Karaoke is excellent entertainment for people of all ages
A growing number of people are investing in a karaoke system for their home. There are few things better for livening up a party. You can also save a substantial amount of money by staying at home and entertaining yourself. Being able to practice songs before performing them in public is another plus.
When you think of a karaoke system for your home you may envision an all-in-one boombox type of system. While these are certainly preferable for some applications, and come in a variety of sizes, power ranges, and prices, they do leave you with limited options and can not be considered a 'professional' karaoke system.
The first thing you will need to decide is which type of player you will use. Your choices are a karaoke disc player, a hard drive karaoke machine, or a laptop computer with software player. There are pros and cons to each.
A multi-format karaoke disc player is the least expensive option. These will play CD+G and DVD karaoke discs and have features like digital key control and single play. Some may have a 'vocal cancel' feature that reduces the volume of the lead vocals on some standard audio disc song tracks. The big downside to this player is having to handle, maintain, and store discs.
The hard drive karaoke machines will play karaoke discs but their primary purpose is to eliminate the need for the discs by allowing you to import the songs to an internal hard drive. This is done entirely by the machine using its built in disc drive. Some of these machines allow input from USB devices.
The laptop and software player is becoming increasingly popular with professional karaoke hosts. As well as eliminating the nuisance of handling and storing discs the karaoke hosting software offers features not found on a karaoke disc or hard drive player. These unique features include automatic singer rotation, singer history, next singer display, song search by title or artist, and ambient music.
The sound system is independent of which type player you opt for. The basic components are an amplifier and mixer (or powered mixer), PA speakers, and microphones. For saving space and ease of setup a powered mixer is the best option for a home karaoke system. These come in a wide range of sizes, power ratings, and prices. A powered mixer with at least 4 channels and a total power output rating of over 400 watts will work great for a home system. Some popular brand names are Behringer, Mackie, and Yamaha.
PA speakers are what separate a karaoke sound system from a high powered stereo. While high power rated stereo speakers perform well with recorded music they are unable to handle the live vocals of karaoke. Select a pair of 2-way or 3-way PA speakers with a combined power handling rating that exceeds the output rating of your powered mixer. I recommend no smaller than a 12' woofer.
Opt for good quality microphones. AKG and Shure offer some nice wired microphones for under $100.00. Some good wireless microphone brands are Acesonic, AKG, Audio 2000, RSQ, and Shure. The only real difference between like quality wired and wireless microphones is the wire (cable).
You can use any TV for displaying the karaoke. How you connect to the TV depends on the video output options of your chosen player. Most karaoke disc players and hard drive machines output composite video from a single RCA connection. This can be connected directly to a TV that has a composite video input. Otherwise you can use an RF converter to convert the signal to VHF with coaxial output that is supported by virtually all TVs. Most laptops will have s-video out. Again, this can be connected directly to any TV with an s-video connection. An RF converter can also be used to convert the s-video to VHF.
The karaoke music could easily become the most expensive component of your system. The discs are more expensive than standard audio CD's and many contain just 9 songs. CD+G is the most common karaoke format and by far the largest selection of song titles are found on CD+G discs. In fact, I suggest that you forget about any other type of karaoke disc. All karaoke disc players support CD+G discs and the hard drive players will import the songs from them. There is software that will rip the song tracks from CD+G discs to a compressed format that is used by karaoke hosting software.
You will need to get a little creative to build your karaoke music collection as cheaply as possible. Buying used CD+G discs from eBay or other auction sites is a good place to start. The disc 'package deals' like Chartbuster Essentials and the Sound Choice Foundation and Brick series are a good way to start with a nice selection of popular songs. There are sites that sell songs as individual downloads which allows you to buy only the songs you want as opposed to buying an entire disc to get only one or two. There is software available to create CD+G discs from these downloads if needed.
There are various cables you will need to set up the karaoke system. The exact cables needed will depend on the type of components you chose and the setup area. I think you are going to find that connecting everything together is less complicated than you first imagined. Much less complicated than installing a DVD player and surround sound in my opinion.
So there you have the basics of a professional home karaoke system. This will rival the sound of the commercial systems you sing on at the karaoke bars. More than satisfactory for throwing a great karaoke party.