Sunday, January 27, 2008

Home-made Karaoke

I think I finally figured it out on my Mac. It's cumbersome, but it works very well. Setup time is about 10 minutes.

* Mac Book Pro. Gotta have a laptop to use in the living room.

* Lots of .KAR files! These are basically .MIDI files with karaoke-style words attached to them. Works like you expect: Song plays while the words show on screen, and the words to sing are highlighted at the right time.

* QuickTime. Yes, QT can play .KAR files natively. Not fancy at all but it does work.

* GarageBand. Free music editing software that comes with Macs. Add a 'real instrument' track and turn on the effects! Well, reverb and echo are easy and quick. Some of the vocal transforming effects add enough delay that you can't use them real-time. Make sure you check 'monitor'!

* XLR mic, cable, and mixer. Yes, this is overkill, but that's the only way I can get good mic sound into the computer.

* HDMI for video and SP-DIF for audio. Hook that sucker up to the big ol' TV and audio system!

* OPTIONAL: PhotoBooth. This uses the built-in camera on the computer and shows a real-time picture of what it sees. Has several effects that can be added to make it look really weird. A couple of the kids can't stay off of this program so it should be a hit for them to watch themselves sing.

That's it. Hopefully this will all work whenever we have a karaoke night at our house.

Footnote: I found lots of karaoke programs for Mac and PC, many totally free, but NOT ONE SINGLE PROGRAM let you mix your voice into the mix. Well, one of them did, but it didn't have any echo or reverb, so it sounded horrible. Home-grown is the way to go for this one. Either that or one of those mics with built-in karaoke functions and chips that can be inserted for more songs.

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