Karaoke is one of the most popular ways to enjoy a night out with friends. More specifically, it’s one of the most popular ways to end the night, since most people need a lot of pre-gaming before they get up the nerve to belt out “I Will Survive” to a hundred or so bar patrons.
Now, though, you can treat your pals to your most legendary karaoke jams from the comfort of your own home. Portable karaoke machines keep getting better and better, from sound reproduction to the introduction of smart technologies that make it possible to crank the tunes anywhere. Parties and family get-togethers will never be the same once you have one of the best karaoke machines.
— Best Overall: TONOR PA System Karaoke Machine
— Best Affordable: Singing Machine SML385BTBK
— Best for Home: Singtrix Party Bundle
— Best Wireless: KaraoKing Karaoke Machine
— Best for Families: Karaoke USA GF842 Karaoke Machine
How We Picked the Best Karaoke Machines
We examined the qualities of the most popular and latest models of karaoke machines available through popular retailers to land on this list of essential systems on the market today. With so many potential attributes to consider, we focused on those most useful to end users: methods of connection to music; portability; sound controls such as graphic equalizers, harmonizers and more; power output; and the number of microphones included in the package.
Best Karaoke Machines: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: TONOR PA System Karaoke Machine
Why It Made The Cut: Lots of connection options, combined with pro-level sound and an entertaining light display, make this a winner.
— Mics Included: Two
— Weight: 8 pounds
— Media: Bluetooth, USB, TF card, 3.5mm input
— Two wireless mics
— Peak power up to 250 watts
— Travel ready
— Recharging can interrupt the fun
The Tonor PA System Karaoke Machine is built like a pro sound system, with an eight-inch subwoofer and dual three-inch tweeters in a ported wooden enclosure for full-range sound reproduction, and a remote control for selecting features that rock the party.
To get started, you simply mount your smartphone or tablet onto the telescoping cart handle and connect via Bluetooth or an included cable to the unit’s auxiliary-audio input jack. You can also connect external storage devices like a USB flash drive or microSD card to play music. Once the music starts pumping, the entire front grille illuminates in a three-stage glowing light show while the top-mounted disco mirror ball throws color around the room.
The system is rechargeable, which is great when you want to venture away from a power source, but the charge only lasts a couple of hours so you’ll want to keep that in mind when planning a party. Two wireless mics with a wide coverage range give you and your friends freedom of movement, and the system can even record your performance so you can revisit the memories — the good, the funny and maybe the embarrassing — for years to come.
Best Affordable: Singing Machine SML385BTBK
Why It Made The Cut: This karaoke machine gets the job done and then some, for a great value.
— Mics Included: One
— Weight: 5.3 pounds
— Media: CDs, Aux
— Bluetooth connectivity
— Supports lyric scroll on TV
— Disco lights? Check.
— Only one microphone included
The Singing Machine SML385BTBK karaoke machine packs a punch into a pint-size box measuring just over a foot tall. Connect your smartphone via Bluetooth or a 3.5mm cable to stream directly from your playlists, or use the top-loading CD player to play regular discs as well as CD+G discs, which include lyrics for singalongs. The RCA output will connect to a television to display the words.
When it’s time to party for real, cut the house lights and let the Singing Machine’s 54-LED array cover the room with a dazzling display of color. The setup is straightforward enough for most people to use without cracking a manual, and the Singing Machine Karaoke App gives you access to thousands of songs. An extra microphone for duets would be nice, but a little much at this price point.
Best for Home: Singtrix Party Bundle
Why It Made The Cut: This package will turn any home into a concert hall with pro-quality sound and pitch correction.
— Mics Included: One
— Weight: 12 pounds total
— Media: 3.5mm input (any device)
— 375+ effects
— Powerful sound system
— Independent mic/mains volume
— No Bluetooth
The Singtrix Party Bundle is where karaoke turns pro, starting with the cool digital Studio Controller interface with hundreds of effects built right into the unit — including vocal-pitch correction and harmonizer, so you can really bring the T-Pain to your next shindig. But there are tons more extras to enjoy, like the included mic stand and a 40-watt, 2.1 surround-sound system with a subwoofer.
With access to a library of thousands of karaoke songs with lyrics on YouTube, external CD and CD+G players aren’t necessary. One miss here is not supporting Bluetooth — plenty of mobile devices have 3.5mm outputs, but some of the newest smartphones do not.
Best Wireless: KaraoKing Karaoke Machine
Why It Made The Cut: Two wireless microphones aren’t as common as we wish, and with all the extras, this was an easy decision.
— Mics Included: Two
— Weight: 24 pounds
— Media: Bluetooth, USB, 3.5mm input
— Two wireless mics
— Built to last
— 5-band EQ (equalization)
The KaraoKing Karaoke Machine means business — bucking convention, this package has two wireless microphones for you and a partner (no more sharing), with the ability to plug in a wired mic if you choose.
Connect your smartphone or tablet to the main unit via Bluetooth, USB, or Aux and play your favorite jams, or select FM radio and sing along to the hits. Get creative and change up your sound with effects like Echo, and shape the tone with a five-band graphic equalizer. You can also adjust the volume for the microphones and the song independently.
On the hardware side, the KaraoKing Karaoke Machine looks like a guitar amplifier set to stun with bedazzled LEDs and a disco-style mirror ball. It’s good for on-the-go use with roadworthy metal corners, inset side handles for lifting, wheels and a retractable handle that doubles as a holder for your tablet or smartphone.
Best for Families: Karaoke USA GF842 Karaoke Machine
Why It Made The Cut: A simple interface and 300 included songs make this karaoke machine plug-and-play for the whole family.
— Mics Included: Two wired
— Weight: 10 pounds
— Media: Bluetooth, DVD, CD+G, MP3+G
— Seven-inch digital color screen
— Two microphones included
— Music included
— Mics aren’t wired
The party starts with the Karaoke USA GF842, a 35-watt system made for the whole family and then some. A key ingredient here is ease of use, and the designers got it right with this booming little box.
Although the GF842 will play songs from your smart devices like the other karaoke machines in this list, this model also comes with a disc loaded with 300 MP3+G (the +G means graphics) songs and will play any normal karaoke CD+G, DVD Karaoke or watch a DVD movie. The included seven-inch color screen will display the lyrics for you, or you can connect the audio and video outputs to a TV or digital entertainment system for a size the whole party can read.
The system will also record your performance for instant playback while the charging cradle on top of chassis will fit a variety of personal devices, including smartphones, tablets and MP3 players. LEDs synchronize and flash in time with the rhythm of the music to make your karaoke party lit.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Karaoke Machine
Karaoke’s popularity precedes the personal digital music revolution, when MP3 players and streaming audio supplanted physical media like CDs and DVDs for listening to music. However, many karaoke machine makers have kept up with technology and offer ways to connect your smartphone or tablet, typically through a 3.5mm input jack or a wireless Bluetooth connection. Make sure the karaoke machine you choose meets your personal preferences for music playback.
Ease of Use
It goes without saying that electronics designed for family entertainment should be easy enough for everyone to use. But not all karaoke machines are intuitive, plug-and-play environments. Take the learning curve into account when choosing a karaoke system, as well as other conveniences like wireless mics over wired mics, and transport features like built-in wheels and handles.
Size isn’t everything, but volume can certainly be a big part of your karaoke experience. Make sure the system you buy has enough power to handle the application — you’ll need more volume to cover a wide area or to rise above the noise of people talking, for example. A small- to mid-sized system will usually perform adequately in a home environment.
Q: How much do karaoke machines cost?
Prices will vary depending on the number of input options, power output and audio features, but in general, a typical karaoke machine will cost between $100-$300.
Q: Does a karaoke machine come with songs?
Some karaoke machines still ship with songs, usually on a CD+G that will play in the system and display lyrics through the video output. However, most machines now allow you to connect your personal devices, like a smartphone or tablet, so you can play music from your personal playlists or connect to karaoke tunes on YouTube.
Q: What is needed to set up karaoke?
You’ll need at least one microphone, a PA-type system that will amplify sound, and an input for playing music through the speaker(s). All of these elements are usually included with karaoke machines.
Q: Do you need special CDs for a karaoke machine?
You don’t have to use a special CD to play music on most karaoke machines, but the CD+G format is specially designed for them. The “plus-G” stands for “graphics,” meaning you can connect the system to a display such as a TV to show the song lyrics. While you don’t have to use that particular format of CD, it is the most useful for karaoke.
Q: Can you make your own karaoke CD?
Yes, there are resources available that will help you create your own CD+G discs.
Q: How long do karaoke machines last?
With light use, a well-cared-for karaoke machine will last many years. Heavy use, especially when travel and loading/unloading are involved, will shorten the lifespan of most consumer karaoke machines.
The karaoke machines with the most useful features, connection options, sound quality and portability are usually the best picks. The Tonor PA System Karaoke Machine combines all of these attributes in the most compelling way, but your individual needs and applications could tilt the scales in another direction.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.