Karaoke Software

Build a Cheap Karaoke Laptop

Many modern karaoke hosts have traded in their karaoke discs and disc players in favor of a laptop computer, karaoke software, and song files. No longer must they haul around, store, and handle, the inconvenient discs. Their music is all stored on a hard drive and played with the click of a mouse button or press of a keyboard key. The hosting software offers them features that no disc player could. These laptop computers have come to be known as a "karaoke laptop".

You can build your own karaoke laptop rather inexpensively. Yes, there are "karaoke ready" units like the Touchscreen Karaoke Ultrabooks that are well worth the price to someone who demands the very highest quality and durability but these are a bit overkill for the home user or those who do an occasional karaoke show. So let's discover how to create a nice karaoke laptop cheaply.

The Laptop

The vast majority of all karaoke software is designed to run on a Windows operating system. There are really no "special" requirements other than the minimum requirements of the hosting software that will be used. The original integrated sound card is all that is required and the extended desktop feature is standard on virtually all laptops sold over the past eight years or so. A large hard drive would be a plus, especially if you have thousands of songs to store, although I recommend that you use an external USB hard drive for song storage.

Hosting software uses the extended desktop feature of a laptop to display its workstation on the laptop and the karaoke on a separate monitor or TV. This way the audience never sees what you are working on. Connecting the laptop to a remote monitor simply requires a VGA cable. Connection to a TV will depend on the input options the TV offers. You may possibly need some type of signal converter. The sound system connection requires a 1/8" TRS to Dual RCA Cable that will connect from the earphone jack of the laptop to the sound system RCA stereo inputs.

Laptop prices have really declined in recent years to where you can pick up a descent one at department stores or online for under $400. This Gateway NE56R34u is a perfect example of an inexpensive laptop that will run just about any karaoke hosting application.

The Hosting Software

There are karaoke file playing programs, both free and paid, and then there is hosting software. The latter has standard features specifically designed for hosting karaoke shows. These include song database creation, song search, singer rotation, singer history, next singer display, remote monitor support, and more. You don't have to be a professional karaoke host to find these features useful.

Some of the most popular karaoke hosting applications are...

JustKaraoke ($49.95) maybe the easiest to use of them all. It also requires little computer resources and has the lowest price making it a great choice for the home user as well as the pro host. It has a feature that facilitates the purchase and download of karaoke song files.

PCDJ Karaoki ($99.00) has Karaoke Cloud integration that will give you instant access to over 10,000 popular karaoke songs for a monthly subscription fee.

Siglos Karaoke Professional ($99.00) will search for and play karaoke videos directly from YouTube.

Video Hoster with Song Book Creator ($149.99 for the single install) is the only fully integrated hosting software with built in disc ripping, song book creation and printing, and more hosting features than any other program. This one is for the karaoke hosts who must have it all.

Since this article is about building a cheap karaoke laptop we'll go with the least expensive software JustKaraoke. Don't let the low price fool you as this is a great program. Installation is very simple and does not require an internet connection. After a successful purchase you will receive an email with an unlock code that turns the trial version into the full unlimited version. Importing song files into its database is also very simple. To get a general idea of how this software operates see the Karaoke Hosting Software Basics article.

About the Music

All karaoke hosting applications support the MP3+G file format which is basically a compressed version of CD+G disc song tracks. Although each MP3+G song is made up of two files (cdg + mp3) they are most often combined into a single zip files typically referred to as "karaoke zips" or simply "zips". If you have a collection of CD+G discs that you want to import onto a hard drive you will need a program like Power CD+G Burner. For a tutorial on how to rip discs with this program see Transfer CDG Song Tracks to a Hard Drive.

If you don't have your own karaoke music collection you might want to consider subscribing to the TriceraSoft Sing-Along service available within the JustKaraoke program or possibly going with the PCDJ Karaoki hosting software instead and then subscribing to the Karaoke Cloud.

To Sum Up

Music aside, you can put together a karaoke laptop for under $500. It will perform just as well as any you have seen the pros use. It will take just a short time to learn how to use the hosting software but it is definitely time well spent.
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