The best karaoke machine of 2020
There are times when you just want to "Celebrate" at the "Love Shack" with all your "Friends in Low Places." A portable karaoke machine can help you do that, and so much more. What was once considered a passing fad in bars and nightclubs is now a thriving hobby for thousands of people.
At-home karaoke machines may not have the same audio firepower and song selection as commercial units, but they do liven up a party and encourage friends and family to take singing in the shower or behind the wheel to a whole other level.
We have taken a fresh look at our shortlist of best karaoke machines of 2020, based on current trends and changes in technology. Our updated list includes some old favorites and a newcomer that features wireless compatibility along with Bluetooth compatibility.
Best karaoke machines of 2020
1. Karaoke USA GF844 Complete Bluetooth Karaoke System: This multifunctional karaoke machine keeps its place because of its robust sound and LED light display that will liven up the room.
2. The Singing Machine CD+G Bluetooth Karaoke System: Bluetooth connectivity helps this budget-friendly karaoke system eliminate the need for an expensive CD+G library.
3. iLive Bluetooth Karaoke Party Machine: A newcomer to our short list, the iLive karaoke machine includes wireless capability not always found with other systems.
For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.
What you need to know before buying a karaoke machine
Karaoke literally means "empty orchestra," and its appeal lies in the fill-in-the-blank vocals provided by users. Most of the time, karaoke backing tracks display lyrics on a small monitor, highlighting the words as a vocal guide. This is accomplished through a special file format called CD+G, or DVD graphics or online video recordings. Occasionally a karaoke track will only include the backing track, so users must find their own lyric sheets or memorize the song cues.
One important consideration when choosing a karaoke machine is file compatibility. CD+G discs have become a default setting for most models, but the song selection can be limited. These discs are often sold in multipacks called "bricks," but can also be ordered by individual artist or music genre. Machines with Bluetooth can also access online karaoke files, a method favored by professional karaoke hosts.
The quality of technology is also an important factor. Basic karaoke machines generally do not include a professional-grade PA system, but more of a home-stereo speaker. Higher-grade machines with the proper inputs and outputs can be integrated into a larger and more powerful system, however. Some machines only include one microphone port, while others may have two or more. Wireless microphone capability is a nice feature, allowing users to explore their musical space without dragging a hardwired cord.
One feature many amateur singers like to see in a karaoke machine are vocal effects. The addition of reverb or echo can really make a difference in the vocal performance, and mixers allow the host to balance out especially loud or quiet performers. Even the ability to adjust the vocal channel and the backing track can be very helpful. There are also separate vocal-effects monitors that can enhance or autotune voices.
The price of a karaoke machine for home use can vary widely. The most basic models for children cost as little as $30 to $60, but the overall quality is variable. For adult use, a good midrange karaoke machine with Bluetooth connectivity and decent sound quality should cost between $60 and $120, depending on the number of features. For machines approaching commercial-level quality, expect a price tag in the $400 to $1,000 range.
Q. Can a karaoke machine make me sound better than I really am?
A. Most home karaoke machines are limited in terms of vocal enhancements, but you may be able to add some reverb or change the song's key to match your range. There are vocal-effects machines available that can autotune your voice, change the pitch and add virtual background harmonies.
Q. Why can't I find some of my favorite songs to sing on a karaoke machine?
A. The companies that produce CD+G and other forms of karaoke backing tracks must have certain publishing rights to the songs before they can offer the songs to customers. The original artist may not have granted those rights, so the songs cannot be used in karaoke form.
In-depth reviews for best karaoke machines
Best of the best: Karaoke USA GF844 Complete Bluetooth Karaoke System
What we like: Includes two microphones for group singing. Offers both Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Handles a range of karaoke track formats. LED screen can display DVD movies.
What we dislike: Some mechanical and electronic issues reported. On the expensive side.
Best bang for your buck: The Singing Machine CD+G Bluetooth Karaoke System
What we like: Affordable price point for at-home use. Bluetooth connectivity, compatible with smartphones. Easy to carry and set up. Good voice controls and effects.
What we dislike: Speakers are not very powerful without maximum volume.Light display dimmer than expected.
Choice 3: iLive Bluetooth Karaoke Party Machine
What we like: Easy to set up, with Bluetooth connectivity. Wireless range of 60 feet. Automatic voice controls and effects. Two microphone ports for group singing.
What we dislike: Relatively heavy for a portable karaoke machine. Does not play all karaoke track formats.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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