Here’s our pick of the best karaoke machines for adults and kids, including a detailed guide on how to choose the best one
With so many options available today, choosing the best karaoke machine for you can be a daunting task. We all love a good singalong to our favourite tunes, whether it’s in the car or the shower, but when you add in a proper microphone and professional backing track, the inner performer in all of us is truly unleashed.
Perfect for families, couples and houseshares alike, there’s no bonding experience quite like karaoke. We’ve put together this detailed how-to guide to help you pick out the perfect karaoke machine for you. It’s followed by our selection of the best karaoke machines out there, so clear your throats, practice those scales and prepare to bring your bathroom singing skills to the living room.
How to choose the best karaoke machine for you
Most karaoke machines are made by small companies you may not have heard of, so it’s not a matter of simply going for a brand you trust. Meanwhile, some products that are advertised as karaoke machines are actually just microphone-and-speaker combinations, with no songs and lyrics supplied.
That’s fine if you’re happy to use the karaoke videos that are uploaded to YouTube – search for the name of a song followed by “lyrics” or “karaoke” and you’ll probably find something suitable. Quality can vary, though, and every now and then you might end up accidentally watching a video of some random people at a karaoke bar.
A dedicated karaoke machine, complete with backing track playback and lyrics onscreen, will give you a more streamlined experience so you can concentrate on what really matters: crooning, wailing and steamrolling your way through your favourite songs.
What features do I need?
There are various components in a karaoke system and it’s helpful to get your head around what each bit does.
- The microphone is obviously what you sing into. They vary widely in price but £10 is probably about right for a home karaoke system. Most karaoke machines have quarter-inch jack inputs (like on a guitar or a big headphone socket) so choose a microphone that has this kind of cable. Having two microphones means you can perform duets. If three or more people decide to join in with a song, they’ve probably had too much wine and won’t need a microphone anyway.
- The backing track is the music you sing along to. In most cases, it’s recorded specifically for karaoke and might include backing vocals but not the lead vocals. The quality of these backing tracks can be a bit naff, but it’s all part of the fun. Some karaoke systems use the CD+G format, which is essentially a normal audio CD with an extra data track containing the animated lyrics. These discs are available from various online retailers. Other systems have their own backing tracks so you have to stick to their proprietary format.
- The mixer is where the backing track and your vocals are mixed together, balancing levels and (in most cases) adding effects to the vocals to make them sound glossier. Common effects you can add on most karaoke machines are Reverb and Echo, but more professional units also let you adjust Pitch to make even the most off-pitch singers sound in tune. The mixer will have separate inputs for microphones and the backing track, and a stereo output to send the mixed sound to the speakers.
- The speakers are where the sound comes out. Some karaoke machines have built-in speakers while others need to plug into a speaker, TV, hi-fi or PA system. Even if your machine has built-in speakers, it may still be best to plug it into a hi-fi system for better sound quality and more volume (neighbours’ sanity permitting).
- The screen is where the lyrics are displayed. Not many karaoke machines have a built-in display so this will normally be your TV, although you can also use a PC screen or your phone or tablet. For obvious reasons, a larger screen works better because it means that you can prance around the room and really perform the song rather than being stood in front of a small display, straining your eyes to read the lyrics.
Should I buy individual components or an all-in-one karaoke machine system?
The answer depends largely on what equipment you already have. Most people will have a TV to plug into, but the TV’s speakers might not be powerful enough to cope with your enthusiastic hollering. Using separate hi-fi speakers is a good idea if they’re available.
If you don’t relish the thought of scrabbling around with cables figuring out what goes where, an all-in-one system keeps things simple. Some machines will only require a TV to plug into, and some even have screens built in – although the lyrics will be easier to read on a telly.
Best karaoke machines to buy
1. Beatbox Karaoke Machine: The best all-in-one karaoke machine
Price: £170 | Buy now from Amazon
If you can’t be bothered to faff around with cables, go for this brilliant all-in-one device. It includes two microphones, a CD player, a built-in speaker, mixer controls and even a pulsating LED light show. The included RCA cables are the only bit of kit you need because karaoke lyrics are always best read from your big-screen TV compared to a smaller device. There’s a cradle for a tablet plus aux inputs around the back.
It also supports Bluetooth, SD cards and USB storage devices, and when your vocal cords need a rest it can even use this karaoke machine as a CD or DVD player. Most karaoke machines don’t come with music included, meaning you’re left to buy them individually or resort to the likes of YouTube or the popular karaoke backing track subscription service LuckyVoice.
Thankfully, that’s not the case with this karaoke machine because it includes 240 songs and comes with additional discs that have 600 songs in them.
Beatbox Karaoke Machine CDG/CD+G. Built in Disco Lights. Includes 240 Song Family Party Hits Pack & 2 Microphones (Wireless Microphones & 600 Songs)
£169.99 Buy now
2. Mr Entertainer Megabox: The best portable karaoke machine (with a display)
Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon
Most karaoke machines today don’t have a screen, mainly because people are used to reading lyrics off their phone, tablet, laptop or TV screen. However, if you’re looking for the classic karaoke experience, you won’t find a better option than Mr Entertainer Megabox. By default, it comes with 200 karaoke songs that you can instantly start playing by reading it straight from the device’s 7in colour screen. It also comes with RCA cables if you prefer reading lyrics off your TV’s bigger screen.
This unit comes with two wireless handheld microphones that can make you sound like a rockstar – even if you tend to sing off-tune – because the machine itself has advanced features such as auto voice control, digital key change and the options to add effects to your voice. Our favourite feature of this Mr Entertainer Megabox is its rechargeable battery, which gives you six hours on a single charge, making it one of the most portable devices we’ve come across. It also has wireless features built-in so you can directly send karaoke videos from your phone or tablet directly to the device’s screen.
Mr Entertainer Megabox Portable Karaoke Machine with Screen. CDG/DVD/MP3G/USB. Includes 200 Song Family Party Pack and 2 Microphones (Wired Microphones)
£149.99 Buy now
3. Vocal Star Karaoke Machine: The best karaoke machine for aspiring singers
Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon
The best feature of this karaoke machine is its powerful 300W portable Bluetooth speaker, making it a great option for aspiring singers and musicians who want to hear every detail clearly. This powerful output also makes it a great option if you want to jam with your bandmates, busk in your city or even perform gigs at small venues. Thanks to the included remote control, you don’t even need to be near the unit to control aspects like your volume, channel and so on.
The unit itself comes with two wireless microphones and there’s even an input for a third one. Apart from that, it has the option to stream content wirelessly from any device straight to your machine using Bluetooth. The unit itself is completely rechargeable and has a humongous eight-hour battery life, which is long enough to get you through an entire day of music on a single charge.
£149.99 Buy now
4. Singing Machine: The best karaoke machine for kids
Price: £108 | Buy now from Amazon
If you have little ones who fancy themselves a future Spice Girl or Ed Sheeran – or you’re stuck for fun things to do at a birthday party – this karaoke machine should keep them entertained for hours. It’s Bluetooth-compatible, so you needn’t worry about your kids tripping over any wires – although you can connect it to your TV via an RCA cable to load up those all-important lyrics on the screen.
Otherwise, this is a highly self-sufficient piece of kit that has a built-in LCD light-show for some added visuals to the vocals. The microphone cable is 3m long, so you don’t need to worry about being near the unit at all times. In case you want to use this as a portable karaoke machine, you can simply insert batteries into it instead of connecting it to your power supply.
Singing Machine SML682BTW Bluetooth and CD Karaoke Machine with LED Lights and Microphone, Black & RockJam RJMC303-BK Wired Unidirectional Dynamic Microphone with Three Metre Cord Black
£107.98 Buy now
5. Let’s Sing 2021: The best karaoke system for gaming consoles
Price: £70 (with 2 mics) | Buy now from Amazon
Back in the mid-2000s, SingStar on the PlayStation 2 was all the rage, and while there’s a version for the current PlayStation 4, Sony shut down much of the game’s functionality at the end of January, so we no longer recommend it. Instead, we suggest investing in Let’s Sing if you want to get your karaoke fix through a video games console. This bundle pack comes with the latest version of the base game, offering 30 tracks on the disc, and two USB microphones.
You can buy a dual pack of additional PS4 mics for £19, or simply download the Let’s Sing app and sing into your smartphone – of course, that’s not as fun as having your own microphone to wail into. If you want more songs you can purchase additional themed packs in-game (prices range from £4 to £30): current offerings include the Best of the 80s, 90s and Party Classics.
£69.99 Buy now
6. Lucky Voice: The best karaoke machine for people who just can’t get enough
Price: £61 | Buy now from Amazon
Lucky Voice makes commercial karaoke machines for its chain of bars, and the same technology appears in its subscription service for you to enjoy at home. It costs £7 a month to access their library of 10,000 songs, via your computer’s web browser or the iOS app. You can search its entire library by song name, artist name and even genre or decade. The app supports multiple devices so one person can browse and order the tracks, while the other is singing. You’ll want to plug it into a TV and speakers so you can appreciate the slickly-presented lyrics and high-quality backing tracks.
Lucky Voice also sells a microphone plus a mixer to combine the mic signal and backing track. However, it might get a bit complex if you’re sending the video signal from laptop to TV via HDMI and running the audio analogue cables to the TV’s speakers. You’re better off plugging the mixer into a hi-fi. It might end up being an expensive option, but the quality and sheer volume of songs on offer mean it’s money well spent.
Lucky Voice Karaoke Machine – Home Singing Machine with Microphone that’s Perfect Fun for Adults, Kids and Families – Compatible with Mac, PC, iOS and Android Devices With Access to Over 9,000 Songs
£61.35 Buy now
7. Vocal-Star VS-1200: The best karaoke machine for small venues
Price: £170 | Buy now from Amazon
Professional kits used in karaoke bars can cost silly money, but if you want something affordable and a bit more polished than the usual home-karaoke machine, the Vocal-Star VS-1200 is a solid choice. It comes in a sturdy metal chassis that can be rack-mounted and includes a wide array of outputs including HDMI, VGA, optical and analogue phonos. You’ll also find a pair of wired microphones plus 150 songs in the box. Upgrade to 1,200 songs for an extra £70 and you’ll have enough to keep punters happy for many months. There’s also an option to upgrade to wireless microphones for £50.
Songs are supplied on disc in CD+G format – a normal CD with extra data for the animated lyrics. These can be ripped to MP3G format and saved to SD card by the VS-1200, which saves constant disc-swapping. You’ll have to type in all the song names and generate song lists yourself, though. Additional discs in CD+G format are available from various online stores. The quality of the backing tracks in the supplied library is mostly excellent, but the lyrics sometimes wander slightly out of sync. It’s not as polished as it could be, but this is a robust package that’s reasonably easy and cheap to expand with new songs.
Vocal-Star VS-1200 CDG DVD HDMI Karaoke Machine With Bluetooth Including 2 Wired Microphones and 150 Top Party Songs
£189.99 Buy now
8. 200 Karaoke Megahits: The best karaoke CD collection
Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon
If you own a karaoke machine, you’re probably familiar with a karaoke subscription service like Lucky Voice that gives you unlimited access to songs that you can then play on any device, and even stream to your karaoke machine via Bluetooth.
However, if you prefer a CD collection with the best karaoke songs, look no further this megahits pack containing 200 famous karaoke songs on 10 CD+G discs that can be played on any of karaoke machines listed above, or any other karaoke machine. The tracklist contains all your favourite belters, ranging from classics like Queen and The Beatles to modern-day popstars like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift.
£24.99 Buy now
9. Kids Bluetooth Microphone: The best karaoke microphone for kids
Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon
This popular microphone is proving to be a hit with kids of all ages. Available in different colours, and even as a set, it has several uses. Apart from a microphone, you can use it as a Bluetooth speaker, loudspeaker and recorder. Its built-in 1800mAh battery will work for up to six hours when fully charged, but you can even connect it to a speaker using the 3.5mm audio jack. Your kids will enjoy its different voice effects for hours on end, and this also makes a great gift, especially for young aspiring singers.
Microphones for Kids Wireless Bluetooth Microphone,Portable Handheld Toy Karaoke Mic Speaker Machine, Home KTV Player with Record Function, Compatible with Android iOS Devices(Black)
£12.99 Buy now
10. Karaoke Wireless Microphone: The best karaoke microphone for adults
Price: £26 | Buy now from Amazon
This versatile three-in-one wireless microphone can be used as a microphone, Bluetooth speaker and recorder. It has two-channel stereo speakers and a three-layer mesh filter for crystal-clear output. You can use it wirelessly for up to eight hours on a single charge or even connect it to your home speakers using the 3.5mm audio jack if you prefer. Best of all, the microphone’s Bluetooth connection means that you can stream music directly from your phone or tablet directly to the device without any pesky cables getting in the way.