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How Do I Select a Karaoke Machine?

  1. How do I select a karaoke machine?
    1. Identify the user.
    2. Identify the preferred media.
    3. Identify the acoustic environment.
  2. How do I add a musical instrument to a karaoke system?

1. How do I select a karaoke machine?

A. Identify the user.

  • Young family: Most families will be pleased to start with an Emerson DVD Microphone, which will plug in to an existing TV plus a DVD player. The DVD Microphone blends voice with media, is durable, and costs no more than a dinner out. Back to Top

  • User outside the TV room: If the karaoke machine is to be used in another room or home, or in the car, an All-In-One karaoke machine may be preferable. Back to Top

  • Serious singer: For one serious about cultivating vocal skill, a more sensitive microphone (look for an XLR connection if possible), pitch adjustment, and possibly recording or video capability should be considered. Back to Top

  • Professional singer: For a performer, semi-pro, or professional musician, portability and wattage may be important, in addition to the considerations for a serious singer. Back to Top

  • Music collector: The user's type of existing media collection should also be considered (see next section). Back to Top

  • Non-singer: Non-singers may want to consider Emerson's DJ system, or a karaoke machine for instrumentalists or vocalists, the TASCAM Trainer, discussed below. To find instrumental (and vocal) CDs with sheet music (in lieu of onscreen lyrics), visit our sister site at Back to Top

B. Identify the preferred media.

Some karaoke machines will play only DVDs or only CDGs (CD plus Graphics), while others play several media types. CDGs are most commonly used, but DVDs are coming into popularity. For a discussion of these media types, see that topic in the More Information sidebox, as well as the following summary.

  • CD or DVD collector: Consider the type of collection already owned by the user. If a user has a large collection of CDs or DVDs and the sound system to go with it, a DVD player will accommodate both media, and a CDG player will accommodate the CDs, although lyrics for the existing CD collection would have to be accessed on the web or by sheet music. Consider a player or system that will allow one track to be turned off when the vocalist wishes to sing without vocals. Karaoke CDGs or DVDs will provide lyrics onscreen with a compatible CDG or DVD player. Back to Top

  • iPod/MP3/MP4 or Zune user: If a user typically downloads music to his/her personal digital player, all Emerson home players come with an iPod USB connection ready to stream those files. In using the iPod as a music source, be aware that the user will need to spend time downloading printed lyrics, as lyrics do not display onscreen without the .lrc lyrics file. Check for iPod connectivity on non-Emerson players or systems. An Emerson product which has true iPod docking (without the USB connector) is the SP3208 Home Theater system.

    To play only MP3/MP4 files with lyrics onscreen, see the MP3/MP4 lyric players on this site. Be aware that the user will need to spend time downloading files for these players. If this type of time is not available, a disc player may be preferable to an MP3/MP4 digital player, as a disc player gives the option of using either media with printed lyrics for the MP3 files. Back to Top

  • No lead vocals: CDGs generally have no lead vocals. If copying a certain singer's style is important, another source of the music will be needed. Back to Top

  • Vocals on separate track: DVDs generally contain two recordings of the same song, so that fewer songs are offered on the DVD, but the singer does have a model to copy for practice, and can sing without the vocal track for performance. Back to Top

  • Vocals can be turned down: Some karaoke machines play CDGMs, which are CDs with graphical lyrics display, and a "multiplex" track which contains the vocals. The performer may select either the multiplex track or the track with accompaniment only. Some karaoke machines are able to turn down the multiplex track automatically when the singer starts to sing. This feature is called "vocal cancel." Back to Top

C. Identify the acoustic environment.

  • Existing sound system: Power (wattage) and sound quality will reflect the components of your system--your TV, DVD player, or stereo, and your microphone (the best mics have an XLR connection rather than 1/4-inch). If you already have a TV and DVD player, start with a microphone converter, the best you can afford. A better second microphone can be added for duets, or for later purchase. The inexpensive DVD microphone often fits a family's or a party's needs for the karaoke experience. Back to Top

  • Home or car: An All-In-One karaoke machine will be limited by its own characteristics, especially wattage. The average All-In-One system has between 5 and 30 watts, a large range adequate for families and light users. Five watts is like a boom box, and 30 provides good living room quality. If there is a need for travel, the All-In-One system will often be the best choice. Back to Top

  • Larger venues: A karaoke machine with 90 to 160 watts of power will provide for large indoor/outdoor entertaining, and 250-300 will be heard in a noisy restaurant. Back to Top

2. How do I add a musical instrument to a karaoke system?

  • Audience participation: One Emerson Plug 'N' Sing DVD microphone (which appears intermittently available) includes some basic percussion instruments for children (see U-Tube video). However, pots and pans, or water-tuned glasses will suffice. Younger children will experiment with these instruments. As children become familiar with the instruments, use of patterns may be encouraged. Eventually, collaboration, a conductor, or the karaoke singer may direct use of instruments to achieve a desired effect. A practice session may precede performance. Back to Top

  • Child-sized guitar: The Plug 'N' Sing DVD microphone was formerly included in some Emerson guitar packages which appear discontinued. The 30-inch and 32-inch guitars (1/4-size and 1/2-size) were for children 4-6 and 5-8 generally. Such set-ups would encourage experimentation with the guitar and boom microphone. Occasionally, child-sized guitars are available at One person may provide the guitar accompaniment as another sings with the karaoke media. If there is interest in the guitar, the acoustic guitar with nylon strings is best for non-calloused fingers of a child. A microphone, rather than a metal-string pickup, and use of a boom microphone, are good choices. It will be worthwhile to look for guitar training videos on the web. Back to Top

  • Full-sized guitar: With an independently purchased boom microphone and guitar, serious guitar students will appreciate the TASCAM guitar trainer and the availability of sheet music for the guitar, as seen on our sister site, The TASCAM trainer is explained in depth on that website. Back to Top

  • Keyboard and piano: A less expensive way to integrate the keyboard or piano into a karaoke system include purchase of sheet music with CDs, along with a TASCAM guitar trainer for keyboard plug-in capability, or vocal trainer to which a microphone may be plugged in. See Back to Top

  • All instruments: Karaoke is not strictly for vocalists anymore. If you want to play your wind, stringed, keyboard, or percussion instrument along with a band, orchestra, or other ensemble, the TASCAM vocal/instrumental trainer provides this capability, along with purchase of sheet music with CDs and a microphone. See Back to Top