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Review: Using OBS to Live Stream to Twitch or YouTube

Last Updated on September 21, 2019 by Michael Brockbank

Open Broadcaster Software, or OBS, is one of the more popular ways produce a high quality stream. It’s full of tools and features that can turn just about any channel into a work of art. However, it’s not without its limitations to a certain extent.

The best live streaming software is up to the user, really. It all centers around what you want to do and how advanced you want the broadcast. If you want something that is stable and requires a bit more in terms of manual development, OBS is right for you.
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What is OBS?

Open Broadcaster Software is the program you’ll use to show your game play on systems like Twitch and YouTube. You can do this by either streaming live or recording a local video to edit for upload.

Personally, I use the Windows 64-bit version. However, it’s also available for Mac and Linux operating systems.

Essentially, it captures game play whether you’re playing directly on your computer or using a capture device. Then, it saves it to your computer’s hard drive or you can stream it live to various online services.

You can also use OBS to record live videos for YouTube outside of gaming. It’s as much of a video production tool as it is for game play.

It’s free live stream software that has proven to be reliable, stable and full of functions and features.

Why Would You Want OBS?

The software itself is well-designed and not all that difficult to figure out. Although it lacks some of the ease of XSplit Broadcaster, it comes with far more options for customization.

It does take a little bit of trial-and-error and finesse to get certain things to work right. But when they do, you can create an amazing layout.

One of the biggest reasons why people love using OBS is because it works exceptionally well and is completely free to use. It’s not some trial software or something with limited abilities unless you pay.

So if you’re new to streaming or don’t really have the money for professional recording software for YouTube, this program is one of the best recording apps available on computers.

Since I’ve been using OBS, the system has yet to crash on me or lose a recording. For being free live stream software, it’s on par with premium software and is comparable to even the most expensive applications on the market.

Open Broadcast Software requires fewer resources than some of the other systems I’ve tried in the past. Especially if you have a nVidia graphics card and use the nVenc encoder. Even without it, I’ve noticed a slight improvement versus applications like XSplit.

Where Can You Get It?

You can download OBS from the developer’s website. You don’t need an account and you can immediately save and install the program.

The newest versions of OBS have an automatic updater, so you can easily keep your version current. That is, unless you have 21.1. A bug is in that version preventing automatic updates.

What Are Some of the Most Notable Features?

Perhaps the most important aspects for me is using the built-in noise suppression and gate features. This eliminates background sound to give you a crisp and clear broadcast without installing third-party software.

Before, I was trying to reduce the gain of the mic in XSplit using other software like Voicemeeter. Luckily, OBS has exactly what I was looking for and is extremely easy to use as opposed to those other extra applications.

Plus, it means I have less running in the background on a system with only 8gb of memory.

It’s exceptionally useful if you sit next to someone who has a loud voice or fans running in the background of an extremely hot office. Drop the suppression down a bit and you can remove keyboard strokes and other annoying background sounds.

If you have experience with CSS, you can customize the layout even further if you use browser-based sources. For instance, you can change the appearance of anything you incorporate from Streamlabs.

The application has a long list of sources you can add to your stream from the selection function. From game devices to web browser windows, you can show almost anything from your computer system.

You can even add an image slideshow for the background to give your video or live stream a bit of fluid movement.

How Easy is OBS to Use?

[template id=”505″] So, the basic features of OBS are fairly easy to manage. If you want to just show game play, it takes a couple of sources and your account information. However, some of the other features require a bit more input.

Don’t get me wrong, the system isn’t overly difficult to manage. However, it doesn’t have a lot of the instant plugins that XSplit has for adding external elements.

For example, it takes a bit longer to add a simple Extra Life widget as opposed to the live update plugin offered by XSplit.

And I kind of missing having the Extra Life live feed plugin available in XSplit Broadcaster. On the other hand, using the donation update widget from Streamlabs works well enough in OBS.

One thing I need to point out is the automatic setup available in OBS. It will test your system and connections to fine-tune the perfect settings for your stream. In some ways, I found it to work better than XSplit Broadcaster.

When I first installed it, OBS provided an excellent broadcast on Twitch without adjusting bit rates or other visual settings.

Now to play Devil’s Advocate, more features means more can go wrong with the application. While some of these are beneficial to produce a quality live stream, keep in mind that too much may require far more fine-tuning to get things to work right together.

The more parts you add to anything, the harder it becomes to keep everything working correctly.

With that being said, I have yet to come across any real problems with OBS.

Is OBS Worth the Price?

Seeing how OBS is free, you really have nothing to lose but a bit of time exploring what it can do. It takes a bit longer to learn, but has the capacity to offer so much more if you’re into fine customization.

Personally, I switch back and forth between OBS and XSplit depending on the stream or the project.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Although it’s not as easy to use as something like XSplit, OBS isn’t difficult to learn and comes jam-packed with resources and abilities. Like I said, I relish using the noise suppression feature.

In the end, it’s all about user preference and whether the system is right for you. I would suggest giving it a try and determine if it’s something you’ll like. The only thing you’ll lose is time.[template id=”543″]

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.