In the simplest of terms, a karaoke machine is a device that plays the music of songs and tracks without the recorded vocals, allowing the performer (or, in some cases, performers) to sing the lyrics into a microphone. The machine displays the lyrics synchronized with the timing of the song so that the performers don’t have to recite it from memory. There are many karaoke machines and equipment with a whole array of fun and valuable features out there. However, each karaoke machine should have a music player, at least one microphone, some microphone inputs, a sound system, a screen for song lyrics, and a way to alter the pitch of the music. If you want to buy a karaoke machine for a party or special event but aren’t sure where to start looking, here are a few that we recommend.
You should get a karaoke machine for one simple reason: It’s fun! These machines are a great way to liven up a party or sleepover. They can be enjoyed by almost all ages, in large or small groups alike. And if you buy your own, you won’t have to rent a karaoke machine every time you throw an event. This can save you quite a bit of money in the long run. The average karaoke machine rental costs $200 to $250. So even if you buy your own model at a comparable price, you’ll get your money’s worth after only one or two uses.
They aren’t necessarily restricted to use at parties and social events, either. If you or someone in your household is an aspiring singer or sings as a hobby, you might get some more day-to-day use out of a karaoke machine as well. They can be a great practice tool for singers.
What should you look for in a karaoke machine?
Here are a few things to think about before buying a karaoke machine:
- All-in-One vs. Partial System: It’s important to note that not all karaoke machines come with every single piece of equipment that you’ll need. Some will require the use of a smartphone, tablet, or TV to double as the instrumental source and/or lyrics screen. Others, known as component machines, require an outside speaker system like a stereo to work. Some will include a library of karaoke songs, while others require you to buy the music separately. Some have built-in microphone systems but will need to be hooked up to a TV and stereo system. There are all-in-one systems that come with almost everything you need for a night of karaoke, but they will be more expensive (and might still require you to buy the music separately, depending on the model and company). Keep an eye on the equipment that’s provided before you buy a karaoke machine.
- MP3 vs. CDs: Another important feature to take note of when buying a karaoke machine is whether it uses CDs or MP3 to play the music. A model that requires the use of CDs will come with a CD player. These are especially handy if you already have a karaoke CD library. Otherwise, you might have to purchase specialty karaoke CDs separately. An MP3 system, in contrast, uses digital downloads of karaoke songs and lyrics. These allow you to download new songs immediately instead of waiting for new CDs to be released, but they’re often much smaller systems, and many will need to be hooked up to a separate monitor. Alternatively, some karaoke machines are plugged into your phone or tablet to access the karaoke music. A few modern models can play both CDs and MP3 files.
- Bonus Features: There are tons of different bonus features you can look for in a karaoke machine to add liveliness to the experience. There are portable models designed to be compact and quickly plugged in and played almost anywhere. Plenty of models have extra voice and/or sound effects that you and your guests will enjoy playing around with. These are especially great for kids’ parties. Others have built-in disco balls or light systems or more than one microphone so that people can sing duets or participate in group songs. Others are geared toward specific themes, like Disney songs or show tunes. Some even offer auto-tuning and harmonizing features so that people who aren’t great singers can enjoy themselves without feeling self-conscious. These sorts of extra features often make the karaoke machine more expensive, but you might find them to be worth the cost.
How much can you expect to spend on a karaoke machine?
On average, a karaoke machine will run somewhere between $50 and $150, depending on its features, included equipment, size, and other factors. These are the most common type of home karaoke machines on the market. More professional-style models will cost somewhere closer to $200 to $400. Some really big, complete karaoke machines might be priced from $1,000 to $2,000, but these are the full-sized type most commonly seen in bars. You probably won’t end up buying one that big or expensive for your own home.
Also, keep in mind that you might or might not end up buying extra microphones for your karaoke machine, which will add to your costs. These tend to run in the $25 to $45 range.
Singing Machine Karaoke Machine
A budget-friendly karaoke machine that can play both CDs and MP3 files.
Pros: The top-loading CD player works with both music CDs and CD + graphics. If you don’t own or want to buy CDs, don’t worry, as this machine can also connect to Bluetooth to wirelessly stream digital audio from compatible devices. It has a built-in speaker in a wooden cabinet, a two-digit LED display that shows the song track, echo control voice effects, and 54 bright, multicolored LED disco lights with adjustable brightness. The RCA cables let you connect it to your television in order to display the lyrics as you sing, while the line-in hooks it up to other audio devices if you want to amplify or alter the sound. This karaoke machine has two wired microphone jacks, each with its own separate volume controls so that individual singers can adjust the volume to their liking. You can buy it in a black or white color, with USB connectivity to record performances or play MP3 files, or without the USB.
Cons: This isn’t the largest karaoke machine on the market. It’s a tabletop model, not a freestanding one. In turn, this means that your microphone’s cord and thus, its range and extension will be limited. And it’s just the one microphone that comes included with your purchase. If you want a second one for the second jack, you’ll have to buy it separately. No CDs come included, either. This might not be a big deal due to the Bluetooth connectivity, but some users might find this to be a drawback if they prefer to use karaoke CDs but don’t own any.
Bottom Line: Karaoke machines can run on the pricey side, so if you want to purchase one without breaking the bank, this model has you covered. The disco lights and connectivity options, both for music and the machine itself, should satisfy more consumers, as will the low price tag. Its tabletop size makes it great for pairs and small groups, but you might want to opt for a bigger model for larger parties.
808 All-In-One Karaoke System & Party Machine
A stand-up, all-in-one karaoke machine with 18 voice and sound effects plus 16 light show options.
Pros: This karaoke machine comes installed with 10 fun voice effects and eight sound effects, including a harmonizing feature, a chipmunk voice, air horns, and much more. It also has 16 multicolored light show options that can light up the whole room and ceiling. The microphone stand can be adjusted anywhere between 2 feet and 6 feet in height, so it can be amended to fit children, preteens, teens, and adults alike. The microphone itself plugs in with a long 10-foot cord to give the singer plenty of length. And unlike a lot of full-sized karaoke machines, this one is slim and compact. It won’t take up much in the way of storage space or dominate the room when in use. A small display tray below the microphone holds your phone or tablet so that you can have the song lyrics right on hand.
Cons: You don’t have the option to play CDs on this karaoke machine. There’s no CD slot or attachment anywhere. This won’t be a problem for all users, but if you already own karaoke CDs, you won’t get to use them. You have to connect your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth in order to access songs and videos from YouTube or other karaoke apps. Obviously, if you don’t own a smartphone or tablet, you won’t be able to use this machine at all. There’s also only one microphone and no jack, so you won’t be able to use this model for duets or group songs. And all buttons and display controls are on the base of the machine, so you’ll have to constantly bend down to change the lights, settings, etc., which some can find irritating.
Bottom Line: Adults and children of all ages will love this all-in-one karaoke machine and its adjustable stand. As long as you own a Bluetooth-compatible smartphone or tablet, this model and its slim size will be a perfect fit for just about any household, while the microphone’s long cord allows people to walk, move, and even dance around freely without accidentally ripping the mic out of the machine. However, keep in mind that only one person at a time will be able to sing on this karaoke machine, so it might not be a great choice for huge parties or events.
KaraoKing Karaoke Machine with Wireless Microphone Speaker
A highly compatible karaoke machine that comes equipped with two convenient wireless microphones.
Pros: It comes with two wireless microphones, so you can sing solos alone or perform a duet with a friend. The microphones are durable, so they will hold up even under rough handling from little kids. They also have a good range, so you can dance and move around without the connection dropping. The speaker is of the highest quality to ensure the clearest possible sound, and the built-in disco ball provides dancing light effects. You can play karaoke songs through a USB, AUX, Bluetooth, or FM radio connection, so you can access your music through whichever channel is most convenient for you. This model comes with a complimentary phone and tablet holder that attaches to the machine for your display convenience. And the wheels and handle allow you to move the karaoke machine from room to room or from house to house with ease.
Cons: Although you get a good number of accessories and features with this karaoke machine, it comes at a (literal) price. This model is quite expensive for a home karaoke machine, especially considering that it isn’t a full-sized, freestanding one. It also doesn’t have as long of a service life as some other comparable karaoke machines. And while the Bluetooth connectivity is quite handy for smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, and the like, some buyers reported having issues with their Bluetooth connection dropping at random times, which can throw off an entire song or session.
Bottom Line: If you don’t want to worry about your microphone cords tangling or running out of length, this is the karaoke machine for you. It’s great for duets and offers multiple connectivity options that should work for just about any home entertainment setup. However, since it has a shorter service life than many similar models, this might not be a great karaoke machine for regular use. It’s probably best to save this one for parties alone.
808 Portable Karaoke Machine
A lightweight, compact karaoke machine that is highly portable with multiple built-in features.
Pros: This highly portable karaoke machine can easily be transported to parties, homes, offices, and more. It weighs just over 5 pounds, so it’s easy and lightweight to carry around, with plenty of fun features packed into its compact 12-by-10-by-10-inch frame. The built-in LED lights provide you with 10 different light show effects, from pulsing to chasing and more. It also has five professional-quality voice effects and six sound effects, ranging from a baritone voice to air horns and applause, and much more. The control buttons line the side of the machine for easy access. This highly portable model comes with two microphones (perfect for duets) and in a black or pink color scheme.
Cons: The only way to access songs and music on this karaoke machine is through its Bluetooth connection. You have to hook it up to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, turn the volume up all the way on your device, and pick a song on either YouTube or a karaoke app of your choice. This is obviously a problem for people who don’t have a device with Bluetooth connectivity. And while the two included microphones are extremely handy, they’re connected to the karaoke machine by very short cords. You won’t be able to move or dance around freely while singing.
Bottom Line: This is the ideal karaoke machine to bring to office parties, to a friend’s house for a sleepover, on a road trip to a vacation home, or anywhere else you might want to bring it. It’s neither heavy nor bulky, yet still offers bright, room-filling lights and a decent selection of sound and voice effects. But if you don’t have a Bluetooth-friendly device to connect to or prefer to use karaoke CDs, you might want to opt for a different model.
Croove Portable Karaoke Machine for Kids
This small, lightweight, and affordable karaoke machine was designed with kids specifically in mind.
Pros: Since this karaoke machine was designed with kids in mind, it’s straightforward to use as well as nice and durable. There are minimal buttons required for use, and they’re right on the front of the machine’s body for quick access. It will hold up well to your kids jumping and dancing around and being jostled or knocked over by mistake. Two microphones come included for duets, and although they have to be plugged in to work, the cords are decently long, so kids can move and jump and dance around a bit if they want. There’s also a built-in carrying handle, so this karaoke machine can easily be brought to a friend’s house for birthday parties and sleepovers. The whole device runs on a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to four hours on one charge, with a USB charging cable included. And the whole set is quite inexpensive.
Cons: This kid-friendly karaoke machine does offer pretty good connectivity options. You can connect it to your music-streaming devices via AUX cable, which is included with your purchase, USB, or Bluetooth. However, it doesn’t have a CD player or any other way to play CDs, which can be a disadvantage if you already own a set. And the volume is only adjustable on the machine itself or on your devices. There’s no way to raise or lower the volume on the microphones themselves. So if the mic volume is too loud or disruptive for parents, they’re out of luck. And if you prefer Bluetooth connectivity to access music and songs, keep in mind that this karaoke machine doesn’t have an included or built-in holder for your smartphone or tablet, which can make it trickier to access the song’s lyrics.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking to buy a karaoke machine for your child to enjoy, whether on a regular basis or for sleepovers and parties, you can’t go wrong with this model. It’s child-sized and comes with two high-quality microphones, so you won’t have to spend the money on buying extras separately. Kids will love the built-in light show, and the multiple connectivity options make it easy to find their favorite songs. As long as you don’t mind the lack of a CD player or tablet holder, you’ll love and get a lot of mileage out of this karaoke machine (although you might also want to invest in a good set of headphones for yourself to go with it).
Karaoke machines are a quick, easy, and fun way to liven up a party and get lots of people on their feet to sing, dance, and clap together. They’re great for small and large groups alike, and even individual users might find them to be a fun and handy way to practice their singing or rehearse a number for an audition. No longer do you have to go to a bar or rent a karaoke machine ahead of time. You can simply buy and bring your own right into the comfort of your home.