Are you confused and don’t quite understand what those features mean and which ones are important?
Are you struggling to find the best karaoke machine for your budget but don’t know where to start?
Maybe you know a few things about Karaoke systems, you have a short list to choose from but you are still not sure which one would be the best for you to pick?
Are you confused and wondering what audio and video devices can be connected to a particular Karaoke system?
If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, you are in the right place. After reading this post, you will most likely find the answers to all your questions and you will be much better informed to make a better decision before making your purchase.
In this comprehensive post, I have explained the most important and relevant features as well as major factors you need to take into account when buying a home karaoke system. Note that the following sections are not in any particular order.
If you are in a hurry and wish to skip some of the sections, you can use the table of content to jump straight to the one that is most relevant to what you are trying to find. Otherwise, I would recommend that you spend some time and read the article completely. Trust me, you will find this well worth spending the time and will help you save tons of headaches and avoid much confusion down the road when searching for the right Karaoke Machine to buy.
Portability and ease of setup
Most Home Karaoke Machines are easy to setup and the manuals that come with them describe the assembly steps very clearly. Among hundreds of reviews I have read, I have rarely seen anyone complaining about the system setup being very complicated.
If you are looking for a karaoke machine that is easy to pick up, to put in your car and carry to some other places, the portability is an important factor to watch for. On the other hand, if you don’t mind spending few minutes disassembling as well as reassembling your system once in a while when moving your machine, then most if not all home karaoke machines would work just fine for you.
Song Source, Player and Smart Device Compatibility
To accommodate the growing number of smart device users, newer karaoke machines are mainly designed to be compatible with such devices. Most systems are now compatible with iPod, iPhone, tablets and MP3 players. The connection can be done in two different ways, depending on the Machine capabilities:
- Some karaoke machines provide an AUX input which can be used to transfer audio from the song source, i.e. your smart device in this case. In this scenario, you would be hearing the song from your karaoke machine speakers and if the song being played comes with Lyrics, you would have to follow the lyrics on your smart device screen while singing along. Note that a 3.5mm audio cable is used to make the connection and this cable does not usually come with your home karaoke machine and must be purchased separately. Examples of this type of Karaoke Machines are the Singing Machine karaoke SML283P or the Memorex Karaoke machine MKS-SS2 SingStand 2.
- Other systems such as the Singing Machine iSM1028Xa can connect to an iPod through a docking station. This machine comes with a built-in screen and can also hook up to your TV. In this case, when streaming a song with lyrics on your iPod, the video can also be seen either on the karaoke machine screen or you can choose to display the video lyrics on your TV by making the required connections. It is worth noting that the iPod docking gives an additional possibility of charging your iPod while attached to your machine.
The other major song source for karaoke machines is a CD+G player. CD+G players can play CD+Gs. These are CDs with special recording that contains the audio as well as a low-resolution graphics which is basically the song lyrics streaming on a background.
Although the majority of newer karaoke machines work with both song sources as mentioned above, some may come only with a CDG player and would not offer smart device compatibility. An example of such machine is: The Singing Machine SML385W.
Built in Screen
Built in screen is an additional nice feature offered by some more complete karaoke systems. The built-in screen has often times a decent size, typically 7”. This feature can make your system more standalone in the sense that you would not have to rely on your TV, computer or smart device monitor to be able to see the lyrics. Some Karaoke machines such as The Singing Machine iSM1028Xa come with TFT LCD type screens. TFT stands for Thin Film Transistor and represents a more advanced technology that helps improve image qualities such as contrast. Note that the home karaoke systems that have a built-in screen usually offer the possibility of hooking up to TV through dedicated Audio and Video output jacks. This is a neat feature enabling you to benefit from a larger monitor.
Connecting to TV
This is an important factor especially to those having bigger and busier karaoke parties. Just imagine a large crowd jamming around the main performers and singing along. They all want to see the lyrics at the same time. Hooking up your machine to a bigger screen will help this situation so everybody can view the lyrics streaming on a big TV monitor. It’s just more fun and impressive to do it this way.
Most karaoke machines I am familiar with, come with RCA cables for TV hook up. This means, even if your TV is a newer HD type, you won’t benefit from high definition. To my knowledge, most home karaoke machines don’t currently offer HDMI hook up. This may be something to watch for although it is not, in my opinion, a very important factor when buying a karaoke machine.
Not that many karaoke machines out there would offer this nice little option. This is a camera lens attached to the built-in screen. The performers can see themselves while singing the song. Camera can rotate to capture from different angles and the focus can be adjusted. Very cool feature. If you are looking for karaoke machine with camera, you may consider this system as an option.
Voice and Sound Controls
Before getting into voice and sound controls and their explanation, let me clarify first what multiplex recording means. This is a term you may hear often, especially when looking into AVC and Balance control. In a multiplex recording the lead vocal and the music are recorded in separate channels. The lead vocal song in such recording is removable, in other words it can be muted or gradually balanced out so you can only hear the background music or music plus vocal.
Auto Voice Control (AVC): This option works only with CD’s with multiplex recording. When the singer starts singing the lead vocal is completely muted and basically the singer voice is replacing that of the lead singer on the disc. When the singer stops, the original lead vocal is back. This is a great tool to practice a song, especially at the beginning when you don’t know the song that well.
Balance control: Same as AVC, this feature also only works with multiplex recording. Using the balance knob on your control panel you can gradually “balance out” the lead vocal while singing in the microphone. As you can imagine, using this feature you can also sing a duet with the lead vocal by controlling the balance and giving more or less weight to the vocal on the disc. Again this is a great tool to use while are learning the song and adjust as you make progress.
Echo control: adding an echo/resonance to the singer’s voice. A cool feature that is fun to use and make you sound better or should I say different, in a fun way.
Pitch control: this option helps adjusting the song key/pitch (by raising or lowering). This is particularly useful for those notes that are not easy to hit when they are outside of the singer’s vocal range.
Tone Control: allows you to adjust bass and treble sounds. Bass refers to softer sounds, i.e. low frequency and treble is a term referring to higher frequency sounds.
This is another option that a karaoke machine may or may not offer. Those systems that provide the user with this feature come with a USB port and/or an SD card slot. You can sing and record on those memory devices. Usually you can have an instant playback to see if the recording is to your liking or not so you can repeat the recording if so you choose.
No need to mention that, once the song with your voice is recorded, you could take the USB memory stick or the SD card to your computer to burn a CD and there you have it, your own production system!
This is an essential accessory for a karaoke machine. Simpler home karaoke systems come with one microphone but provide an input jack so you can hook up a second one. These are mostly portable karaoke machines or karaoke machines for kids that are cheaper and more affordable. Note that in this case, the second microphone is not included with your system and must be purchased separately.
More complete systems usually include 2 microphones. Having two microphones is an important factor for some as they can sing duets or benefit from the flexibility that this option can provide. Including either one or two microphones, there are systems such as Karaoke USA GF829 that also offer two input jacks so you can use your own microphone if you choose to do so. This is a great feature for those who prefer higher quality microphones or simply would like to use their own. Last but not least, karaoke microphones can be wired or wireless and obviously the wireless type is more convenient and gives the singer more freedom to move around while performing.
For those interested in more details and in a separate upcoming post, I will explain what to watch for in a microphone, especially if you decide to purchase separate one(s) for yourself.
Speakers are important building blocks of a karaoke machine. Quality and output power are the main parameters to consider when evaluating speakers. Most home karaoke systems have output power of less than 10 watts and more in particular, the portable ones designed mostly for kids won’t provide more than 5 watts or so. Given their usage, this is definitely enough power and can serve the purpose for indoor parties. Also, don’t expect professional grade speakers when purchasing such systems. Having said that, there are some products such as the Singing Machine Karaoke System 1028Xa that make the speaker jacks accessible to you and this means you have the possibility of hooking up separate speakers with higher quality if so you desire.
Like for microphones, I will soon post a separate article about the speakers and provide you with some more detailed info and buying tips.
Karaoke Machine with Light
Colorful disco light is an additional cute little feature offered by some machines. This might be appealing to younger ones looking to add some more fun to their parties. If you are looking for a karaoke machine with light for kids, you may want to check out these Singing Machine karaoke systems: SML283P or SML385W.
Believe it or not, many karaoke machines don’t have this option. This is in general not a very critical feature in such systems but I just wanted to remind so you can avoid disappointment as a result of making wrong assumptions before your purchase.
AC Power and Batteries
All karaoke machines operate with AC power (they actually come with an AC adapter) and some can use batteries as an additional feature. One more thing to watch for if this is something you care about for any reason.
As you can see, there is not one magic solution that makes everybody happy when purchasing a karaoke machine. There are a lot of factors to take into account and like everything else in life, some tradeoffs needs to be made. My hope is that after reading this article, you are better equipped to make an informed decision for your purchase and that I could make the process a bit easier for you.