OBS settings for Twitch TV Streaming

Let’s talk the best OBS settings for Twitch TV.   For this tutorial we are going to use the 64-bit version of OBS. Some people use the 32-bit version of OBS because it’s compatible with a couple more plugins, so make sure to keep that in mind. Now that we have OBS open, let’s go ahead and open the settings panel.

Diving into OBS settings for Twitch TV

Under the general tab the first thing I’m going to do is set up a general profile. I’m going to go ahead and name this Test Profile and hit add. I think it’s important to set up a profile from the beginning because you might stream under a different name sometime, use a different account or you might just want to play around with a different profile and try out some things you were thinking of adding to your stream. So it’s good to set it up at the start to avoid confusion later.

OBS Profile

So know lets go into the encoding tab. We are going to make sure that our encoder is selected at x264, that we have Use CBR checked, and Enable CBR Padding checked as well.  We are going to leave Use Custom Buffer Size unchecked. It’s recommended by Twitch to leave this unchecked unless you really know what you are doing; by leaving this unchecked you are going to make your max bit rate and your buffer size the same which will give you the optimal settings that you will need.

Video Settings in OBS

Before we  move on let’s take a little bit and talk about the next two settings: your maximum bitrate and buffer size. I actually think that these are the two most important settings we are going to be covering during this tutorial and two that are quite misunderstood. So, first what is bitrate? Bitrate is the number of bits per second that can be transferred along a digital network. So what does this mean? We want to find the highest number that will work for us and Twitch, because this number will affect how clear our image is. This is extremely important when there is a lot of motion.

Bitrate: the number of bits per second that can be transferred along a digital network.

So how do we know what works for us? First, Twitch recommends that you do not exceed 3,300 kilobits per second. Second, the easiest way to figure this number out is by going to something like  SpeedTest.net and testing your upload speed.  It is important to note that some upload services give you megabits per second, but you can easily translate that number to kilobits per second by typing it into Google.

Convert Mbps to kbs

So after you get your upload speed, you are going to want to use 80% of your result as your max bitrate and buffer size. However we want to remember not to exceed 3,300 kilobits per second as recommended by Twitch. Let’s say our result is 2,000 kilobits per second; we are going to set up our max bitrate and buffer size to 1,600 kilobits per second. Now if you are still having trouble with these settings then I highly recommend going to the OBS website and using the OBS estimator. Once you put in your information it will give you optimal settings to use, but I want to remind you that what works best for me and what works best for everyone else might not work best for you. So, it is important to test out your stream in different settings.  Consider recruiting a friend to watch your stream while you test out different bitrates and even resolutions.  When you are doing your tests make sure to have a lot of motion on your screen in order to figure out the optimal settings for a smooth quality stream. For me personally I use 1,800 kbps for my max bitrate and buffer size. Now that we figured that out, we are going to leave the audio encoding settings at their default. It should be Codec AAC, Format 48kHz, Bitrate 128, and Channel stereo. Let’s hit apply and move on to the Broadcast Settings.

Best OBS settings for Twitch Encoding

In Broadcast Settings we are going to set the Mode to live stream and then make sure our Streaming Service is set to Twitch. Now we are going to go ahead and make sure the FMS URL is somewhere very close to us. For myself, I will change it to Miami, Florida. Afterwards we are going to find our Play Path/ Stream Key in the Twitch dashboard. If you already have your Twitch account setup you can go into your dashboard and then get it from there. It is important not to show anyone your stream key but if it happens to slip out you can always reset it.

Twitch Dashboard

Once we enter that in, we are going to make sure that all of the other settings are just left the same, Auto Reconnect is checked, the Auto Reconnect time is at 10, and then we are going to hit apply and move onto the Video Tab.

OBS Encoding Tab

In the video tab is where we are going to set the resolution that we are going to be streaming at as well as the frames per second. For my stream,  I can only use the resolution of 720p because of my upload and download speed. If you are not sure what resolution to stream at then you can use the Twitch recommended settings. For 1080p they recommend having a a max bitrate between 3,000 to 3,500 kbps, for 720p it’s 1,800 to 2,500 kbps, for 480p it’s 900 to 1,200 kbps. You’ll notice there’s a gap in some of the recommended settings.  As a general rule I would recommended going down in resolution, rather than up, if you’re in between Twitch’s recommendations.  However, you can always test out each resolution and see which works best.

More OBS Video Settings

Under the Base Resolution section, you can see that I have custom selected and 1920 by 1080. This gets me at an aspect ratio of 16 by 9. This is important to note because I personally use a monitor that’s 1920 by 1200 pixels in resolution. This allows me to set a custom resolution so that when I stream, most people on Twitch see it properly at the 16:9 aspect ratio. However, if you have a monitor that’s already at 1920 by 1080 pixels you can simply select Monitor and then use the dropdown to select the correct monitor that you are using as your main streaming monitor. From here I am going to use the Resolution Downscale feature to get my resolution down to the 720p that I need. After that I am going to leave my Filter on bilinear fastest, I am going to set my FPS to 30, and personally I prefer disabling Aero when OBS runs.

Disabling Aero is only recommended if you are going to use Monitor Capture.  You can leave this unchecked.

Again, I want to stress that what works best for my stream might not be best for yours. So, maybe you can run 1080p and maybe you can run at 60fps. It is one of those things you are going to have to tweak and test out yourself.

Video Resolution in OBS

Now let’s go into the Audio tab. I am going to leave my Desktop Audio Device at default.  For my Microphone/Auxiliary Audio Device I am going to set that to my Samsung Meteor mic. I prefer to directly select the microphone I plan to use, rather than leaving it at default, because I have some additional audio microphone sources. It is important to know with Desktop Audio Device leaving it default it’s going to play anything you hear through your default device to your stream. So, it is actually possible to select specific sources to filter out some things that you might not want on your stream.

Audio Settings for OBS with Twitch

Let’s move on to our Hotkeys. For this tutorial we are not going to use any, but they are nice to use especially if you have some extra macro keys on your keyboard or just keys (or key combinations) that you generally don’t use. Some things like push-to-talk can be extremely useful to filter out background noise.  You can use Hotkeys to do commands such as starting and stopping your stream. They are really useful to set up and if you have time and the extra keys to use, I would recommend that you set a couple up. To do so you just simply click where it says none next to the hotkey you want to setup, then type the key, or key combination, you’d like to use. Setting up something like stop stream can get rid of that awkward goodbye at the end of your stream and just make the stream experience a little bit better. Make sure to hit apply and let’s move on.

OBS Hotkeys

Now we can look at the Advanced Tab but there is not anything you need to worry about in here for now.  The same goes for Quick Sync Encoder and Browser Tab, these are advanced features.  If you want to you could look a little bit more into the Microphone Noise Gate. It is something that would help people that have a lot of background noise or hissing that they don’t want to hear unless they are talking. Personally I don’t use it but if you would like information just read more about it on the OBS website. Now we are just going to click OK and go to File > Save to save our profile.

That concludes what we are going to cover in this guide on General Settings for OBS.  In our next guide we are going to be getting into some fun stuff such as setting up our different scenes, global sources, and OBS plugins. If you have any questions about this guide please leave them in the comments below.

Posts in this series:

  1. Creating a high-quality stream for twitch from start to finish
  2. General settings in OBS for Twitch
  3. Installing plugins, setting up global sources and scenes
  4. Adding a music scroller and donation, subscriber, and follower notifications
  5. Setting up TNotifier and adding animations to notifications
  6. Setting up your Twitch account before you stream
  7. Going live and improvements to make afterwards