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SD vs HD Quality: What Works Best For Live Streaming?

SD vs HD streaming setting: when do you need it? Here’s a look at how these video resolutions will affect your live broadcast on Facebook and YouTube.

480p, 720p, 1080p streaming – Understanding Video Resolution

SD vs HD: You often hear the terms SD and HD as well as the numbers that correspond to them but what exactly do they mean for your live streaming journey? How different is broadcasting in 480p compared to 1080p?

Before deciding the fate of your live stream based on these numbers, let’s first discuss what video resolution is exactly.

A video is made up of dots called pixels that come together to create a moving picture on the screen.

The more pixels you have on the screen, the more detailed the video becomes. And if you have more defined details in a video, the clearer you will see the image.

Here is the video from Olena about the basics of livestreaming and explanations why streaming HD quality broadcasts isn’t an option sometimes. 

While there are two main segregations of video resolutions, most people know them in their numerical versions plus the letter “p” after it. The “p” stands for progressive or progressive scan which are the vertical pixel counts displayed on the screen at the same time.

So a 480p resolution means a video has 480 pixels in a line displayed vertically and 858 pixels horizontally.

The different video resolutions in numerical value include:

  • 240p – 352 x 240
  • 360p – 480 x 360
  • 480p – 720 x 480
  • 720p – 1280 x 720
  • 1080p – 1920 x 1080
  • 2160p or 4K – 3860 x 2160 (2160p-, or 4K)

These numbers are divided into two types of definition, standard (SD) and high definition (HD). The highest resolution for SD is at 480p. Meanwhile, HD begins at 720p and FULL HD at 1080p.

What is SD quality: Standard Definition Live Streaming

Standard Definition or SD quality videos are what we call “DVD quality.” These clips have an aspect ratio, which is the ratio of an image’s width to its height, lesser than the usual 16:9. If you’re live streaming in SD, then your video resolution would be 480p, often with a 4:3 aspect ratio.

That’s great if your viewers are watching your video through a mobile phone or tablet but if they’re using a laptop or a 55-inch TV screen, then that’s another story altogether.

Another important fact to note is that videos downloaded directly from Facebook are at SD quality, even if you’re live streaming in HD. Your video will also be automatically downgraded if your bandwidth can’t support 1080p streaming bandwidth.

HD quality: High Definition Live Streaming

High Definition or HD videos are normally in 720p, which is known as HD-ready, or 1080p streaming, which is full HD and has a wide-screen aspect ratio of 16:9. This means you can watch your live stream videos on bigger devices like a TV or a computer screen without those pesky little squares.

Streaming in HD means your videos are more crisp and detailed, but you also need a more stable internet connection for this.

Most live streams are in 720p, especially on Facebook. But you can only download videos in SD directly from the site. You’ll need to go live through a third-party tool like BeLive to download your shows in HD.

When to Use: HD vs SD Quality for Live StreamingHD vs SD Quality for Live Streaming





Choosing between SD vs HD video resolution depends on several factors like the image you want to portray:

  • Your brand
  • The software you have
  • The equipment you’re using

When you think about what video resolution to use when live streaming, you need to consider the image you want to portray to your audience. Streaming had been used for ages, so the audience is aware of what is considered to be a good quality image and what is not.

Would you like to be taken seriously and present a more professional look? Then 720p should be your minimum video quality for broadcasts.

On the other hand, you might be limited to the bandwidth power you currently have and may need to switch to SD resolution to avoid buffering and video freezing (1080p streaming bandwidth should be more than 10 Mbps). Of course, you also can’t stream in HD if your webcam doesn’t support it.

When you use BeLive to stream your shows, you can choose to live stream in 480p, 720p, or in 1080p full HD right in the studio.

This is particularly beneficial for Facebook Live streamers. Not only is BeLive an official Facebook Live Video Solutions partner, but it’s also currently the only platform that can support Full HD streaming on the site!

Creating a professional-looking live stream in HD won’t be a problem with BeLive, especially if your audience uses a wide range of devices to watch your shows.

Plus, you’ll also be able to simulcast on both Facebook and YouTube in 1080p without any need for additional equipment, just a strong internet connection. You won’t have to worry about your shows getting downgraded to 720p on Facebook when you start streaming .

If you’re just starting your live streaming journey, explore BeLive’s awesome features with its 14 days FREE trial when you sign up! You can also meet fellow live streaming enthusiasts in our online community here.

How To Stream in HD on Facebook Live with Be.Live

How do you live stream in 1080p on Facebook Live without spending thousands of dollars on expensive equipment? You just need to upgrade to Pro Plan to get this feature!

Before starting your broadcast, however, take note of the following:

  • Have at least 10mbps upload speed. This is higher than the usual bandwidth needed for 720p shows.
  • Make sure you’re using a full HD-enabled webcam.

Once you’ve upgraded to Pro Plan, you can now start streaming in 1080p! You just have to turn on the Full HD mode in the right-side drop-down menu that shows up when you click your image. 1080p streaming is easy 🙂

 Streaming HD quality broadcast on Facebook Live with BeLiveIf you want to switch back to 720p, all you need to do is turn off the option. Remember, you need to manually turn the HD mode on every time you want to go live in 1080p.

Get the full tutorial on going live in Full HD from this helpful tutorial.

Have you tried broadcasting in Full HD on Facebook Live? Share your experience with us below!

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