The attractive device consists of a silver microphone that connects to your iPod and a built-in FM tuner that lets you broadcast songs to a stereo or radio. The unit fades a track’s existing vocals into the background so you can take the lead. The microphone end has a red LED strip that illuminates when first connected to an iPod and when you sing a song. There’s also four buttons/sliders hosted at this end, with fast forward, rewind and play/pause also acting as controls for the set up of the device.
Set up is simple enough. The mic is attached to an iPod via a 4ft cable that ends in a dock connector. Once connected you hold the play/pause button on the microphone briefly to be taken to the software menu that appears on your iPod’s screen. This lets you alter the reverb and music output between Low, Medium, High and Off. Reverb affects the volume of the microphone, while music adjusts the iPod volume. Drop the iPod volume to Off and you have a microphone system.
The software controls also let you select an FM frequency. We suggest finding an empty frequency on your radio first. In London these were hard to find, however iKaraoke also has a line-out port on its base, so you can attach the device directly to a stereo, headphones or powered speakers. We found the direct connection offered far better playback than FM, but attribute this to London’s busy radio spectrum. We had to raise the stereo volume considerably to get decent sound, and encountered some unexpected white noise interference when working with a track.
The ‘vocals, on/off’ button is where the magic happens. In theory, when you set vocals to Off the device will drop the volume on the lead vocals so that it’s your voice that carries the song. We found this most effective with older songs – essentially any music recorded in standard stereo in which the lead vocals stood at the centre of the mix. When dealing with more complex arrangements, iKaraoke would drop the lead vocal volume slightly, but not enough to truly create a karaoke experience.
We’re excited about the iKaraoke but would like it to offer a more consistent experience. Unfortunately, it is unable to deliver seamless karaoke enjoyment using an iPod just yet.