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Woman recording on mobile phone

Can You Livestream on Mobile?

Yes! Mobile phones have come a long way as capture devices in recent years. They have the ability to encode, store, and upload vast quantities of audio-visual data in real time in hand-held form factors with intuitive controls and large screens. This makes them perfect platforms for augmentation with the growing number of professional-grade peripherals putting unprecedented power in your pocket. If the best camera is the one you have on you, then the best streaming setup is the one that captures the moment whenever, and wherever, it happens.

How Do You Stream on Mobile?

On the most fundamental level, the only thing you need is a streaming app. Most major social media platforms provide streaming functionality in some form, so it's as simple as downloading free software and following the in-app instructions. If you're looking for more advanced features however, it's worth doing a little research into dedicated and/or paid streaming apps. It's then a matter of connecting your peripherals and checking they work in your app of choice. This is usually a pretty streamlined process, but our customer service team is only ever a phone call away if you run into any issues.

mobile phone with streaming software on screen
Man in studio holding up phone

Best Microphones for Streaming

It's no secret that the built-in mic on most smart devices is a little lacking. The issues here are multiple: the mic is omni-directional, the components are tiny, and the specs required for average use are pretty low. The good news is that these factors are easily fixed with a decent third-party microphone.

For those wanting to rock the 'reportage' look, a handheld microphone is perfect for capturing your voice, or that on an interviewee. These mics do a good job of rejecting background noise, and positioning is as simple as putting it in front of your sound source. It will have to be right in front, however, as handheld mics aren't designed to capture sounds more than a few feet away.

That role is filled by shotgun microphones. These devices can pick up sounds in a tight area from a considerable distance. This makes them the most versatile microphone in the mobile streamer's arsenal. They also usually sit directly on your phone, so they conveniently point at whatever you're shooting. They are highly sensitive, but most come with a shockmount to prevent unwanted handling noise.

Lavalier microphones, AKA lapel mics, clip on to your shirt, collar, or whatever other fabric you have around your neck. They're perfect for streaming hands-free, and are especially useful on-the-move as they allow you to hold your camera/tripod while still being able to gesticulate or handle props.

Positioning is a little trickier with a lav mic as head movement will change the distance between your mouth and the diaphragm. This can leading to inconsistent volume levels.

Headset microphones solve this problem by firmly attaching themselves to your head and extending an flexible boom arm towards your mouth. The main downside of a headset mic is it can be distracting for your audience. Another consideration for both headset and lavalier microphones is that you'll need more than one if you plan on mic-ing up other people.

Wireless microphones make you truly mobile by cutting the cord entirely. There are wireless solutions for every type of microphone, from adaptor kits for handheld and shotgun mics, to bodypacks bundled with lavaliers and headsets. Talk to our pro audio experts to learn more about the ins and outs of wireless audio capture for your mobile streaming setup.

Lastly, shields are cheap and cheerful covers that protect the sensitive elements in your microphones from unwanted noise. There are two main types here. Pop filters are foam covers which prevent volume spikes from bursts of air with sounds such as P and B. Many microphones come bundled with these or have them built in. Windshields, AKA dead cats or windjammers, are faux-fur socks that slip over shotgun mics to prevent the highly-sensitive elements from picking up turbulence as air rushes over the enclosure.

Mobile Livestreaming Equipment

While a list of specific products would be exhaustive and quickly out-of-date, there are a few categories you should look at when building your mobile streaming set up.

PreSonus and Roland audio interfaces

Interfaces & mixers

An important component in a mobile streaming setup is a high-quality audio interface. This will take the analogue signal from your microphone or instrument and convert it into ones and zeros. Mobile mixers will do this for multiple audio sources, as well as allow you to monitor and adjust levels on-the-fly. Ask our streaming experts about mixers with app integration for adding titles, text, videos, and sound effects for professional polish that fits in your backpack.

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Chauvet Parcan light

Lights

When you're shooting video, lighting is everything. Portable LED lights are not only affordable and energy efficient, but they bring a level of consistency to your talking-head and interview shoots that usually requires a much larger setup. Consider direct lights for moody shadows, and diffuse lights for capturing more detail. Finally, look for lights that come with threads or clasps for attaching either to a tripod or directly your mobile.

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IK Multimedia tripod for mobile phones

Tripods

While not the most exciting item on this list, the potential applications of a good tripod are nevertheless myriad. Whether it's framing the perfect backdrop for a hands-free presentation, getting a stable shot of a chaotic scene, or providing an adjustable grip 'selfie-stick' style, a tripod ups your cinematography game considerably. Even mobile setups might include individual tripods for your phone, light, and microphone, depending on the peripherals used.

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Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones

Headphones

A simple addition that you probably already own, a pair of headphones allows you to monitor your own audio and/or that of an external source. In-ear, wireless buds are great if you have a simple set up, while wired is the choice when using a mixer. Depending on your application, a headset with phones and mic transmitting audio over a single connection might be an elegant solution.

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Which App Is Best for Livestreaming?

This question is difficult to answer for a few reasons. Firstly, the features of these apps evolve constantly as their developers react to new trends. Secondly, their platform availability and pricing structures are also subject to change as the apps grow and adapt to the market.

Finally, the installed user bases of each app will be slightly different, so knowing where your audience hang out will be essential to making the right decision.

With this in mind, try out a few before you make a definitive decision. Start with free apps and move on to paid only if you're unhappy with the experience or features you're getting for free.

For example, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube all have streaming functionality bundled in to their regular experience. Twitch started out as a platform for gamers but is now owned by Amazon and used by millions of broadcasters everyday. Apps like Livestream, Periscope, and Streamago offer more tailored experiences, while Live.ly is a younger, more music-focussed platform.

iPhone vlogging rig by RODE

Easier Than It Streams

Whatever setup you choose, your most valuable asset as a streamer is ultimately the time you invest in yourself. Getting started might seem like a daunting task, but with a few good ideas and a little planning you can literally start with the phone in your pocket. Remember: content is king, everything else is just polish! Give us a call, or visit us in store to learn more about how to jumpstart your stream with a perfect pairing of peripherals.

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