A guide to my settings and how you can use whats in here to configure OBS Studio for your own needs.

This post serves as an ongoing archive to keep track of how I setup Open Broadcaster Software Studio to work on my existing system.

Table of Contents

Computer Configuration

Lets start off with my computer configuration. Because when it comes to streaming and recording, we need to put some context around the environment OBS Studio is operating in. You need to know ideally what equipment you can use to do streaming.

If you have a slow CPU, not enough RAM, or a poor Internet bandwidth, you will have to spend money to get it right. If you are on a budget, you likely are going to get caught in a trap constantly trying to upgrade and be disappointed. So to avoid this, I am posting this to give you a sense of what is possible.

My computer system is an above average Windows computing platform:

  • AMD FX 8310 8 core 3.4Ghz CPU
  • 32GB RAM
  • FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface
  • (3) HP V242h 24″ HDMI monitors
  • (4) Winchester Digital 7200 RPM SATA III Black drives – 1TB and 2TB
  • Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB GPU
  • Windows 10 64-bit Home
  • OBS Studio 17.0.2 64-bit
  • Blue Bluebird condensor mic
  • Logitech C920 1080p webcam
  • Cable modem and router DOCSIS 3.0
  • 8 port Fast Ethernet 10/100Mpbs Switch
  • ISP cable internet service measured at 95Mbps down/6.5Mbps up

Total cost will be around $2000-$2500. Look to spend around $80-$120/month on this kind of above average Internet service.

I do not have an extremely fast CPU. The AMD FX 8310 comes in the middle of the pack in the high end CPU Passmark ratings. If there is an area to improve on, it is a better motherboard and CPU. I have plenty of DDR3 RAM at 32GB. Also, a decent Nvidia GPU. All of this runs on Windows 64-bit.

I am fortunate to have a very good Cable Internet connection which helps out a lot. In particular, I’m doing 6.5Mbps uploads which is more than enough for practical streaming. Remember, if you are streaming, it is about the upload speed as you are the one pushing bits out the door. All of this is through 100Mbps Ethernet. In no way would I consider WiFi for streaming. Its too slow and unreliable.

All of this adds up to letting me do 1080p at 30fps with 44kHz stereo audio to YouTube Live. You certainly can go all out and run this on high end servers with multi-CPU, faster and more RAM, better motherboard, SAS 12Gb/s drives, etc. But that is going to cost you at least $10,000. If you can justify that from expecting a ROI for running a business, then go for it.

Now lets look at my OBS settings.

OBS General Settings

Nothing changed here from the defaults.

OBS Stream Settings

Only change was the choosing of YouTube as a service and entering in the stream key available from my YouTube account.

OBS Output Settings

Selection of Advanced output mode is the major change. It is important to mention that all your Simple settings in the other categories are overridden by what you choose in these three tabs:

  1. Streaming
  2. Recording
  3. Audio

OBS Output Streaming Settings

Nothing changed in this screen. Do note however:

  1. This is where you choose the stream encoder. I am using software X264 encoding. I’m not confident that NVENC codec is good enough for quality
  2. If you want to downscale/upscale your video stream output, you do it here
  3. If YouTube complains about keyframe rates, enter the keyframe interval (i.e. “2” for 2 seconds)

OBS Output Recording Settings

Changed recording format from FLV to MP4.

  1. This is where you choose the stream encoder
  2. If you want to up/down scale your video recording output, you do it here and it overrides the Video category setting

OBS Output Audio Settings

Nothing changed here.

OBS Audio Settings

I stuck with the standard 44.1kHz audio sample rate and stereo channel. Also, set desktop and mic device to Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface.

OBS Video Settings

This is where you choose the base and scaled video output resolution.

Normally, I set this to 1920×1080 (1080p/16:9) with no scaling as my system configuration along with Internet upload speed is fast enough to do 1920×1080. Most games today also support that resolution. This also helps in not doing any calculations for down scaling (a big advantage).

In some cases, you may have to make changes to the Base and Output resolution. Although the drop downs are filled with resolution settings, you don’t necessarily have to use them. They are only suggestions. OBS Studio will switch the resolution for the Base setting you specify and it will reflect that size on the monitor you are recording/streaming from. You can then upscale by specifying a higher resolution than the base. Or downscale by specifying a lower resolution than the base.

For example, one game I play is Hoyle’s Casino. It takes up full screen when I play on my monitor. It looks best with the Base resolution at 640×480. In order for this game to be recorded and streamed at full screen size with no black edges appearing, I set the base at 640×480 and the output resolution at either 640×480, 800×600, 1024×768 and use the Bicubic filter. Then, ALT+TAB into it.

Frame rate is also controlled here. I don’t bother setting to 60fps as I’ll probably not be able to do that given the AMD FX 8310 isn’t a performance beast.

OBS Hotkeys Settings

To switch among the three different monitors, I setup hotkeys as shown in the image below. The hotkeys you choose should avoid conflicting with any applications you may be running at the time. I use CTRL + Key combinations:

CTRL 1 Left display
CTRL 2 Middle display
CTRL 3 Right display
CTRL 4 Stream Intro
CTRL 5 Stream Intermission
CTRL 6 Stream Outro
CTRL 7 Middle game capture
CTRL 9 Start recording
CTRL 0 Stop recording
CTRL – Start streaming
CTRL + Stop streaming
CTRL BACKSPACE Toggles on/off webcam

The left, middle, right, and middle game capture scenes all have Video Capture Device source for use of a webcam. I set a CTRL+BACKSPACE hotkey to toggle the webcam in each of the Scenes Hotkeys section.

OBS Advanced Settings

Nothing changed here.

OBS Scene, Source, and Mixer Settings

I have created several custom Scenes for streaming and recording. This includes:

  • Ability to switch to one of 3 separate monitors
  • Stream intro, outro credits and intermission with music
  • Webcam with/without game play on middle monitor
  • Capture game play full screen on middle monitor with/without webcam

For mixer settings, I have tweaked volume levels for mic, desktop, and media source to appropriate levels as shown in the image. The media source settings are depending on the MPEG4 files I am using that come from MP3 music at certain volumes. So the media source level setting needs to be adjusted appropriately.

For each scene, to help remember the hotkey combinations, I add them as part of the scene name. A nice feature would be the ability to print out these hotkeys.

Scene and Source Examples

Example setup of scenes with sources to help with setting up your OBS Studio system.

Left, Middle, and Right Display

Display sources are screen devices. As I have three monitors, I like to be able to switch among all three.

  • Create a Display Capture source and choose one of your displays in the properties window.
  • Create a Image source and point to a picture on your local hard disk to be used as your branding overlay
  • Create a Video Capture Device source and position the webcam output and size on the scene

All Display capture and Game Capture Source scenes will have the ability to show a webcam with a Video Capture Device. The CTRL+BACKSPACE hotkey toggles this on and off.

Stream Intro, Intermission, Outro

These scenes are used for when I am streaming to make the broadcast more polished and professional looking.

Stream Intro

  • This is useful for when you are preparing your stream and are about to go online
  • Make a JPEG image with Photoshop saying “This stream will start in a moment”
  • Create a Image source and set the Property to point at the introduction JPEG

Stream Intermission

  • This is useful for when you need to step away from the keyboard
  • Make a JPEG image with Photoshop saying “Intermission: We will be back in a moment”
  • Create a Image source and set the Property to point at the intermission JPEG
  • Create a Media Source and point to a MP3 file to play in a loop

Stream Outro

  • This is useful when you are closing down and take offline your stream
  • Make a MP4 file with Adobe Premiere Pro with a credits screen roll and music
  • Create a Media Source and point to that MPEG4

Middle Game Capture

  • This is useful for when you need to capture full screen game play along with a webcam overlay
  • Create a Image source and point to a picture on your local hard disk to be used as your branding overlay
  • Create a Video Capture Device source and position the webcam output and size on the scene
  • Create a Game Capture source and choose Capture any fullscreen application

A game capture source acts differently than a display capture source. The game capture takes the entire full screen and attempts to detect this for games. Initially, OBS Studio will show a black background in the preview window. When you launch your full screen game OBS will wait until the game starts. It is best to get in the habit of always running your PC video game in the Middle screen to be consistent. Do this by going to Windows button | Settings | System | Display. Choose the display and click the “Make this my main display” checkbox.

Should I Stream/Record at 720p or 1080p?

As mentioned earlier, I am able to do 1080p at 30fps with 44kHz audio. But just because I can, doesn’t necessarily mean I should.

One look at worldwide display resolution statistics and you will see screen sizes are all over the place. The 1920×1080 resolution is used by only 6.51% worldwide according to January 2017 data. Digging further into each type of device for the most popular statistically:

  • Mobile – 640×360
  • Tablets – 1024×768
  • Desktops – 1366×768

Given the sweet spot for all three kinds (mobile, tablets, desktop) the aspect ratio is important:

640×360 = 1.77 = 16:9
1024×768 = 1.33 = 4:3
1366×768 = 1.77 = 16:9

16:9 is wide screen landscape and 4:3 is standard portrait.

Now if we take a look at YouTube Live recommended video resolution support we see the following:

  • 3840×2160 = 2160p = 16:9
  • 2560×1440 = 1440p = 16:9
  • 1920×1080 = 1080p = 16:9
  • 1280×720 = 720p = 16:9
  • 853×480 = Wide 480p = 16:9
  • 640×360 = Wide 360p = 16:9
  • 426×240 = Wide 240p = 16:9

The common pattern here is the aspect ratio at 16:9. The 1024×768 is a 4x multiple of 16 and 3x multiple of 9.

It is best to do the following:

  1. Prefer larger resolution over smaller resolution. Quality generally degrades upscaling (adding pixels) smaller resolutions versus downscaling (removing pixels) at larger resolutions.
  2. Stick to 16:9 aspect ratio to avoid stretching
  3. Produce stored video for playback at 1920×1080
  4. Produce streamed video at (1080p) 1920×1080 or (720p) 1280×720
  5. Set audio for MP3 or AAC at 44.1kHz in stereo

Let YouTube do the scaling at the 16:9 aspect ratio to create many different quality resolutions at that baseline ratio. The user will be able to pick from the player at different graduated settings. That will satisfy the sweet spot for mobile and desktop worlds.

When it comes to satisfying the 1024×768 tablet crowd, don’t create video or live streams at that resolution. Stick to 720p or 1080p and let the YouTube player scale on client side to 1024×768. It has to solve all the infinite display resolution sizes anyway. That comes at a cost to the user who is computing with a non-standard sized display resolution.

OBS Studio Recommendations

  • Make sure your ISP can guarantee upload speeds.
  • Upload minimum 2Mpbs and 4Mbps+ preferred.
  • Avoid wireless entirely and always use 100Mpbs+ Ethernet.
  • Only the best CPUs: Top 1/2 high performance CPUs in Passmark ratings.
  • Only the best GPUs: Top 1/2 high performance graphics cards in Passmark ratings.
  • Avoid using too many Sources for a scene.
  • Duplicate sources like your Image if using a branding logo and Video Capture Device source for a webcam across Scenes.
  • Try avoiding the use of filters as they will add more processing and delay.
  • Keep the number of applications running to a minimum.
  • Avoid running notification applications to avoid having them show up in your stream.
  • Use a higher end audio interface rather than the integrated audio built into your motherboard.
  • Stream at 720p 60fps. Use 1080p 30fps only if you can pull it off.
  • Record and post videos at 1080p 30fps.

Like and Share