What is streaming software?
Before we dive into OBS Studio and Streamlabs, it’s important to understand what streaming software is.
Streaming software facilitates livestreaming, allowing you not only to broadcast to your favorite platforms, but to curate your stream by switching cameras or audio sources, include other media, share your screen and even interact with your audience.
Live streaming - switch cameras, switch audio sources, play pre-recorded media, insert images/screen share etc.
Is Streamlabs OBS and OBS the same?
Not exactly, no. OBS Studio came first and Streamlabs built out its features after. In this sense, you can think of Streamlabs as an extrapolation of OBS Studio.
What is OBS?
OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software. It’s a free and open-source software available for download that’s compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can record videos and livestream using OBS Studio. It’s the original streaming software, and Streamlabs is built out of it - which is why they’re so similar.
Read more: How to Record with OBS (Step-by-Step Tutorial)
OBS Key Features
To get a better picture of what OBS Studio offers, here’s a quick look at its main features:
Real-time video/audio capture & mixing
You can record real-time audio and video with OBS Studio, as well as livemix your stream. That means you can play with streaming from multiple sources for an exciting and varied livestream.
Multiple source recording
You’re not limited to a single source for your livestream. You can share your screen, include images, text, browser windows, and more.
Add custom transitions so you can move seamlessly between your different ‘scenes’. Scenes are created by bringing different sets of sources together.
Intuitive audio mixer
OBS comes with an intuitive audio mixer that automatically optimizes your audio with noise gates, suppression and gain where needed.
VST plugin support
You can use Virtual Studio Technology plug-in software with OBS Studio if you want to include digital instruments/sounds in your livestream.
Stream to major platforms
OBS Studio lets you stream to all the major platforms including Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and more. However, watch out, by default you can only stream to one platform at a time. If you want to multi-stream, you’ll need to download a third-party plugin.
OBS Studio’s Studio Mode allows you to test run and preview scenes before setting them live. This means you can check and refine your scenes before showing your audience the final product.
OBS Pros & Cons
To give you a balanced overview of OBS Studio, here’s a quick run down of the platform’s advantages and disadvantages.
Not only is OBS Studio compatible with major operating systems but, as we’ve seen, you’ll be able to livestream directly to the most popular platforms.
Another huge advantage is the fact that OBS Studio is completely free to use. This is a major plus for creators and streamers on a budget.
Though this won’t be for everyone, the fact that OBS Studio is open source means that, technically, you can customize it to be your ideal platform.
Easy to use
Designed to be intuitive and straightforward, OBS Studio’s ‘dock’ UI means that you can move elements around your screen to suit your workflow. You can also add personalized hotkeys for quick shortcuts that optimize your streaming process.
On the flip side, some users might find that the platform doesn’t come with some of the basic features that they might expect - such as notifications and alerts.
Low CPU Usage
The fact that OBS Studio puts little pressure on your CPU is a huge plus - especially when it comes to streaming. Low CPU usage translates to a smoother and higher-quality stream.
The standard version of OBS Studio might be a little disappointing to creators looking for a fully decked-out platform. Of course, being open-source, you can definitely add on features that you want or need, but it’ll be on you to download the specific plug-ins.
Audio file as source
You can’t easily add a pre-recorded audio file as a source for one of your scenes in OBS Studio. This could pose a problem if you want to play a pre-recorded jingle or segment, for instance.
As we mentioned earlier, OBS Studio defaults to letting you only stream to one platform at a time - this is quite a big let down when most streamers these days like to double or even triple up on the destination for their streams.
Remote guests are possible but not easy
Though it’s technically possible to livestream and record with remote guests, this isn’t one of OBS Studio’s native features, so it’s not easy or straightforward to do so compared to other platforms.
Finally, OBS Studio defaults to recording your video and audio in a lossy format. This means you’ll lose the integrity of your recording quality when it’s processed and saved.
What is Streamlabs?
Streamlabs is also an all-in-one streaming software. It is an OBS-based software, but was developed to improve on the original software. It was originally known as TwitchAlerts, before becoming Streamlabs OBS in 2016, dropping the OBS in 2021. Logitech acquired the company in 2019. Just like OBS Studio, Streamlabs is open-source and free to use.
Streamlabs Key Features
Here’s a brief overview of Streamlab’s main features:
Automatic backup to the cloud
Streamlabs keeps everything you do backed up to the cloud. That means that all your scenes, sources, transitions (you name it) will be saved on their servers with all your media and files. This is great for when you’re on the go and want to start recording - you simply need to log back in (even on a different computer) and you’ll have access to all your files.
Stream to major platforms
You can reach your audience whatever platform they’re tuning in from. Stream to all major platforms straight from Streamlabs. Plus, unlike OBS Studio you can multistream - meaning you can stream to more than one platform at one time.
Personalize your streams
Streamlabs ensures that you can really make your streams your own. They offer users free stream overlays and themes to personalize the look and feel of their livestreams.
Streamlabs app store
A unique feature of Streamlabs is its bespoke app store that has a whole selection of applications focussed on enhancing your Streamlabs experience and optimizing your stream. You’ll find apps in there that not only add powerful features, but also help you to diversify your streams and reach your audiences in new ways.
In addition to its desktop application, Streamlabs also has a mobile app so you can livestream and record on the go, wherever you are.
Streamlabs comes with a ‘collaborative’ feature called Collab Cam that lets you add guests to your stream or recordings. You can add a guest or co-host, depending on what kind of stream you’re trying to do. If you want to add more than one guest, though, you’ll need to upgrade to a Streamlabs Prime membership.
Streamlabs has gone beyond simply facilitating your stream by introducing a monthly tipping feature. This allows streamers to receive consistent tips from their viewers. Plus, other than the cut that PayPal takes, 100% of the tips go direct to the streamer.
You can also choose to open a Streamlabs Merch shop - just another way to monetize your content.
Streamlabs Pros & Cons
Free to download
Just like OBS Studio, Streamlabs is free to download and start using. However, to get access to its full range of features, you’ll need to upgrade to a Streamlabs prime membership.
Easy to use
Streamlabs is designed to be easy to use, and you can tell. The sleek and intuitive interface is simple to use, making it incredibly easy to get started.
Include remote guests
Unlike OBS Studio, Streamlabs is fully equipped to include remote guests in your livestream. Though as we noted, you’ll need to upgrade to include more than one extra person.
Unlike OBS Studio, Streamlabs supports multistreaming from the get-go, which is a huge advantage for streamers looking to maximize their exposure.
Streamlabs takes a proactive approach in supporting your livestreaming, not just as a hobby, but as a side-hustle or business. You can use its integrated monetization features to start making money from streaming.
Prime membership for full features
In order to enjoy Streamlab’s full range of features, you’ll need to upgrade to a prime membership. This will cost you $149 per year - which might not be an option for everyone.
Heavy on the CPU
Since Streamlabs comes fairly loaded with a number of features, it makes sense that using the platform weighs heavy on your CPU. You might find that you start contending with a laggy computer or lackluster performance as a result.
Like OBS Studio, Streamlabs also defaults to lossy file formats for your recordings. This means that even if your final recording might lack the quality you were expecting.
What’s the difference: OBS vs Streamlabs
Now that we’ve looked at each platform separately, let’s pick apart the key differences and similarities between OBS Studio and OBS Streamlabs:
Completely free vs membership
OBS Studio is completely free to download and use. You can also download and start using Streamlabs for free, but to gain full access to all its features, you’ll need to upgrade to prime.
When looking at these two platforms, we need to look closely at OBS vs Streamlabs for CPU Usage. As we’ve seen, OBS Studio represents a fairly small load for your CPU. By contrast, Streamlabs places a lot of pressure on your CPU. This could be a big factor in choosing between them if your computer isn’t up to the task.
When it comes to multistreaming, Streamlabs wins out. Though it’s technically possible to stream to more than one platform with OBS Studio, this isn’t an in-built feature, but one that you need to add in yourself.
Another huge difference is how easy it is to record with remote guests. OBS Studio does not have this as an integral feature, whereas Streamlabs has introduced it as ‘Collab Cam’.
If you compare the two platforms on basic features straight after downloading, Streamlabs definitely wins. Since Streamlabs was built to be an ‘improved’ version of the original OBS Studio, this is no surprise.
Which is better: Streamlabs or OBS?
Streamlabs or OBS Studio - a classic question with no real answer. Though we know that a lot of streamers want to know which is better, there is no objective winner. This is because it really depends on your specific circumstances, budgets and needs.
Straight off the bat, Streamlabs probably offers a better-rounded set of features: you can include remote guests easily and stream to multiple platforms simultaneously. Plus, you can monetize your streams which is a huge advantage for streamers who want to make money from their content. But the payoff is that you’ll be putting more pressure on your CPU and you’ll have to spend more to get the most out of the platform.
That being said, OBS Studio offers invaluable customizability. Plus the fact that it’s free (always) is a huge advantage for streamers on a budget.
If you’ve got fairly basic needs and don’t want to spend too much, OBS Studio makes a lot of sense. However, if you don’t want to have to spend time perfecting the platform and want to prioritize ease and scalability, then Streamlabs is the obvious choice.
How to choose between Streamlabs and OBS
It can be hard to choose off description alone. But here are a few factors to consider:
A big difference that we mentioned earlier is how intense each program is on your CPU. If you don’t have a powerful computer, you may find your desktop isn’t really that compatible with using Streamlabs. However, if you already own a high-caliber gaming laptop, for instance, then Streamlabs is a great choice.
To get the most out of Streamlabs, you’ll need to pay to become a prime member. As such, if budget is a big constraint, then we’d recommend going for OBS Studio.
Try before committing
If you have time to spare, we’d recommend giving both platforms a try to get a feel for their interface and features. You may find that on a personal level, you prefer one platform over another, and this will make a huge difference in the long-run.
Bonus: Streamlabs and OBS Alternative
If you’re not happy with either option, don’t despair. There are plenty of other options out there - some of which may surprise you with unique features. Here is a quick overview of two of the most popular streaming software out there:
First up is Riverside. Riverside is a browser-based recording studio and livestream software. This is a versatile tool that you can use for recording video (or audio) podcasts as well as livestreaming. Its key USP is just how easy it is to livestream with remote guests.
Riverside is free to use, but you can upgrade to the Standard plan at $15 per month for more features. Note that livestreaming is only available if you upgrade to a paid plan.
- Livestream to major platforms. Stream to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, and LinkedIn.
- Local recording. Riverside automatically records directly on each participant’s device rather than over the internet. This means your recording quality is unaffected by your internet stability.
- Lossless file formats. Riverside defaults to lossless file formats to preserve the integrity of your original recording. Lossless audio is audio that has been compressed in a way that doesn’t impact or reduce its original quality.
- Live mixing. Include your screenshare as well as sound effects, music or video clips using Riverside’s Media Board.
- Remote guests. As we mentioned, remote guests are in Riverside’s DNA. You can include guests from anywhere in the world on your livestream seamlessly with Riverside.
- Browser-based & mobile app. Riverside is browser-based which means you don’t need to download an application to get started. And if you want to record or stream on the go, you can use the Riverside iOS or Android mobile app.
FAQs on OBS vs Streamlabs
Do I need both OBS and Streamlabs?
No, you don’t. OBS and Streamlabs serve the same fundamental purpose, so it’s all about deciding which platform will serve your needs better. Check out our in-depth comparison to decide which is better for you.
Is OBS less CPU than Streamlabs?
Yes, generally speaking OBS will place less pressure on your CPU than Streamlabs.
Is Streamlabs better than OBS?
Streamlabs isn’t better or worse than OBS because it all depends on what you’re looking for. Though Streamlabs was originally developed to improve on OBS, some streamers still prefer to stick with OBS Studio.
Is OBS good for streaming?
Yes, OBS is designed to be a streaming software that’s easy and free to use.