Learn how to setup your dual PC streaming configuration with this easy to follow guide. Whether you are using a capture card or NDI OBS plugin for streaming or simply want to learn how to connect and configure an audio mixer for your dual PC streaming setup, this step by step guide will help you learn the basics.
How Does Dual PC Streaming Work?
Dual PC streaming is a relatively simple concept to understand once we establish the basics. You have two PCs, one for gaming and one for streaming; all you’re missing is another piece of hardware called a capture card that bridges the connection between the two PCs.
Additionally, there is a less expensive way to setup dual PC streaming without a capture card and that requires something called NDI streaming. This leverages your personal home network to send the audio and video between your gaming and streaming PCs.
Regardless of which method you choose, there are any number of combinations you can setup and employ as your streaming setup. You can add an audio mixer, XLR microphones, USB audio interfaces or a software audio mixer like Voicemeeter Banana and these are all possibilities once you understand how dual PC streaming works.
Learn the various methods in which to configure your dual PC streaming setup today:
Dual PC Streaming with a Capture Card
The first step to take is to connect both PCs together and it won’t take very long, however, make sure you’re connecting everything in the proper order. As the title suggests, this part of the guide requires a capture card and the most popular capture card currently on the market is the Elgato HD60. Therefore, this part of the guide will assume the Elgato HD60 is the link connecting each of the dual PCs.
Connecting the Dual PC Streaming Setup with an Elgato HD60
First we’ll need to connect the gaming and streaming PCs together with the Elgato HD60 capture card being the link between the two systems. Once this link is ready to go, you will need to confirm the addition of the capture card within Windows by double checking the Display Settings. After you have confirmed the capture card is connected properly, you’re ready to install drivers and then move onto the next step of setting up the audio.
- Plug in the HDMI cable from your gaming PC graphics card into the “in” connection of the Elgato HD60 capture card
- Connect the Elgato HD60 with the provided USB cable to the streaming PC
- Once the HDMI and USB cables are installed into the capture card, head over to your gaming PC and right click your desktop and select Display Settings
- You should see two displays featured here, 1 representing your gaming PC desktop and 2 representing the Elgato HD60 capture card
- Make sure to install all appropriate drivers for the Elgato HD60 capture card
Setup Audio for a Dual PC Streaming with the Elgato HD60
The second step in this process is to setup and confirm that your streaming software is able to receive the audio from your capture card. Whether you are using OBS or Streamlabs OBS, the process is much the same. Add the Elgato HD60 capture card as a Video Capture Device, this allows the streaming software to accept the video and audio of the gaming PC to be transmitted to the streaming PC.
- Head to your streaming PC
- Start up your streaming software, preferably OBS or Streamlabs OBS
- Add the capture card as a video source, click the + sign under Sources, choose Video Capture Device
- Choose the Elgato HD60 capture card from the drop down menu
- Double check the preview window to ensure the Elgato HD60 is broadcasting
- Ensure sound that is playing from your gaming PC is being picked up by the broadcasting software on your streaming PC in the Mixer panel of OBS
Now you have configured your capture card and OBS correctly you are ready to stream; however, if you wanted to learn about how to do without a capture card, there is another option:
Dual PC Streaming without a Capture Card
For those of you on a budget, there is another option and it doesn’t cost a thing. What we’re talking about is called NDI streaming and it is provided as a plugin for OBS. The NDI plugin acts like a software capture card, leveraging your home network to pass the audio and video information between the dual PC streaming setup.
Connecting the Dual PC Streaming Setup without a Capture Card
NDI stands for Network Device Interface and it can deliver and receive high quality video in a low latency environment, most notably a home network. It is absolutely required that both OBS and the NDI Plugin are installed on both the gaming PC and streaming PC in order for this configuration to work.
- Install OBS on both your gaming and streaming PCs, this is required
- Download and Install the NDI Plugin from the OBS Project forums on both systems
- Restart both computers when prompted
- Open OBS on your gaming PC > Settings > Video > make sure your Output is set to 720p 60FPS
- Click on Tools > NDI Output Settings > Enable Main Output on your gaming PC
- Head over to your streaming PC > OBS > and click on the + sign under Sources
- Add NDI Source to your streaming PC > OBS > under Source name choose your gaming PC from the drop down menu
As an addendum, you might find that you only see a black screen while attempting to use NDI streaming between your dual PC streaming setup. Most often this is a Windows specific issue and as such might require you to enable Media Streaming.
- Bring up the Windows Control Panel > choose the Network and Internet option
- Choose Network and Sharing Center
- Click on Change advanced sharing settings
- Click on All Networks > Choose media streaming options > Turn on media streaming
- Enable this on both your gaming PC and streaming PC > Restart both computers
NDI vs Capture Card for Dual PC Streaming
As a comparison, the average hobbyist live streamer won’t notice much of a difference with either approach. However, if you’re looking to push the boundaries of your live streaming experience, investing in additional hardware will always be a necessity. In order to proceed past 720p 60fps, there are a multitude of capture card options, all ranging from prices as low as $50 USD to upwards of $200 USD. NDI streaming is an exciting and affordable option, but with 1080p 60fps becoming the new standard and 4K live streaming on the horizon, dedicated hardware is always a better, more versatile solution for a dual PC streaming setup.
Dual PC Streaming with a Mixer
The majority of professional live streamers use high quality microphones and have multiple PCs and a couple of gaming consoles. That’s a lot of streaming hardware to have to manage and contend with on a daily basis. This is where the addition of an audio mixer comes in handy. Having a single piece of hardware dedicated to routing and controlling all of your audio makes dual PC streaming far easier.
When dealing with an audio mixer for streaming you will want to remember a few things. First, you will be converting a digital audio signal from your gaming PC into an analog signal on the audio mixer. Second, this can introduce a few problems and therefore require an additional piece of hardware called a Ground Loop Isolator or sometimes called a Hum Destroyer. They are normally quite cheap and a necessity if you are looking to invest in an audio mixer for a dual PC streaming setup.
How to Connect a Mixer for Dual PC Streaming
The organization of all your PC peripherals and how you connect them together; from your gaming PC and into your audio mixer and finally onto your streaming PC is specific to your particular live streaming setup. However, this will serve as a rough guide on how to get the basics setup and ready to start streaming. For demonstration purposes, let’s assume you have a 10 channel audio mixer, like the Yamaha Mg10Xu.
- Channel 1 is an XLR input for your condenser microphone
- Channels 5 and 6 are the inputs coming from your streaming PC
- Channels 7 and 8 are the inputs coming from your gaming PC
- Channels 9 and 10 reserved for additional hardware, game consoles, etc
- Connect the Stereo Out from the audio mixer to your audio input on your streaming PC
- Each time a connection is made between the gaming PC > audio mixer > streaming PC – you add a ground loop isolator or “hum destroyer”
This is the absolute basics needed to get an audio mixer connected with a dual PC streaming setup. From this point forward you will plug your headphones into the audio mixer output and voila, you’re all connected on the hardware front.
How to Setup the Audio for Dual PC Streaming with a Mixer
The sole function of an audio mixer is to have multiple inputs and turn that into a single output. When you are connecting your gaming PC and routing the audio through an audio mixer and into your streaming PC, this requires you to add the audio mixer as an Audio Input Source in your streaming software.
Make sure the Sample Rate in OBS is set to 44.1khz, as this is the desired output of the Yamaha Mg10Xu Stereo Mixer. This can be found under OBS > Settings > Audio > Sample Rate. It is also good practice to make sure the sample rate in Windows is also 44.1khz, as sometimes it might be defaulted to 48khz and this has been known to cause various audio issues in the past.
- Right click on the Sound Icon in Windows
- Right click again and choose Open Volume Mixer
- Choose your audio device
- Under the Properties tab, select 44.1khz from the drop down menu
If you’re on a budget and need a cost effective option, you could always try a software mixer. Relatively new on the scene and with features comparable to most high end audio mixers, Voicemeeter Banana might be the solution to your problem.
Dual PC Streaming Audio Setup without a Mixer
If you choose not to invest in an audio mixer then there is a software solution for you called Voicemeeter Banana.
Voicemeeter Banana is a product of VB-audio.com and along with the software mixer we’ll be installing, this requires additional software called a Virtual Audio Cable, from the same website. This software is paid for by a donationware model and although Voicemeeter Banana is free, if you want to install multiple Virtual Audio Cables, as some live streaming setups might need, it would require a license from VB-audio.com; however, the first Virtual Audio Cable is free.
Voicemeeter Banana Setup
Voicemeeter Banana is the software equivalent of an audio mixer and at first it looks a little daunting in comparison to most other software. However, it’s actually quite simple to compartmentalize each of the audio sources and route them from your gaming PC to your streaming PC without hassle.
- Install Voicemeeter Banana on both your gaming PC and streaming PC
- Install Virtual Audio Cable on your gaming PC
The highlighted section above showcases the three hardware inputs and their location on Voicemeeter Banana. Hardware Input 1 is the channel we will configure for our microphone.
The second highlighted section is designated for two virtual audio inputs. You can assign various programs here or use a mix of Windows in-game audio on VAIO 1 and save Voicemeeter AUX to route outbound sound through.
The third and final section on the far right are the hardware outputs; these will consist of any speakers or headphones you would want to use and the Windows game audio out from your gaming PC to the capture card on your streaming PC.
Voicemeeter Banana Audio Network is a configuration tab within the Voicemeeter Banana software that allows you to control and adjust VOIP over your home network between your gaming PC and your streaming PC.
This feature will become an important step when you are assigning the channels and IP addresses of each hardware input and virtual audio input connecting your gaming and streaming PCs.
How to use Voicemeeter Banana
The first hardware connection we will make is for the microphone. If you’re using an XLR microphone you will also require a USB audio interface or a preamp. However, if you’re using a USB microphone, you can plug it directly into your gaming PC motherboard.
- Open Voicemeeter Banana on your gaming PC > click on Hardware Inputs 1 > choose your microphone from the drop down menu > under the Hardware Inputs 1 section select bus B2 > deselect any other buses
- Open VBAN > turn VBAN on > find the Outgoing Streams section > under Sources choose bus B2 > under Stream Name name it Microphone > under IP Address To add your streaming PC IP
Now that we have setup the microphone and the corresponding bus on our gaming PC, we need to head to our streaming PC to enable the microphone output.
- Open Voicemeeter Banana on your streaming PC > Open VBAN > turn VBAN on Under Incoming Streams > enable Stream 1 > under IP Address From > add the gaming PC IP
- Under Destination > select In #1 to correspond with Hardware Inputs 1 for the microphone
Now you should be able to hear and see your microphone audio being picked up. The next step is optional, however a lot of people enjoy having Discord controlled by Voicemeeter Banana and this requires the aforementioned Virtual Audio Cable.
Connecting Discord with Voicemeeter Banana
In order to get Voicemeeter Banana to recognize Discord as a hardware input source, you must enable the Virtual Audio Cable in Windows that allows Discord to act as a passthrough to the Voicemeeter Banana software mixer.
- On your gaming PC right click on the Windows Sound Icon > select Sounds Settings > under Sound click on Output and select Voicemeeter Input (VB-Audio Voicemeeter VAIO)
- Scroll down to the Input section > click on the drop down menu and select Voicemeeter Aux Output(VB-Audio Voicemeeter AUX VAIO)
- Open Discord> click on the cogwheel > under App Settings select Voice & Video > under Input Device > select Voicemeeter AUX Output
- Under the Output Device > select VB-Audio Cable A
- Open Voicemeeter on your gaming PC > click on Hardware Input 2 > select CABLE A Output (VB-Audio Cable A) > select bus A3 under Hardware Input 2 section
- Open Discord > click the cogwheel > under App Settings select Voice & Video > perform a Mic Test
The Virtual Audio Cable has been installed and configured both in Windows, Discord and Voicemeeter Banana. Now you’re free to adjust Discord specific audio, add effects, filters or gate settings and it won’t interfere with any other in-game or streaming related audio.
Additionally, if you wanted to pass the Discord audio along to the streaming PC in order for it to be displayed with OBS or Streamlabs OBS you would need to add it to VBAN on the gaming and streaming PCs just like we did before with the microphone.
- Open VBAN on your gaming PC > turn VBAN on > find the Outgoing Streams section > under Sources choose bus A3 > under Stream Name name it Discord > under IP Address To add your streaming PC IP
- Open Voicemeeter Banana on your streaming PC > Open VBAN > turn VBAN on
- Under Incoming Streams > enable Stream 2 > under IP Address From > add the gaming PC IP > change Stream 2 name to Discord
- Under Destination > select In #2 to correspond with Hardware Inputs 2 for the Virtual Audio Cable connecting Discord
Configuring Voicemeeter Banana with OBS
The Windows default audio uses the VAIO input/output with Voicemeeter Banana and we’ll need to configure that first in order to bypass the streaming PC and head directly to OBS.
This guide assumes you have already configured your capture card correctly. If you’re using an Elgato HD60 or any popular variant, it shouldn’t be very difficult to sort out your graphics card HDMI to Elgato HD60 to streaming PC connections.
- Open Voicemeeter Banana on your gaming PC > look for the Virtual Inputs section > choose bus A2 under Voicemeeter VAIO
- In the upper right hand area of Voicemeeter Banana you will see Hardware Out > select A2 > select your capture card from the drop down menu
- Head to your streaming PC > Open OBS > under the Sources area click on the + sign > add a Video Capture Device > name it Elgato
- Under the Sources area click on the + sign > add Audio Input Device > click on the Microphone cogwheel under the Mixer panel in OBS > select Voicemeeter AUX Output(VB-Audio Voicemeeter Banana AUX VAIO)
Frequently Asked Questions About Dual PC Streaming Setups
Can you do dual PC streaming with a laptop?
Yes, even without additional and expensive hardware. You will need to set up NDI streaming through the OBS NDI Plugin or connect an external capture card to your laptop. Dual PC streaming with a laptop is very possible, it’s only a matter of configuration between OBS and NDI on your home network.
Do you need a second PC for streaming?
Not all live streaming setups require a second PC. Some of the most popular streamers only have one gaming PC that also streams to Twitch, YouTube or Mixer. What you would need to stream with a single PC is a CPU with more than 4 CPU cores and a GPU that is only a few generations old at best, think GTX 1060 or RX480 territory.
How good does a streaming PC need to be?
You don’t need a killer streaming PC these days in order to deliver consistent, lag free frames to your audience. Some of the best streamers purchase brand new gaming PCs and retire their older PCs to streaming duties. Any relatively modern quad core CPU is more than capable of rendering and streaming video to Twitch.
Do you need a capture card to stream?
Thanks to NDI streaming you do not absolutely require a capture card to stream. NDI is an OBS plugin that will leverage your home network in order to stream video and audio between your gaming and streaming PCs. If you only have a single PC streaming setup, you don’t require a capture card at all.
What game capture card should I get?
The most popular capture cards on the market currently are Elgato brand capture cards. They have several options depending on your budget. However, the current best internal capture card to get would be the Elgato HD60 Pro. They also make an external capture card called the Elgato HD60 S.
How many cores do you need for streaming?
A quad core CPU should be more than capable of handling streaming video. If you choose to go with more cores however, a 6, 8, or 16 core CPU, you have the option to greatly increase the bitrate at which you’re encoding video and therefore would help to produce a higher quality stream for your audience.
Now Your Dual PC Streaming Setup is Live
We have explored most of the popular methods required to setup and configure a dual PC streaming rig. Hopefully this exercise has been helpful in finding solutions with the nuanced practices of a dual PC streaming setup. You should feel confident in your ability to employ any aforementioned option and spend less time hassling with hardware and software and more time live streaming.