Signal Path Basics

  • Updated

Access to recording and streaming technology has become more prevalent than ever. Whether it’s from your computer’s webcam or with professional-grade recording equipment, it is possible to broadcast in a wide variety of ways. However, this also means that it can be difficult to properly configure your video and audio signals before they reach your encoder. This is why we have created this basic guide to setting up your video and audio equipment so that you can get the most out of your broadcast.


Essential Equipment

Before you begin, you will need to make sure that the following items are a part of your production inventory.

Required

Optional, but helpful

  • Computer with at least 8gb of ram and a discrete graphics card
  • Video storage device (capture card)
  • Microphone, preferably with an XLR output
  • Any necessary cables and adapters for connecting your equipment (consult your equipment’s documentation for more info):
    • HDMI
    • SDI
    • XLR
    • USB

Single Camera and Microphone

You can get a high quality video stream out of little more than a camera and a microphone. Provided that your audio can be directly recorded to and embedded into your signal (e.g. you are using the camera’s built in microphone or you have connected it to an external microphone).

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Multiple Cameras and Microphones

Many production environments utilize multiple video and audio signals that are manipulated and switched on the fly. As such, you can In addition to the essential recording equipment listed in the single camera setup, you will also need:

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Dual-Channel Projection

If you have access to a dual-channel encoder, you have the ability to capture and project two separate video feeds simultaneously. This is often used in live venues for things such as conducting remote interviews, showing your speaker and the band at the same time, etc.

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Best Practice

Keep your connections short and simple

One of the most effective ways to minimize the risk of signal loss or degradation in your stream is by making sure that your setup gets your signal from the video and audio sources to the display or encoder in as direct a way as possible. This means that it is always a good idea to use as few cables as possible to get from one end of the signal to the other.

Aside from keeping the number of devices in your signal path to a minimum, there are a handful of other steps you can take to mitigate degradation or errors in your feed. This can be as simple as setting your cameras and microphones close enough to your output that you do not need to use cable extensions. You may also benefit from using shorter cables in general since longer cables can produce quality loss in your feed, depending on the quality of the cable and the amount of data being transmitted

Use secured connections when possible

Accidents can happen and cables can come unplugged from their devices. Whether it is for a power connection or data cable it is always better to use a connection with a locking or securing component to it (such as an SDI cable).

Keep your cables organized

In order to make diagnosing signal path issues easier, and to mitigate the possibility of accidentally disconnecting your devices, you should always keep your network and power cables clearly visible and sensibly organized. Some ways you can do this include utilizing cable combs or spacer, labeling your cables with stickers or masking tape, or color-coordinating them.

Use high-quality cables

While it should go without saying that higher quality equipment will translate to higher quality streams, especially in terms of signal integrity, it should be noted that high-quality fiber optic cables should be used whenever possible for data-transmission (whether that be for video transmission or network devices). This is especially true when you need to use longer cables, which often run the risk of degrading signal integrity.

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