Whether you’re the next Whitney Houston or totally tone deaf, everybody loves karaoke. Hosting a karaoke party is the perfect way to get together with friends and have a good laugh, or show off your singing skills.
So you’re looking to set up a karaoke system at home, but what exactly do you need? We’ll take you through this step-by-step so you know exactly what you need to get.
What you Need to Set Up Karaoke
What you need to set up karaoke at home depends on quite a few different things.
What’s the purpose of your karaoke system? Is it a professional set up, or are you looking for a more casual home karaoke set up? How much do you want to spend? Do you want a simple system that’s easy to set up, or something DIY that you can fully customise to fit your needs?
Karaoke set ups can seem a bit complicated at first. There’s a tonne of equipment, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s easy to get confused and end up getting the wrong thing, or something you don’t actually need.
The very basics you need to set up karaoke at home, are an instrumental soundtrack, and a screen with the lyrics to sing along to.
If you’re really stuck for cash, you can just get an instrumental version of a song played over a lyric video on YouTube on your laptop, smart TV or tablet and have a good old-fashioned sing-along. But you’re here because you want a great karaoke setup at home.
So what equipment do you need to set up karaoke at home?
Well, there are two options.
- Easiest way: karaoke way
- Customisable way: DIY setup
If you want to keep things simple, the best thing you can do is get a karaoke machine. All you’ll need to do is pick yourself up a decent karaoke machine, have a screen for the lyrics, and get a couple of microphones.
Karaoke machines often come as a kit that includes everything you need to make things super-easy and quick that more often than not, you’ll be able to get your karaoke party started in under 10 minutes!
You can even purchase an all-in-one karaoke microphone so you just need to connect it to a screen (e.g. TV, tablet or smartphone) to get started.
Check out this All-in-One Karaoke Microphone on Amazon. It’s the perfect option that doesn’t involve any extra equipment at an awesome price. I was really surprised at just how cheap they were.
But if you want a proper karaoke system with separate gear, you can create your own DIY karaoke setup at home. This gives you more freedom to choose the right equipment for your needs, but is definitely more complicated to set up.
We’ll go into each option in more detail to help you choose, but to show the difference between the two karaoke setups, check out these diagrams.
If the DIY karaoke setup diagram looks a bit intimidating, don’t worry! We will go through how to set it up, and explain all the different pieces of equipment you’ll need, but if you want the easier option, let’s jump into it now.
Easiest Way to Setup Karaoke at Home
Okay, so you want to keep things simple. We don’t blame you! If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to set a karaoke system up at home, then getting a good quality karaoke machine is your best bet.
There are so many great karaoke machines out there with tonnes of different features. Some allow you to use YouTube to play your songs, others need CDs and some are compatible with apps and software made specifically to use the karaoke machine.
Some karaoke machines come with screens attached so you don’t need to connect it to your TV, some are portable and others even have disco light projections to add some flair to your karaoke party!
But whatever karaoke machine you choose, the basic principles are the sample. You need something to play the music, a screen to show the lyrics, and some microphones to sing into.
The best karaoke machines include all the wires, microphones and stands so you don’t have to purchase any extras and can just plug everything in and start singing.
Take a look at this list of the 12 best karaoke machines.
How to Set Up a Karaoke Machine
Okay, so you’ve got your karaoke machine, but what do you need to do to get it working. Hopefully you’ve purchased one with some clear instructions, but if you want a bit of info on how to actually set your karaoke machine up, then keep reading.
The best way to explain this, is to revisit the diagram we showed you earlier.
So the first thing you need to do, is to connect your karaoke machine to a screen. There are usually three wires, collectively called an RCA connector to help you do this.
Simple connect the wires supplied with your karaoke machine to the corresponding colours on your TV (usually at the back or on the side of the screen).
After that, you simple connect the microphone to the karaoke machine, turn your screen on and use the source button to find the right setting to display the lyrics screen.
The types of cable, colours and connections will vary depending on your exact karaoke machine. Always be sure to check the instruction manual.
If you’re struggling to find your connection cable, have a look at this inexpensive RCA cable on Amazon.
What about the Music?
There’s one other thing not included on the diagram in order to keep things simple, and that’s the actual music software. Now this depends on which karaoke machine you’ve chosen.
Some karaoke machines have a CD/ CD-G in-port so you can use CDs that you’ve bought and are compatible with your karaoke machine that will allow you to hear the audio and see the lyrics of the song on the screen. Other karaoke machines have a USB in-port to play the songs and display the lyrics.
More modern karaoke machines are primarily using a connection to a device like a mobile, tablet or laptop to play the songs. These types of machines will have an auxillary in-port that lets you connect an AUX lead from your device to the actual karaoke machine.
If this is the case, then you can use a few different types of software on your device to project it onto the screen through the karaoke machine. These include YouTube, or apps that work on monthly subscriptions.
One of the best options for this is Singa which has a free and paid option, and the option to sign up to a free trial giving you access to over 80,000 songs. It also works on smart TVs.
We’ll go into this more a bit later on. But make sure when you choose your karaoke machine, that you know which way it requires the song software, whether it’s through a device like a tablet or phone, or using CDs etc.
Here’s a link to a very inexpensive braided AUX cable on Amazon.
DIY Karaoke Setup at Home
If you don’t want to buy a karaoke machine and would rather make your own setup, then it’s a little more complicated.
You’ll need the following equipment for a DIY karaoke set up.
- Song Software
- Various connection cables
It might seem a bit confusing, but don’t worry. We’ll take you through all this equipment, and how to set everything up so you can get the perfect karaoke setup for you.
A karaoke setup essential, is a microphone. We think that two microphones is best for a karaoke party. Duets are great fun, so you don’t want to miss out by just purchasing one microphone.
You can get three microphones if you want, but it’ll increase the cost of your setup because most mixers are only compatible with two microphones so you might need a more expensive upgrade.
The next decision you need to make, is whether to go for wired or wireless microphones. Wired microphones are of course the cheaper option, so if you want to keep your karaoke setup super cheap, it might be the best bet.
But if you can afford to get wireless, they are by far the preferred option. It’ll give you loads more freedom to dance and move around, plus they’re miles safer because you don’t have to worry about tripping up.
Most wireless microphones use Bluetooth to connect to the mixer, but some use WiFi. Make sure to check the compatibility of the microphone with your mixer before buying any equipment.
The speaker option you go for depends mainly on your budget and how seriously you’re taking your karaoke setup.
Again, wired speakers are the cheaper option, but wireless speakers offer more flexibilty in terms of placement and positioning. The quality of the speakers will also be limited by your budget too.
You can also get a speaker and mixer two-in-one as well if that works better for you. Sometimes this can work out cheaper than purchasing the mixer and speakers separately, but usually the quality of the speaker won’t be as high.
When choosing the best speaker for your home karaoke setup, always go for PA or active speaker and not home theatre speakers. Active speakers cope better with live music, and there’s some evidence to suggest that karaoke setups can actually damage home theatre speakers.
So you’re probably pretty familiar with speakers and microphones already, but a mixer (aka amplifier) might not be something you’ve come across before.
Put simply, the mixer connects all your setup together to make sure the audio works correctly.
With a karaoke setup, there are two different types of sound that need to be amplified, the sound of the song or backing track, and the output from the microphone by the person singing.
A mixer has an input connection for both the song audio and the microphone to allow both sounds to be received. The mixer also has an output connection which goes to the speaker to amplify both these sounds. Make sense?
There are plenty of mixers available that are compatible with various types of microphones, music software and speakers, whether they’re wired or wireless, so make sure you check which one is suited to the rest of your equipment.
Need more info? Check out our ultimate guide to mixers!
Next on the list of things you need for karaoke, is the sound software. There are absolutely tonnes of different options available and which one you choose will depend on your budget, and which type you feel most comfortable with.
The first thing you need to consider though, is compatibility. Since your sound software is connected to both the mixer, and the screen, you need to make sure it works with both.
Check if your mixer allows wireless connection, which means you can use bluetooth or WiFi, or if it requires a wired connection.
In some cases, the sound software or method you use, can also double as the screen.
For example, if you’re using YouTube for your music audio, then you can also display this on a smart TV, tablet or laptop. This means you can use it to play both the sound and the video with the lyrics.
Like we said, there are plenty of options to choose from, so here are some of our favourite music sources for a DIY karaoke setup.
YouTube is the cheapest way of sorting out both your music audio and lyric video for a home karaoke setup. Connect a device like a tablet or laptop, or use your smart TV to your mixer and then search YouTube for an instrumental, or karaoke version of a song.
The best thing about using YouTube, is that it’s completely free and it has a karaoke version of pretty much every song you could ever think of.
Check out this guide to setting up karaoke on YouTube for step-by-step instructions.
One of the best options is Singa which has a free and paid option, and the option to sign up to a free trial giving you access to over 80,000 songs. It also works on smart TVs.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Did you know that if you say “Alexa, play Karaoke Night”, that you can use your TV to show both the song audio and lyric video so you can sing along? If you connect your smart TV to an Amazon Fire TV Stick and to your mixer, then you can get started playing karaoke really quickly!
Karaoke Version is great source for MP3 backing tracks that will have pretty much any song you could ever want to sing at your karaoke party. If you’re tech savvy, you can use it to create a video using Lyric Video Creator which allows you toadd an MP3 backing track to create a lyric video to sing along to.
This option is a little more complicated, but a good one to try if you can’t find a karaoke version of the song elsewhere.
KaraFun is an online karaoke app that allows you to connect your mixer and screen to play the audio and video of over 33,000 songs. It works on a subscription plan with three options available.
There’s a party pass (2 day) option if you just need it for a single occasion, a monthly subscription for personal use and their most premium plan is 100% legal for professional use.
Sunfly karaoke has been around for donkey’s years, but they’ve moved with the times and now offer a karaoke download service which allows you to create your own karaoke CD with a personal track list that can be posted or downloaded, depending on which option is best for you and the compatibility of your mixer.
The Voice Sing and Connect
The Voice Sing and Connect is a great app that’s based on the popular TV talent show that you can download for free on both Android and Apple devices. It allows you to sing solo, with friends or even duet with other players all over the globe! There’s a huge library of songs and you can record your favourite tunes with visual and voice effects.
How to Setup a DIY Karaoke System
So now you know everything you need to buy to create a great DIY karaoke system, how do you connect it all? Let’s check out the diagram again.
So the first thing you need to do, is connect your microphone to the mixer. Most wired microphones use XLR cables and most modern mixers have 1/4″ TS and XLR channel inputs. If your microphones are wireless, then set them up as specified, usually either by WiFi or bluetooth. Now you need to connect your speaker to the mixer. This again is usually wireless or requires XLR cables.
Next you’ll need to connect the mixer to your audio and video device. This can be using a bluetooth or other wireless connection. If it’s wired, then it’s likely to be either an RCA or USB connection.
After that, you’ll need to connect your audio/ video device to the TV screen using a HDMI cable or it can be done wirelessly with a smart TV.
So that’s everything! We hope you found this guide useful and have a great karaoke party!