In the wake of the Elgato Stream Deck, stream controllers have become a popular addition to one’s setup. They allow streamers to seamlessly manage their shows in ways that aren’t as efficient as one could manage with hot keys or a mouse.
Despite the initial sticker shock for what amounts to “just” 15 buttons at face value, my Stream Deck has proven its worth many times over. From scene changes, to managing voice changers, to complex event sequences triggered by a single button, my shows wouldn’t be the same without it.
Though the standard set of 15 buttons should suffice for most, I’ve long since run out of space due to my production-heavy shows. Folders allow me to squeeze in a few more actions, but most activities require me to cycle between menus with extra presses, negating some of the device’s convenience. For streamers like me who are in need of even more control, the Stream Deck XL has us covered.
Elgato gave streamers a new level of control with the Stream Deck. It’s my favourite piece of streaming hardware, as it allows me to switch scenes, manage audio, trigger replays, and even stage a concert with the push of a button. I love the device and the Stream Deck platform so much that I just doubled down and bought a Stream Deck XL for access to even more buttons.
Many alternatives have risen in its wake, though they’re almost entirely software solutions that use your PC or phone. The Stream Deck still sets itself apart by being a physical device with tangible buttons that can be pressed without having to take your eyes off the camera.
Enter the Loupedeck Live. Best known for making tactile control devices for content creation, they’re taking their expertise to the world of streaming.
A few days ago, Elgato opened up applications to its streamer partnership program. Though I’m generally weary of any sort of partnership or sponsorship programs aimed at small streamers for how slanted they are in favour of the brand, I decided to give this one a shot. I did so because I am a fan of the brand’s products, applying alone didn’t appear to lock me into anything overly-exploitive, and whatever permissions I gave them to my channels could be easily revoked if they rejected me.
Well, they did reject me. That’s okay. There’s a silver lining to my application that you may want to take advantage of while the opportunity is still open.
I adore my Elgato Stream Deck. Yes, it seems very pricey for a handful of buttons. And no, you probably shouldn’t buy the Stream Deck Mini because six buttons isn’t enough for most. However, my standard Stream Deck has proven to be more than worth it. With this device, it makes it so easy for me to seamlessly juggle between scenes, toggle audio sources on/off, activate my voice changer, trigger my sound board, and so much more. If anything, I’m pining for the Stream Deck XL so I can have access to even more buttons.
Regardless of how much I and many others may recommend this controller, it’s hard to overcome the sticker shock to really understand the Stream Deck’s value proposition. If you want a taste of what it’s like to have a Stream Deck but don’t want to pay Stream Deck prices, consider these alternatives.
Streaming equipment can be addictive. As soon as you get one piece, the desire to get more and better stuff doesn’t stop gnawing at your consciousness. Around this time of year, there’s a glimmer of hope that Saint Nick has also binged on the same Alpha Gaming videos you watched and is ready to trick out your streaming setup with everything you’ve been longing for.
Or, you could just write it out in a list for him like this!
Black Friday is a wonderful time to buy streaming equipment as a gift for the streamer in your life. As part of this year’s festivities, Elgato has a number of its products on sale. They are my go-to company for streaming equipment and I may have to pick up an item or two for myself.
Before owning one, I perceived the Elgato Stream Deck as a frivolous expense. Why would I need one of these when I can do everything it offers with a keyboard and mouse? Or with one of many free alternatives on my phone?
Once I got it, the Stream Deck proved its worth almost immediately. Having a dedicated device that I can interact with is so much easier than a keyboard and mouse. Its programmable buttons and folders gives me way more control in a smaller package. Versus touchscreen alternatives, the tactile buttons make it easy for me to trigger actions without breaking eye contact with the audience. As Elgato has added more functionality through software updates, the value proposition of this device is only getting better.
I tinker with mine all the time, always finding more features I can use while streamlining my workflow. By the time I post this, the layouts pictured here will probably be outdated. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to discuss how I use this thing and the ways it’s made my life better. Maybe it’ll inspire you to step your Stream Deck game up. Or maybe you’ll have tips to help me improve!
I love my original Elgato Stream Deck. It may just look like a set of buttons, but being able to program each one with a growing set of functions has streamlined my experience so much. From being able to quickly trigger the airhorn sound that starts every stream, to switching between overlays, to running elaborate game shows on Boss Rush, I can easily perform all of these functions and more without breaking the flow of the show.
If I had one wish, it would be for the Stream Deck to have more buttons. While you do get the option of adding folders to the mix, my default setup uses more than the 15 buttons available. In particular, Boss Rush can require upwards of 60 (!) buttons, making it a hassle at times to fish between folders for certain functions.
Elgato heard me. The new Stream Deck XL is out now, with a whopping 32 buttons. It’s not quite 60, but it’s more than what you’d get from running up two regular Stream Decks at once.
Before I began streaming, I dismissed the Elgato Stream Deck as an expensive gimmick. At its regular price of $150 US/$220 CAD, you are paying a lot for what simply appears to be nothing more than 15 buttons. Once I started getting into streaming, I felt that I could manage my stream just fine with a keyboard and mouse.
With many hours of streaming under my belt now, I’ve begun to understand where a device like the Stream Deck could come in handy. I use my keyboard for hot keys, but I can’t unbind them from their default functions. For example, I want to type in a new numerical value to adjust the volume of the game. All of a sudden, my scene quickly flashes and ends on the wrong view because those same numbers are mapped to my different scenes. I’ve streamed for far too long with a muted mic because I didn’t realize it was muted. For a production-heavy show like Boss Rush, where I’m the host and the producer, I spend too much time not engaging with the crew or the audience because I’m too busy looking at the screen trying to cue up the next video or manage all of the visual elements that go into our game shows.
At this point in my streaming career, I knew that I needed more buttons. There are alternatives to the pricey Stream Deck, such as phone apps that offer similar functionality, or DIY solutions that can be done for much cheaper. You can even buy a cheaper Stream Deck featuring only six buttons. But when the original 15-button model went on sale as part of Black Friday, I scooped one up immediately.