How to set up two PCs for streaming to Twitch or YouTube

Once you wrap your brain around the process, it doesn't take long to set up two computers for streaming.

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How to set up your dual PCs

Connecting the hardware

Connecting the hardware goes quite fast—we’ve made a diagram and outlined the steps below to help you zoom through the process.

Hardware Setup Diagram Rob Schultz / IDG

Note: This diagram shows only a single-mic configuration. A dual-mic configuration is the same, with the added step of plugging the dedicated microphone into the streaming PC.

  1. If starting from scratch with a DIY PC, assemble it and install Windows. For pre-built PCs, confirm that you have all the necessary components installed.
    Note: If you haven’t already, check the What you need section above for guidelines in determining what you need.
  2. Make sure that your capture device(s) are plugged into or installed in the streaming PC. (Remember, you’ll have two capture devices when using a DSLR camera as a webcam—one for the gaming PC, one for the DSLR.)
     
  3. Connect each PC to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. As mentioned above, each will ideally get their own set, unless you’ve purchased a KVM switch. You can also straddle the line and use a separate monitor for each computer, with a KVM switch to switch between the keyboard and mouse only. Do what works best for your budget and space.
     
  4. Insert an HDMI cable into the port on your gaming PC’s dedicated graphics card (not your motherboard!), then plug the other end into the capture device on the streaming PC.
     
  5. Plug your webcam into one of the streaming PC’s USB ports. Or, if you’re using a DSLR or GoPro for your camera, connect that to the second capture device.
     
  6. If you are using a stream controller (like the Elgato Stream Deck), plug that into the streaming PC as well.
     
  7. Finally, connect your headphones and microphone (or your headset) to the gaming PC. If you’re opting for a dual-microphone setup, plug the headset into your gaming PC, and plug the dedicated mic into the streaming PC.

Installing the software

Installing the software is about as fast as setting up the hardware—we’ve outlined which program goes on which computer below, plus how to use the virtual voice mixer so your mic transmits properly to your stream.

For how to configure your streaming software, you can read our guide on how to stream PC games on Twitch for the basic concepts. You should still get a general idea of the common elements in setting up a stream, even if you’re not using OBS like we did.

Streaming PC

  1. Download and install any necessary drivers for your hardware (e.g., graphics card, capture card, etc).
     
  2. Install your streaming software (be it OBS, Shadowplay, or whatever other flavor you picked). You’ll need to configure it before going live with your first broadcast, which we recommend doing after putting all needed software on both systems.
     
  3. If you haven’t already, install the web browser of your choice. Later, when you configure your streaming software, remember to mute your desktop audio. (Or, at minimum, manually mute any browser tabs you have open during a stream.) Otherwise, any auto-playing videos will get transmitted to the stream. If it happens to be your own broadcast, you’ll cause an echo as you speak.

Gaming PC

First we’ll adjust this PC’s display settings so that your gameplay gets seen by the game capture unit. Start by right-clicking on your desktop and choosing Display Settings.

  • If your gaming PC is connected to only one physical screen, two monitors should appear under Rearrange Your Displays—one is your actual panel, while the other is the game capture device. Find the Multiple Displays section, then choose Duplicate these displays.
     
  • If you’ve connected your gaming PC to two physical displays, you’ll see three monitors under Rearrange Your Displays—the third “monitor” is the game capture device. Find the Multiple Displays section, then select Duplicate desktop on <X> and <Y>, where X is the monitor you’ll play your game on, and Y is the capture device.

Now whatever’s shown on your actual monitor will be mirrored to the stream. Let’s move on to set up the virtual audio mixer.

Single microphone configuration

Before you start, be sure you’ve connected your headphones and microphone (or headset) to this computer.

voicemeetermarkup 1 PCWorld

Note: Because of the pandemic, we didn’t have a gaming capture device and used a Cam Link for that purpose. (Which is not ideal, but worked in a pinch.)

  1. Download and install any necessary drivers for PC’s components, as well as your headphones, microphone, and/or headset.
     
  2. Download Voicemeeter Banana. Be certain to grab the Banana version—there’s also a simpler variant called just Voicemeeter, which has fewer features and won’t work with these instructions.
     
  3. Install Voicemeeter Banana on your system, then open the program. Double-check that you’re working in Banana—oddly enough, both the plain version and this one get dropped onto a system during installation!
     
  4. Click on the name of the far left column (Hardware Input 1). From the choices starting with WDM: Microphone, select your mic. If you’re using a 3.5mm headset or earbuds, look for “Internal Microphone” or “External Microphone” followed by the name of the system’s audio driver. For example: WDM: Internal Microphone (Conexant HD Audio)
     
  5. Click the A1 button within this Hardware Input 1 column to send your microphone’s audio to that output. (The button turns green when on.)
     
  6. In the far right column (Hardware Out), click on A1. From the choices beginning with WDM, select the capture device. Your system sound will now route to your streaming PC.
     
  7. Next, click on A2. Once again from the options starting with WDM, pick your headphones or headset. For USB-based models, you should see the device’s specific name show up. For 3.5mm devices, select WDM: Headphones (<audio driver name>).
     
  8. In the second-to-right column (Virtual Inputs), under the Voicemeeter AUX sub-column on the right, make sure A2 is lit in green. If it’s not, click the button to toggle it on. Now you’ll be able to hear your system sound.
     
  9. In the Windows 10 taskbar, click on the speaker icon. Change the output device to Voicemeeter AUX Input. You’re now done with Voicemeeter and its configuration.
     
  10. For any group chats you plan to broadcast, install your preferred communication software—Discord, Skype, Hangouts, etc. Then check your voice settings and ensure that input is set to the name of your microphone, and output is set to Voicemeeter Banana. (Sometimes chat programs don’t follow Windows defaults.)
     
  11. When you finally configure your streaming software, set the microphone to “Disabled” or “None” if possible. Your voice is coming in over the capture device’s audio, so you don’t need to name a separate microphone.

Dual microphone configuration

Make sure you’ve connected your headset to this computer before starting. Also confirm that you’ve hooked up your dedicated microphone to your streaming PC, too.

voicemeetermarkup 2 PCWorld

Note: Because of the pandemic, we didn’t have a gaming capture device and used a Cam Link for that purpose. (Which is not ideal, but worked in a pinch.)

  1. Download and install any necessary drivers for your headphones, microphone, and/or headset.
     
  2. Download Voicemeeter Banana. For a two-microphone setup, you don’t have to use Banana (the simpler, non-Banana version works as well), but you’ll at least have it on hand if you ever switch to a one-mic setup.
     
  3. Install it on your system. You can now either open Voicemeeter Banana or plain Voicemeeter—both get dropped onto a system during installation. Our walkthrough continues on with Banana, but you’ll configure plain Voicemeeter similarly. (You’ll just skip step #6 for plain Voicemeeter.)
     
  4. In the far right column (Hardware Out), click on A1. From the choices beginning with WDM, select the capture device. Your system sound will now route to your streaming PC.
     
  5. Next, click on A2. Once again from the options starting with WDM, pick your headset. For USB devices, you should see the specific name show up. For 3.5mm headsets, select WDM: Headphones (<audio driver name>)—e.g., WDM: Headphones (Realtek(R) Audio).
     
  6. In the second-to-right column (Virtual Inputs), under the Voicemeeter AUX sub-column on the right, make sure A2 is lit in green. If it’s not, click the button to toggle it on. Now you’ll be able to hear your system sound.
     
  7. In the Windows 10 taskbar, click on the speaker icon. Change the output device to Voicemeeter AUX Input. Voicemeeter’s configuration is now complete.
     
  8. For any group chats you plan to broadcast, install your preferred communication software—Discord, Skype, Hangouts, etc. Then check your voice settings and ensure that input is set to the name of your headset, and output is set to Voicemeeter Banana. (Sometimes chat programs don’t follow Windows defaults.)
     
  9. When you finally configure your streaming software, make sure to set the microphone as the one attached to the streaming PC.

Final tips

  • For your internet connection, we recommend a wired ethernet cable (rather than going wireless) to prevent dropouts and other issues during a stream.
     
  • Twitch streamers can test their settings without having to go live by adding ?bandwidthtest=true after their stream key within their streaming software’s settings. (OBS Studio also offers the option to just check a box in the Stream settings to activate that feature.)
     
  • For streaming to multiple platforms at the same time (like both Twitch and Facebook), you’ll need a multi-streaming service like Restream.io.

This story, "How to set up two PCs for streaming to Twitch or YouTube" was originally published by PCWorld.

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