Looking for church live streaming equipment? There are a number of posts and pages on this site that can help you get started with church live streaming. This page is dedicated to an up to date guide to streaming equipment. Whether you need a camera for live streaming church services, a capture card to get the video into your computer, a tripod, or any other miscellaneous streaming equipment, you can find it here.
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Church Live Streaming Equipment Checklist
There are a few pieces of church live streaming equipment you are going to need to get started. There are endless combinations of equipment and configurations, but here are some typical essentials:
- Capture Card
- Audio Interface
Church Live Streaming Equipment – Cameras
The camera is where your church live streaming equipment checklist begins. From webcams to professional models, there are several options to fit your space and budget.
PTZ Optics USB Webcam $89
A webcam is, hands-down, the easiest way to get started with live streaming. Just plug it in and start streaming via Zoom, Facebook Live, YouTube, or other streaming services. The quality will not be the same as some of the more expensive and larger cameras, but this can be a great way to get started.
Canon VIXIA HF R80 Portable Camcorder $349
Canon camcorders always make my church live streaming equipment list. There are some different versions of this, including the RF 800 that are quite similar. Just make sure you get one with a microphone input jack. This way, you can easily plug in a feed from the soundboard to add the audio to your stream.
PTZOptics 20X SDI GEN-2 PTZ IP Streaming Camera $1699
I am a big fan of PTZ Optics cameras, and two of them just made the church live stream equipment list for a project at a church here in the San Antonio area. There are so many things I love about these cameras that I will cover in another post. But quickly, you get a great high-quality optical zoom, multiple connection options (depends on the model, but the model shown has SDI, HDMI, and Video over IP options), and the ability to control the camera via smartphone, tablet, computer, or joystick.
Canon XA15 Professional Camcorder $1899
This camera makes my list for a few reasons. It creates a great image, has 20X optical zoom, and is really easy to set up and use. What really makes it stand out is the professional connection options. You can send audio and video from this camera to your capture card or switcher via HDMI or SDI (Serial Digital Interface). HDMI works for many applications, but when you decide on a permanent installation, especially with long cable runs, SDI is a great choice. This camera also has XLR connections for audio making it a lot easier to capture a high-quality, balanced signal from the soundboard and make it part of your live stream. That means there will be no need for an additional audio interface, which checks off another item on your church live stream equipment list.
Church Live Streaming Equipment: Computers
It is quite possible to live stream without a computer. Further down the list, I will cover some devices that can capture, encode, and stream without ever going through a computer. Still, for church live streaming equipment, I recommend a computer. I am not going to list every possible computer configuration here. Instead, I will give examples of PC and Mac products that will work with a typical setup in both laptop and desktop.
Church Live Streaming Equipment Computer Specifications
No matter what kind of computer you buy, there are some baseline specifications. You can probably get away with a little less, and getting a bit more memory and processing power may mean that it will last a bit longer. It is always a good idea to check your software provider’s website to see what they list as required specification but also remember that those are usually the bare minimum requirements.
Here is what I currently consider the minimum requirements for a computer, either a PC or Mac, as part of your church live streaming equipment package:
- i5 Dual or Quad-Core Processor
- 16 GB of Memory
- Hard-Wired Ethernet Connection
- 256GB SSD Storage Drive*
For PCs, I really recommend Windows 10 Professional.
*If you are going to be recording worship services and want to store more than a couple, you will need a bigger drive. However, remember that it is often less expensive to buy an external drive than to pay for the internal upgrade.
There is one other thing you are going to need to take into account when choosing a computer: connections. Today’s machines come differing types and numbers of connection ports. As you think about capture devices (see below), you will need to be sure you will have enough of the right type of ports to hook everything up.
Note: connecting capture devices and other live streaming equipment accessories to computers can get confusing fast. That is due to all of the different types of connection standards. This blog post may help: Church Live Streaming Equipment: Connections – USB, Thunderbolt and beyond
Intel NUC $599 and Up
The Intel NUC is a small form factor PC that comes in an endless number of configurations. The one I have linked to here has what I would consider the baseline specs you will need. That includes an Intel Quad-Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and Windows 10 Pro. You can certainly go bigger and faster, and I always recommend it when you can, but this should get the job done. In terms of ports, this particular machine comes with two USB-A connected USB 3.1 ports and two USB-C Thunderbolt ports.
Mac Mini $1299 and Up
I am a big fan of these little Apple machines. In fact, I run my entire business on one. My favorite part of them is the number of ports. Suppose you are considering using capture cards or other devices that need Thunderbolt connections. In that case, this is one of the best options out there. It has four USB-C Thunderbolt ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and an ethernet port.
Note: The link here goes to the Apple page on Amazon.com. However, I notice that they do not always have the exact unit I want in stock. For that, you may need to go to the Apple Store or B&H Photo, online or in person. This is the exact unit I recommend at B&H Photo.
Dell Precision 353 $1099
This Dell Precision is just an example of a laptop that may work for your church live streaming equipment setup. It has the processor, memory, and hard drive you will need and plenty of ports, including one Thunderbolt connection.
Apple MacBook Pro 16″ $2099
MacBook Pros are impressive machines, but they get expensive, pretty fast. This particular model is over two grand, but that is about what it takes to get four Thunderbolt ports. Those are important if you want to connect Thunderbolt-based capture devices. If not, you could save some money by getting a 13″ MacBook Pro with only two ports. However, keep in mind that one of the two ports will be used to power the machine. To connect to your network via a wired connection (which I recommend) requires plugging in an ethernet adapter.) That leaves you zero ports left over unless you purchase a hub.
Church Live Streaming Equipment – Capture Devices
Next up on your church live streaming equipment checklist: a capture device. A capture device, whether it is an internal card in a computer or an external device that plugs into a port, takes the signal from the camera, usually in SDI or HDMI, and converts it to a signal your computer can understand. There are a few scenarios where you won’t need a capture card. Those include USB cameras and cameras that connect over a network connection. More on those later.
Note: connecting capture devices to computers can get confusing fast. That is due to all of the different types of connection standards. This blog post may help: Church Live Streaming Equipment: Connections – USB, Thunderbolt and beyond
Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 3G Recorder – Thunderbolt $115
This is an excellent option if you are connecting cameras with HDMI or SDI outputs to a computer with a Thunderbolt port. I am a big fan of Blackmagic design equipment, and I keep an older version of this device in my church live stream equipment bag. Blackmagic updates their products a lot. So, if you click the link, you will see that it is not yet available. But, hopefully, soon! In the meantime, you may be able to pick up a refurbished unit of the previous version. Just keep in mind, if you have a newer USB-C Thunderbolt port, with the old version, you will need an adapter.
Elgato Game Capture HD60 S $177.95
This unit is designed for and marketed to video game streamers. Still, it has everything you needed to make your church live streaming equipment list. This model is perfect if you need to connect and HDMI camera to your computer via a USB 3.0 using a USB-C cable.
Blackmagic Design DeckLink Mini Recorder, PCIe Capture Card $145
Sometimes the most effective way to set up a computer to run all of your church live streaming equipment is to use an expandable desktop PC or Mac. It can be more affordable with a PC since desktops tend to be less money for the same power as a laptop. Not many churches are using Mac Pros for live streaming since they start around $6000, but this would work in one of those as well. This unit is mounted inside the machine in one of the expansion slots and accepts either HDMI or SDI inputs.
Church Live Streaming Equipment: Audio Interfaces
Often the best way to capture audio for your church live stream is by connecting a feed from your church’s soundboard. Usually, the output from the board is an XLR connector. You could just convert this and plug it into your streaming computer, but that can lead to static, interference, and other issues. The better way is to use a USB audio interface. This will accept a balanced XLR connection and convert it to a digital signal for your computer.
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD $118
You can spend way more than this if you want the best of the best, but this is really all you need. If you pay more, you will get higher-quality mic pre-amps, which you likely won’t be using. This does have two XLR inputs. Because very few churches actually use stereo sound, you will probably only use one input.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB Audio Interface $109.99
I use Focusrite interfaces in my home studio. I find that they sound great and are super reliable and will make a great addition to your church live streaming equipment. Both the Behringer and the Focusrite have a headphone jack. This is great for being able to listen to a clean signal from the soundboard to assure that everything is sounding right.
Church Live Streaming Equipment: Switchers
There are many possible church live streaming equipment setups that do not require a switcher. Some configurations only have one camera, others use software to switch between sources. In some cases, a switcher can be an important production tool. A physical switcher is connected to all the video sources including cameras and presentation computers, and allows the user to transition from source to source. The signal from the switcher is then fed into a computer or other encoding hardware to prepare it for recording or streaming.
There are a several reasons that a switcher may be a good choice for your church live streaming equipment setup. First of all, volunteers may find physical switchers less intimidating and easier to learn than software-based switchers. Second, a physical switcher puts less demand on a computer. While you will still need a decent machine to encode or record the video, it won’t need to be as robust as it would to handle the input from multiple cameras. Finally, with a physical switcher, you will only need one capture device and an available input port. In fact, there are now models that connect to a computer via USB 3.0.
Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini HDMI Live Switcher $295
If you can connect your video sources via HDMI, this is an amazing switcher for under $300. It will accept up to four HDMI sources and two additional audio sources. The small form factor switcher has physical buttons and built-in transition effects and picture-in-picture. The HDMI output can be connected to any compatible capture device for encoding, recording, or streaming. It can also be plugged straight into a computer via USB 3.0, and the computer will recognize it as though it were a webcam.
Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro HDMI Live Stream Switcher $595
The ATEM Mini Pro is nearly exactly the same as the less expensive model. However, there is one important difference: this unit can both record to an external USB flash drive and stream directly via the ethernet port.
Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio HD Live Production Switcher $995
If you need more power and features from your switcher, this switcher has it. It features a total of eight source inputs (4 SDI and 4 HDMI). It also features a video output so that you can send a separate signal to your screens or other displays. This has way more bells and whistles than you likely need for a typical church live stream equipment setup but, for under $1000, this gives you lots of options.