Karaoke on a Laptop Computer
Computer based karaoke systems are the future of karaoke for several good reasons. CDG karaoke discs have always been a nuisance to transport, store, handle, and maintain. A karaoke host will seldom get through an entire performance without at least one instance of broken graphics or skipping because of a scratched, dirty, or defective disc. Home users will equally benefit from a computer based system. There are also more options for obtaining karaoke music.
This will be a short tutorial because turning your laptop into a karaoke player is a simple process. All your karaoke songs are stored on a hard drive in the MP3+G™ or some other compressed format. The songs are played with the karaoke software that best fits your needs. If you will be running karaoke shows then you will need "hosting software" that has features like digital key control, singer rotation, song/artist search, singer history, remote monitor support, next singer display, etc.. Home users may also opt for hosting software but may find that a program like Siglos Karaoke Player/Recorder that lets them record and save their performance is preferable. The ramifications of recording singers at a professional performance makes it cost prohibitive for most.
Most Popular Hosting SoftwareJustKaraoke
Possibly the most user friendly program of its type, it has all the popular features you are likely to want or need.
Siglos Karaoke Professional
Video Hoster with Song Book Creator
Computer RequirementsIdeally your laptop should be of sturdy design and have "shock mounted" components and a "spill proof" keyboard. A computer used for performing karaoke shows typically receives a lot more punishment than one that you use at home, school, or in the office. It must have an extended desktop feature in order to display your workstation on the laptop while displaying the karaoke screen on another monitor or TV. No special or designated sound card is generally required. Beyond this, the laptop will need to meet the minimum requirements of the software that you will install.
While not 100 percent necessary, it is typical to use an external hard drive for storing the karaoke music leaving the laptop's internal drive for installed software. You will need a CD/DVD drive capable of ripping song tracks from CD+G discs. Most modern drives have this capability. For detailed instructions on ripping CD+G discs see Transfer CDG Song Tracks to a Hard Drive.
ConnectionsYou will connect the laptop to your mixer and monitor in much the same way as you would connect a standard karaoke disc player. The audio will connect from the line out or headphone jack of the laptop to your mixer with an 1/8" stereo to dual RCA adapter cable. The laptop will have a VGA video connection and possibly HDMI also. You will need to find a way to adapt these to the type of connection supported by the TV(s) or monitor you will be using. VGA to a computer monitor is as easy as running a VGA cable. The same goes for HDMI laptop to HDMI TV.
Connecting to some TVs may be a bit more of a challenge. My favorite work-around is to convert the video signal to VHF and use coaxial cable that is supported by virtually all TVs. If the laptop has s-video out you would simply use an RF modulatorr to convert the signal. If there is no s-video output you will need to convert the VGA to s-video and then the s-video to VHF with the RF modulator.
MP3+G™ is a trademark used with permission by TriceraSoft