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Does Lightcast require or recommend specific Live Encoders for the use with its CDN?

Recommend - yes. Require - no. You are free to use any live-encoder that works for you. That said: there are technical requirements your live-encoder has to meet. Those requirements are specified in detail in the Live Encoder Guide and Tutorials - linked in the Help Box of your Control Center as well as neatly organized in the Support Center. 
 
But we do recommend selected Live Encoders and partner with selected manufacturers. 
 
Here are 3 recommendations: 
 
1. Hardware Encoders 
Lightcast’s recommendation are epiphan encoders, specifically Pearl and Pearl 2. If you are looking for a reliable, robust encoder which will not let you down when it counts - this is our recommendation. Starting at around $/€4500 the Pearl and Pearl 2 have the best price/value ratio in the market currently. A solid hardware encoder like the Pearl or Pearl 2  is the most robust and recommended solution. Read more about the epiphan Pearl in our Newsletter Issue about Live Encoders. Please inquire with CustomerCare@Lightcast.com if you are interested in a professional hardware encoder and make sure to ask for our exclusive Client-Discounts on all epiphan encoders. 
 
2. Software Encoders
Lightcast’s recommendation is Wirecast 7 or higher, starting at around $800 for one license. Make sure to get the latest version of Wirecast and run it on a dedicated machine - ideally a high-performance iMac with plenty of CPU power (latest gen quad cores and up) and Memory. Be careful with external A/V interfaces or capture devices. While blackmagic is certainly a good choice for an A/V interface, only use one if you have an expert on staff who knows the complexity and wide range of configurations of pro-grade A/V interfaces. Even the smallest oversight in the configuration of a high-end A/V interface or converter can kill your best software encoder setup and destroy your live-stream experience. If in doubt, use your PC's or Mac’s HDMI input, or a very simple SDI converter if needed.  Using the latest gen Wirecast software encoder on a powerful and dedicated machine is our recommendation if you have someone on staff who is proficient in computer software, hardware, your network infrastructure and A/V interface between your A/V sources (cameras, audio mixer, video switcher) and your PC or Mac. 
 
And here is how you can get Wirecast easily: 
3. Free Software Encoders
Many who start out with their first steps towards live-streaming often look for a “free encoder solution”, often because they don’t know if live-streaming is something they want to continue and it is often just for testing purposes. That is absolutely legitimate. While we would not recommend to keep on streaming with a free live encoder running on a PC or Mac long-term if you are serious about your live-streams and viewerships, downloading a free software is a quick and easy fix for testing and learning purposes. After many years of Adobe’s most favorite Flash Media Encoder, the world has turned its back on Flash and with it Adobe stopped development the software since 2010. If you still have AFME in use it is highly recommended to look for an alternative immediately as the number of devices which still support Flash is diminishing rapidly. We stick to our two recommendations above - epiphan Pearl and Wirecast - but if you really need a free encoder software, our recommendation would be OBS Studio (by Open Broadcaster Software). https://obsproject.com 
 
Please note that this is an open source software. Please don’t expect the same professional quality level, reliability and features as Wirecast, but you can run it on a dedicated PC or Mac and we recommend a high-performance CPU and plenty of Memory.