Since its invention in the early seventies, Karaoke has spread from its homeland of Japan into the hearts, homes, and even bars of the world. Whether you’re the Susan Boyle of your suburb or have the same pitch as a dying poodle, Karaoke can bring some fun and laughter into your life.
Everything You Need For A Karaoke Setup
Maybe you’ve been to a karaoke party, or participated in karaoke at a public venue and decided it would be great to bring some of that into your next dinner party or barbeque.
Luckily, we are fortunate to live in the tech age. So, you no longer need a specialized karaoke machine with a limited song selection. With a few basic modern tools, you can turn your living room into a Eurovision song contest final.
In this article, I’ll be outlining the basic components of a karaoke system. As well as taking a look at some of the options available to create one at home.
Building a Home Karaoke System
Before you can begin coming up with figures and a time frame for acquiring and setting up your karaoke system, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
What’s the purpose of your system?
Will this be a one-time deal that you’re throwing together for a party? Or are you looking to get into karaoke long-term? Are you looking for something professional or practical?
Perhaps you own a club or bar and think adding karaoke to your roster would yield more customers. Maybe you just want a bare-bones setup so you and your friends can jam out over weekends when everyone’s broke and single.
How much are you willing to spend?
This one is fairly simple since you need to take your budget into account for all purchase decisions. But, remember, karaoke is one of those past-times that have become super cheap. You might already have one or two of the tools you need, but we’ll get there in a bit.
How tech-savvy are you?
If you’re a gadget guru and you want to have an elaborate system, this can be done. But, if you want something simple and portable that your 12-year-old can operate, rest assured that option is available as well.
The Bare-Bones Basics of Karaoke
So, to build a basic home karaoke system, you will need the following:
- A Soundtrack/Backtrack – The instrumental mix of the song you desire to perform.
- An output/Speaker System – This is going to output the backtrack as well as the voice of the singer.
- Microphone(s) – Your input device, which will send the sound of your voice to the output/speakers. If you wish to have multiple singers at once, you will require more than one mic.
- A screen – This will display the lyrics of the song you are performing.
Of course, it’s possible to use any laptop, computer, or smart device to go on YouTube and find a lyric video with an instrumental arrangement for an easy sing-along option. But you’re reading this article because you want to get serious, right?
The Most Popular Karaoke Options
Essentially, the bottom line boils down to two major categories. Option one is an easy way of setting up a karaoke system. Option two is the full-on customizable DIY setup. It’s guaranteed to make the stingiest guest peek over their glasses to get a look at your Karaoke Cathedral.
The easy way is self-explanatory. But, multiple options fall under simple, easy, and cheap. The most straightforward way is to get a dedicated karaoke machine and a few microphones. These usually come as a single package and can be set up in fifteen minutes or less.
On the other hand, the custom DIY job can be more time-consuming and expensive. The intricacies of the system itself can also vary depending on your preferences. So, it could result in it being something that might be a tad more difficult to operate. Let’s look at both options in detail.
Option One: Easy, Simple, and Affordable Karaoke Setup
First things first, there is no shame in wanting to go this route. This is the most convenient home karaoke setup and is the one most users will pick.
The best part is you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of sound or the experience. You just have a lesser degree of control. However, to a lot of people, that translates as “Fewer things I can accidentally screw up.”
Getting a good-quality karaoke machine is the easiest solution for your karaoke needs. There are hundreds of options out there for karaoke machines. There are as many variations in features and pricing as there are in cellphones and smartwatches.
WiFi and other options…
Some Karaoke machines can connect to the internet via your WiFi and will allow you to play content from YouTube. Others are compatible with CDs, flash sticks, and SD cards.
And some offer all or a combination of the above. Plus, a dedicated app that you can download onto a smart device and use to operate the machine.
Most karaoke machines these days are portable. Some even come with built-in or accompanying screens, so you don’t have to plug them into a TV. There are even karaoke machines with built-in visual effects like disco balls and lights that can add to the experience.
Whichever you end up choosing, you will quickly realize that the basic recipe is the same. There are merely differing variations upon the themes of the screen, machine, and microphone.
What you’ll want in an ideal home karaoke setup is something that offers all the required mics, speakers, cables, etc.
Setting Up A Karaoke Machine
Depending on the machine you have, the setup process can vary in complexity and time required. If you’ve made a good purchase, it will include an instruction manual that will take you through the entire process. However, the basic setup should boil down to something like the following.
- Connect your karaoke machine to a screen, usually a TV or computer monitor. In most cases, this is done via an RCA connection. If your machine has an accompanying screen, it still needs to be connected to the machine. Therefore, it should include generic connectors or specialized ones.
- Connect your microphone(s) and turn on the system. Begin by making sure the correct source is selected on your TV so that it displays the input from the karaoke machine. If your TV is connected to external output devices like speakers, ensure that they are selected as the output device.
From here on, you should be fine. That is everything you need for a karaoke set up in its most basic form. Again, the specific cables and connectors for your machine might be a little different. So, read the instruction manual to make sure you get the most out of your purchase.
Choosing The Music
Once again, the specifics here will vary from machine to machine. So, be sure to double-check the specs and features of your karaoke machine.
Some older machines will be compatible with CDs. Others have USB ports, so you can plug in a thumb drive and playback the backtracks from there. Also, there are SD card slots on some machines, but this has largely fallen out of fashion.
Some of the more modern machines use accompanying software that you download and install on a smart device. The software is used to transmit the visual input (lyrics, menus, etc.) to the machine. There will also be an auxiliary port on the karaoke machine to receive the audio.
Likewise, some machines are compatible with a myriad of software applications for karaoke, of which some are paid, and some are free. That said, most of these machines will allow access to YouTube. But, make sure to take these capabilities into account when selecting a karaoke machine.
Option Two: Custom DIY Karaoke Setup
If you decide to go the more elaborate and customizable DIY route, you will require quite a few things:
- An audio mixer.
- Karaoke software.
- A display screen.
- Various cables and connectors.
If you’ve never had to do a setup this elaborate before, don’t worry. I’m going to go through everything you need for a karaoke setup of this kind piece by piece. This way, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision on what’s going to work best for you.
The most important part of a karaoke setup. I would recommend getting at least two microphones. That’s because singing with your friends is such a huge part of what makes karaoke special. And, you don’t want to go missing out on those, shall we say, “memorable” duets.
It is possible to go up to three, four, five, or as many microphones as you like, really, depending on the size of your mixer. But, this will dramatically increase the cost of your system since most karaoke mixers only handle two mics at the same time. Therefore, a more expensive mixer will be required to handle more mics.
Cut the cables?
Once you know how many microphones you’ll use, you need to decide whether to go for wired or wireless microphones. Wired microphones are the more affordable karaoke microphone option. Also, it will be cheaper to replace them should something go wrong.
However, in most cases, wireless mics will be preferred. Because you can move around a lot more, it will inspire more spontaneity and result in more laughs all around. Not to mention eliminating the tripping hazard posed by a wired setup, especially after the fifth glass of wine!
If you are buying mics and mixers separately, make sure to check they are compatible; in 99.9% of cases, they are. Most wireless karaoke mics will use either a Bluetooth or WiFi connection between the microphone and its base unit.
Speakers might be where you decide to put most of your money since you want it loud, right? WRONG!
Take into account the space where you will be setting up a karaoke system. Buying speakers that are too small to handle the space will result in a weak sounding system. However, buying speakers that are too large could also ruin the whole evening for everyone.
So, what kind of speakers to use?
The same principles regarding wired and wireless mics apply to speakers. Wired speakers will be more affordable but limited in their placement options. Wireless has more placement options and removes wire clutter.
However, in both cases, the priority must be decent sound quality. Once you’ve got that, move on to your budget consideration and so on. Generally, wired speakers sound better than wireless versions.
Something to remember is to go for active speakers. These contain the amplifier within the speaker itself, making the setup far easier. They are slightly heavier than passive speakers, but the practicality more than makes up for the slightly increased weight. They are also harder to blow up because the correct wattage of amplifier is included within the speaker.
The mixer is usually the brains of any audio system. It’s where all inputs are going, and it is the source of all outputs. It controls all the audio inputs and outputs. In the karaoke context, it provides the ability to control the volume and tone of the singer’s voice, as well as add any effects, and also controls the backtrack.
Like microphones, speakers, and karaoke machines, mixers come in many different shapes and sizes. They are compatible with various types of hardware. And depending on your budget and requirements, there is a mixer that will perfectly suit your requirements.
Remember to double-check the connectivity specs of your speakers, microphones, and mixers to ensure compatibility across the board. If you have a mixer that supports more than one connection type, you may be able to run them in parallel.
This is probably the area where you will be most overwhelmed by choice. There are thousands of options available across many platforms. Some of them paid, some of them free. Finding what works for you will simply be a matter of trying them out till you find your match.
First things first, you need to check compatibility across all your hardware. Most apps will work with multiple connection methods, but some are a bit finicky. Therefore, it is vital to double-check before you buy something.
Sometimes, your software can double as your screen content. For example, if you decide to use YouTube for your backtracks, you can simply have YouTube displayed on your TV screen as the lyric video while the audio is played back through your speakers. Some options to consider include:
- YouTube (Free or Premium).
- Amazon Fire Stick.
- Karaoke Version.
- Sunfly Karaoke.
- The Voice Sing and Connect.
Looking for Great Karaoke Equipment?
We can help. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Karaoke Speakers, the Best Karaoke Microphones, the Best Tailgate Speakers, the Best Karaoke Machines, the Best Karaoke Microphones for iPhones and Smartphones, the Best Party Speakers you can buy in 2023.
And, don’t miss our detailed articles on the Top Karaoke Songs That Anyone Can Sing, the Best Karaoke Games, the Best Duet Karaoke Songs, the Best Karaoke Songs for Alto Females, and How to Set Up Karaoke on PlayStation for more great information and ideas.
Everything You Need For A Karaoke Setup – Conclusion
Whether you’re the plug-and-play type or the assemble-and-control-every-component type, Karaoke can easily be a part of your life. Just make sure you take into account how tech-savvy you are, what you’re planning on using your system for, and how much you want to spend.
Take the time to get to know your hardware and software. And, do test runs on your own so that you can own the party with confidence when the singing starts.
Until next time, make yourself heard.