One common question I am being asked frequently is about compatibility of such and such karaoke machine with smart devices like iPhone, iPod, iPad, MP3 players and smart devices in general. These days most people would have a smart phone or a similar device.
Karaoke machines are relatively complex devices. Oftentimes, people get confused by various features and are not sure which product to choose and what exactly to look for when buying such machines. This is very normal and understood, given that the manufacturers don’t help the situation by giving confusing explanation of features in the product description.
I have studied hundreds of home karaoke machine reviews online and this is one of the areas where consumers are confused the most. You can see tons of related questions popping up on manufacturers’ and retailers’ sites:
What is the best Karaoke machine that is iPod compatible?
Can I use my iPhone with this karaoke machine and play songs through my play list?
Can I find a karaoke machine with iPod connection that also have this or that feature?
I am looking for a karaoke machine with screen and iPod docking station. But wait, can I see lyrics on the machine screen while playing songs on my iPod?
Which one should I choose: a karaoke machine that hooks up to an iPod or a more classic one that comes only with a CDG player?
I am an iPad guy. That’s where I save all my songs and music. I am only interested in a karaoke machine that works with iPad. I also really like to have an iPad holder on the machine so I can play songs and have lyrics in front of my eyes while singing. Does a karaoke machine like this even exist? What is the price range?
Karaoke machine manufacturers understand this and have been trying to keep up with the technology as fast as they can. It’s often a question of price/performance and what feature most consumers are exactly looking for. The smart device technology is still evolving fast to different directions.
Believe it or not, while reading manufacturers’ manuals and spec sheet, I have got confused several times in the past so I ended up calling their customer support directly to ask questions. At one point, I talked to three different customer support representatives and got three different answers to my questions! It’s just hard to keep up with variety of connectors, apps, input output jacks etc. and it’s understandable why so many questions are raised.
However, I have tried here to simplify the matter a bit for you by describing some common and fundamental facts. This way, you can have a better idea what exactly to look for and pay attention to when searching for a karaoke machine that is supposed to be compatible with smart devices.
The main issue is the word “compatible” and what does it really mean? Consumers, sellers and manufacturers may use and interpret this word in different ways.
When connecting a song source to a karaoke machine, you can potentially transfer audio or video (with lyrics) or both. In many karaoke machines, only the sound transfer is a possibility. That’s how they are designed.
Let me explain: your song source, say iPod for this case, will be connected through an audio jack to your karaoke machine and that’s pretty much it. The song is streamed on your iPod, transferred through the audio connection to your karaoke machine and is coming out of your karaoke speakers.
You, the performer, are singing through the microphone along with the song sourced from your iPod. So, as you can see, compatibility here means only a mere audio connection to your karaoke and that’s about it.
What is the benefit here? Well, you are singing along your favorite songs in your own playlist on your personal device. This is very convenient, isn’t it? Moreover, you don’t have to pay for karaoke CD’s or any other source and can simply download whatever the song that you like on your iPod and you are all set.
There are several karaoke machines that hooks up to iPod or other smart devices such as iPhone, iPad, or an MP3 player the way described above. The Karaoke USA GF829 is an example of a karaoke machine with screen that works with iPod. However you need to note that again, because the connection to this machine to your smart device is only through audio connection, you cannot see the video lyrics shown on your iPod on the built-in screen. Please also note that this machine is very similar to Karaoke USA GF830 and the only difference is that GF830 comes with Bluetooth capability, a feature that GF829 would not have, but I digress …. Let’s focus on smart device connection again….
Another very similar example is a karaoke for kids, the Hello Kitty Karaoke machine. This system has an Aux input to connect to a smart device but for the same reason as mentioned in the previous paragraph, you have only the option of viewing the lyrics on your iPod screen and not on the built in screen on your karaoke machine.
Other examples are the Singing Machine karaoke system SML283P and SML385W. These 2 machines don’t have built-in screen. In all of these examples and in case your song comes in a format offering video lyrics, the only way to see those lyrics is through your smart device screen.
Let me elaborate this some more: there are karaoke songs with specific formats that can be downloaded and they come with song lyrics. In other words, in such format, you can also see the lyrics on your smart device screen at the same time as the song is being played.
Now, you may have a karaoke machine with screen and as you may have guessed, it would be very nice to be able to see the video lyrics on your iPod through your karaoke machine screen. This way, you will have a bigger screen which is more convenient. This is very true if you want to sing a duet or in cases where even more performers want to sing along and therefore you need a larger monitor.
As you may have noted, this is another level of compatibility which is more involved and therefore more beneficial to you. In this case, you will benefit from both audio and video. Good news is that there are karaoke machines with iPod dock that offer such convenience.
The Singing Machine iSM1028Xa is a great home karaoke machine with screen that offers this feature. Your iPod is hooked up to the machine through the docking station and this enables the performer to watch the video lyrics on the built-in screen while singing along the song.
Also, the docking station allows to charge your iPod which is another very convenient feature offered by this system. Moreover, you can also hook up this machine to your TV and redirect the video lyrics to an even bigger screen which would be your TV monitor.
In summary, when looking for a karaoke machine that works with iPod or similar smart devices, you need to be careful about what level of compatibility the machine is offering to you. You are looking for a karaoke machine with docking station if you care to see the video lyrics on the built in screen or possibly on your TV.
Before I forget and when you are reading the product description or spec: some karaoke machines that are iPod compatible but only through audio connection will say something like “the system comes with an iPod or iPad cradle or holder (in contrast with a docking station)”. This should simply tell you there is only audio connection but there is a place on the karaoke machine to hold your smart device.
This is by the way a convenient feature. Those systems that are iPod compatible but have neither docking station nor cradle/holder would also only offer the audio connection but you need to place your smart device somewhere close to your machine when using it, not that convenient but still workable.
If you are still not convinced by any of these recommendations, you may want to take a look at the Electrohome EAKAR300 and you can find my comprehensive review of this system here. This is a karaoke machine with a very nice and slick design that has very attractive features that I have discussed in details in my other review. The same as before this machine offers an AUX input that would serve connect your smart device and use your playlist when singing along.
It’s definitely worth considering if you are looking for a different design and you don’t care much about a built-in screen as this one does not have it. However the connectivity to TV is obviously a great option that comes with this one.
So there you have it. I am sure you would agree this is not that confusing after all. I also hope that what you learned from this post will make much easier the task of finding the best karaoke machine with iPod connection for your needs.