Admins eHow SysAdmin Tips & Tricks

October 20, 2014

How to watch Twitch streams without lag or stutter in Source quality

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 1:16 am

As a gamer, I am also a fan of watching other people playing games on Twitch. I mostly watch pro players playing Dota 2.
If you have ever tried watching Twitch, you would know how much it matters to be able to watch the streams in Source quality. Good streamers usually stream in Full HD (1920×1080 30 FPS or 60 FPS) which may require a consistent 4-6 mps of bandwidth. well you may think 4-6 mps is not much, your broadband connection supports multiple times of this number but in the reality is not that simple and you may get lag and stutter while watching in Source quality.
The reason behind this is the complexity of Internet. Twitch stream may not be routed to you through an optimal route, Also many broadband ISPs play all kind shenanigans with users traffic in order to save bandwidth and make more money.
Unfortunately for me thats the case. Normally I am not able to watch Twitch streams in Source quality and I hate anything less than Full HD.
But being a system administrator has its own privileges and I have found two ways to be able to watch Twitch streams in Source quality which I am going to share with you :

  1. Use a VPN or Proxy : Using a good VPN or Proxy may actually improve your Internet speed. The reason is that your ISP may not have the best routes to all other networks but may have good routes to few other networks, now if you can get a VPN or Proxy on one of those good networks, it causes all of your traffic to be routed through those good routes and it improves your Internet speed. Also using a VPN or Proxy will save you from shenanigans of your ISP because it is usually encrypted and they can not tamper with it.
    But there is a trick, using any VPN or Proxy will not help you and may even degrade your Internet speeds. You should use a VPN or Proxy which has a good route to you and its quality is decent so forget about free ones. What I recommend to you is to get a service from a reputable VPN provider – like StrongVPN – they provide many VPN servers in diffenet locations which enables you to find the one which works for you by trial and error. you can also speed test their servers and find out which one has the best route to you.
    Another advantage of using a VPN or Proxy is that you can use it in your mobile device. Sometimes I like to watch streams lying in bed on my tablet and without a VPN, I am not able to watch in source quality.
  2. Use Livestreamer : I found this solution just last night when even my beloved Proxy servers could not help me. Livestreamer is a software which allows you to watch online streams in external media players like VLC. it has many features like saving the stream and etc which I am not going to explain here and you can read the documentation if you are interested :
    First thing which you need to do is to download and install Livestreamer from this link :
    Also if you dont already have VLC installed on your PC, go ahead and download and install it :
    Now we need to configure Livestreamer, find Livestreamer configuration file and open it in a text editor. It is located under “%APPDATA%\livestreamer\livestreamerrc” in Windows and under “~/.livestreamerrc” for MACOSX and Linux.
    First uncomment the appropriate player line in configuration file. For me it is :

    player="C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe" --file-caching=5000

    It specifies the location of vlc.exe so Livestreamer can launch it.
    Now scroll to the end of file and enable these two options with following values :


    These two lines will do the trick for us in order to be able to watch stream without stutter. The reason is that in HLS (Twitch Streaming Protocol) and HDS, unlike other streaming protocols which stream is sent in one continuous stream, it is sliced and chunked in several pieces and sent over HTTP protocol. So it is possible to download these chunks simultaneously with multiple connections exactly like how download managers work.
    Save the config file and our setup is complete. We can use it now to watch Twitch stream in source quality in VLC by following command :

    Livestreamer.exe LINK_TO_TWITCH_STREAM best

    For example :

    Livestreamer.exe best

    It takes about 15 seconds for Livestreamer to establish connections and launch VLC.

Update : I have written a small utility to comfortably launch livestreamer on Windows. It needs .Net framework 4.5 to work.
You can download it here : LiveStream Launcher

  • Guest

    I have to admit that it’s an excellent post and it worked for me. But I have a question, how can I reduce the quality of the Stream? I’m using your utility and I enter to the VLC and watch the stream in Source, but if I want to watch it it high or less, how can I do?

  • AdminseHow

    If you need to watch in lower qualities, you have to do it manually using the command line. for exmaple : “Livestreamer.exe LINK_TO_TWITCH_STREAM high” for high quality.
    But if you use command line, you should do the configuration properly or it may stutter. My app doesn’t need the configuration, it launches the livestreamer with proper arguments.

  • Guest

    Thanks for your answer!

  • Lalal

    OS X users using Alfred app can go to Alfred forum and download extension.
    It easy to use scrip you just type tw in Alfred window and it starts playing 🙂

  • Kozmyk

    Thanks for taking the trouble to post these tips.
    I managed to everything to work except the Launcher Utility.
    It reports it can’t find livestreamer.exe even when it is in the same folder.

  • AdminseHow

    It searches for livestreamer in default installation location.

  • Kozmyk

    Could that be altered to another location?

  • AdminseHow

    Well, technically it can be ! but I dont see why it is necessary. most people use default settings and those who dont, can have livestreamer installed in default location as well.
    This utility is something which I have written for my own personal use and I don’t plan to add any more customization to it as I dont think it is popular enough to justify the effort required to do so 🙂

  • Kozmyk

    Moved it to the C: drive, now it doesn’t work at all.
    Throwing up Python errors.
    I should have left well alone.
    Oh well.

  • ShivRaj

    Thanks! works like a charm now!!!

  • RELO

    I just made my own launcher which is a bit more comfortable.
    Hope you enjoy it.
    Its built with Embarcadero C++ Builder and needs no externals.
    Oh and its for Windows only (sorry Mac and Linux Users).
    Toss me a mail to the adress at my homepage if you have questions or suggestions.

  • Rare Platinum

    Nice! Thanks for this.

  • Aiden

    Thanks for sharing. One more thing, as a reader, I’m not able to see full long URL or pictures while browsing by a mobile device.

  • sooax

    Thank you so much for this. being able to watch streams in HD with no lag or stutter is so great.

  • Dhener Sotero

    Works perfect <3

  • Aaron C

    THANK YOU!!!!! Watching the Bethesda showcase and all the stuttering is GONE!

  • Lordwashere

    pls help and dont know how to fix this
    File reading failed:
    VLC could not open the file “C:UsersC602Downloadsbest” (Bad file descriptor).
    Your input can’t be opened:
    VLC is unable to open the MRL ‘file:///C:/Users/C602/Downloads/best’. Check the log for details.

  • Kandiwapa YaNdokosho

    Please please. how can I use your livestream launcher but control the quality I want? It shows me the quality available but always launches the source. What if I just want medium? or high?

  • randomguy

    It will sound silly, but its livestreamer.exe with lowercase l. btw nice guide, thanks.

  • Manuel

    Hey, when you are running the program with the line

    “Livestreamer.exe LINK_TO_TWITCH_STREAM best”

    You just need to switch the “best” for low, medium, high, mobile, audio. 🙂 Works for me n.n

  • Amit Kummar

    Getting this error [Stream.hls][error] Failed to open segement 33xx Failed to open URL (timed out)
    xx goes for multiple errors in a row

  • Ma_No

    Thank you very much! Your “LiveStream Launcher” is great!

  • Freemor

    THANK YOU!! You are the best, this works like a charm!

  • Oreo ?( ? )?

    A smile literally came to my face upon seeing that this works. This is revolutionary. Holy sh*t.

  • Lance DeWitt

    This helped me. VPN anyways I have my trusty Meraki Z1 that is a constant VPN back to the office. Well when I’m using the Z1 SSID I get no stutter. If I use my home SSID it stutters.

  • Larry

    This is fantastic. And so simple. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Dude, you are awesome! I had problems with low quality on twitch, now with livestreamer i can watch Major in source 🙂

  • John Alan

    Thank you so much, man!

  • Vinicius Kamakura

    livestreamer worked! god damn i love you <3

  • ChristopherK

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!this is great helpful for me,in china,cannot view twitch with no lag even use a proxy in Singapore.
    thank you again

  • rahilwazir

    Hey can you please give an option for quality as well, thanks!

  • rahilwazir

    Please provide an dropdown option for quality, Thanks!

  • whesman

    thank you very much. it works perfectly

  • dealer17

    Howdy folks,

    For everyone who want use livestreamer but bored about using the Command-Line or write bat files, take a look to this small Application which i’ve created for Windows, german and english.

    Watch the Tutorial and see how easy it works..

    The Download Link is already there 🙂


  • Martin

    Hey man, since today i’ve been getting this error

    error: Unable to open URL: (400 Client Error: Bad Request)

    i guess it’s a twitch API problem or something but it’s happening with every stream loader out there.

    Is there a fix?

  • Guest

    Getting same message. Can’t find a fix at the moment.

  • 3rdWorldGamer

    It used to work for me.. now the utility won’t launch the stream, no matter what i do… i don’t know why it stopped working all of a sudden…. I even redownloaded it and it still wont work

  • Thanks for your post. I have been annoyed by Twitch streams constantly rebuffering for a year or so, but installing livestreamer fixed the problem immediately.

    My ISP seems to throttle all connections at around 50 kB/s, which isn’t enough to watch Twitch. But livestreamer will open multiple threads when it needs to, so it downloads the stream on 3 or 4 connections at once, each getting 50 kB/s.

    I’m now wondering if there’s a way of doing the same with my whole Internet connection. Is there some kind of a program which will split my connections over multiple threads to bypass the ISP’s per-connection limit? I just spend some time looking at VPNs, hoping there would be some VPN client which makes multiple connections to the VPN server, but it seems it isn’t possible.

    I have a solution for viewing Twitch now, but not for other stuff. Rather than having to re-solve the problem for each site and application it would be great if there was a higher-level solution which fixed it on a network level.

  • AdminseHow

    Unfortunately it is not technically possible.

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