The 10 Best Karaoke Machines
This wiki has been updated 33 times since it was first published in May of 2015. Is your favorite musical artist the late, great Tom Petty, Taylor Swift or Kanye West? No matter who it is, you’ve probably pretended you’re that person, even if it’s only for one song in the privacy of your shower or when driving your car. With one of these karaoke machines, you'll have a blast belting out their hits, whether you’re by yourself or partying with family and friends. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 24, 2020:
As the Akai KS303W-BT is no longer available, we filled its spot with the latest Karaoke USA GF842, complete with new synchronizing LEDs and upgraded Panasonic microphone cartridges.
The Ion Pathfinder 3 also seems to be off the market for a while so we neatly swapped it for the Ion Audio Block Rocker Plus, a similar, more up-to-date model from the same manufacturer that's made for easy transportation to and from outdoor events.
We didn't feel the need to include two similar items from the same manufacturer so we kept the Singing Machine SML385BTBK and replaced it's younger brother, the Singing Machine SML-283P, with the Pyle Speaker System - a powerful and portable machine with a rugged design that can take a few knocks at parties.
The Memorex Sing Stand 3 is no longer available either, so we added the Singing Machine Pedestal instead as it's one of the few models with seperate speakers you can face in whichever direction you want, and a tall center-panel that displays the words to your songs, so you can read them with ease as you stand and sing.
Unfortunately, the LimeDoom RPG2X10 has temporarily become unavailable, and that model provided the option of a full P.A. rig you could feasibly use in a bar or pub. We couldn't find a like-for-like alternative but instead opted for the VeGue Wireless PA for its powerful amplifier and professional control panel with multiple volume, reverb, and equalization knobs as well as extra jack inputs for a guitar and third microphone.
We omitted the Singing Machine ISM398BG, for although it was a compact, budget option that kids might enjoy, by paying just a little bit extra you can get a machine like the Earise T26 that delivers a more powerful and crisper sound, more features, and with a wireless mic instead of corded.
The KaraoKing G100 retains its place as another portable option that you tow behind you like luggage, with lights, twin wireless mics, and equalization controls.
The Singsation All-In-One Party Machine is a good option for having fun at house-parties - it has a bunch of effects you can use to morph your voice, a selection of light displays, and unlike most other models on the market, it actually comes with a microphone stand. If these are the kind of features that appeal to you and you don't mind spending a bit more, this manufacturer has released a more powerful "premium" model with even more effects and features.
The Singtrix Party Bundle still remains the most advanced option on the market in terms of features such as auto-tune, harmonization, and changing the skill level between singers.
November 24, 2020:
November 16, 2019:
There is no doubt that karaoke machines can make for a very entertaining evening. On the other hand, reaching for your machine only to find out that it isn't working could quickly spell the end of a party. It is for this very reason we eliminated the Karaoke USA System GF830. There were simply too many reports of it failing after a short amount of time.
We also removed the Little Pretender Rock Star due to it having very lackluster sound. It too seems to suffer from build quality issues, as well, and we would hate to recommend something that made your children cry when they found out their favorite toy no longer worked. Taking its place we have the Singing Machine ISM398BG, which features large knobs and a simple operation that is perfect for youngsters.
Making its debut on our list and taking the place of the Ion Audio Party Rocker is the Ion Pathfinder 3. Though it is missing the party light, this newer model offers a water-resistant build, an impressive 100-hour battery life, and a wireless Qi smartphone charger. Since it is best suited to outdoor events, we didn't think the loss of the party light was a big sacrifice. That being said, if you feel that no karaoke night would be complete without disco lights, then you'll want to check out the KaraoKing G100. Unlike many others, which have a very weak light display, this model can produce a room-filling show that covers the walls, ceiling, and any other surfaces.
When it comes to sound quality, few models can match the LimeDoom RPG2X10. Unfortunately, the two included wireless mics aren't the best, so you will probably want to replace them rather quickly if you want the singers to sound as good as the music. Its two included speakers also require a lot of storage space. If these issues are enough to make you want consider other options, then we recommend you take a look at the Singtrix Party Bundle, which also offers great sound, but in a more compact package.
IdolPro Karaoke Package 2 While most certainly overkill for the average consumer, if you are setting up a karaoke stage in your bar, this package from IdolPro is ideal. It comes with everything you need, including a 6000-watt mixing amplifier, two three-way speakers that are equipped with 12-inch sub-woofers, a wireless dual-microphone system, and more. idolpro.com
VocoPro GigStar Pro II The GigStar Pro II supports almost all compact disc formats, including DVDs and VCDs, and also has an AM/FM tuner for singing along with songs on the radio. It includes two wireless microphones and has 1/4-inch jacks for hardwired models if you prefer. Though heavy at 55 pounds, it also comes with a carrying bag to make keeping everything together while lugging it around a bit easier. vocopro.com
What Separates a Good Karaoke Machine From a Great One?
Compatibility also applies to a karaoke machine's song selection.
Most people would assume that a karaoke machine's most important feature is its sound, and this is correct, but only to a limited extent. What is more important than a karaoke machine's sound is that machine's compatibility. A karaoke machine doesn't need to have exquisite sound, for example, so long as it can be hooked up to a larger sound system, or a pair of stereo-quality speakers.
Compatibility also applies to a karaoke machine's song selection. While the majority of machines come with a preset list of standards, certain top-of-the-line models will also allow you to add, play, or download new songs by hooking up the machine to any iPod, mobile device, CD player, or computer.
Ideally, you'll want a karaoke machine to feature its own digital display, so you can see what song it is playing, the name of the artist, and the song's lyrics, among other things. Depending on your needs, you may also want a karaoke machine to be compact so you can transport it. Certain machines are custom-made for this, having been designed with a set of wheels and a luggage handle. More elaborate machines may come with an upright microphone stand, or a music stand, or perhaps even a tambourine.
As a precaution, it's worth determining whether a karaoke machine runs on outlet power, some type of batteries, or both. This is especially relevant if you happen to be buying a karaoke machine as a gift, as the recipient may want to play with the machine immediately after he or she has pulled it out of the box.
A Variety of Uses for Any Karaoke Machine
Most people who purchase a karaoke machine intend to use it for some type of festive occasion. And this makes sense. A karaoke machine is an entertaining pastime for anything from a backyard party to a wedding reception. And yet you might be surprised to learn that a karaoke machine possesses more value than you'd think.
Most people who purchase a karaoke machine intend to use it for some type of festive occasion.
Given that karaoke tracks are recorded without lyrics, they could provide the perfect backdrop for any dinner party or afternoon gathering at your house. The fact that there are no lyrics may also be advantageous for any musician who is trying to learn - or a play along to - a certain song. If you're a vocalist, you can use a karaoke machine to practice, or to provide accompaniment for any small-time gigs. What's more, practically anyone with a karaoke machine (and some sound equipment) can pursue hosting gigs at a local nightclub or a bar.
A karaoke machine is a great accessory to have along on any family vacation. A night of karaoke isn't only fun for the adults, but it could be a distraction for the kids, as well. Teachers have been known to use karaoke as a way of teaching their students the lyrics to several canonical anthems. Babysitters have been known to use karaoke as a way to keep rowdy kids preoccupied for an entire night. The point being that whatever your reasons for purchasing a karaoke machine, there's no reason to resign yourself to only using it every few months.
A Brief History of Karaoke
Karaoke is a Japanese word combining the root kara, which means empty, and the first half of okesutora, which means orchestra. The practice of creating a separate instrumental track (without vocals) has always been a standard part of the recording process. And while this practice formed the basis of karaoke, the concept as we know it did not emerge until the 1970s.
The eventual introduction of MP3s made for smaller machines with an almost limitless selection.
Singalongs made a major splash during the 1960s, thanks in large part to the 5-yr. run of Sing Along With Mitch on NBC. This popular show was built around Mitch Miller, a veteran music producer who would conduct an orchestra as a bouncing ball highlighted the lyrics to each song along the bottom of the screen. Sing Along's success not only proved that instrumental tracks could be viable, it also made it acceptable for solo artists to perform over a backing track on live TV.
In 1971, a Japanese drummer named Daisuke Inoue began to focus on building a machine that could play instrumental tracks by way of cassette while also providing an amped-up microphone for singing along. Inoue was inspired by friends who would ask for instrumental versions of his music, particularly so that they could play these versions at private events, or during parties. Inoue's initial "karaoke" machine had been designed for leasing, with renters determining which tracks (i.e., cassettes) they wanted to take along.
Renting a karaoke machine was expensive, which is why the fad originally took off as a form of group entertainment. Several friends would pool their money to rent what was known as a karaoke box - a small room where people could drink and party while enjoying their own karaoke machine, and selection, throughout the night.
During the eighties and nineties, karaoke became an international sensation, first in Asia, and then throughout the U.S. The eventual introduction of MP3s made for smaller machines with an almost limitless selection. Today, karaoke is everywhere. In fact, there are even karaoke apps that you can download for your phone. Karaoke remains a staple of the average neighborhood bar. A karaoke night requires zero overhead, and it's all but sure to be a draw.