Many streamers incorporate the use of an Audio Interface within their streaming setup. With the ASIO for OBS plugin, you can utilize its full feature set.
What is ASIO?
You would be forgiven if you don’t know what ASIO is. Most people have never heard of the term before. You might have if you’ve dabbled in creating music though. ASIO, or “Audio Stream Input/Output” is an Audio Transfer Protocol developed by Steinburg back in 1997 and updated in 1999 to version 2.0.
ASIO was developed for use by the music industry and allows Audio Interfaces(otherwise known as external sound cards) to get access to its full capability of the multi-channel sound devices embedded in the hardware.
With the proper drivers attached to your Audio Interface, depending on the Interface you have, you can have anywhere between 1-20+ different channels that can be input into a pc.
Why would you need 20+ devices into your sound card?
Well, that would depend on what you are using it for. Most streamers won’t necessarily need an interface with that much I/O capability, but again, it depends on what you are streaming.
Say, for example, you are a Drummer with an Acoustic Drumset. A drum kit has about 7 total pieces that need to be captured. Well, you would need 7 microphones, positioned beneath/next to the drums to capture the most “natural” sound from it. See, a singular microphone can do the job okay, but 7 mics set up under each part will dramatically improve the detail of each piece of the setup.
Incidentally, the most utilized mic for a drum kit is the Shure SM57.
VST on a Per-drum basis – Why ASIO is amazing.
If you had an interface with 7 Input signals. and 7 output signals, you can then control them on the pc. You gain the ability to apply Unique EQ to each signal, further enhancing the sound and getting closer to one that defines you as a drummer.
This is done VIA a VST plugin. Virtual Studio Technology is a format that audio engineers, musicians, and even big-budget movie productions use to create high-quality sound effects by modifying the sound wave in various ways. One of the most common ways is Equalization.
You’ve heard of “Digital Remaster” before, right? Basically, they took the recording and applied some VST effects to it. Either that or the more expensive hardware studio technology that does the same thing as VST, but is a bit more stable, and is subjectively higher quality.
Those devices tend to be out of the budget range of a streamer, so instead, we opt for Free VST effects and apply that to your audio to boost its quality in some way, maybe eliminating noise with a noise suppressor, or help prevent peaking using a compressor VST plugin.
Okay, So ASIO expands the functionality of an Audio Interface. What about ASIO for OBS?
Download ASIO for OBS
So, this plugin was developed by two people over on GitHub; Pkv and Andersama. Essentially, all it does is enable OBS to use ASIO devices as a source on OBS. You can do some pretty radical things with this setup, like a True Stereo microphone setup.
We have tested it extensively, and it is stable enough to utilize in your day-to-day operations. It is fairly straight-forward.
Incidentally, using this method will also allow you to utilize a true stereo microphone setup if you have two microphones. One mic sends its signal to the left ear, and the other sends its signal to the right ear. Combined together, this gives the microphone signals an almost 3D feel to it. It sounds more natural to us.
If you don’t have two mics, Simply Set both OBS channels to 0 In 1 or 1 in 2, because otherwise, you’ll need to downmix to mono in the Advanced Audio Properties window, and, that isn’t needed if set up properly.
Going further, Setting up a 7.1 audio for that drum kit
If you were to go into the settings in OBS, and select the Audio tab, know that you can enable 7.1 surround sound capability, for anything that supports it.
This solution isn’t for everyone. Most of your audience will be limited to stereo or even Mono(If it is on their phone) simply because a 4.0+ system is fairly expensive and bulky. However, those who use Virtual 7.1 Surround Headphones will see a difference, and will greatly appreciate it.
Why should I use the ASIO plugin for OBS?
Apart from the complicated 7.1 setups mentioned above, ASIO inputs tend to have lower latency than typical sound devices found onboard motherboard sound chips. Lower latency means you won’t have as much sound syncing to lips issues, once properly set up.
Using the Audio Interface itself, even without the full benefit of ASIO, will result in a higher “quality” audio signal, if you are using its speaker output or headphone jack.
What should these settings be set to?
You should select the Sample Rate that is what you set all of your audio devices to. The Limit for OBS is 48000, or 48khz. That is the format that DVD Audio is recorded in. We use 48Khz at Streamer’s Haven, but there is a negligible difference between that and 44.1khz, one that you can only perceive with speakers or headphones that are good enough to discern the difference. Whatever one that all of your devices support should be the one you choose.
We won’t go too in-depth on what sample rate is better(That is a major can of worms in the audiophile world.) but we can say that your buffer size should be set to 256 or 512. 8 is way too low, and causes occasional audible static noise. The reason is that your processor can’t process the audio signal fast enough, and as a result, it doesn’t do a good job of processing the audio. The result is audio artifacts in the form of popping.
The Data Format setting should be 32 Bit Float(If available), as that is the format that sounds best to us. You can play with these settings a bit to dial it in
Sticking to Stereo
Knowing you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. There is a saying in the web design world. “Keep it Simple, Stupid.” Basically, it means not to overthink and just go with what works. In this case, unless you are that Drummer streamer, and have a passion for audiophile quality with a budget to back it up, Stereo is all you need.
Any musician knows that having more than one microphone positioned around your instrument will add a greater audio depth to it, as sound can only be captured from a fairly small part of the wave per microphone. Adding more microphones captures more parts of those waves.
But do you need them to record a song or talk to your audience on Twitch or Mixer? Nope.
All you need, really, is just one good microphone.