Having a karaoke machine is a great way to add fun to your household. It lightens the mood and makes it easier for guests to sing along with the music.
However, there are some things you need to know before buying a good karaoke machine. Today, we're going to discuss the history and mechanics behind karaoke machines. By the end of this post, you'll be confident enough to buy your first karaoke device.
What Is Karaoke?
Karaoke is a singing activity that has originated in Japan. It is a compound of the Japanese word kara 空 ("empty") and ōkesutora オーケストラ "orchestra."
Karaoke is a form of video game and interactive entertainment developed in Japan. It starts when an amateur singer uses a microphone to sing along to recorded music. Usually, the music is made from a popular song. The lyrics are displayed on a moving video screen, changing colors, and music video images.
When doing karaoke, the user sings to an instrumental. Karaoke is also used by sound engineers to note that there is not vocal track on the song. Recently, karaoke is a popular activity that's found in bars and pubs and has an estimated market value of $10 billion.
The concept of studio recording without a lead vocal has been around since the development of recording itself. Most amateur and professional artists have to perform in conditions where having an orchestra/band is financially and logistically impossible. So, they use a karaoke recording to perform the song.
Another thing to remember is that Karaoke is different than lip synching. Lip synching is when a singer mouths the lyrics to a song with the lead vocals still on the track. Karaoke requires the user to sing the lyrics without the assistance of the original vocals.
During the early 1970s, the first karaoke machine was invented. The machines were prevalent in bars and hotels. When it was developed, karaoke was a diversion made to improve the experience when socializing and drinking. Karaoke was not a main component, but more of a gimmick that created more fun when bar patrons would order for drinks.
In the 1980s, karaoke boxes were invented. At this time, people gathered in a small room. The rooms gave guests the ability to order food from a menu. Karaoke boxes revolutionized and changed the way people viewed karaoke as in activity. By the end of 1980, Karaoke started to increase in its popularity.
As time progressed, the karaoke machine changed as well. When the first karaoke machine was developed, it was a modified cassette tape player. By late 1980s, Karaoke machines started to use laser disc technology.
The laser disc technology marked an important part in karaoke history. Now, amateur singers were able to see the lyrics placed on a video monitor. The 80s was the decade where karaoke began to grow as an activity and found more innovative ways to keep people entertained.
In the 1990s, communication karaoke (tsuushin karaoke) machines were developed. They were the first karaoke machines that played videos and songs from a commercial content vendor. This was huge because it allowed for people to request for any popular song to sing on stage.
Before communication karaoke, singers were restricted to the songs on the tapes. Laser discs at the time were only physically seen in bars. After communication karaoke, virtually any song could be requested and played through the commercial vendor.
Another change in karaoke evolution was the way singers had to perform. Earlier, karaoke machines were placed in common areas such as restaurants and bars. The singer would have to perform in front of a large audience that could include strangers.
With the development of karaoke boxes, people were able to perform in front of smaller crowds. These crowds usually included their close friends and family. It was still a performance, but it was more private than karaoke's early beginnings.
Now, there are new innovations regarding karaoke. Now, the solo karaoke (wankara) machines are popular in modern Japan. Wankara eliminates the need for an audience and lets the singers sing on their own.
Basic karaoke machines use a microphone input, music player, audio output, and a way to alter the original pitch of the music. The most common machines are: DVD, Laser Disc, or CD+G. They come with an audio mixer and a microphone input and helps users sing songs on a screen.
Some low-end karaoke machines have a feature that eliminates the vocal track via an Out of Phase Stereo (OOPS) Technique. This happens through channel extraction which takes advantage of the fact that the vocals are found in the center of the track.
In layman's terms, this means that your voice has no phase difference. Additionally, your voice sounds equal when on both sides on a stereo track. To get the karaoke track, the left audio channel is subtracted through the right channel.
Common methods were removing instruments from the original song. However, this is not an optimal way to capture sound. Recently, there are new techniques that follow the Fast Fourier Transform method. While it's not perfect, it helps control individual frequencies to product a better sound.
What Do You Need For Home Karaoke?
You can create this musical nirvana in your own home with some basic equipment and the right software. Here’s what you’ll need:
A microphone input is the most important aspect of karaoke, so let's begin there. Without a microphone and you can potentially ruin your karaoke party. So make sure you have a quality karaoke mic before creating the event.
You can't have only one microphone for karaoke. Some songs have singing duets and need more than one person to participate. But, having more than two microphones is excessive and is often unnecessary.
Wired and wireless mics exist, but we suggest getting a wireless one. While they are more expensive, they are safer than wired mics. Wired mics come with cords which take longer to replace and repair if broken.
After that, you'll need a large catalog of karaoke tracks. There is a myriad of options, most of them are free of charge. If you have DVDs and CDs, you can opt for a classic karaoke machine. However, these machines are usually outdated and are hard to find.
Instead, use a laptop that has song software made for signing karaoke. With software, you can pay for a subscription based service. Red Karaoke, Karaoke Version, and Karaoke Fun. Or, you can use YouTube and find free karaoke songs to practice on.
In fact, there are 24/7 karaoke channels that are offered by some cable channels. For instance, the Karaoke Channel was made for users to sing and practice before performing live. Check with your cable provider to see if this feature is offered.
At some point, you're going to need a sound system for your karaoke sessions. You'll need to get one that's built for live performances and capturing vocals in real time. Also, a good sound system will allow you to plug in multiple mics and outlets.
While you could opt for some surround sound speakers or sound bars, they aren't an efficient way of capturing live vocals.
You need PA (Public Address) speakers that are tailored for live performances. They have power amplifiers and can capture your voice better than digital speakers. Remember, you'll want a high-quality analog sound system when creating karaoke for your home.
Lastly, you need a good mixer to help preserve sound quality. Mixers modulate and combine audio signals from the player and the microphone. The amplifiers increase the loudness of your audio signal, which is sent to the speakers.
What Is A Microphone?
Microphones are electronic devices that enhance the lead vocals of a song. They are used to make your vocals sound louder or for sound recording. When looking for a karaoke microphone, you'll want to invest in one that'll capture the signer's sound efficiently.
How Do Microphones Work?
Microphones work like transducers. Transducers are devices that convert information from one form to another. Naturally, sound exists as a form of air pressure. Transducers help change that pressure into forms of electric current.
After that electric current is made, the sound has to be amplified. All karaoke microphones come with an adjustable setting to help raise or decrease the overall sound. This results in a clear sound and helps karaoke singers perform even better.
Types Of Microphones
There are two forms of techniques that microphones can use. The most popular recording techniques are condenser and dynamic recording.
Condenser microphones have a diaphragm that's mounted close to a sturdy backplate. A battery is placed in two pieces of metal, which creates an electric charge between them. The intensity of the charge is determined by the battery voltage, area of the backplate and the diaphragm, and the distance between them.
When the diaphragm moves, the distance starts to change. Once it changes, the battery starts to maintain the right charge. The displacement of the diaphragm is directly proportional to the amount of current. It's so small that is has to be amplified before leaving the microphone.
Dynamic microphones follow the magneto-dynamic technique. Sound waves create a movement of a small metallic diaphragm and a coil of wire. A magnet makes a magnetic field that surrounds and covers the coil. When the coil moves, its motion causes current to flow out of the device.
You must remember that the current is made by the motion of the diaphragm. The amount of that current is determined by the diaphragm's motion speed.
Ribbon microphones are microphones that use a nanofilm, aluminum, or dural aluminum of an electrically conductive ribbon. They are placed in the middle of the magnet through electromagnetic inductions.
Ribbon microphones can capture sounds equally well from both locations. Also, they do deliver a sound without losing any quality. But, it might be a bit awkward holding a ribbon microphone during karaoke night.
Unless you're trying to become a professional artist, you're better off getting a condenser or dynamic mic. These mics are easier to use, and help create a natural feeling once you're singing. Ribbon mics are best used for recording purposes only.
Also known as polar pattern, the pickup pattern measures how many directions the microphone can receive sound.
Cardioid Polar Pattern
The cardioid polar pattern is the most widely used patterns in karaoke. This heart shaped pattern is named after the human heart. It's used when there has to be an emphasis and focus on a single sound source.
We recommend that you find microphones that follow the cardioid polar pattern. Cardioid microphones are great at capturing the singer's voice and removing the unwanted sounds from the audience.
Bidirectional microphones work in a figure eight pattern. They pick up sound from both the front and the rear. But, they remove sounds from the sides. Bidirectional microphones are recommended if you are planning to record ambient sound effects. These microphones create a realistic sound duplication and can be easily controlled by the user.
These microphones pick up sounds from every direction. Usually omnidirectional mics come in headset and lavaliers. This is because they allow the user to move their head without distorting the sound of the recording.
When it comes to sound, our ears have a threshold as to what sounds it can hear. For example, the average human can hear sounds ranging from 20-20,000 Hz. However, that range may decrease as the person ages.
Get a microphone that plays sounds at a respectable frequency level. Condenser mics are a great option because they can receive and transmit sound at a level that won't affect the user's hearing.
Microphone sensitivity measures how well your microphone can convert acoustic pressure to electric voltage. The higher the sensitivity level, the less you'll need to amplify the sound to reach a good level. The lower the level, the more amplification you'll need to have good sound quality.
Your microphone can use output impedance and load impedance. Audio signals from the microphone are viewed as AC voltages. The impedance measures the amount of AC resistance your microphone has.
Typically, microphones have an output impedance of less than 200 ohms. This makes it easier for users to record their sound without degrading it.
Load impedance is another way of saying input impedance. We suggest that your input impedance is five times higher than the output impedance. This ensures that your sound will be played accurately and with preserve its quality.
Phantom power is the most popular power source for microphones. They are built into microphone preamplifiers, mixing desks, and other similar equipment. Phantom power is used to send DC voltages through the user's microphone cables.
This is great for karaoke because it gives a satisfactory level of power when needed. They can find the user's voice and amplify it loud enough so that the audience can hear the user's performance. That's why we suggest getting a mic with a phantom power source to maximize your sound direction.
There are many different options when it comes to setting up a karaoke system at home. Fortunately, there is something for everyone, from inexpensive all-in-one machines to elaborate professional setups.
Mifanstech is known for creating high-quality karaoke machines. Their products have been exported to the US, UK, and Asia. Since their products have received a good reputation in the world market, they are the best if you need a reliable piece of karaoke equipment.
We think that Archeer is a great manufacturer for new karaoke lovers. Most of their devices are inexpensive and portable. Give some of their products a look if you want to enhance your karaoke experience.
Shure is known for creating professional audio products. Ever since 2009, the company has received their reputation by enhancing the sounds of musicians worldwide. Their premium microphones are great for recording sound and karaoke sessions.
Singtrix is a company that helps singers improve their natural sound. The manufacturer has a few popular music games that teach users how to sing effectively. For beginners, we recommend looking at their products as they will help you improve as a singer.
How To Setup Home Karaoke
Creating a karaoke environment in your home is easy. In this short section, we'll show you how to make your home karaoke for free. On average, it will take you at least 40 minutes to create your karaoke machine for you and your friends to enjoy.
First, you'll have to set up your microphone. Then, you'll want to output your microphone's sound to the speakers. This ensures that the audience can hear your voice through your sound system.
When it comes to microphones, you'll want to opt in for a condenser mic. These microphones are good capturing your sound and removing background noise. Get this if you want your karaoke performances to have the best sound quality possible.
Next, you'll want to output the music to the home speakers. While you could use a paid subscription site, we suggest using YouTube. They provide free karaoke songs and can be played in the comfort of your home.
Here's some advice. Make sure that your speakers are compatible with live sound. While you can use digital speakers, the quality won't be as potent as live speakers.
After that, output your video to the TV. Doing this ensures that you'll have an impromptu karaoke machine in your home. Have your videos at a resolution of 480p or higher so that the visuals are easily seen by the singer and the audience.
Tips For Successful Karaoke Party In Your Home
Here are 6 tips that will ensure the success of your next karaoke party.
Bring And Select The Right People
In fact, choose anyone! It may sound strange, but absolutely everyone likes karaoke as a hobby. Karaoke keeps people talking, brings people together, eliminates awkward social settings and is a great way make new relationships. Use this event to reconnect with friends or have fun with your coworkers.
Create A Playlist
Without a playlist, there is no karaoke party. Take some time creating a good playlist of songs that everyone can sing along to. Plus, make a song cue so that each singer knows who's up next.
Create A Theme
To make your karaoke party a fun experience, you should consider making a party theme. Themes help create a fun party environment (especially if you encourage your guests to dress up). Then, create simple decorations based on that theme.
If you want to make the party more fun, make a set of trivia questions. This will keep your guests entertained during intermissions and gives them the chance to compete for prizes. Having a party theme increases the fun and helps your audience plan their next song to sing.
Find An MC
When hosting a karaoke party, you'll need to find a MC. This is an important role, especially if your guests that are too shy to sing publically. The MC can announce whos up next to sing, place songs in the song cue, and keep the energy levels high throughout your karaoke party.
Make prize categories (best solo singer, best duet singing, worst singing, etc) to improve guest participation. Once you've selected your prizes, create a secret ballot to select the winners of each category.
Find The Right Equipment
One of the hugest complications of karaoke parties is getting set up. A good karaoke machine will cost $40 to $700. To save money, you'll use YouTube to set up playlists and make a song cue. Before hosting your party, make sure that your equipment works properly. This will ensure that everything will run smoothly and keep your guests entertained throughout the event.
We think that karaoke microphones are perfect for home parties. They create a fun environment and gets everyone ready to sing. To make the best karaoke party, you'll have to find the right equipment to ensure that your guests are entertained.
Now that you know everything about karaoke microphones, there are a few things that you'll need to know. You need to find the best karaoke machine to make your party memorable.
If you have any questions using karaoke microphones, then tell us about it in the comments below.