Karaoke has a strong following in Vancouver, and many people are looking for a custom system to show off their karaoke talents in their own home. There are many paths and budgets to get a solution that works for you, but you’ll need to think about the basics.
One of the first decisions to make is if you want to use your media room or home theatre’s speakers. You can save some money by not buying another set of speakers, but speakers often take a lot of abuse from karaoke. Mishaps like dropped microphones or speaker feedback are really hard on speakers, especially the tweeters. Regular speakers can be extremely well made, but are designed for ’safe’ recorded sound. Dedicated karaoke or professional grade speakers are better suited to handle awkward, accidental sounds. The money ‘saved’ on a separate set of karaoke speakers can easily be consumed fixing blown speakers!
Once you have your speakers figured out, you need to choose a mixer type. It mixes the music and the microphone vocals together. The basic choices are a combined mixer and amplifier in one, or separate mixer and amplifier. If you are leveraging a media room or home theatre system, then you just need a mixer. Depending on your budget, its often easy to get caught up wanting a higher-end professional mixer as it promises better sound quality. A prosumer or professional level mixer often comes with a lot more settings and knobs. These can make a system overwhelming and hard to use, so be careful to choose a system that matches your knowledge. A couple of mixer features to look out for are number of microphones inputs and pitch control (changes the karaoke music to match your preferred singing pitch).
Speaking of karaoke music, there are two basic ways to get your tunes: disc players or digital juke box type devices. Using a DVD or Blu-ray player and karaoke discs can be affordable, but it requires more manual effort to change songs. A higher-end solution digital juke box has hundreds of songs built in and can be updated when new songs are available. They are often easy to search, and most allow for tablets to control, so singers can take their time searching for just the right song. Although these can come loaded with amazing number of songs (Chinese, English, etc.), your latest, favourite pop song may not be there, so you’ll have to wait until its available and your system can be updated.
The last major pieces of the karaoke puzzle are microphones. Microphones start from very reasonably priced all the way up to professional grades if your budget allows. It all depends on the actual microphone element (the part that captures your voice). Manufactures are clear to denote which element the microphone uses and therefore the sound quality of the microphone. The curveball is when you want to go with a wireless microphone system. For a given microphone element, a decent wireless system can add around $200 to microphone. Depending on your budget, you may need to decide if sound quality or freedom of wires is more important to you.
If karaoke is your thing, then there’s a solution out there for you from basic to high-end. Before putting together your system, spend time figuring out what features work best for your style, room and budget. Happy singing!