Bring karaoke home -- cheaply

So you want to try karaoke but you're too embarrassed to do it in public. Or maybe you've tried in bars, but some lounge lizard is always hogging the microphone. Here are a few tips to get you started.

First, karaoke isn't an aristocratic activity - there are plenty of home machines priced at around $200. Although the technology behind karaoke players is more complicated than standard audio, a home machine is easy to set up and use.


A karaoke CDG (Compact Disc with Graphics) is a specially-formatted music CD which contains graphics that are timed to display on a TV or monitor through a "sync track" on the disc. That's how the words scroll by in time with the tune.

Less than a decade ago, you'd spend $12,000 for for a karaoke machine. Now even the hottest home player, Pioneer's DVD-V555, sells for less than $1,000 (we found it for $600 at local Mars music stores).


If you want to splurge, this is the system to do it on. The Pioneer unit plays DVD movies, regular music CDs, and of course, karaoke CDGs, all in Dolby Digital sound. It works flawlessly and comes with a good microphone. In short, this one's the Rolls-Royce of home karaoke players.

If you're on a Ford Escort budget, check out's private-labeled RX3000. It has many of the sound capabilities of the DVD-V555, including a "singing partner" function that allows you to croon along with a singer whose voice is pre-recorded on the CDG.

The RX3000 sells for $139 by itself, $200 bundled with with a library of 150 songs.

Once you have a machine, you'll be looking for songs - which are available at most music stores. Or check out some Web sites, such as the Karaoke Warehouse at or