Livestreaming equipment is becoming more and more ubiquitous with the modern gamer, especially since the functionality of these devices go far beyond simply transitioning scenes in a stream. Loupedeck released their Loupedeck Live S console last year, bringing a smaller, yet still powerful alternative to its more expensive brother, the Loupdeck Live. How does the Live S hold up, and is the high price tag make the device worth it in the end?
- Buttons: 4 RGB tactile face buttons; 15 touch-capacitive screen buttons
- Dials: 2 Dials with push functionality
- Interface: USB-C (includes USB-C to USB-A cable)
- Dimensions: 5.91 x 3.39 x 1.18 inches / 150 x 86 x 30mm
- System Requirements: Windows 10 or later / MacOS 10.14 or later
- Stand included: Yes
- Price: $179.00 on Loupedeck site
At first glance you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Loupedeck Live S is a stripped-down version of the company's previous offering, the Loupedeck Live (or Razer's Stream Controller given it's simply a reskinned Live). The Live S features only four tactile buttons which are able to transition between various pages set up in the software, while the full-featured Live sports eight tactile buttons. However, the Loupedeck Live S makes up for this by having three extra touch-capacitive face buttons, giving a total of 15 buttons to program on the central touchscreen of the device.
The Loupedeck Live S features two analog dials on the left side of the device, which can be programmed to do quite a bit, especially when paired with a program that can take advantage of them. Brush size in Adobe Photoshop is effortlessly adjusted with a simple turn while scrolling timelines in Premiere Pro is a breeze now.
The low profile of the device itself - it's very, very thin when set flat on the desk - might appeal to some, but I found myself immediately looking for a provided stand in order to make the Live S more comfortable to reach. I appreciate the stand, even if it's a mite flimsy, though it's not really given me much issue over the course of the last few weeks I spent testing the device.
The main touchscreen is the focal point of the Loupedeck Live S, mirroring the functionality of Elgato's Stream Deck lineup. Here the fifteen buttons are fully programmable, with the LCD screens behind each showing clearly what each section is assigned to do. Here you can map applications to open, keyboard shortcuts, audio sources and much more for quick access.
I also really like the fact that Loupedeck opted for a touchscreen LCD rather than a button. I do appreciate Elgato's design, but the Stream Deck buttons can feel squishy sometimes. With the Loupedeck Live S, the vibration feedback I get is perfect, letting me know I pressed the button without it feeling mushy. This can be tuned in the software itself if you'd rather there be no haptic feedback, but honestly I can't operate it without it now.
While there are four tactile buttons on the display that let you quickly swap to a preset page, you can also swipe left or right on the touchscreen to turn a page. Swiping up and down will bring you to a new page for the two dials, allowing you to map more than on feature to them and quickly swap between them when needed.
Controlling Content With The Loupedeck Live S
Having previously reviewed the Razer Stream Controller, I was already rather familiar with Loupedeck's software. This made setting up the Live S rather easy, as I could simply use pre-defined shortcuts for many of my main drivers. Loupedeck also makes it rather easy out of the box with premade profiles for the device ready to go. Just plug in, tweak here and there and you're pretty much on your way.
With the Loupedeck Live S, streaming is pretty much the focal point, so the device comes preloaded with a few streaming essentials set up in the profile. From there it was simply a matter of setting up my own workflow in Streamlabs, such as setting buttons for scenes, transitions, audio and sound clips, and more. It took about five minutes to set up from start to finish, and the end result was a nice, easy workflow that mirrored my Stream Controllers.
As someone who doesn't necessarily need the analog dials for audio control over my stream (I'm still using Beacn's Mix Create for my audio mapping), those two dials during streams were left largely unused. Additionally, because the Loupedeck Live S doesn't feature the two flanking dial strips of the Live, seeing what these dials controlled at a glance was hard unless I wanted to sacrifice the LCD buttons next to them to always display the dial functionality. Transitioning between dial pages felt clunky as more often than not I would accidentally open an application or trigger what the button I was swiping on was mapped to instead of swiping between dial profiles.
When adjusting the dial, the LCD to the right of it transitions so you can easily see what you're doing, such as adjusting volume or scrolling through a timeline. Games such as Star Citizen and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 have custom profiles you can download that take full advantage of these dials as well, alongside the creative programs that expand the Live S' functionality.
I did appreciate the new audio mixer options built into the Live S which allowed me to mute audio on a program-level basis with a simple press of a button. For those who will rely on the Loupedeck Live S to control stream audio, that is going to come in handy, especially if you need to quickly mute your Discord chat or a video but don't want to completely mute your sound to the stream. I do wish there was more functionality with the audio control such as fading in and out of audio files like music, but this is a nice step in that direction.
The software might still be daunting for some users, but the more I've used it the easier it's become. A lot of it is drag and drop, though there are some finicky features to work through, such as setting up keyboard shortcuts or multi-action toggles. I also wish there was a standard folder feature to further expand the Loupedeck Live S' functionality. However, mastering the software shouldn't take too long, especially focusing on what you're looking to get out of the device. If all you need is the streaming profiles, these are relatively easy and straightforward.
It helps too that Loupedeck has a marketplace to allow for custom profiles, plug-ins, soundboards and more to be shared. I've used a few of the custom icon sets on my end and enjoyed what was on offer, though I will say the Marketplace is not nearly as populated as Elgato's 3rd-party plug-ins. There are also a dearth of gaming-related profiles and plug-ins that Loupedeck could benefit from. Integrating games like World of Warcraft, EVE Online, Elite Dangerous (please, please Elite Dangerous), PUGB, and more would simply add more value to the package, especially since this product is so focused on live streamers (which many of the most visible ones are streaming games).
As a result, using the Loupedeck Live S has become almost seamless in my setup, and where Loupedeck has an edge over Elgato here is that there is so much creative functionality out of the box in more than just streaming. Video editing software, photo editing, audio mixing, and so much more can be controlled natively, out of the box, thanks to Loupedeck's integrated dynamic profiles. I appreciate this feature too as I don't need to be bothered going into the software to change profiles - Loupedeck's software recognizes I've loaded a supported program and just hot swaps over for me, ready to work.
For someone who is constantly editing photos for this gig, creating videos for friends, and streaming on occasion, the Loupedeck Live S sits comfortably next to my Beacn Mix Create as the two go-to devices on the desk. It's relegated my Elgato Stream Deck Mini once again to a glorified light switch, as the Loupedeck plug-in for Elgato's lights doesn't exactly work as well as I'd like. But once it does, who knows? Using the knobs to adjust brightness is a lot more accurate than a button.
At $179.00, it's not cheap, but it's right there with Elgato's new Stream Deck+, which features much of the same functionality: adjustable knobs, familiar tactile buttons, and endless customization. The Loupedeck Live S is a mite cheaper, however, and with so much functionality right out of the box in addition to just straight live streaming, it makes for a compelling option. Loupedeck has an uphill battle against Elgato, especially as integrating the full suite of Elgato products is going to be easier with a Stream Deck.
That said, the Loupedeck Live S shouldn't be casually tossed aside if you're looking for a workspace controller. It's $100 cheaper than its Loupedeck Live brother without losing out on much functionality as well. It's a compelling option that will simply continue to get better as Loupedeck iterates on its software more and more. You simply cannot discount the level of creative functionality you get right out of the box as well, making its full setup a breeze from the start.
The Loupedeck Live S is a fantastic alternative if you're in the market for a sub-$200 controller that focuses on live streaming, but can do so much more. It's a welcome alternative that brings the years of experience from Loupedeck's custom controllers to the live streaming space, and does it well. It's another welcome alternative for streamers and content creators out there.
Full Disclosure: The product discussed was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of this review.