First post in a new category! The idea for this category is just to serve as a place for me to post updates, thoughts, impressions, etc. on my live streaming journey. Not really sure at this stage how seriously I want to take this whole thing. I mostly just wanted to learn some new software and solutions, and to get ready for streaming some Halo Infinite later this year.
So far my goal has been to get things started while spending the least amount of money possible. Ideally whatever money I’ve spent should be able to be used outside of just streaming. Below I am going to share some details of my setup including gear and software.
- Xbox Series X
- Computer, details on PC Part Picker
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S7
- OBS Studio
- VoiceMeeter Banana
- Touch Portal for Android
- Xbox Game Bar for Windows
- Xbox App for Windows (currently Insider build)
The majority of my gaming is still done on the Xbox Series X. For this reason I wanted to find a way to get the advantages of streaming using a PC, while not having to fork out the money on a capture card just to get started. This is where the Xbox App for Windows comes in. Currently the insider build includes Remote Play – a feature which allows streaming of audio and video from your Xbox Series X|S console to a PC on your local network. Think of it as Xbox Cloud Gaming but not in the cloud.
Using this Remote Play feature of the Xbox App, I can set OBS to capture the resulting Xbox App window in order to get the game video. While this does have its own quirks in terms of the video quality and framerate, it does work. The primary issue with Remote Play is that if you are actually trying to play that way it does currently add a noticeable about of input lag.
To get around the input lag issue, I did purchase the bi-directional HDMI switch. This allows me to take the output from the Xbox and switch it between my TV or my computer monitor. So when I want to stream, I switch it to the monitor output, then get the Remote Play setup and being recorded and switch my monitor’s display to the appropriate input. This means that I get to play with the direct video feed instead of the Remote Play.
This does have some audio downsides, though. For one, if I want to be able to hear things like alert sounds or to be able to monitor the audio from the stream at all I need to be listening to my PC audio. I can still hear the game at this point since it is coming through the Xbox App via Remote Play but it is still slightly delayed. This is far less perceivable than the input lag though so this is a decent trade-off in my opinion.
The other tricky bit is being able to join and capture Xbox Live party chats. It’s simple enough to set my Xbox Live mic to the same mic I’m using for the stream. But capturing the Xbox Live party chat while still having it audible and separate from game audio, I use VoiceMeeter Banana (VMB from here on). VMB is a sort of digital audio mixer / router, which allows you to pull in up to three hardware inputs, and two “virtual” inputs, and route each of them to one or more of three hardware outputs or two virtual outputs.
VMB is among the more complex elements here. For the sake of simplicity, know that I am using three inputs and three outputs.
- My microphone input, apart from also being itself, is routed to VoiceMeeter Output B
- VoiceMeeter Input B is set as the output device for Xbox Live party chat, and is routed to my own headset and also VoiceMeeter Output B
- I set my Windows default audio device to VoiceMeeter Input A, and it’s routed to my Headset and to VoiceMeeter Output A
Once this routing is setup properly I can then set OBS to either specifically capture both VoiceMeeter Output A and VoiceMeeter Output B, or I can set the Desktop Audio and Mic/Aux sources to be those two respectively. In either case, it means that now the Desktop Audio is separate from my own microphone and also from Xbox Live party chat. If I want to change the levels between my own microphone and Xbox Live party chat, I can do so in VoiceMeeter Banana by adjusting the gain on the Microphone or VoiceMeeter Input B.
If all of that sounds complex, know that it took me more than a little time and a few attempts to figure out how to configure things this way and have it make sense. It does still leave a few points of frustration, though they don’t really have anything to do with the audio and are instead a matter of UI:
- Since I have to change my monitor’s input to play off of the live feed, but join Xbox Live parties on the PC, I can’t see when people join the party or get the indicators of who’s speaking
- I also cannot very easily mute myself as Xbox Live party chats don’t have a keybind for mute so far as I can, only the ability to keybind Push to Talk
- This also means that when I’m talking to chat, I’m also talking to Xbox Live at least until I find a good solution for the muting situation
The final bit of the setup is Touch Portal. I have Touch Portal running on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 tablet, in split-screen mode with my Twitch creator dashboard so I can see chat and activities. Going into my Touch Portal setup is maybe enough for a whole separate post. Suffice to say that I can use this to switch scenes, hide elements, mute myself or desktop audio or music, and to stop and start streaming or recording. I did pay for the pro version of this, but it’s a nifty bit of software that I could actually maybe see myself using whether I was streaming or not.
Potential Upgrade Paths
There are a few obvious upgrade paths that I have already decided to take, or might take in the future.
- Second monitor. This one is a no-brainer, as a second monitor is honestly almost a must-have for streaming. I can get by for now with the chat on my tablet but that is already starting to get old and also limits what I can do with Touch Portal as well. A second monitor is also an upgrade for my computer in general, so it isn’t strictly spending money on the stream. I already have a monitor heading my way now.
- Foot pedal. I’ve heard of others using a foot pedal for something similar as well, but I’m hoping that it can solve my push-to-talk issue. By assigning a foot pedal to push-to-talk I should be able to simply lift my foot off of the pedal whenever I want to talk to the stream and not my Xbox Live party. This can also be used for other call and conferencing software, so is again not strictly an expense for the stream. This should also be on its way already.
- Capture device. While the Remote Play function has been working well for me so far, the video quality could likely be better with a proper capture device. A capture device like the AverMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus also provides a hardware means of capturing the Xbox Live party chat and game audio which could greatly simplify my audio setup. This expense would be almost entirely for the stream, so I’m holding off on this upgrade for now.
- Better webcam / mic / lighting. I feel like these are upgrades that never really end for someone streaming, as there’s always going to be some new piece of kit that might look or sound better than what you have. Right now I have no real lighting considerations whatsoever, and I’m recording video from a Wyze cam with a modified firmware. My microphone I think is actually doing fairly well, but an upgrade to something like the Elgato Wave 1 or 3 would be nice. Again, not something I’m necessarily looking to spend money on at this time.
Streaming has been fun so far, and it’s been enjoyable for me to get into the various applications and figure out how they work. I will definitely be sticking with it for the time being, and continuing to upgrade where it makes sense.