Karaoke CDs and CD+G: Everything you Need to Know

So you’re probably here because you’re wondering if you can play your old CDs in your karaoke machine. You might have tried it with little success, and are wondering if you’re doing something wrong or if you can’t use normal CDs?

Unfortunately, you can’t use normal CDs for a karaoke machine and expect it to work properly. You have to use a special format called CD+Gs, which are a similar format but work with karaoke machines. Let’s jump into this post to learn more.

Can Karaoke Machines Play Normal CDs?

So you already know the answer to this question, nope, karaoke machines can’t play normal CDs, but this is an over simplification, I’ll explain why.

CDs are great if you only need your karaoke machine to play the audio of a song. If you put a normal CD into your karaoke machine, then the chances are that it will actually work, and you’ll hear the song, but you won’t see any lyric instrumental video. Which kind of defeats the point of doing karaoke, but if the audio is all you’re after and you don’t need the lyric video, then feel free to give it a go!

But what about if you want to use a CD to get the audio of the instrumental and the lyric visual? If this is what you’re after, then you’ll need CD+G.

What is CD+G Format?

So CD and CD+G sound pretty similar, but what’s the difference. Well, the “G” in CD-G stands for graphics. This means that this format allows you to play the audio of the instrumental (the CD part) and also the lyric visual (the G part). 

If you play a CD+G disk in a normal CD player, then it will still work and you will hear the audio like you would if you used a normal CD. 

To be clear, the the CD+G format doesn’t actually play a video, it just displays graphics. But it does mean that you’ll see the lyrics on the screen at the same time as the instrumental audio. 

If you’re after an actual video, then you’ll need VCD. But in most cases, CD+G is adequate for karaoke. 

Which Karaoke Machines Play CD+G?

It’s worth noting that not every karaoke machine plays CD+G directly. If you want to use CD+G are your instrumental visual and audio source, then it’s worth picking up a karaoke machine that has a CD+G player built-in. 

If you’re in the market for a new karaoke machine, then take this quiz to find the best karaoke machine for you with just 5 quick questions. Or head over to our post on the 12 best karaoke machines

Here are a couple of the best karaoke machines that have a CD+G player built in. 

Karaoke USA GF845

  • Wireless all-in-one design
  • Great sound and built-quaility
  • Easy to use 

Find on Amazon

But my Karaoke Machine Doesn't Have a CD+G Player?

If you’re karaoke machine doesn’t have a CD+G player, and you still want to use CD+G disks, then don’t worry, there’s a way around it!

Most karaoke machines that don’t have a CD+G player, usually play instrumentals using smart devices. This involves pairing a smart device like a tablet, mobile or laptop using bluetooth or an AUX connection (this usually comes included). 

The good news, is that you can also use this AUX connection to rig up a CD player to do the same thing. So if you have a CD player, then connect it to your karaoke machine using the AUX in-line (or bluetooth if it has wireless connection). Then put the CD+G disk in the player and get started!

Pretty much all karaoke machines that don’t have a CD+G player built-in have the option to connect one externally as we just described, but it’s worth checking the user manual to make sure your model does this before you go out and buy a CD player. 

If you can’t do this with your karaoke machine and want to start playing now, then head over to our guide on how to set up karaoke using YouTube to get you started in minutes!

What if you don't Have a Karaoke Machine?

If you don’t have a karaoke machine and still want to use CD+G disks, then there are still some methods you can use. 

For karaoke to work, you’ll need the following 

  • Speaker
  • Mixer
  • Screen for the lyric video
  • Microphone

Head over to our guide on how to set up karaoke without a machine for some help. 

Where can you Buy CD+Gs?

It’s really easy to pick up CD+G disks on Amazon. These will come pre-loaded with tracks that you can sing-along to. 

If you want something more customisable, then there are companies that offer a make-your-own karaoke CD+G service. This means you’ll pay a certain amount for each track that you include. But this can work out a bit cheaper because you’ll only get the tracks you actually want. Two of the best services for this is singtotheworld.com and mrentertainer.com

How to Make your Own Karaoke CD+G

The main drawback of purchasing a CD+G disk, is that it can get really expensive. If you’re paying around $2 per track, then this can add up really quickly if you want a large songlist to choose from. 

One alternative to this, is to use YouTube or karaoke apps for the instrumentals rather than CD+G. This often works out a lot cheaper and is compatible with most modern karaoke machines. 

But if you still want t use CD+G, then you can make your own. There are some software options that you can try to do this. Here are some of the most popular. Some offer free trials, but if you want the full features then you’ll need to sign up to a subscription service. 

Karaoke CD+G Creator

This software is available on powerkaraoke.com. You can use it to make your own karaoke CD+G version of songs with lyrics, title images and credits images. It’s an all-in-one system that allows you to remove the vocals from an MP3 or WAV file and then gives you step-by-step instructions on how to enter the lyrics, synchronise them with the music and then put it on the disk. 

Some other services include:

  • Karaokebuilder.com
  • Mtu.com

Hopefully this guide has made things a bit clearer and now you know exactly why you can’t use normal CDs for karaoke, what a CD+G disk is,  how to use them with or without a karaoke machine, where to get the disks and how to make them!


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