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One Stream, Many Audiences: Multistreaming Simplified

Explore this handbook to assist you in selecting the optimal encoder for your live streaming needs.

A crucial element in your live streaming arrangement, the encoder plays a pivotal role in converting your raw video data into a digital format suitable for online broadcasting. Without this conversion process, going live on any platform becomes impossible. For those opting to stream from a laptop or desktop, which provides greater stream control compared to mobile devices, a dedicated live streaming encoder is essential. This comprehensive guide delves into the fundamentals of encoders, elucidates the distinctions between software and hardware variants, and assesses the top 10 streaming video encoders available.


🤔 What is a live streaming encoder?

Transforming raw video data from your camera and microphone, the encoder converts it into a digital format suitable for streaming on various platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and LinkedIn. Typically, these digital formats encompass H.264, H.265, VP9, or AV1. The streaming encoder may manifest as software installed on your computer or hardware positioned on your desk, establishing a connection with your computer for seamless functionality.

🕹 Is an encoder a prerequisite for every live streaming endeavor?

Live streaming necessitates encoding, a crucial process for broadcasting. In scenarios where an encoder isn’t employed, platforms like Facebook offer alternatives, enabling direct live streaming from your smartphone to your Facebook profile. While this method eliminates the need for encoding software on your phone, Facebook assumes the responsibility of handling the encoding process on your behalf.

Can you start a live stream from your computer without dealing with downloads or buying special equipment? Absolutely! You can go for a cloud-based solution like StreamWay Studio. This streaming studio allows you to go live directly from your web browser, and you can even broadcast to multiple channels at the same time. No need for any prior experience with streaming or encoders – just sign up for a StreamWay account, connect your channels, and start your live stream hassle-free.

In addition to multistreaming, StreamWay Studio also lets you:

  • Live chat with your viewers
  • Add custom logos and graphics to your broadcast
  • Play pre-recorded videos during the stream
  • Gain comprehensive insights and analytics for every stream across different platforms.

🖥 Encoding vs. transcoding vs. codecs

When exploring live streaming, you might encounter terms like “encoding,” “transcoding,” and “codec.” These terms, although similar, have distinct meanings:

  • Encoding: This is like squeezing a raw video file so it can be played in a digital format. Think of an encoder as something that can be hardware, like Teradek, or software, like OBS Studio.
  • Transcoding: Imagine tweaking an already squeezed video—decoding or undoing the squeeze, making changes, and then squeezing it again before sending it out. For instance, reducing a video from 1080p to 720p before it reaches your screen is a form of transcoding.
  • Codec: Picture a codec as a tech wizard—it stands for “coder-decoder.” It knows what parts of visual and audio data don’t really affect how the video looks and hears, so it tosses those aside during the compression process. Examples of codecs are H.264, HVEC and VP9. Encoders use codecs to perform the encoding process.

⚒ Software encoder vs. hardware encoder

Encoders can either be software or hardware.
Software encoders are like applications you put on your computer, using its power to run. On the other hand, hardware encoders are separate devices that you connect to your computer; they do their job without drawing on your computer’s resources.

Neither is superior; both have pros and cons to think about. Software encoders are usually more budget-friendly (sometimes even free) and simpler for beginners, while hardware encoders offer greater reliability and faster encoding capabilities.

⚙️ Selecting the ideal encoder for your streaming needs.

When choosing the right encoder for your live videos, consider the following factors:

  • Hardware vs. Software Encoder: Start by deciding between a hardware or software encoder, as this choice will guide your search.
  • Platform Compatibility: Ensure the encoder works seamlessly with the platforms you intend to stream on, such as YouTube, Twitch, or Facebook. If you plan to use niche sites, confirm compatibility with those platforms.
  • Additional Features: Evaluate extra features like stream recording, scene creation from multiple sources, audio mixing, 4K streaming, video effects, chroma key, or remote streaming. Choose features based on your content creation needs.
  • Budget: Determine your budget for the streaming setup. For beginners, a free software encoder may be sufficient. If you’re a professional aiming for high-quality broadcasts, be prepared to invest more in your encoder.

✅ Top 10 live streaming encoders

We assessed the top five software encoders and the best five hardware encoders to assist you in finding the perfect encoding solution for your live stream.

🔴 5 best software encoders

1. OBS Studio


OBS Studio is a standout choice for live streaming software. It’s not just free and open-source but also widely favored by content creators. OBS offers extensive customization options for your live stream and integrates smoothly with major platforms. With the ability to create multiple scenes from diverse sources, OBS allows unlimited hours of audio and video capture for later editing. It’s important to note that while OBS provides robust features, it may lack some functionalities found in paid software encoders. For enhanced streaming capabilities, consider connecting OBS to StreamWay, enabling you to broadcast your stream simultaneously on platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, and more.


  • Free
  • Backed by community support
  • Multiple source input options
  • Easy connection to streaming platforms
  • Simultaneous video streaming and recording


  • Learning curve for beginning streamers
  • Less-than-sleek user interface


  • Free

2. XSplit

XSplit Broadcaster opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to blend videos for gaming captures, share presentations, and live stream events effortlessly. Whether you’re a casual or professional streamer, XSplit caters to both with its user-friendly interface and a plethora of features. It’s a valuable investment, offering capabilities like projecting your stream across multiple screens simultaneously, mixing audio from various devices, integrating Skype Video Calls, and supporting local network streaming. Plus, with XSplit’s seamless connection to StreamWay, you can effortlessly go live on multiple platforms simultaneously.


  • User-friendly stream editing features
  • Integrated green screen
  • Introduce a delay in your stream for broadcasting at a later time.
  • Projector mode
  • Scene preview editor


  • Best features are behind the paywall
  • Plug-ins cost extra


  • $15 per month
  • $60 per year
  • $100 for a lifetime license

3. vMix


While not exclusively a live streaming encoder, vMix offers versatility by accepting various inputs like webcams, cameras, DVDs, capture cards, playlists, presentations, and photos for encoding live streams. This software boasts essential features such as NDI support, instant replay with slow-motion capabilities, virtual streaming sets, and the ability to display content from social media platforms. As an added benefit, linking vMix to StreamWay enables you to effortlessly broadcast on multiple platforms simultaneously.


  • Supports a variety of inputs
  • Wide selection of features for live streaming
  • Receive complimentary updates with the purchase of a lifetime software license.
  • Doesn’t use many of your PC’s resources
  • Built-in audio mixer


  • Compatible with Windows only
  • Encoding isn’t the software’s main purpose


Select one of four available lifetime software licenses for vMix:

  • Basic HD: $60
  • HD: $350
  • 4K: $700
  • Pro: $1,200

There’s also a monthly subscription for $50 per month.

4. Wirecast

Wirecast stands out as the go-to encoding software for video production professionals. Packed with robust features, it empowers you to create top-notch live streams or virtual events. Benefit from unlimited live camera inputs, seamless screen and web feed sharing, video production automation tools, live guest features, and a multi-track studio. Compatible with various capture cards and devices, Wirecast offers an extensive toolkit. For those aiming to live stream events, upgrading to Wirecast Pro might be a wise move. You can easily connect your StreamWay account to Wirecast using an RTMP link, enabling you to effortlessly multistream your content.


  • Transform your iOS device into a video source with a wireless camera app.
  • On-screen comment sharing from Facebook and Twitter
  • Ability to stream with multiple bitrates
  • Built-in graphics tool


  • Expensive
  • Best features in Pro version
  • Takes up a lot of memory on your computer


  • Wirecast Studio: Lifetime license for $599
  • Wirecast Pro: Lifetime license for $799 or a subscription plan of $35+ per month

5. VidBlasterX

VidBlasterX serves as both a live streaming encoder and video production software, offering complete customization for your stream. With VidBlasterX, you can capture, edit, and broadcast your content, incorporating video effects, overlays, 4K and UHD streaming capabilities, and even the option to stream remotely. The user-friendly interface operates on a modular system, and the extent of your access to modules depends on the subscription plan you choose.


  • Fully customizable software
  • Wide variety of features
  • Supports multiview stream management
  • Modular audio mixer


  • Not for inexperienced streamers
  • Incompatible with macOS


  • VidBlasterX Home: $9 per year
  • VidBlasterX Studio: $99 per year
  • VidBlasterX Broadcast $999 per year

🔵 5 best hardware encoders

1. Teradek

For hardware encoding in your live streams, Teradek offers a diverse range of encoders. These encoders are designed to be lightweight, making them suitable for on-the-go live video content. Whether you prefer a straightforward option like the Vidiu X or a more advanced choice like the Wave, Teradek has options to meet your needs. The Vidiu Go, equipped with attachable modems, is ideal for bonding internet connections before broadcasting live on StreamWay. This bonding approach enhances the stability and speed of your stream compared to relying on a single connection. For those seeking professional-grade encoder solutions, Teradek’s latest line, the Prism, excels in HD or 4K HDR encoding.


  • Mobile streaming
  • Compact
  • Trusted brand name for encoders


  • Expensive
  • Not for beginners


  • Teradek encoders start at $399, with a long product line to suit all kinds of live video content producers.

2. TriCaster

TriCaster encoders are bundled with video production systems, catering specifically to video professionals. Designed for diverse content needs, TriCaster offers a variety of encoders, ranging from low-key portable streaming to full-scale live events. These products feature HD-SDI inputs and compatibility with a broad array of hardware and accessories. With real-time encoding and live streaming recording capabilities, TriCaster ensures flexibility. Depending on your chosen model, you may enjoy features such as 4K and UHD streaming, a 7-band audio equalizer, and customizable thumbnails or data presets.


  • Processes moving graphics in real time
  • Auto-archives videos for on-demand playback
  • Editing tools and features for audio and video


  • Pricey
  • Bulky hardware


  • TriCaster encoders vary in price, typically falling within the range of $5,000 to $18,000, contingent on the specific retailer you choose for your purchase.

3. Niagara Video

Major global brands rely on Niagara Video’s encoders, and there’s a good reason for it. With decades of experience, Niagara Video has been a pioneer in the live streaming industry. They offer a diverse range of encoder options suitable for various purposes, whether it’s for educational streaming, church live streams, public events, and beyond. Depending on the specific model, a Niagara Video encoder might include features like an integrated solid-state drive, a web SDK for customizations, HD-SDI inputs, and the ability to record video files in MP4 format.


  • Several types of encoders with different features
  • Support for encoding and transcoding
  • Equipment for enterprises


  • Almost too much power for smaller productions
  • Prices aren’t available online


  • The prices for Niagara Video products are not revealed on their website.

4. Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro

Blackmagic Design offers various products for live streaming and video production, and the ATEM Mini Pro stands out for multi-camera setups. It’s not just a video switcher; it comes with a built-in streaming encoder. This means you can seamlessly manage four video inputs and switch between them using a single device during your broadcast. It’s not only portable and stylish but also supports streaming in crisp 1080p resolution.


  • Switcher with built-in encoder
  • Portable for on-the-go streaming
  • Control panel for stream management


  • A bit expensive
  • Not quite user-friendly for new streamers


  • $495 (may vary depending on the retailer)

5. URayCoder

Consider the URayCoder Wired 1080p H.264 HDMI by URayTech if you’re seeking an affordable hardware encoder with powerful capabilities. With an HDMI loop-through feature, you can connect a monitor directly to the encoder for local video monitoring. The device also boasts automatic frame rate detection and video enhancement adjustments. It’s a reliable encoder suitable for smaller productions, providing a cost-effective entry point into hardware encoding.


  • Saves on bandwidth
  • Less pricey than competitors
  • Supports a wide variety of formats


  • Less reliable encoding
  • To access SDI input, you’ll need to opt for a pricier model upgrade.


  • $150-$200

🦑 Use StreamWay with encoding software to multistream

Expanding your audience is made easier through multistreaming, where you broadcast your live stream across multiple platforms simultaneously. Integrating encoding software with StreamWay enables you to effortlessly go live on various platforms, thanks to the following features:

StreamWay is compatible with more than 30 leading streaming platforms, ranging from major global sites to regional and niche alternatives.

  • Setting up takes just two minutes – all you require is a StreamWay account. The user-friendly interface makes adding channels a breeze.
  • StreamWay seamlessly collaborates with most major encoding software and likely integrates with a streaming platform if your encoder lacks native support.
  • You can try multistreaming for free by signing up for our Basic plan.

StreamWay operates on any computer, PC or Mac, and you don’t need to purchase any additional software or hardware to use it.

All it takes is connecting your StreamWay account to your favorite streaming channels like YouTube, Twitch or Facebook, then connecting StreamWay to your encoding software. Explore our platform guides to begin your journey:


Live streaming with an encoder is not a complex puzzle—it’s straightforward and easily achievable. By selecting the appropriate encoder for your content, you can create a high-quality stream that captivates your audience.And if you use StreamWay to multistream, you can expand your audience to multiple streaming platforms.

Also Read this:-MultiStream Plugin How to install and use – Full Guide

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