The Best OBS Settings for Streaming and Recording | 2020 Updated7 min readReading Time: 6 minutes
One of the most common software for the beginners of livestreaming is OBS, or the Open Broadcaster Software. This is a free and open-source software for streaming and recording highly powerful and easy-to-use videos. However, the first set up for streaming or recording with OBS might be overwhelming for freshers with little technical knowledge.
Encoding video with OBS is an important step to have quality recording and streaming content that is successfully delivered to the viewers. This article will walk you through the best settings for recording with OBS Studio that set you off in the right direction with livestreaming.
See the 101 of how to livestream and get OBS started the right way in this guide.
The Best OBS Settings for Recording
When you first have OBS installed, the default settings are good enough for you to start streaming and recording. We will walk you through the initial customizations to create the best possible quality for recording with OBS.
Once you are used to the software and how things elaborate, you might further modify these options so that your settings are best for your personal setup and streaming platform.
In the OBS Setting window, you will see the General settings first. However, there is not much for you to adjust in the General settings.
Here, you can choose the OBS application theme—the most common theme is no other than the infamous dark mode. One more thing to take note of is to enable the System Tray. It allows for better accessibility while using and instantly launching the software when needed.
In the Output tab, you can choose between Simple and Advanced for the Output Mode.
First, the Simple Mode is where you set the format of the recording files, the location to store the files, and the recording quality. For Video Bitrate and Encoder Settings, you can edit them in the Advanced Mode.
Recording Path: This is where you want to store the video files after recording and encoding.
Recording Quality: Choosing the quality of the recording will determine how it will turn out, as well as the size of the recording. OBS provides you with four different options for quality that you can choose for your videos:
- Same as stream: This is the default setting when you record with OBS. This option will result in a medium-sized recording file with the same quality as the livestream.
- High Quality, Medium File Size: Like its name, OBS will record your stream in high quality, with medium file size. The result is a not too large video file, with good enough quality for the viewers.
- Indistinguishable Quality, Large File Size: Compared to the previous options, this option creates a video with crystal clear and crisp quality recordings. In turn, the file size can be enormous, so make sure you have enough space to store them.
- Lossless Quality, Tremendously Large File Size: OBS offers you an option to make recording videos of lossless quality. Again, the size of the final file can be extra-large while the recording is in the finest quality possible.
Recording Format: In the dropdown, you can choose your preferred format between .flv, .mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ts, and .m3u8. The two most common formats are .flv and .mp4.
In the Output Mode dropdown, choose Advanced to switch from the Simple settings. In this mode, we will only focus on the Streaming tab and leave the rest for later.
This is one of the most critical settings for setting up the output for your stream. Here you can find two options in the dropdown menu: x264 and H.264.
For the x264 option, you are choosing to encode the video using the CPU processor only. If you use only one computer for both recording and streaming, it will put a heavy load on the machine’s processor. Therefore, if you have a dedicated PC for recording, you can choose the x264 option for encoding.
Depending on the build-in graphics card of your PC, you can see either NVIDIA, AMD, or else H.264 for encoding. Choosing this option means that you are using hardware supported encoding and reduce the CPU load.
It is recommended that you go with the hardware encoder for most of the time. Compared to x264, this option will use the dedicated graphics card of your PC to encode. Thus create smoother recording quality, improve streaming performance, and avoid the OBS Encoder Overloaded Error.
This dropdown menu defines how you want the bitrate to be controlled. The two options you need to care about are CBR and VBR.
You can find the default setting is CBR for Rate Control. This means that the recording video will be transcoded in a constant bitrate throughout the recording and streaming session. Whereas with VBR, or Variable Bitrate, the bitrate varies depending on the video’s content.
In this case, we recommend choosing CBR for when you use OBS for both recording and streaming purposes. Because CBR keeps the bitrate stable throughout the video, it is more accessible to livestreaming the video to viewers with different internet quality and bandwidth.
On the other hand, if you are using OBS for purely recording purposes, VBR is the go-to choice to have higher quality videos without sacrificing quality for livestreaming.
Bitrate and Keyframe Interval
Bitrate for recording and streaming should be set from 4000 Kbps to 6000 Kbps depending on your bandwidth, frame rate, and video resolution. Plus, note that Keyframe Interval should be set at 2, meaning that the video frame will be rendered every 2 seconds.
We had covered the in-depth explanation of video bitrate, its role, and how to choose the best bitrate settings for different platforms in this blog.
The rest of the settings in the Advanced Output Mode should be good to go as is.
To sum up, a working Output setting for recording would be “H.264” for the encoder, “mp4” for recording format, “CBR” for rate control, 4000 Kbps for bitrate, “2” for keyframe interval, and “high” for the profile.
Again, to figure out the most optimal settings that fit your devices and specifications, you should run several tests to check out the outcome.
The next part of setting up OBS for recording is the Audio Settings. In the setting menu, there are two Desktop Audio options and four Mic Audio options.
Simply put, desktop audio is the output audio from your computer, e.g., gameplay sound, voice chat. The mic audio is the input audio that goes into the computer. All you need to do is choose the right option for each audio input and output; then, you are good to go.
Note that the minimum recommended audio bitrate should be 128 Kbps.
The two most important settings in the Video tab are the Base (Canvas) Resolution—the resolution of your monitor and the Output (Scaled) Resolution—the recording’s resolution. In most cases, these two resolutions are set to match each other.
However, you can lower the output resolution in OBS to reduce the CPU usage while still having decent video quality. To do this, adjust the resolution in the Output (Scaled) Resolution dropdown to 1080p or 720p, depending on your preference.
Setting Up Streaming and Recording Using OBS with Ease
The trend of livestreaming has steadily grown over the years, with more businesses are getting started to expand their reach to more audiences. Combining OBS encoding features with a streaming service makes it easier to produce high-quality streams, with the capability to multistreaming to different destinations.
Check out Castr’s comprehensive livestreaming features with unlimited recordings of your streams on the cloud automatically. Plus, throw away your worries about bitrate and streaming quality and simply toggle on Adaptive Bitrate Streaming in Castr for buffer-free live sessions.