Guide: Creating more professional livestreams with OBS & VoiceMeeter

I've used VoiceMeeter for years. It can be confusing at first, but its powerful features make it an invaluable tool. 

During this time, quite a few people have asked me about how to configure VoiceMeeter and OBS for their own streaming needs. More recently, questions about setting up a livestream or podcast streaming setup for going live on the web-based Melon and more fully-fledged services prompted me to update and publish a guide I'd had in my drafts for some time. 

If you're a PC streamer, it's worth familiarising yourself with OBS and VoiceMeeter. This combo is really useful and opens up a tremendous amount of flexibility. 

There's a lot I haven't covered in this first guide. I've barely scratched the surface of optimising OBS for recording and streaming, particularly as there is so much to cover depending on whether you are Intel/AMD or NVidia/AMD for graphics, whether you have one or two machines for presenting/gaming and streaming... NDI also creates more possibilities in this regard.

And with regard to VoiceMeeter, there's also more to cover - VBAN (low latency, uncompressed networked two-way audio), VoiceMeeter's processing and effects, the wonderful virtual insert feature which lets you route audio into a DAW via ASIO and back into VoiceMeeter as an insert... All incredibly powerful features. 

I'll write further guides covering these - please leave a comment or tweet me with what you'd like to see. Likewise, if you spot any errors, please leave a comment or contact me on social media.

What is VoiceMeeter?

Think of VoiceMeeter and similar tools as a black box sat between the computer's real inputs and outputs. On Mac and Linux, BlackHole, LoopBack, Soundflower and JACK are popular equivalents. A primary benefit of VoiceMeeter is it abstracts the operating system's audio inputs and outputs from physical microphone/line inputs and speaker outputs, and lets you transparently use multiple devices for input and/or output.

'Real' audio input sources (like mics) are selected on a VoiceMeeter "input". After you've routed, adjusted gains or applied FX to the audio inside the VoiceMeeter black box, you can use that audio in other applications by selecting a VoiceMeeter "output" as the microphone source - even going back in to the Windows mic input. You can also route audio to busses and produce multiple mixes for different virtual and physical outputs.

As part of this, Windows becomes just another audio input/output source. You route Windows' speakers output to a VoiceMeeter Input, select a Voicemeeter Output as Windows' mic, and route the virtual audio around in the black box using the VoiceMeeter control panel. Learning curve is a little steep, but it's incredibly flexible!

A very basic setup guide for Windows desktop audio and mic input is below, plus a more complex configuration. Getting your head round this opens up a new dimension of flexibility for home production.

For the following guides, they assume you are using a fairly recent PC (Windows 10 recommended). OBS and VoiceMeeter will run on Windows 7 and Windows 8 but some steps involve different dialogs or Windows settings. For Mac, you need to use entirely different audio routing software like BlackHole - I use PC myself but I can write a Mac guide if you're interested. I expect someone's already done some good guides on using SoundFlower or BlackHole anyway.

Direct video, VoiceMeeter for audio

You can always use VoiceMeeter for microphone audio while selecting the HDMI-to-USB capture device (or capture card) as your webcam source into services like Restream/Melon (which use the browser API) or any service which supports webcam and audio selection. This is probably the 'happy medium' for beginners to start with.

The main prerequisite is for your capture card to expose the incoming video signal as a virtual USB device - not all devices can do that (in which case you have to use OBS).

A big advantage of putting your mic through VoiceMeeter is that it offers built-in processing and effects - compressor, gate, delay and other FX like reverb etc, all of which you can apply to your mic before presenting to your streaming application or service. This is very useful if you don't have a physical mixer, if you're in a noisy environment or if you to control your audio levels and make them more professional with some compression.

If you want to try that, just follow steps 1 and 2 - "VoiceMeeter initial setup" and "Adding and routing a mic through VoiceMeeter" - below.

If you install VoiceMeeter but decide you don't want to use it for the time being, you can leave it installed but inactive. Just deselect the "A1" Hardware Out device, and in Windows Sound Settings, change your speakers and mic devices back to what they were before.

OBS video, VoiceMeeter audio

I use the VoiceMeeter and OBS method. It's more complex to set up, but much more flexible as your needs grow, and gives you the ability to make a local recording in your choice of quality while simultaneously streaming. In future should you want to use another service, you can also use OBS to stream directly to one or more services with no significant changes to your setup.

The guide below assumes you have the HDMI to USB capture device connected and your DSLR is outputting video from its HDMI at the correct resolution and frame rate.

Your signal path will be:

  • Camera - HDMI capture device - OBS Video Capture Device - OBS Virtual Camera output presented to app/service
  • Mic - VoiceMeeter - OBS - Audio Input Capture of "VoiceMeeter Output" - "Voicemeeter Aux Input" virtual output device presented to app/service

To install VoiceMeeter, and use it to get audio from OBS to send to your application/restreaming service:

1. VoiceMeeter initial setup

  • Install VoiceMeeter Banana or VoiceMeeter Potato and reboot.
  • In Windows Sound Settings, choose "VoiceMeeter Input" as your output device (speakers). Choose "Voicemeeter Output" as your Input device (mic).
  • In the VoiceMeeter control panel, select your actual sound card as the A1 Hardware Out device (top-right corner). For example, mine might be "WDM: Realtek Digital Output".
  • On the "Virtual Inputs" section, click "A1" on the Voicemeeter VAIO and Voicemeeter AUX channel strips. This tells VoiceMeeter to route desktop audio to both the "VoiceMeeter Output" and "VoiceMeeter Aux Output" Windows devices.

Play a YouTube video to check you can hear it OK; you should see green bars bouncing up and down on the "Voicemeeter VAIO" and first "Physical" fader in the Master Section on the right hand side of the VoiceMeeter control panel.

2. Adding and routing a mic through VoiceMeeter

  • On the leftmost fader, left-click "Hardware Input 1" and select your 'real' microphone source from the list, e.g. "WDM: Microphone (USB Mic)" - you should see audio levels on the meter. This name will change depending on your device.
  • Underneath, next to the green volume strip labelled "Fader Gain", click the "B1" button and it will light up. That routes the microphone audio straight through VoiceMeeter and out of the "VoiceMeeter Output" auxiliary virtual output.

Congratulations, you've now routed your mic and PC sound through VoiceMeeter!

If you look back in the Windows Sound settings dialog, with VoiceMeeter Input and VoiceMeeter Output as your speaker and mic devices, you should see the volume bars bouncing as normal when you talk into the mic and play audio on your PC.

3. OBS Settings

I assume here a canvas resolution of 1920x1080 and 60 fps. Sony's A6000 range are commonly used - for example, the A6300 needs to be set to 1080p and 60 fps (if you're US - 50 fps if UK/Euro). Other cameras like Canon (I use a 7D) can output more resolutions and allow you to switch between UK/EU and US standards; I would always recommend the highest possible input frame rate and at least 1920x1080.

Go into OBS settings and configure as follows:

  • OBS Settings -> Audio -> Advanced - Monitoring Device: VoiceMeeter Aux Input (sending OBS monitoring audio to VoiceMeeter's auxiliary input)
  • OBS Settings -> Video -> Base (Canvas) Resolution: 1920x1080
  • OBS Settings -> Video -> Output (Scaled) Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Common FPS Values: 50 or 60 (depending on camera model).You can of course use 24 fps for a more filmic look if you want, it's also less demanding to record and process. Just set the camera accordingly and adjust the frame rate again in OBS settings.

4. OBS main interface

In OBS, right-click the Sources box and add new sources to your empty Scene:

  • Add -> Video Capture Device; name it sensibly.
  • In the dialog that opens, select the actual capture device from the Device dropdown list, the preview should show your DSLR video. You may need to configure its settings to match the camera output. My cheap HDMI USB adapter requires me to reselect the resolution and FPS in that dialog.
  • Add -> Audio Input Capture; name it sensibly and select "VoiceMeeter Output" in the dialog that appears. ("VoiceMeeter Output" is the mic being routed to B1.)This will let you record your mic in OBS, useful in future.
  • Add -> Audio Output Capture; name it sensibly and select "VoiceMeeter Input" in the dialog that appears. ("VoiceMeeter Input" is your desktop audio going in to VoiceMeeter.)This will let you record desktop audio and remote parties, useful in future.

5. Final checks

When you talk into the mic, you should see:

  • Audio levels on VoiceMeeter's Hardware Input 1 channel strip
  • Audio levels on OBS Audio Mixer panel

On the main OBS canvas you should see the HDMI output of your DSLR. It may be smaller, offset or not taking up the whole of the canvas, if so click on it (red outline appears around it) and press Ctrl+F to Fit to Screen. 

Make sure you've hidden any on screen display the camera produces; my Canon will show various OSD stuff on the HDMI output unless I cycle through them to hide the OSD using the back panel button.

6. Enable OBS Virtual Camera

Whereas previously you needed to install the obs-virtualcam plugin, OBS v26 includes a virtual camera out of the box - all you have to do is click "Start Virtual Camera".

In the browser, on the interface of your streaming app or service, choose "OBS Virtual Camera" from the list of webcam sources and you should see a live preview of whatever OBS is outputting. Choose "Voicemeeter Output" as your microphone source. You're good to go.

This setup will also work for Zoom, Teams, Skype... Anything which lets you choose webcam and microphone device.

You can also do local tests, record clips, check lipsync and add filters to sources to delay them and match them up, add graphics, lower thirds, colour grade the video with LUTs or RGB adjustment, chromakey / greenscreen yourself, add other video sources or capture areas of the screen... So much possibility 🙂

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