When you're serious about singing karaoke, it's all about your voice. For some, all-in-one systems with microphones and video connections keep it simple. Others use discrete karaoke players, microphones, mixers, effects and amplifiers, providing greater control and more professional results. Singers using computers with karaoke files from YouTube or using online karaoke sites such as SingSnap have equipment options as well. Whatever your platform, the heart of your system is a good microphone.
Complete karaoke systems include players, video interfaces for plugging in a computer or video monitor, amplifiers and microphones. These can be entry-level units, but the all-in-one is hardly limited to the beginner. A quick scan of AceKaraoke.com shows a range of complete karaoke systems from under $100 to over $1,200. Generally, more affordable systems feature mics with cables permanently attached. Good-quality microphones have price points higher than these all-in-one systems, so expect mic quality to be limited. Some high-priced systems may feature microphones with controls built-in, so you can operate the karaoke machine by remote -- though this usually means reduced options to upgrade your mic. Other high-end systems feature multiple microphone connections.
Connecting Your Upgraded Microphone
Purchasing a microphone to upgrade from a system mic or to use with a component karaoke system requires connection consideration. Mics plug in by way of either phone plugs or XLR cables. XLR connectors are more expensive to build into a microphone, but have some features that deliver a better audio system. All professional mics use XLR cables, and these can be used with phone plug equipment by way of a small transformer or adapter cable. Both mics and cables equipped with XLR connectors hold up well to heavy use.
Wireless microphones free the performer from the shackles of a mic cable. While wireless systems tend to be more expensive for similar quality mics, this is because the mic requires a receiver, which plugs into the karaoke machine or its amplifying component. In many cases, the receiver has both phone and XLR connections, so there's no problem hooking it up to most karaoke equipment.
Using a computer in a karaoke system offers additional alternatives by way of USB connections. Microphones by professional mic manufacturers are now available, designed to plug into computers through USB ports; these mics can be used for computer-based karaoke. There are even complete karaoke systems built in to the bodies of microphones, with songs and lyrics digitally stored. The USB connection provides the computer with not only your voice, but the backing track, backgrounds for your computer display and the lyrics for the songs.