Being a content creator may seem like a breeze, but most content creators will tell you that it’s not as easy as you may think. It involves a lot of planning. You come up with content, execute it, record or live stream it, and upload it to Youtube or social media. It can feel like a full-time job — and for some, it really is. Having the right tools in your toolkit can help make your life as a content creator significantly easier by making the creation process much smoother.
One such tool that you can use is Streamlabs Desktop. Most of its users probably use it to live stream, but the truth is this free, open-source software can actually record, too.
Streamlabs Desktop, formerly known as Streamlabs OBS, is indeed a powerful piece of software capable of recording your gameplay. If you need to make videos that aren’t at all gameplay-related, this program can also serve that purpose by recording your screen and any other sources you may have included in your scenes (such as your logos, mic, and the like).
In this article, we won’t be talking about how to get Streamlabs Desktop set up and ready to go for streaming. Rather, we’ll talk about how to record with this software. We’ll also take a closer look at the settings for making recordings with Streamlabs Desktop.
How to Record in Streamlabs Desktop
In this tutorial, we assume that you have already downloaded and installed Streamlabs Desktop onto your system. If you haven’t, please do so! You can get the app from this link.
To start recording with Streamlabs Desktop, follow the steps below.
- Open Streamlabs Desktop
- Make sure that you have your mic, webcam (optional), and game captures set up. If you are recording something other than gameplay, you can capture your desktop or window instead. Remember that Streamlabs Desktop will only include your selected scene and added sources in the setup. You can switch between scenes and add new sources, but the recording will capture all of this as you go. For this reason, it’s best to make sure everything is set up before you hit the record button.
- Configure your recording settings (more on this below).
- Hit that RECORD button located right by the Go Live button on the bottom right corner of your app’s main screen. To stop recording, simply click the same button again.
Once you finish your recording, the file will go to your designated output folder, ready for editing or uploading.
IMPORTANT TIP: The file size of your recording will depend on your chosen settings and the duration of your recording session. Before you click record, make sure you check that you have enough storage space available for your recording. Some content creators will even have special drives (internal or external) onto which they'll save their recorded files. If you want things to go a bit faster, consider an SSD.
Setting Up for Recording on Streamlabs Desktop
Getting everything set up for streaming or recording may be time-consuming, but as long as you do it right, it should be a one-time process (barring a tweak here and there occasionally). Expect to do a lot of trial and error and experimentation — and a lot of asking others for feedback!
It’s not enough to be entertaining and have a beautiful setup for your screen and your overlay. As a content creator, it’s super important to have good audio too — otherwise, no one will stick around to finish your video. No one wants to hear tons of background noise, static, peaking microphones, or whisper-quiet volumes.
When setting up for your recording’s audio, first make sure you’re capturing the correct audio source(s). If there is a microphone connected to your system, Streamlabs Desktop will automatically detect it and you’ll see it in the audio mixer.
If it’s not capturing the correct microphone, change it to the correct one in the settings. Click on the settings gear/cogwheel icon (bottom left corner), go to audio settings, and select the correct microphone.
Streamlabs Desktop has a built-in feature that allows you to select which audio tracks you would like to include in your recording. There are up to six tracks available, and you can assign audio sources to each one. You can also assign multiple sources to one track.
IMPORTANT TIP: To use the multi-track recording recording feature, make sure that you change the recording format of your audio to .mp4 or .mkv. .flv, the default file type, does not support multi-track audio.
If you’d like to use multi-track audio recording, you can read the quick guide below. You can also check out Streamlabs’ guide here.
Let’s take a look at each feature in reference to the image above. To get to this settings window go to Settings > Output. Don’t worry if this is not the window you immediately see.
- Change your Output Mode to advanced to bring up the other settings as seen in the image. Click on the Recording tab.
- Change your recording format to .mp4 or .mkv if you want to use multi-track audio.
- These numbers 1 through 6 are the audio tracks in your recording. You can select and deselect the tracks as you wish, so if you only want audio track 1 and 2, you can select just those two and deselect the rest.
To route your audio sources to your audio tracks, go to your audio mixer and click on the cog wheel in the panel to bring up the advanced settings.
From this advanced settings window, you can select which audio tracks to send your audio sources to. You can set this for as many audio sources as you’d like.
Why is it helpful to use multiple audio tracks? This doesn’t so much affect your actual recording, but it does make your life much easier when you are editing. Let’s say you’re recording your gameplay and your commentary. You can send your desktop audio (gameplay) to track 1, and your commentary (microphone) to track 2. When you put your file in your editing software, you’ll have two separate audio tracks that you can edit individually. This makes it much easier to mute certain parts, make your volume louder or softer for one source and not the other, and so on.
You can set the bitrate individually for each audio track by clicking on the Audio tab in your output settings window.
160 is a decent setting, though you can go as high as 320 for better quality.
Once you’ve got your audio set up properly, the next thing you can look at is your video. We probably don’t need to tell you at this point that you should set up your scene to include whatever sources or assets you’d like. Include your overlay, webcam, and game or window capture source here.
When you have all of that set up, you can go to your video settings by clicking on the bottom left corner cog wheel and going to Video.
Let’s go through each setting one by one.
- Base (Canvas) Resolution should match the resolution of your monitor. If it’s a 1080p monitor, you should set it to 1920×1080. If you have a 1440p monitor, set it to 2560×1440, and so on.
- Output (Scaled) Resolution only really matters if you’re trying to shrink your resolution down for streaming. For example, if you want to output 720p on Twitch even though you have a 1440p monitor. For recording purposes, match your monitor’s resolution. However, monitor your computer’s performance while recording to see if you need to lower this number.
- Streamlabs recommends that you use Lanczos in the Downscale Filter setting. This filter gives you the nicest quality possible, but it does cost you more in CPU resources. Experiment with these filters to find the right one for your system (it may involve trial and error and a lot of monitoring your PC’s performance during recording sessions).
- FPS Type should be Common FPS values, and you should set your FPS to 60. 60FPS is best when you’re playing a game with a ton of action and fast movement. 30FPS will feel laggy and even stuttery in this situation. However, you can use 30FPS if you are just playing something slower like a board game or a more chill game.
The next thing you should do is check out your Output Settings within the same settings window.
Again, to see the window above, you must switch your output mode to advanced. Click on the Recording tab to bring up these settings. Now, let’s look at everything one by one.
- Recording path is where your recording file will save after you finish your session. You can choose to tick or untick the box that says generate file name without space — this is a matter of preference.
- Recording format is the file type your recording will save in. Streamlabs recommends using mp4, but you can also select .flv or .mkv. Remember that if you are using multi-track audio recording, you cannot use .flv.
Recording on Streamlabs desktop uses some of the same settings as your streaming setup. So click on the Streaming tab to change the settings below.
- Encoder is which encoder Streamlabs Desktop will use to encode your video. There are usually two – x264, which is software-based and uses your CPU, and NVENC, which is hardware-based and uses your GPU (graphics card). If you have a powerful enough NVIDIA GPU, NVENC is usually the encoder of choice. By offloading the encoding to your graphics card, you can free up more CPU for your gaming, as well. Choose x264 if your CPU is more powerful than your GPU.
- Rate control – according to Streamlabs, choose CQP for NVENC and CRF for x264.
- Bitrate depends on your resolution as well as your computer’s specs. If you’re recording at 1080p 60FPS, you probably want a bitrate between 5,000 and 10,000. The higher your resolution, the higher you’ll want this setting. You can go as high as 60,000 if you’re filming in 4k.
- Keyframe interval should stay at zero, according to Streamlabs.
- CPU Usage Preset should be at the Max Quality or the highest setting, according to Streamlabs. of course, make sure you monitor your computer’s performance and adjust if you notice it struggling.
- According to Streamlabs, Profile can be set on high.
The other settings on this screen don’t need to be altered, since they have little to no effect on your recording’s quality.
Once you have all of that set up, now comes the fun part!
Test, Test, and Test Again!
The next thing you need to do is test your setup and make sure everything is working optimally without making your computer struggle too much. You can check your CPU usage in the performance tab of your task manager. Watch your CPU usage as you play your game and record a sample. Make sure you talk so you can check your volumes and audio tracks. Adjust things as you go to find the right balance for your rig.
You can also check if your multiple audio tracks are working correctly by opening a sample recording file in your editing software.
If you don’t have editing software yet, you can check out Davinci Resolve, which is available for free. You can also check out our Best Video Editing Software For Streamers – [Full Guide] article!
Streamlabs Desktop has tons of features available not just for streaming, but also for recording. There are even other features like the Replay Buffer and the Highlighter which we haven’t gotten the chance to cover today. There are no limits to what you can create with software as robust as this one!
Setting up your Streamlabs Desktop for streaming and recording is time-consuming at the start. It takes some effort and trial and error, but once you get everything going you’ll find you won’t have to mess with your settings again, ever. We hope that this guide has helped you figure things out!
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