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The Guide to Buying the Perfect Karaoke Player

he world is divided into two types of people; those who karaoke and those who don’t. So what does a person in the second category do when they want to buy that perfect gift for someone in the first category? Or what if you love karaoke but you are new to the hobby and ready to commit to a home karaoke player? These will be the dilemmas that many will face this holiday season, and if you find yourself in such a quandary, fret no more, here is what you need to know before you brave the shopping aisles in search of that perfect home karaoke machine.


The home karaoke machine truly is the gift that keeps on giving, but how well, how long, and how often it gives depends upon what kind of machine you buy. The first thing anyone in the market for a home karaoke system should know is that there are two main types of karaoke systems; component systems and plug-n-play systems. Your needs and your lifestyle will determine which type is best for you. 

Component Karaoke Systems

Components systems look like stereo receivers and designed to be integrated into an existing


audio system such as a home stereo system,  or home theater system. They can also be plugged directly into your television if you are satisfied with the television’s audio quality. Of course, all component systems need to be plugged into some video component in order to view the lyrics. The terms ‘component system’ and plug-n-play are misleading however, because all home components systems are essentially plug-n-play as well, meaning that they are just as easy to set up as any plug-n-play system. Only the video and audio jacks need to be connected to your existing sound / video system and the component player is ready to go. The most useful feature of the karaoke component player however, is its ability to play DVD’s; a great purchase for a household without an existing DVD player. Thus, the component system can serve both as musical entertainment and as a DVD player. Because these systems are meant to be integrated into an existing audio system, they are not considered portable players and their power output and quality is completely dependent on the wattage and quality of the system they are connected to. This means that if you already have an adequate sound system at home, you could save money by buying a cheap component player and integrating it into your current audio system. 

                              Component Karaoke Systems Quick Chart   

 Low End


 High End


Have Standard Options, but you may have to use a remote control to make adjustments.

Good for kids, beginners, and light karaoke users. Best used in small to mid sized rooms.


These are more professional systems. They have same standard options but are easier to interface with.

Good for people with existing home theatre or stereo sysems with good wattage, homes without DVD players, and adults who like to entertain with karaoke.
      $350 & above

Have additional features such as multi-disc changers or a hard-drive

Good For upcoming karaoke professionals, hardcore entertainers and karaoke users

Plug and Play Karaoke MachinesISM 1010

Plug-n-play systems are portable, self-contained –meaning they have their own speakers and amplifiers- and may or may not have a video screen.  Most plug-n-play players have everything built-in except for a video monitor. That is, some have monitors and some don’t, but all are capable of being plugged into a larger monitor.  The most important feature to consider in a plug-n-play karaoke system is sound quality and power. This is mostly determined by the wattage of the system. Unlike, component systems, which deliver the wattage and sound quality of whatever existing system it is connected to, plug-n-play systems are self-contained, that means you buy it based on the quality of the sound you get from it, much in the same way you would choose a boom box or home stereo.  

Wattage is the best indicator of sound quality, clarity, and power in plug-n-play karaoke systems. Wattage ranges from 5 watts on the low end to over 300 watts. While not many people will require as much as 300watts, it sure does sound good. 5 watt systems are good for young kids and those people not ready to commit to karaoke’ aficionado’ status. They sound like the average low-end boom box. However, even though the spread between 5 watts and 300 watts sounds huge, the average karaoke plug-n-play system is somewhere in between 5 and 30 watts. The difference between  5 watts and 10 or 15 watts in a karaoke player is fairly significant, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a fairly good sound quality suitable for most average needs.

Folks who need just a little bit more will need to look at midrange wattages between 90 and 160watts. These systems are great for large indoor or outdoor entertaining and could cost between $50 and $150 more than lower end models. Power users who are not quite willing to enter the market for professional karaoke systems, could spend under $1000 for  a 250 watt plug-n-play system that would be strong enough for use at a small local bar or restaurant.

 Plug and Play Karaoke Systems Quick Chart

Low End 


 High End

$100 - $300
5watts - 30watts

Best type of player for kids. Good for beginners, people who travel, and light karaoke users.

90 watts >

         Good for people who entertain outdoors  or in large rooms, power users, and audiophiles.
$550 - $1100
160watts - 300 watts

         Good for professionals, audiodiophiles with money, and anybody with a lot of extra cash


 Standard Features and Special Features

Standard features include two microphones, pitch control, and voice echo. Special features range from built-in FM radios and video screens, to built-in hard drives. Perhaps the most popular special feature this year is the IPod dock, which allows the user to sing-a-along to songs stored on the device.  The popular plug-n-play Singing Machine Pedestal Karaoke System (iSM-1010) incorporates the FM radio, a built-in camera and video monitor, one wireless microphone, and an IPod Dock.  Other models include a cool new feature that enables you to record and playback your performance. More advanced special features include karaoke players with internal hard drives that allow you to store several thousand songs and record CD+G’s and DVD’s directly onto the drive. These players will cost you however; anywhere between $500 and $900.


One Last Consideration

As with anything else, many retailers warn; you get what you pay for in a karaoke machine, and at least one major retailer we spoke with advised that the cost savings you receive when purchasing low-end machines is directly related to the quality of the machines’ laser eye, which is the component of the player that actually reads a CD+G. Lower quality players have less engineering sophistication and quality controls in the manufacture of the laser eye. The result is that many low-end machines can ready only about 70% of the karaoke music CDs and CD+G’s around. This is a major concern, since many consumers are often frustrated when  some music CD’s will not play in a particular machine. Thus, buyers should be aware of this, and if they do purchase a lower-end model, be diligent in testing the CD+G’s they purchase for compatibility with the player.

By Shelley@KaraokeTraveler.com

Special thanks to the staff at Karaoke.com and Karaoke Depot who contributed to this article.

Buying a Karaoke player machine