new EcoScapes panels and their environmentally-friendly PET composition, which provide high-quality sound absorption. Their products also look great, and add class and decor. Otherwise, there are many DIY means to soundproof your room. Some very basic things that can help are a large area rug on the floor (if it is not already carpeted), and curtains or tapestries on the walls. Egg cartons can also work really well. Whatever option you choose, however, make sure that it is aesthetically pleasing if it will be visible on stream. For example, on the wall that will be visible behind you on stream, you can use the more expensive high-quality sound absorption panels, and use egg cartons on the walls that are not visible on stream.
Balance Your Audio
Most streamers have three sources of audio. The game or content they are showing to their viewers is the first. Their voice is the second. And any extra background music or sound effects are the third. These all need to be balanced and set to appropriate levels relative to one another. You want your voice to be clear audible over top of your game music or background music. But not too loud that it is causing distortions or it is too loud for your listener. You can easily balance your stream's audio levels in OBS.
Here is a quick guide on setting audio levels correctly for a live stream:
Start off by recording a short test stream, with just your voice. Adjust the volume of your microphone until you are happy with it. Compare your stream to some of your competitors' streams to make sure your levels are appropriate.
Next let's bring in the audio of your game or content that you are showing your viewers. Start by setting your game's audio level so it sounds good to you in your headphones when you are playing. Then record a short clip of you playing the game while talking overtop. Listen to this clip to make sure you can hear both the game and your voice clearly. Make sure neither is overpowering.
Lastly, bring in any background music or sound effects. Read our post about why it is important to use background music to enhance your live stream. Decide which is more important, this background music, or the music from the game you are playing. Set the important music louder, and the other music much quieter so they do not conflict with each other.
A really cool trick is to turn off your game's music only, but leave on the sound effects. Then you can play your own background music, while still clearly hear what is going on in the game. And you can keep both at a louder volume, since there will be no conflicting music.
Perform Sound Checks
Sound checks may seem like an additional and unnecessary step, but most problems are often caught with a quick listen to your live stream. We highly recommend doing a soundcheck before every stream to make sure everything sounds correct. Record a simple 5-10 second clip of yourself and listen back to make sure you are ready to go.
Use High Quality Music
As mentioned above, using music is an easy way to enhance your stream and take it to the next level. It contributes to how your audience perceives your brand, helps set the mood, and can even be used during moments of silence where you don't have much to say.
Before playing any songs, you need to make sure you have a great source of high quality music to use in your stream. An mp3 ripped off of YouTube will not only sound sub-par, but it may also result in copyright issues for you, if you don't have permission to use that music.
StreemTunes is the best choice for awesome background music and the best part? StreemTunes music is FREE to use with no strings attached (no licenses required, no attribution required)! You can stream and listen to all of StreemTunes’ music on Spotify, Apple, YouTube, Amazon, Deezer, and all other major streaming platforms. Simply search 'StreemTunes' and get streaming! StreemTunes has over 1100 songs in all sorts of styles (LO-FI, Hip-Hop, Synthwave, EDM, Rock, Latin, Trap, Dubstep, Chill Out, Chiptune, Holiday, Content Creator and more). Check out all the Spotify playlists specially curated for streamers and content creators here.
If you need a copy of the songs themselves, head on over to our content creator portal where you can download all the songs in our catalog, for FREE! Stop wasting money on music licenses or subscription services... StreemTunes has you covered with the perfect songs for any type of stream or content.
Now that you have some epic music and your stream has crystal clear audio, there's only one thing left to do: start streaming!
Guest blog post exclusively written for streemtunes.com
by Riley Jaden