twitch streamer sitting at computer

How to Increase Twitch Stream Quality

Poor stream quality is one of the main reasons why streamers keep losing viewers on Twitch. According to the stats, if your video quality is low, about 50% of the viewers will leave your stream in just 90 seconds.

Hence, your revenues might go down by 25%. So, high-quality streaming is a must if you want to keep the viewers hooked for hours. Now the question is how to improve Twitch stream quality

First, you must get professional-grade video streaming equipment. Set up the proper lighting and utilize professional camera techniques to make every frame crisp and clear to the viewers. Choose the right frame rate, video resolution, and broadcasting platform to deliver top-notch live streams. 

Finally, a video encoder tool and a reliable internet connection are essential to make your streams professional-looking. Let’s dive deep and find different ways to improve your Twitch stream quality.

How to Improve Twitch Stream Quality – 7 Effective Ways

When it comes to stream video quality, you need to perfectly set up the video equipment, stream settings, video resolution, and bitrate. Start by purchasing a good-quality microphone and webcam. 

After that, manually change the stream settings and video resolution on Twitch. If this doesn’t change the video quality, you might have to use additional software to improve both audio and video.

Below I’ve narrowed down some most effective tips to improve stream quality on Twitch. Let’s have a look.

Get Professional Streaming Equipment

A camera and microphone are the two basic pieces of equipment you’ll need for streaming on Twitch. Although your PC has a built-in camera and mic, you can’t expect high-quality output from them. Let’s discuss some camera and microphone options you can use for streaming.

Camera Options

  • Professional-Grade Cameras: Without a doubt, professional-quality cameras are the best option for live streaming. You can shoot full HD and 4K videos and record high-quality XLR audio with this type of camera. 

Besides, such cameras have upgraded lenses, wide-angle focusing, zoom support, and extended battery life.

However, professional-grade cameras are expensive and a bit difficult to hook up to your computer. 

  • Webcams: Live streaming webcams can be directly connected to your computer to capture images in a suitable format according to your computer settings. Although affordable, webcams lack many premium features such as zooming, image customizing, and recording high-quality audio.
  • Smartphones: Nowadays, we have smartphones that can shoot 4K or 5K videos. Smartphones are all-in-one devices with top-grade microphones, cameras, and an internet connection. So, if you have an upgraded phone that captures HD videos, consider using it to improve stream quality.

Microphone Options

  • Cardioid microphones: This type of microphone is probably the most popular among live streamers. Cardioid microphones capture audio from the front. They can easily isolate unwanted sounds, such as the clatter of your keyboard, noises coming from the fan or air cooler, and other ambient sounds. 

One drawback of using a Cardioid microphone is that you need to place it correctly to get the right angle. Otherwise, the audio might sound muffled.

  • Bidirectional microphones: If you frequently bring guests to your Twitch channel, a Bidirectional microphone will be a great choice. It picks audio from the front and back so that two people can chat without any additional mic.
  • Omnidirectional microphones: As the name suggests, Omnidirectional microphones can pick up sounds from every direction. It’s a good option if aiming at a certain angle is difficult for you. However, this type of microphone might capture background noises.

Arrange Good Lighting, Camera, and Audio Settings

You can never deliver a high-quality Twitch stream if you’re shooting in a poorly lit room. The good news is arranging good lighting for your streams is easy. All you need is to set the lights in the right place, choose a good camera angle, and set the microphone correctly.

Follow the tips given below to enhance the production value and video quality of your Twitch streams.

  • Go for a multi-light setup to create a pro look. First, place two lights on either side of the camera. The primary or key light should be a little bit brighter than the secondary or fill light. You can place a third light behind you to create a nice silhouette.
  • Set the camera right in front of you at eye level. It will make the audience feel more comfortable and natural, as if they are with you in the room. Everything in the camera view should be sharp and presentable. Or, you can set up a zoom-in look so that the focus is more on you.
  • Place the microphone at a 45° angle toward your mouth. This way, the mic will capture your speech only, not the unwanted sounds of breathing or coughing. Also, the mic should be placed about 6-12 inches away from your mouth so that the sound isn’t too loud for the viewers.

Choose High Resolution and Frame Rate

In a perfect world, high-resolution Twitch streams at higher frame rates will deliver the best viewing experience for the followers. However, that’s not what happens in real life.

Even if you set the video resolution at full HD 1080p with a high 60 fps frame rate, your viewers might experience buffering or lagging. It happens when your CPU isn’t powerful, and your internet isn’t fast enough to process the upload.

So, if you want to stream on the highest resolution, make sure your PC is compatible, and you have a stable and super-fast internet connection for streaming. Otherwise, set the resolution at 720p with a 60fps frame rate. The quality will still be high, and your viewers will be able to enjoy the streaming without any lags.

Don’t reduce the stream resolution to lower than 480p. Also, your frame rates shouldn’t be less than 30 fps if you want the stream to be clear and presentable.

Pro Tip: You can’t upscale or downscale your stream resolution directly from Twitch. You need to be partnered with Twitch to get this special feature. If you want to change the resolution without being partnered, you need to start streaming with OBS studio.

Once you have linked your Twitch account to the OBS studio, open ‘Settings’ and go to the ‘Video’ option. There you can choose the base and output resolution as per your requirements. Besides, it allows you to set the frame rates at 60 fps or 30 fps.

Select the Optimal Streaming Bitrate

The quality of your Twitch stream largely depends on the streaming bitrate. In simple words, bitrate expresses the amount of data you’re uploading at what speed.

If you’re going for a high-resolution stream with a higher frame rate, you must choose a high bitrate for your audio and video. Otherwise, the stream will start lagging and look less polished. Also, you need to select the stream bitrate depending on your computer specifications and internet speed.

Ideally, the audio bitrate on Twitch is locked in at 160 kbps which works for most streamers irrespective of the microphone quality. As for the video bitrate, the ideal range is between 3500 kbps and 4000 kbps. However, you can push the kbps if your internet is super fast. 

Here are the ideal streaming bitrates for different resolutions and frame rates-

  • For 720p resolution with a 30 fps frame rate, set the bitrate at 4000 kbps.
  • For 720p resolution with a 60 fps frame rate, set the bitrate at 5000 kbps.
  • For 900p resolution with a 60 fps frame rate, set the bitrate at 6000 kbps.
  • For 1080p resolution with a 60 fps frame rate, set the bitrate at 8000-9000 kbps, and this is the best quality you can get for your Twitch streams.

Pro Tip: If you’re wondering ‘how do I get 1080p stream quality on Twitch‘, we got a trick! Depending on your internet speed, Twitch studio can find the best bitrate for your Twitch stream. To utilize it, first, open Twitch studio and go to ‘Settings’. Choose the ‘Stream’ option and then select ‘Re-Optimize Settings’.

Now Twitch studio will test your internet speed. When the test is done, click on ‘Apply Settings’ to select the bitrate Twitch studio has chosen for your stream.

Configure Your Encoder

A video encoder is an essential part of all live streams. It’s a hardware or software tool that converts your live video content into a compatible format for streaming. This way, your viewers can watch your Twitch live streams on demand.

If you’re using a hardware encoder tool, you should invest in good graphics cards like the Nvidia graphics card. With this, you can use the NVENC H.264 encoder while streaming. This codec allows you to switch the Encoder Preset to maximum quality.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a graphics card, you have to employ the regular .x264 codec. In this case, the CPU will power your stream and might lose a couple of frames. As you have a CPU Usage Preset on the .x264 video codec, the transmission speed can be anywhere from ultrafast to super slow.

If you use a software encoder available on a streaming platform like XSplit or Decast, you can change the live encoding settings. Here’s what Decast recommends for live encoder settings:

  • Frame Rates: 30 fps
  • Video Codec: H.264 (.x264 might work)
  • Audio Codec: AAC
  • Keyframe Interval: 3 Seconds 
  • Encoding Bitrate: Constant (CBR)
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 kbps

Ensure Fast and Stable Internet

As we’ve discussed above, there’s no point in choosing a high video content resolution, frame rate, and stream bitrate if you don’t have fast and stable internet. Typically, your upload bandwidth needs to be twice your streaming bitrate.

Below are some tips for getting the fastest internet speed during live streaming-

  • Choose a hardwired connection over Wi-Fi to get a more reliable upload speed. Wi-Fi is unreliable for consistent streaming as you’ll face issues like losing signal strength and upload speed. It will result in freezing issues, buffering, and pixelated streams, which turn off viewers immediately. So, it’s better to get an ethernet connection to improve stream quality.
  • If you’re using Wi-Fi anyway, place the router close to your PC. This way, the PC will receive stronger uninterrupted signals. Remember, the more devices are connected to the router, the more bandwidth you lose. Therefore, try to use a separate router while you’re going live on Twitch.
  • A powerline adapter is another option to establish stable internet. You can easily install this device, and it will utilize the electric wiring of your house to transmit signals from the router to PC.
  • While streaming, close all the other unnecessary tabs from the browser. It will free up bandwidth and make your streams smoother.
  • Do a speed test by using ‘SpeedTest‘ to determine the upload and download speed of your internet. Visit the site and click on ‘Go’. It will display the results, and you need to know the upload speed of your internet connection for Twitch streaming.

If your upload speed is at least 20Mbps, it’s good for live streaming. However, for the best video stream quality, contact your Internet Service Provider to set up an internet plan at 60Mbps or more speed.

Test Your Stream Quality

After you’ve set up every tool and software correctly, do a quick test to check whether the video stream quality is good. It will also reveal if your tools are adapting to different situations.

  • Go live from Twitch and broadcast it privately to check the video quality. See if the audio and video are clear and smooth.
  • Test your video player at different internet speeds. Check whether the player adapts well while transitioning to lower speeds. An adapting video player will keep the buffering minimal.
  • Perform a stress test for all your video equipment, including the camera, microphone, and encoder. See if your tools and devices can handle the extra load.

Final Words

Now you’ve learned all the effective tips and tricks on how to improve Twitch stream quality. If you follow our detailed guide and choose your video equipment, software, and tools accordingly, you can easily boost your Twitch stream quality. 

In case you don’t have the right tools to follow all the given tips, at least go for a good camera and microphone, a higher resolution, and fast internet to deliver the best possible experience for the viewers.