WHETHER you're a karaoke aficionado or you're organising a family party and fancy a warble, when buying your own machine, you need to know you're getting the best option for you.
Here are our suggestions for the best karaoke machines out there...
Depending on your needs, the best karaoke machines can simply act as a speaker for your TV or laptop - or they can be used to create entire productions.
Prices vary depending on features, but you can pick up a DIY karaoke machine for a party for less than £50 and really, why wouldn't you?
Karaoke is a great way to get any party going - you won't believe how many people have a wannabe singer inside of them.
1. Best karaoke machine for song choice: Lucky Voice Karaoke Kit
Lucky Voice brought private karaoke rooms to the UK back in 2005 and also sell a range of karaoke kits, inspired by their bars, to replicate this experience in the comfort of your own home.
You simply plug the kit into your computer or iPad to transform your device into a karaoke machine, with more than 9,000 songs including classics hits and the latest chart releases.
You can even use your phone as a remote control to queue up songs.
Included in each kit is a single microphone (available in gold, pink, blue, rose gold or white) a track mixer “Party Box”, all the cables you need to get started, as well as a voucher for a Lucky Voice subscription.
This voucher includes a month’s worth of unlimited songs.
If you want to carry on using the service, you’ll need to pay £6.99 a month (or you can buy six-month and yearly subscriptions) - and you can cancel at any time.
Spare or additional microphones are sold separately, too, and start at £19.99.
This may not be the cheapest way to bring karaoke into your life but it’s certainly the easiest, most up-to-date way of doing so, and will be an endless source of entertainment.
2. Best all-round karaoke system: Singing Machine Fiesta Bluetooth Karaoke System
At the top end of the scale, and for serious karaoke aficionados, is the Singing Machine Bluetooth Karaoke System.
It’s a beast of a machine and comes packed with two microphones (one of them in interactive), an in-built disco ball and an integrated LCD display, so you can see your lyrics on the machine without needing to plug it into an additional monitor.
Its rechargeable battery lasts 10 hours and it plays full karaoke videos via USB when you plug your tablet or phone into the device.
You can also record via this connection, and use Bluetooth to stream songs to the speaker. The speaker itself is 150 watt.
It’s not the best looking of karaoke machines but it certainly packs a punch tech-wise and is more than just a karaoke machine - it’s an entertainment system.
3. Best karaoke machine for old-school fun: Vocal-Star VS-1200
The Vocal-Star VS-1200 looks most like the kind of karaoke machines you find in pubs.
It resembles a standard DVD player but is fitted with a mixer panel across the front that lets you adjust the tone of music with bass and treble controls.
This panel also features four microphone ports (the Vocal-Star VS-1200 ships with two microphones), plus it has a headphone input.
You can connect your preferred screen to the machine via Bluetooth, print song lists and record your songs to MP3.
However, to get the most from the machine, you need to buy Vocal-Star compilation CDs.
The machine comes with 150 party songs included in the price, and Vocal-Star sells various other playlists from Crooners to 60s Classics.
Prices start at £12 per CD. It doesn’t have the portability as others in the list but is more stylish and professional looking. The machine even scores your singing if you want to get Simon Cowell-levels of honesty.
4. Best karaoke machine for parties: Karaoke USA
The Karaoke USA may not have the auto-tune tools of the Singing Machine or the style of the Vocal-Star but it manages to combine many of the other features found on each of its rivals into a compact, fun form.
For starters, it has a 7-inch colour screen and a mixing panel built in, meaning you don’t need to connect to a separate laptop or tablet screen, and you can tweak the mic levels.
It plays songs via Bluetooth, DVD, CD+G and MP3+G and you can record your performances onto a USB or SD card.
If you do want to set the machine up for a party, you can connect to an external screen and the Karaoke USA ships with two microphones as standard.
Like Vocal-Star’s machine, you get a certain number of free songs but you will need to buy compilation discs separately, but it is compatible with all CDGs.
What’s more, the Karaoke USA has an LED light show in its front panel.
5. Best value karaoke machine: RockJam SingCube
The RockJam RJSC-01 BK SingCube is a cute portable karaoke machine that has everything you need to get the party started.
The SingCube is a compact box fitted with two 5 watt speakers, a docking station on the top and LEDs fitted into the front panel that move in time with the music.
It’s powered by a rechargeable battery so you can use it indoors and out for about three hours before it needs recharging.
The party-in-a-box has echo and microphone volume controls to add to your performance and comes with two microphones as standard.
The downside is that the speaker will only play the words on a screen if you’ve connected it to a TV via Bluetooth and you’re using a karaoke website, but for the price, you’re getting a nice little entertainment unit that kids and adults alike will enjoy.
6. Best mini karaoke microphone: Kikkerland mini karaoke microphone
Karaoke fans can take their love of singing along with them wherever they go with this cute mini microphone.
Just connect it to your smartphone, tablet or PC and you'll be able to use it as a recording device, a microphone for phone calls and as a teeny tiny karaoke machine that works with most karaoke and voice recording apps.
A great little stocking filler for kids or teens.
7. Best karaoke machine for wannabe popstars: RockJam Performer
If you want to face your audience rather than the television while you're singing your heart out, and maybe even bust out a dance move or two, then the RockJam Performer is the karaoke machine for you.
It's the machine that feels the most like a real stage set-up with a height-adjustable stand to hold the two included microphones as well as your tablet, smartphone or MP3 player.
There's the added fun of echo and voice controls to play with and you can even connect your guitar to the additional port.
Two built-in 5W speakers share your singing skills with the world or you can use the built-in headphone jack if you want to keep the sound down.
8. Best karaoke microphone for all the family: Ankuka 4 in 1 Bluetooth Microphone
We love a product that can multitask and this Ankuka microphone has an impressive four functions in one little gadget; it can be used as microphone, Bluetooth speaker, loudspeaker and recorder.
It's also wonderfully small, so you can record your voice anytime, anywhere.
Its connectivity is great and can connect to all Bluetooth devices, plus it has audio cables if needed.
Sound quality is good (especially for the price) and it's equipped with an audio processor and tuning system, plus has some fun voice-changing options kids will love.
And can we talk about the in-built lights – the LED lights glow along to the tune your singing, so you can bring the disco with you at all times.
9. Best karaoke machine with lights: Mr Entertainer Moonbox
For a disco in your living room like no other, this karaoke machine from Mr Entertainer is the one to beat. A top-mounted rainbow disco ball will dazzle your audience while the multi coloured LED front panel will dance to the beat of the music to add some extra wow factor to your performance.
It connects wirelessly and via cable, comes with two microphones and its wooden cabinet improves acoustics and reduces distortion.
It has an app included, so there are countless hits available to sing straight away.
It's also not bad for portability – a rechargeable battery and leather carry handle make it good for toting around town in search of a party.
10. Best-looking karaoke machine: JYX Karaoke Machine
Let's face it, with their bulky exterior and in-your-face lights, karaoke machines aren't the most attractive bit of tech, but this sleek-looking machine from JYX bucks that trend.
With a streamlined exterior and trendy orange handle (plus an included shoulder strap), it's light enough to take anywhere with you and it looks pretty stylish too.
It can connect via Bluetooth to your devices and it comes with a wireless microphone. Sound quality is good and users report it can get seriously loud, plus it has the ability to record if you're belting out your favourite anthem and want to capture the moment.
It can also be used as a radio and its five to eight hours of battery life means you have plenty of time for non-stop music playing.
11. Best karaoke machine for portability: Vocal-Star Portable Karaoke Machine
This machine's compact design, built-in battery and carry handle make it the ideal karaoke machine to take with you for a garden performance or a show at a friend's house.
It comes with one microphone (with a fun echo effect), but there's space for another and happy users report its 100w speaker packs a surprising punch.
As you'd expect, it also connects wirelessly to any phone or tablet to play back your favourite tunes or karaoke tracks.
What is a karaoke machine?
Apart from the obvious answer (a guaranteed party-starter, of course), if we're getting back to basics – a karaoke machine is an electrical device that plays backing tracks without vocals.
Performers can grab a microphone, which usually comes with the machine, and sing their favourite songs in time with the music.
Machines are hooked up to a TV screen, laptop or tablet (or flashier models include built-in screens), which show subtitles of the song lyrics, so you don't have to worry about forgetting the words.
How do karaoke machines work?
This very much depends on the type of machine you're using and the format of the song being played.
Many modern karaoke machines rely on digital files and songs can be downloaded and added to a library. These can be free, or you can subscribe to a service to access karaoke songs, or pay per track. You can also buy karaoke CDs that are compatible with most machines.
Once you have your song, the lyrics are displayed on screen. Song words are usually highlighted in a different colour to indicate when you should sing.
Some karaoke machines give performers the option to speed up the song's tempo, change the key of the music or experiment with the sound of the singer's voice.
What are the easiest karaoke songs?
Classics are some of the most played songs at karaoke parlours across the country.
Think “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston or most recent hits like the Killers' "Mr Brightside".
When buying a machine these are called backing tracks.
In most cases, it’s recorded specifically for karaoke and might include backing vocals but not the lead vocals.
Some karaoke machines will have come with auto-tune software, some stream songs online and others require separate purchases of CD+G and MP3+G compilations.
CD+G is a form of compact disc that will play graphics, including lyrics, when played on compatible machines. An MP3+G is the digital equivalent.
A number of machine manufacturers on this list sell their own compilation CD+G and MP3+Gs but you’re not limited to these.
You can pick up box sets of generic CD+Gs on Amazon, for example, for around £12 and these can be played on any other machine you decide to upgrade to in the future.
How much does a karaoke machine cost?
This varies wildly depending on the technical spec of the machine.
For a karaoke style microphone that's perfect for kids, prices start at around £10, but for a more traditional karaoke experience, with lyrics that appear on screen, disco lights and device's with various audio functions, prices start at £60.
This rises to hundreds of pounds for the newest machines with the showiest lights, best sound quality and all the latest technology.
What is the best karaoke machine for kids?
Children love flashy lights and cool voice effects like an echo, plus clear sound quality is a major plus.
A top karaoke machine for children should also be easy enough for them to use on their own, light and portable, and have enough features to hold their attention.
See our edit of some of the best karaoke machines for kids.
What is the best karaoke machine for home use?
A karaoke machine can brighten up any party whether you're with friends or your family.
If you don't have much space, it's probably best to pick one that is portable and comes with extra features like fun LED lights, or a set of mics you can share during duets with friends.
For anyone looking for something even more simple or for those who already have a speaker, you can just look for a microphone that comes with it. It's also usually a cheaper option than buying a full kit.
How do I turn my laptop into a karaoke machine?
If you're using a karaoke machine, hook it up to your laptop with the cables provided (usually AUX or USB), or connect it via Bluetooth. Setup should be pretty straightforward from there – follow your device's specific instructions to get the lyrics to appear on your desktop.
If you're not using a traditional karaoke machine and you want to try belting a song out without one, you can search on Youtube for karaoke songs (i.e. backing tracks without vocals where the lyrics appear in the video). For a better experience and a bigger moment in the spotlight, connect a microphone and karaoke speaker.
How to buy a karaoke machine
Firstly, do your research – is it important to you that it has lights? Should it come with a CD of music ready to go, or would you prefer to pick and download your own tracks? Is it for personal use or are you planning some epic karaoke parties?
Once you've nailed down exactly what you're after, and what you have to spend on it, check out our list of the best karaoke machines above and take it from there.
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