There ain’t no party like a karaoke party, and the best karaoke machines are more accessible than ever. There was once a time where having your own karaoke machine prompted renting out a huge machine with monitors, alongside a limited music collection, creating a sizable dent in the wallet for a birthday party.
Now though, it’s only a matter of buying something that’s akin in design to a home-speaker, by plugging it into your laptop or smartphone you already have, you can have an Ariana Grande sing-off in an instant.
The best karaoke machines need to be easy to use; so they can be set up, switched on and ready for the coming party you’re arranging. There’s plenty of features that a karaoke machine now has, with displays to show the lyrics to a song along with microphones and wireless connectivity options for your smart device, so you can load up a song of your choosing without being bound to a CD collection.
Out of the karaoke machines that we tested, we found the Singing Machine Vibe to be the overall choice for singing ‘The Final Countdown’ without causing a concern to your wallet. With its flashing lights, simple design and two microphones, it’s a fantastic choice to have to keep the kids occupied for an evening or three.
1. Singing Machine Vibe: Best karaoke machine overall
The Singing Machine Vibe quickly stood out in our tests as the crowd favorite. It is easy to set up, and it’s simple for users of all ages and experience levels to use.
You can connect the device to a TV, tablet or smartphone to view a song’s lyrics. It boasts Bluetooth, HDMI, USB and line-in connectivity, allowing you to connect to TVs and speakers and easily sing along to karaoke tunes you’ve downloaded or found on YouTube. The Vibe comes with two microphones and has a small light feature, so you can start the party as soon as you plug it in.
During our testing, the Vibe didn’t take long to set up. The only slight hang-up was pairing a device via Bluetooth. The process wasn’t intuitive on its own, but the manual lays it out step by step. The karaoke machine is also easy to use, with clearly labeled buttons and knobs.
The only thing it’s missing is a screen for displaying song lyrics or menu information. This isn’t a huge deal if you’d rather use a TV or phone anyway, but it’s not an all-in-one unit for those who prefer that kind of setup. Aside from that, sound quality for the Vibe was loud and crystal clear. It filled the theater that we tested in and sounded great even from the back of the room
2. Singing Machine Fiesta Plus: Best value karaoke machine
With Singing Machine’s Fiesta Plus, you have access to a full array of connectivity options that let the karaoke machine easily integrate with your home’s entertainment center.
It has a fun design that includes a colorful light resembling a disco ball that adds an extra element of fun to any room. And although it’s one of the largest machines that we tested, it was one of the easiest to use.
The Fiesta Plus comes standard with two microphones. It allows you to differentiate individual microphone settings, and it’s easy to adjust echo and other voice effects. Built-in speakers and a monitor make the Plus a great all-in-one option, so you can easily take your karaoke party on the go. A handy USB port lets you access downloaded karaoke tracks directly on the machine, or if you connect a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth or a line-in connection, you can sing along with the latest popular karaoke tracks on YouTube. The song source versatility of the Fiesta Plus ensures that everyone can join in and sing their favorite songs.
The only downside to the Singing Machine Fiesta Plus is its poor sound quality and projection. Even with the machine’s volume cranked up to 11, it was hard to hear anything besides the singer, even if you were sitting 5 or so feet away from it. But it works just fine for quiet singers and small spaces.
3. ION Audio Block Rocker Plus: Best for wireless karaoke anywhere
The ION Audio Block Rocker Plus karaoke machine is a true wireless system. This is thanks to a rechargeable battery which churns out a good 35 hours of use before this needs to be plugged in.
While there is a 1/8-inch, 3.5mm aux-in port, this also offers more wireless connectivity thanks to NFC and Bluetooth. So anyone can tap their phone and stream their music near instantly – making this great at a party.
Sound quality is clear and defined with powerful bass. The 100W main 8-inch speaker and 3-inch tweeter do well to recreate voice audio using the included mic that this system ships with.
The portability is great thanks to built-in wheels and a telescopic carry handle. So even at a weight of 20 pounds this remains movement friendly so it can be used anywhere you think a karaoke party could be held.
4. Karaoke USA GF842: Most all-in-one karaoke
The Karaoke USA GF842 karaoke machine is a true all-in-one device which allows you to sing, onscreen, right out of the box. This DVD player toting system comes with a CD+G disc that has over 300 songs which will have the lyrics displayed on screen for you to sing along to.
The LED lighting will work in sync with the music for full immersion and with two microphones included, it's a real party piece. That said, the 35W speaker could be more powerful in loud situations, although quality is good and clear.
Bluetooth connectivity allows you to play music from a smartphone but there is also a 1/8-inch aux-in connector. Plus this features SD and USB connectivity allowing you not only to play off those devices but also to record your singing sessions to MP3 for instant playback.
All that means the price isn't low but for what you get it certainly is reasonable.
5. Singtrix SGTX1: Best vocal effects
The Singtrix is a professional-looking machine that can make karaoke an immersive experience for your friends and family.
Whether you’re at home or on the stage, Singtrix’s amp, microphone stand, and effects console gives off a polished, put-together look, although it’s more of a hassle to set up than most other machines we reviewed. Its limited connectivity options and lack of a dedicated monitor also leave something to be desired.
While every other karaoke machine we tested offers multiple ways to access song content, Singtrix only offers one: a line-in connection for your phone or tablet. Sure, this works for those who have a smart device and internet access, but the system becomes useless if you need a CD player, USB or HDMI port, SD card reader or Bluetooth connectivity. You’ll have to rely on your smartphone or tablet screens to read lyrics, though the system does come with a clip-on stand for your device that attaches to the microphone stand.
Connectivity aside, where Singtrix shines is with its effects console. With this, you can do all kinds of things to the sound of your voice. You can lightly enhance it with options like reverb or chorus. Or you can go for something crazy with Robotica, Distorted Dude or Prank Caller. This console connects to both the microphones and the amp and comes with interchangeable faceplates.
Why Trust Us
Karaoke machines aren’t cheap, so we know how important it is to buy one that meets your needs and impresses your friends. Having spent our fair share of late nights and company parties belting out classics by Whitney Houston, Journey and Adele, we value the ability to choose from a wide range of songs, and we appreciate the extras that add a little pizzazz to performances. We recommend deciding whether portability is important to you, since there are several compact models available. Our experts looked at every aspect of these machines, so you can buy – and sing – with confidence.
How Much Does a Karaoke Machine Cost?
Entry-level karaoke machines usually cost between $50 and $400 depending on the power and features you want. We found that the sweet spot is between $80 and $200, as machines in this range have the best performance abilities and connectivity options for the price.
How We Tested
We tested the majority of the devices hands-on during a company party and in a private setting to determine how easy each machine is to use, how useful its features are and how powerful it is. We also visited manufacturer websites and analyzed all available machine specifications. We then went to retailer websites and read user reviews for input on ease of setup and use.
With popular artists releasing new songs and albums on the regular, we focused on machines that can upload or connect to new tracks as they become available. We saw that users appreciate having a variety of ways to play music, whether through preloaded tracks, an auxiliary hookup, CDs or connecting to live instruments.
We kept in mind that some users might want to throw a karaoke machine in the car and take it to parties, while others might prefer a more permanent, professional setup. Aside from portability, units that are generally easy to use, and are also feature-rich, were the clear winners in our evaluations.
It’s important to consider whether you’re a once-in-a-while karaoke crooner or a more dedicated aspiring cover artist before you buy one of these units. Background vocals, reverb and live-instrument connectivity are available to more ambitious singers willing to spend a substantial sum on a karaoke machine. But less expensive models with fewer features can provide the same experience for some.
Key Features to Look for When Buying a Karaoke Machine
More is always better. Whether through CDs, preloaded music or connectivity to an external source via an auxiliary cord, karaoke machines that support several formats for playing music give you and your friends the widest song selection. In our tests, we saw that people most preferred to find a karaoke tune on their phones and connect them to the karaoke machine via line-in or Bluetooth. They also liked the traditional experience of flipping through a list of available preloaded songs and entering in a code. The least popular machines were ones that only accepted a CD.
Before you purchase a karaoke machine, consider how and where you intend to use it, and use this information to choose a machine that won’t be a hassle to set up. We recommend buying a machine that either includes all the necessary cords and accessories or clearly notes which pieces aren’t included so you can purchase them simultaneously. Discovering your machine is missing necessities when you are ready to sing can really put a damper on your karaoke party.
Most of the karaoke machines we reviewed have plug-and-play designs, meaning there isn’t much setup beyond plugging them in. We recommend this type of machine if you plan to travel with yours frequently, since they are small and easy to set up. Models with lots of components and a bird’s nest of cords are a hassle to travel with and better suited to being permanent fixtures in a room.
Before shopping, consider how you’ll use your karaoke machine so you know whether you need to purchase extra equipment. For example, you may want to purchase additional microphones so two people can sing at the same time. Or maybe you want cordless mics so you can move and dance around while you sing.
Also, think about how you plan to play songs: Are you going to use a CD or connect a cord and pull them from the YouTube app on your smartphone? In addition, consider whether the machine has an onboard screen for lyrics. If not, you may need to purchase additional cables to connect it to your TV.
Should You Buy a Karaoke Machine?
Rapid technological advancement means karaoke machines are becoming more high-tech, but it also means they might one day become obsolete. With several smartphone karaoke apps on the market (such as Yokee) that let you record and play back your performances, you might want to skip the hardware purchase and use an app instead, if you’re more performance-minded. Otherwise, if you just like to have fun with your friends, karaoke machines are always a sure bet.