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YouTube now offers AV1 beta for higher-quality live video

It was revealed on March 27 by streamer EposVox that YouTube will soon permit AV1 encoding for live streaming, supporting 4K 60fps feeds. The rundown offers advice on appropriate bitrates for each resolution and frame rate.

Due to its higher efficiency compared to H.264 or VP9 and its absence of license restrictions, the AV1 codec has steadily received acceptance since its launch in 2018. The majority of current technology can decode AV1, and the latest generation of graphics cards from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia last year support AV1 encoding.

YouTube now offers AV1 beta for higher-quality live video

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Adopting AV1 is hampered by a lack of software support from numerous well-known providers. Twitch isn’t there yet, HandBrake introduced compatibility at the end of last year, Nitro subscribers can stream in AV1 on Discord right now if they have RTX 40 series GPUs, and pre-recorded AV1 footage has been allowed on YouTube for a while.

Recently, YouTube implemented RTMP+ support, enabling live streaming in AV1, VP9, and HEVC. Moreover, EpoxVox has a preview build of the upcoming OBS 29.1, which supports AV1 live streaming.

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YouTube now offers AV1 beta for higher-quality live video

The efficiency is drastically different from AV1. For a 1080p 60fps broadcast to have decent image quality under H.264, the bitrate must be at least 8Mbps. According to EposVox, AV1’s sweet spot for 1440p 60fps streaming is 8Mbps, but streamers can get by with as little as 4-6Mbps. For 1080p 60fps streaming, he advises using merely 4Mbps, while for 4K 60fps streams, 10-15Mbps.

These figures are not exact. They are merely one streamer’s suggestion for balancing bandwidth utilization and image quality. The proper balance will probably depend on how fast and how motion-heavy each game is. Some people may be able to go even lower because EposVox was able to stream Halo Infinite in 1440p at 60 frames per second for under 500Kbps.

YouTube now offers AV1 beta for higher-quality live video

Users can change to AV1 by going to Settings > Stream and choosing “YouTube – RTMPS” from the dropdown menu when OBS 29.1 is made available to the general audience. Next, select QuickSync AV1 from the dropdown box under Output > Encoder. EposVox claims the new build will be released soon, but OBS has not yet specified a date. In a later video, he intends to examine Discord’s AV1 streaming capabilities.

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