When most people think of karaoke, they think of it as being something only professionals can afford. That's because the karaoke equipment found at many bars is quite expensive. However, it is possible to create a karaoke set-up at any place you want by simply using a laptop computer along with some other equipment. Learn how to take your laptop and create a karaoke set-up that only costs a couple of hundred dollars instead of thousands.
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Things you need
- Laptop computer with at least an 80GB HDD, 1GB RAM
- External soundcard
- TV that accepts RGB input
- Stereo with aux-input
- Bass amplifier for vocals (or a PA system)
- A 3.5mm cable
- Karafun or other karaoke software
Check that your laptop meets the minimum requirements outlined in things you'll need. Your laptop should have at least 1GB RAM (this can be checked by going to "Start," Control panel," then "System information") and an 80GB hard drive. This will ensure that your laptop is able to run the software necessary for karaoke.
Download and install karaoke software. Most people choose the free karaoke software Karafun, although there are many free and paid karaoke software available for this purpose.
Purchase karaoke CDs and ZIP files. Once you've purchased them, open up Karafun and insert the disc. It should begin to play both the karaoke music and the words on screen. If it doesn't, it means you've purchased discs that are incompatible with your computer.
Purchase a stereo with at least 50 watts of power and an aux-input. This will be used to play your karaoke music. Most stereos with these features will cost about £65, as of 2010.
Purchase a 3.5mm stereo cable that will be used to connect the stereo to the computer. You'll probably want to purchase a cable that is at least 10 feet long.
Purchase a USB external soundcard. This will serve as a "middle man" between the laptop and the stereo, and will protect the laptop's soundcard from being wrecked by the stereo. Most external soundcards run around £32.
Purchase a bass amplifier with at least 20 watts, a microphone and mic cable. The amp will cost you roughly £65, while a decent microphone and cable will cost less than £13.
Hook the microphone to the input jack of the bass amplifier using the mic cable. Turn the amp on and perform a sound check--be sure to get the mic volume at a decent level before proceeding.
Hook the USB soundcard to the laptop computer and right-click the sound icon on the bottom right of the screen. Select "playback devices" and then click the icon for the soundcard and select "set as default." Make sure the volume on the computer is completely down. Then plug the 3.5mm cable into the output jack of the soundcard and plug the other end into the stereo's aux input.
Hook the RGB cable into the TV and the laptop. You should now see the laptop screen on the TV. The TV will serve as your karaoke monitor.
Play a karaoke track and adjust the volume slowly on the laptop and the stereo. Also adjust the amplifier volume so that the vocals are louder than the music. After a few minutes of adjustments, you should be all set to host your own karaoke parties.
Tips and warnings
- Do your research on the things you're buying. You don't want a stereo with poor quality, nor do you want an amplifier that produces muddy vocals. That's why you should read lots of reviews on anything you're considering purchasing.
- Don't be afraid to purchase things used. If you buy your amp and stereo used, for example, you'll most likely save a good amount of money than buying it new. The important thing is to make sure that anything you purchase is in good working order.
- Always keep the stereo at least 3 feet away from the laptop. A stereo that is playing loudly can damage a laptop's hardware (specifically the hard drive) if it is sitting too close to the laptop.
- Always keep the volume on both the stereo and the laptop computer at zero when hooking the two up. This is because the aux input jack, as well as the soundcard, can be damaged if the volume is turned up high when the music begins to play. Slowly adjust the two volumes after hitting play on the computer to avoid this issue.
- Make sure the volume on the amp is at zero before turning the amp on or off. Failure to do so can damage the amplifier.