Live streaming – Recommended settings

Recommended settings on Streamio

Each case is unique, and there is a lot that needs to be weighed in to choose the right quality. The quality varies due to content, and only the producer can determine the requirements of quality. However, you have to take the viewers’ possibilities to receive constant streams of video into account – today, for example, mobile viewers are very common, and their bandwidth varies greatly. The higher the bitrate, the more viewers get into trouble. There will always be viewers who have problems when you broadcast. There will always be someone who roams between mobile cells or has bad Wi-Fi, or is unaware that the youngsters use all their bandwidth to download movies.

If you broadcast with high quality, the number of users who have problems will be greater than with low bandwidth. This depends, of course, on the target group and where you reach them, as well as the content you send. If you’re worried, you can lower the used bandwidth to be safe, but this will also affect your video-stream quality. A lower bitrate increases the number of recipients who receive a good reception.

Another scenario when bandwidth can become a problem is when many people are watching from the same location. If you broadcast at 3000 kbps / 3 Mbps and 100 people are watching from the same company, your stream will require 300 Mbps of available, uninterrupted bandwidth in the receiving infratructure.

The cost is also one aspect, although the quality improves significantly, so it costs 3 times as much in bandwidth to stream with 3000 kbps as it does with 1000 kbps – if you have many viewers, this may well be an aspect.

Here are some setup examples that you can start from and change to adapt to your own needs.

Normal quality – SD video with low bitrate

Resolution: 540p, 960x540px
Frames per second: 25-30 fps
Bitrate: 1200-1500 kbps
Audio bitrate: 128 kbps
Audio sample rate: 48 kHz

This setting has a relatively low resolution “normal TV resolution” and a well-retracted bitrate that means that it does not require more than 1 – 1.5 Mbps connection to handle the power. This setting level is a favorite for the highest compatibility with as many users as possible, but the quality is not pristine. Suitable for speakers, city council meetings, news presentations and the like than it does for sports. Many, however, think that this level goes a long way, so it is worth testing out!

High quality – HD 720p with high bitrate

Resolution: 720p, 1280x720px
Frames per second: 25-30 fps
Bitrate: 2000-2500-3000 (consider the risk of going above 3000, see below)
Audio bitrate: 128 kbps
Audio sample rate: 44kHz

Here we pull up the bitrate to double compared with the previous setting and use that to produce a higher resolution; 720p is an HDTV format. The amount of information in a 720p compared to a 540p is almost doubled, so to keep the same quality, all else being equal, it needs double bitrate. Still, 720p can be perceived as more “crispy” and feel more modern. Try streaming 720p in 2000, 2500, and 3000 kbps to see the difference.

High quality – SD with high bitrate

Resolution: 540p, 960x540px
Frames per second: 25-30 fps
Bitrate: 2000-3000 (consider the risk of going above 3000, see below)
Audio bitrate: 128 kbps
Audio sample rate: 44kHz

An option for high quality is otherwise to maintain the resolution of 540p but pull up the bitrate to 2-3000 kbps. The resolution is lower, but the compression will be lower than for 720p because you only have to process half as much data in the image. This can make more moving objects look better.

High quality – HD 720p with high bitrate and high framerate

Resolution: 720p, 1280x720px
Frames per second: 60 fps
Bitrate: 2500-3000 (think about the risk of going above 3000, see below)
Audio bitrate: 128 kbps
Audio sample rate: 44kHz

If you go up in frames per second (framerate), the image is perceived as softer, which becomes clear that there is less “blur” when something moves. Of course, the downside is that 60fps can draw twice as much data as 30 fps, so even this becomes a balancing issue. Keep in mind that all cameras, movie clips, etc., must deliver 60fps for it to make sense to send the high forward.

Low quality – SD video with low bitrate

Resolution: 480p, 852x480px
Frames per second: 25 fps
Bitrate: 800 kbps
Audio bitrate: 96 kbps
Audio sample rate: 48 kHz

This setting is quite interesting. Given that it is low resolution, low framerate, low bitrate, and lower quality sound than all the other settings we discuss here, even a low setting like this can be beneficial. In a smaller format (phone or non maximized window), it looks good. In full screen on a computer, it still looks, after the circumstantialities, quite okay. This setting indicates that it is worth experimenting with the settings based on your own needs.

Consider the viewer’s image size

The audience’s way of watching affects how to act – there are huge differences in quality requirements if viewers look at small mobile screens or full screen, casts for TV screens or projectors. In the first case, any of the lower settings should serve better than in the second case.