So you want to create the ultimate karaoke setup but don’t want to buy a karaoke machine? Or you’re hosting a last minute karaoke party and haven’t got access to a machine? That’s no problem, will take you through the best ways to setup karaoke without an actual karaoke machine.
Why Don’t You Want to Use a Karaoke Machine?
First thing’s first, why do you want to set up karaoke without getting a machine?
If you’re looking for a customised setup and a karaoke machine is a bit limiting for you, then it’s possible to create a DIY karaoke system using some different pieces of equipment. We’ll take you through this a bit later on.
But if you’re here because you’re looking for a way to setup karaoke right now without a machine, then there are still a few options.
Last Minute Karaoke Setup
In order to setup karaoke without a machine in a rush you’ll need the very basics of:
- An instrumental soundtrack (e.g. YouTube or a karaoke app)
- A screen to display the words on
- A microphone
If you’ve got all of these things, you can get started right away.
The easiest way, is to get YouTube up on your smart TV, tablet or laptop and search for a karaoke version of a song. If you’ve only got a small laptop or tablet screen, your best bet is to use a HDMI cable to allow your device to be mirrored on to your TV screen.
You may need some more equipment to be able to hear your singing through the microphone easily and at a high quality, depending on what device you’re using.
The most common pieces of equipment needed are speakers and a mixer. The mixer combines your instrumental audio and microphone output and plays it through the speaker.
However, in some cases it can be possible to connect your microphone directly to your TV without using a mixer. This is usually only possible if your microphone and TV both have a USB connection or if you have a smart TV which allows wireless connection with a Bluetooth microphone.
Check out my article explaining how to connect a microphone to different devices for more information.
The best way to access songs is to use YouTube. It’s free and gives you plenty of song choices. If you want more information on this method, check out my guide to setting up karaoke with YouTube.
DIY Karaoke Setup
If you don’t want to buy a karaoke machine and would rather make your own setup, then 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.
Looking for a more simple option?
If you’re doing karaoke at home then 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.
Song Software or Hardware
First, have a think about what kind of music software you want to use. By this, we mean the method you want to use to play the instrumental backing track to sing along to.
There a few different options to consider. You can either go for a physical CD or CD-G, which is the old-fashioned way, but still works.
Subscription apps are great because they’ll give you access to loads of songs and give you the option to use your smart TV, tablet or other device to directly play both the instrumental and show the lyrics on a video.
Some of the best karaoke subscription apps are KaraFun and The Voice Sing and Connect.
Or you can even use YouTube which is great because it’s free, quick to set up and has loads of instrumental tracks available. You’ll need to make sure you choose an audio output method that’s compatible with the rest of your setup.
Here’s a quick comparison between these methods to help you decide.
Need for an Extra Screen
One-off fee depending on how many songs you need
Massive- you can create your own CD using Sunfly for a custom option
Large- can be limited if you want niche songs
Good if you only want popular songs but can be hard to find niche instrumental videos
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.
Check out Singa for more information.
A karaoke setup essential, is a microphone. We think that two microphones is best for a karaoke system. Duets are great fun, so you don’t want to miss out my only buying one microphone.
Next think about whether you want to go wired or wireless. Make sure you check the compatibility with your mixer to check they’ll work together. Wired microphones are cheaper, but wireless microphones give you more freedom to have a dance!
Most wireless microphones use Bluetooth to connect to the mixer, but some use Wi-Fi. 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, you can either go for a wired or wireless option.
There is the option to purchase a speaker and mixer all-in-one system that can work out pretty cost-effective but will give you less flexibility in terms of the quality of each function and might limit the features of the mixer.
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.
Check out my list of the best karaoke speakers for options to suit every budget.
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. We’ve actually got an entire guide dedicated to mixers to explain this in a bit more detail.
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.
You’ll need to consider the compatibility with your speaker, microphone and instrumental audio source, in addition to the weight of the mixer and any additional features it has including bass and tone dynamics to help choose the best option for your setup.
Setting Up a DIY Karaoke System
Now you’ve got all your equipment, let’s get into how to put it all together. Here’s a diagram to help you out.
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 there you go! That’s everything you need to know about setting up karaoke without using a machine.
Have a look at our ultimate karaoke party guide for tips and ideas on equipment, entertainment, supplies, snacks, drinks, games and more!
Don’t forget to check out our guide on everything you need for karaoke to make sure you have the perfect setup and don’t forget anything essential!