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Webcasting with OBS Studio

This page is a step-by-step on how to set up the FREE open source OBS Studio encoder software for LIVE broadcast on SermonAudio. For more on what other options are available and what is needed to set up your account for webcasting visit our webcasting help page

If you do not yet have OBS Studio installed on your system you will need to do so before beginning this tutorial.

There are several quick and easy ways to see if your account is webcast-enabled.

  • Go to the Live Webcasts section to see if your church is listed as a webcaster.
  • Visit your homepage on SermonAudio and look for the webcast badge under the HOME tab.broadcaster home TOP - webcast badge
  • You can also visit your Members Only page, the webcast server will appear under the STATS tab in the “Basic Account Settings” section if activated.
You will need to have your account webcast enabled before you will be assigned a webcast server (needed below.)

Once set up you will be able to initiate a webcast anytime you want and as often as you want.  (note: there is a 10-hour max run time for any single webcast.) The site will automatically detect your webcast and activate the notification buttons on-site and (if you have one of our embed codes installed) on your church website as well! A truly complete and flexible solution!

In the examples shown below, use your SermonAudio Member ID wherever the text “MEMBER_ID” appears. You will need to verify that you have been set up for webcasting and get the webcast server address at this point. Cutting and pasting is the best as it removes the chance for a typo.

You can find this information in the Members Only section of the site under the STATS tab.  It should be listed near the top of the page under “Basic Account Settings”  If it is not listed there, you have not yet been enabled for LIVE Webcasting.

Your server address  will “look like” the one below where the text MEMBER_ID is replaced with your actual SermonAudio Member ID:

rtmp://stream.sermonaudio.com/MEMBER_ID

Next, you will need to start the OBS Studio program on your computer. If you have not installed it yet you will need to do so now. This is a free and open source tool you can download here!

First, select the STREAM tab on the left-hand side of the settings window.

Next, select the “Custom Streaming Server” option from the “Stream Type” dropdown.

Next, type or paste the Server URL from your Members Only page into the URL field.

You will need a Stream Key of some kind. This will not be used publicly anywhere so we recommend just typing “stream” in the Stream Key field

Be sure to check the box “Use Authentication” and then enter your Member ID in the “Username” field and your password. Your Member ID and password are case sensitive when webcasting so make sure you pay attention to this detail when entering them.

Note: the Password can either be the main account password or your webcasting password if you have that setup.  If you wish to assign a password for webcasting other than your main account password you can do this by logging into the Members Only page and clicking on the PASSWORDS tab.

When you have finished click on the APPLY button at the bottom right of the screen and go to the next step.

First, click on the SETTINGS button near the bottom right of the screen. You can also access this using the “File” menu in the upper right corner. Once the settings window is open you will first select the OUTPUT tab on the left of the window then select “Advanced” from the “Output Mode” dropdown.

Next, select “x264” from the Encoder dropdown.

Set the Rate Control dropdown to “CBR” (constant bitrate) and the KeyFrame Interval to “2”

Profile can be set to either “baseline” or “main.” Setting the profile to “main” provides better quality but there may be issues for viewers with older devices streaming it properly.

You can set the Bitrate to anything you like as long as it is not higher than 1000. Be sure that the bitrate you choose is not too high for your connection. If you go higher than your connection can handle the user experience will be degraded. One other thing to keep in mind when setting your bitrate is that because OBS does not support multiple streams your user will only have two choices, the bitrate you choose or an Audio-Only version of your broadcast.  If you receive a lot of feedback about buffering, etc. from your listeners and you eliminate CPU or bandwidth issues at the source, you may want to consider lowering your bitrate a little.

IMPORTANT!! It is imperative that your upload bandwidth speed is fast enough to ensure a smooth and successful webcast. Find out what your upload bandwidth speed is at your location before setting your bitrate. We do not recommend that your bitrate exceeds 50% of your upload capacity and that you use a dedicated line when you are streaming.
If your stream is dropping frames, or rebuffering, pausing and disconnecting your viewers, try using a lower bitrate and see if that helps.

Next, click over the to AUDIO tab at the top to set the audio bitrate.  We recommend 48-64Kbps for audio. You can set this lower if you like but we do not allow bitrates higher than 64 at present.

Go ahead and click the “apply” button at the bottom to save any changes.  For most applications, the default settings are fine for archive purposes but if you wish to change the bitrate, etc. for recording your sessions to your local PC you can do that in the RECORDING tab at the top.

Next, let’s click over onto the AUDIO tab on the left-hand side of the window.

The primary thing to set here is the “Channels” dropdown. To avoid any phasing issues we strongly recommend setting this to MONO. A good sample rate for a 64kbps stream is 44.1 kHz.

That’s it you are ready to stream.

To begin a Webcast, Press the START STREAM button at the bottom of the window and your webcast will be LIVE and visible on SermonAudio.com! Please note that usage charges are accumulated at this point, even for test runs. Keep an eye on your current usage charges in the BILLING section of the Members Only Area.That’s it! Congratulations!

The site is designed to automatically detect when you are “ON-THE-AIR” and will make it clear to all who are on the site that a LIVE webcast is in progress. When you are live webcasting, the button will automatically change from the OFF AIR button

to the ON AIR button.

Please note it may take up to one minute for SermonAudio to actually detect that you are on-the-air. This simply means that the OFF AIR button may not change into the ON AIR for up to one minute.

Note: All single sermon (audio or video) and sermon browser embed codes will also display a notification automatically for your visitors alerting them to a webcast in progress. We do not want your visitors to miss your live broadcasts! For more on our embed codes and how to use them in your website visit our embed code editor help page. Your webcast will also appear in the webcast directory on the main site and in the iOS apps, the Android apps, on the SermonAudio Roku channel, the Fire TV and the Apple TV. Where else can you get this kind of coverage with a single click?

You can keep the live webcast on-the-air for as long or as short as you wish. SermonAudio will automatically keep track of the number of hours that are used in your live webcasts throughout the month and then add the total hourly usage charges for the month to your next billing cycle.

In order to STOP the live webcast, simply press the button again. Please be aware that it may be up to 5 minutes before SermonAudio is able to detect that you are completely off-the-air. Do not be alarmed at this. We have taken these delays into account when calculating the usage charge for billing.

Monitoring your Webcast  OBS has a handy at a glance view of a number of important stats at the bottom of the window.

Pay close attention to CPU and Dropped Frames.  If you are taxing the CPU (over 70%) you can change the CPU usage preset in the OUTPUT tab to ease the load a bit but we recommend not changing this unless absolutely necessary as it may adversely affect the quality of your stream.  The Dropped Frames display is very helpful to alert you if you are pushing more data than your connection can handle. If you are dropping frames you will definitely want to back off a bit on the bitrate or your viewers will not have an optimal viewing experience.  Generally, if the box in the lower right corner stays green you are doing well.

Auto shut-off  It does happen occasionally that a webcaster will forget to turn off their stream. After ten hours of uninterrupted broadcast, we will automatically stop the stream for you to avoid further accumulating charges to your account. If your account is auto-killed you will need to log into the Members Only section of the site to reset your account before another webcast can begin.

Also, note that you can also set your software to record the current session and save the live VIDEO webcast as a file which you can upload later as an archived video.

Please abide by the limits and rules as outlined in the above points. If you go over these limits, visitors may not be able to experience your webcast properly, your webcast may interfere with other webcasts in progress, and we may, therefore, be forced to terminate the stream until it is corrected.

Welcome to Live Webcasting on SermonAudio.. and enjoy!

Feel free to email us at support@sermonaudio.com if you have any questions about this service.