The two most popular options for live streaming software are OBS Studio and Streamlabs. Both are compatible with major streaming platforms like YouTube, Twitch and Facebook and both have features that live video content creators need. Although OBS and Streamlabs are similar in a lot of ways, they have some key differences. This comparison guide will help you decide which one is right for you: OBS or Streamlabs?
OBS Studio (Open Broadcaster Software)
Even if you’re new to live streaming, you may have heard of OBS Studio. This free, open-source, high-performance broadcasting program is considered the precursor to all modern streaming software. So it’s no surprise that Streamlabs and OBS Studio have almost the same code, except for a few tweaks.
1. Open-source code
Open Broadcaster Software was officially released in 2012. It is open-source, which means developers can create customizable plug-ins and awesome effects. Because anyone can review the code at any time, it also means bugs and glitches get resolved quickly.
2. Screen recording
OBS is primarily known as a live streaming software but you can also use it as a screen recorder. You can also add your camera and mic as sources to make your screen capture more dynamic. OBS lets you live stream and record video at the same time as well.
3. Customizable interface
The OBS Studio interface is fully customizable, from the position of the screen to the size of the windows. Simply drag and drop every element of the workspace. Additionally, the variety of settings lets you configure the program to meet your specs, including the frame rate (fps).
4. Low CPU usage
Another advantage of OBS Studio is its low CPU usage — an especially vital characteristic for streaming. To achieve the smoothest stream possible, you have two options: either buy a powerful computer or use software that doesn’t put a heavy load on your system’s central processor.
5. First to get updated
Because OBS Studio is the oldest software of its kind, it receives the latest updates, features and patches quickly. For example, if Nvidia releases an update, like a new GPU encoder or driver, OBS Studio will be among the first broadcasting programs to receive it.
6. Multi-platform support
OBS Studio supports live streams on practically every popular streaming platform, including Twitch, YouTube Live, Facebook Live and more. It’s also compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux.
7. Free to use with no watermark
Many streaming software on the market require a purchase to use. Or they offer a free plan but place their watermark over your streams. OBS is 100% free, with all of its features available to all users without having to pay. There’s no OBS watermark on your streams either.
8. Audio mixing
OBS has a built-in audio mixing dashboard so you can create the perfect sound for your live videos. You can use features such as multi-channel settings, surround sound and even noise suppression.
1. Low variety of plug-ins
Although the OBS Studio interface is user-friendly and straightforward, it comes with a downside. The software lacks a variety of features, like chats and customizable themes, also called overlays. There are ways to add these, but unfortunately, the plug-ins aren’t included in the standard software. However, you can get access to features like chat, overlays and customizations if you connect OBS to Restream — more details on that below.
2. No audio files as sources
If you have an audio playlist on your PC that you want to play on your stream, you won’t be able to link to those audio files as sources.
3. No Windows XP support
Unfortunately, OBS Studio doesn’t run on Windows XP. Not many would find this a huge minus, but it’s still a downside nonetheless.
4. Confusing user interface
Although OBS is totally customizable and free to use, it lacks a little in user-friendliness. It might look a little confusing the first time you open it, and you’ll probably have to watch or read some tutorials before you’re comfortable with using OBS.
5. Streaming to one destination at a time
OBS integrates with all major streaming platforms, but it only allows you to choose one of those destinations to broadcast to at a time. If you want to stream to multiple platforms at the same time, you can use a tool like Restream, which easily integrates with OBS.
OBS integration with Restream
If you want the high performance that OBS provides with the added power of multistreaming and customizations to your live videos, you can connect OBS to Restream. You can benefit from these additional features:
- Multistreaming: OBS allows you to live stream to just one platform. By connecting OBS to Restream, you can broadcast to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and 30 other platforms simultaneously. You simply add your preferred streaming destinations to your Restream account, then add Restream as your “destination” in OBS.
- Customization: Use Restream’s RTMP source feature to run OBS through Restream Studio, our browser-based live streaming studio. You can apply additional custom visual effects, easily change lower thirds and always display your branding no matter the camera source.
- Multichat: Handling the live chat when you stream to multiple platforms can be a little overwhelming. When you add Restream chat to OBS, however, you can get all the comments from all of your viewers across all platforms in the same chat window. You can send out messages to all platforms too.
- Analytics: With OBS, you need an extra plug-in to compile viewer metrics. With Restream, you can get important analytics about your stream and your audience, aggregated across each platform you stream to.
Streamlabs was developed as an improved version of OBS Studio. Logitech took into account the smallest flaws and attempted to fix them. Some things about Streamlabs are better than OBS, but not all.
1. Easy setup process
To set up Streamlabs, complete these five simple steps:
- Download the installer on your PC.
- Run the installer.
- Link your streaming account.
- Run the optimizer (to automatically adjust the settings).
- Add your stream key, and run the stream!
2. Built-in chat
With a built-in chat function, you don’t need to keep several browser tabs open. Streamlabs lets you manage the chat inside the program. The chat itself has tons of perks to help you engage the audience, including a chatbot with useful moderation tools.
3. Free customization
Streamlabs offers a variety of free integrated themes with multiple overlays — from casual static themes to amazing animated visuals. You can choose one to suit the game you play or your personal preferences. You can also make alerts unique to your channel.
4. Test button
One of the most practical features Streamlabs offers is the test widget. This button lets you check everything with one simple click before going live. You can also make sure your stream alerts are set up properly.
5. Monetization options
Streamlabs lets you receive tips from your viewers without charging a fee. You can also design and sell merch within the Streamlabs platform. If you upgrade to Streamlabs Ultra, you can create a custom tip page with your own domain name.
6. Streaming on mobile devices
You can use Streamlabs on either desktop or mobile to give you more flexibility when creating live video content.
1. More CPU usage
Unfortunately, all the fancy features, custom themes and useful widgets demand more resources from your computer. Therefore, make sure you have a PC with strong processing power before using Streamlabs.
2. No sound commands
The integrated chatbot doesn’t include sound commands for your chat, unlike the standalone version. As a result, you’ll need to run the chatbot separately from Streamlabs if you need the sound commands.
3. Best features require paid subscription
Streamlabs has a ton of user-friendly features but the best ones, like multistreaming or removing a watermark, only come if you pay for the Streamlabs Ultra subscription.
Streamlabs integration with Restream
Combine Streamlabs with Restream to boost your multistreaming power and gain more control over your broadcast.
- Multistreaming: Add Restream as a “destination” in Streamlabs so you can expand your number of multistreaming options, including platforms like Kick, TikTok, Instagram Live, Amazon Live, Trovo, Telegram and more.
- Mobile streaming: Use the Streamlabs mobile streaming app with Restream to customize your broadcast and send it to multiple platforms simultaneously.
- Chat overlay: Connect Restream to Streamlabs to embed a chat overlay on your stream, whether you’re broadcasting on desktop or mobile.