One of the most frequently asked questions in the karaoke industry is “how do I get started?”
The answer will depend on your current situation and what you want to accomplish. For example, if you are planning to have a party at home, you should purchase a small system that can be set up quickly via plugging everything into one stereo. If you are planning on doing karaoke at work, then perhaps something more professional will fit your needs better. Here are some things to consider before buying a karaoke machine:
1. Purpose – What do you want to use it for?
There are lots of different types of systems available these days so it’s important to figure out what you/need before deciding which one to purchase.
2. Money – How much can you spend?
There are lots of really great karaoke products out there in a variety of price ranges. There is definitely a system to fit every budget. It’s important that you decide how much money you want to spend before going shopping.
3. Features – What features do you need/want?
Another factor in choosing a system is determining what features your machine should have and which ones are not necessary for your needs, but would be nice to have if possible. For example, if the unit will be stationed in one place all the time, docking speakers might be something worth looking into since they take up less space when stored. On the other hand, it may be more important to have a built-in digital recording capability in order to save karaoke performances for posterity.
4. Ease of use – Will you be singing with others or just by yourself? Is the machine complicated or simple to operate?
Some machines are very easy to use while others may require more effort on your part. If you plan on using it with family and friends, perhaps something simpler would work best so everyone can enjoy themselves. Also, if you have never used one before, it’s probably not a good idea to buy one that is difficult to operate since most people will not know how to use it without some instruction first.
5. Availability of accessories
Availability of replacement parts/accessories is often an issue when using karaoke machines. If the machine only has a 90 day warranty, that doesn’t mean it will be out of commission after 90 days. Many parts are available for most systems on the market today but some require certain accessories to be ordered directly from the manufacturer in order to work properly with their unit.
6. Availability of support/information
Machines can malfunction or break down so you’ll need access to knowledgeable service technicians both during and after the warranty period in case something does happen with your product… since not all parts are available everywhere, it’s also important to know where you can go for assistance when necessary.
7. Number of People using kit at one time
If you want to use the system yourself singly then perhaps something smaller like a portable karaoke system is what you’re looking for. If several people are going to want to use it, then perhaps something larger that can accommodate the entire group would be more suitable.
8. Appearance – Does appearance matter?
Yes, some people will purchase their machine solely on how it looks while others couldn’t care less about having the flashiest one around. The appearance of your machine should be based on your own personal preferences or your intended purpose (ie: do you plan to take it out with you?).
9. Will there be kids involved? What kind of environment will the equipment be placed in?
Kids love karaoke machines so if yours will also have an audience than yourself, perhaps something child-friendly would be a good idea. The environment should also be taken into consideration when deciding on what kind of machine to purchase. If the unit will be in a garage then probably something that is more sturdy and rugged would work best.
10. Warranty & Service – How long is the warranty period? What service options are there if I encounter problems?
The life expectancy of your karaoke machine will depend on how well you take care of it and how you use it (ie: do you move around a lot, throw it down stairs, etc…). Most products come with at least a 90 day limited warranty although some may have longer periods while others offer an extended warranty option for even greater peace of mind.
11. Where can I buy it? – Many online retailers offer great deals on top karaoke brands while most brick & mortar stores only sell the most popular ones. Shopping in-store can save you money but considering some prices are even less than you might imagine, the savings potential is usually not substantial enough to make it worth your time… not to mention all the inconvenience of having to drive there and back again. Also, if you live in a remote area this may also be an issue. Buying online takes some effort but more often than not, will provide better value for money spent.
12. Are you open-minded about which brand or model of machine to buy?
Some people have their minds set on just one specific unit while others would rather explore their options. If you are open to different brands or models than you may be able to save some money this way since various online retailers often sell the same products for less than others.
13. What is your price range? Is it realistic at this point in time?
Karaoke machines can cost anywhere from $40 up to $10,000 and above so deciding on what kind of budget you have in mind will help narrow down which units are worth considering and which aren’t worth your while. Asking yourself if your range is realistic at this point compared with how much you’re wanting to spend will give you a better idea of just how much flexibility there is when making such a purchase…
14. How big do I want my karaoke machine to be?
This is a question mostly for the ladies only because something larger only requires more storage space and can easily fit into any closet. In contrast, smaller units take up less room but may not have all the features you’re looking for since many are custom-made to accommodate specific needs. The size of your karaoke machine will also determine just how much it weighs so be sure that whatever it is you choose you can easily move it around when necessary.
15. What kind of warranty do I want with my purchase?
As mentioned earlier, some products come with 90 day limited warranties while others offer an extended warranty option known as “service contracts”. These options vary in price and number of years (eg: 1 year, 2 years or 3 years) and usually cost between $25-$100.
16. Will the machine be exposed to indoor or outdoor elements?
Generally speaking karaoke machines come in two types: those designed for indoor use (usually custom-made with such features as wood detailing & more decorative finishes that don’t weather well) and those made specifically for outdoor usage (ie: “party platters” more suitable for beach villas). If the unit you’re looking at is also meant for indoors then perhaps something a little more robust than usual would work best so keep this point in mind when making your purchase.
17. How important is sound quality? Is picture quality important too? What type do I need?
The sound quality of karaoke machines varies greatly with different models. For example, if you’re looking for something that sounds like a professional recording studio then perhaps investing in something more expensive would be the best option. On the other hand, audio output may not be as much of an issue if you’re only planning on using the machine to play background music (ie: dinner parties).
Microphones & monitors don’t really matter much unless you need high-fidelity sound reproduction. If this is the case then your options include either wired or wireless microphones which can sometimes cost up to $120 each… this means spending at least $240 before even thinking about purchasing any optional extras such as video systems or auxiliary input devices.
18. What accessories should I expect to use with my karaoke machine?
There are several accessories that can be purchased to enhance the experience of using your unit. These perks include wireless microphones, auxiliary input devices (for connecting almost any audio device), video systems & DJ lights/effects which usually cost anywhere from $25-$200 per piece. Keep this in mind if you plan on purchasing something else along with your new purchase.
19. Are there software programs available for download or streaming media access?
Believe it or not, there are now even websites solely dedicated to letting users stream karaoke songs for free online… This means downloads aren’t required and all you need is a computer and an internet connection so having such a website as part of your arsenal is definitely a bonus.
20. Does the karaoke machine include a remote control?
Some machines come with remotes while others don’t. If you want something that’s truly plugged and play then perhaps not having a remote is a good thing (this way you won’t lose it) but if you think needed one then be sure to pick up your device at the store so that you can immediately test this function out before leaving the cashier.
How do I choose between all of these different types of microphones? What are my options?
Choosing between them really just depends on what type of microphone best suits your needs… You can find wired ones which are usually more expensive than wireless mics, condenser vs dynamic microphones (if you know what these are then you’re probably better off without us explaining them to you), cardioid (directional) vs omnidirectional mics (works best in open spaces or outdoors), hand-held models that clip onto the end of your mic stand, shotgun models that require a boom arm & handheld wireless microphones.
Karaoke is a fun and entertaining way to spend an evening with your family, friends or coworkers. But before you go out and buy one of those fancy machines, there are some things you should know about first… So we’ve put together this handy buying guide so that the next time someone asks “What should I know before purchasing a karaoke machine?” You’ll be ready with all the answers.