Setting up a professional-level home karaoke system has been on my to-do list for a long time. I’m a huge fan of reality singing competitions like the Voice, the Masked Singer, America’s Got Talent and the dearly departed American Idol. Sometimes we have to satisfy that urge to sing at the top of our lungs and rock out to your favorite songs. Sadly there’s really no place for you to sing your heart out without making a complete ass of yourself in front of a bunch of inebriated judges, talking about you karaoke bars. This is why I decided to install a karaoke system at home, and it’s not some cheapo karaoke system like those all in one system for kids. This is a system that even Simon Cowell would be proud of but without the Simon Cowell price tag.
Components Needed to Setup a Home Karaoke System
- Sound System
- Optical to RCA Converter
- Wireless Microphone System
- Audio Mixer
- Audio Cables
First, we need something to show the lyrics or music videos that you will be singing to. I find that most TVs nowadays always have HDMI inputs and an optical output. But we should definitely make sure before we get started. Look in the back of your TV and you should see that there is a port called HDMI IN and a small port called Optical Digital Audio Out. The Optical Digital Audio Out is how we will get audio from the TV to the mixer. The HDMI IN will be used by the Chromecast to stream music and lyrics. If you don’t have these then your TV is considered prehistoric and probably should get a new one since they’re so cheap nowadays.
I find Google Chromecasts super intuitive and easy to use. Since we will be streaming most of our songs from Youtube, using a Chromecast makes the most sense. Also an advantage of using Chromecast is that multiple people can connect to the Chromecast and add their favorite songs in queue. So that there isn’t that awkward silence when someone is waiting to pick their song. Something that you can’t do with say an Apple TV device.
There are two types of sound systems that we can use. One being a soundbar and the other being an AV receiver with speaker system. Soundbars offer a simpler setup without taking too much space while AV receivers with dedicated speakers offer a better sound immersion and more expandability. As we’re not looking to break the bank here, I’m opting for the easier setup, the soundbar. Now there are a plethora of soundbars and I did a lot of research on different ones but the one I ended up going with is the Yamaha YAS-207BL. It gave me the best bang for the buck. It also has a 7.3 score on the RTINGS website.
Optical to RCA Converter
Since the mixer is not able to take an optical input signal we will need to use an optical to RCA converter. There are many converters that are on Amazon but I have had some fail due to power issues. I have tried many converters in the past and some of them have failed due to power issues and some generate a lot of noise from the signal conversion. I finally found a converter by Avantree DAC Digital to Analog Audio Converter that provides pretty good performance and reliability. It also comes with an Optical Cable so that you don’t need to purchase one separately. This converter is an important piece of the system as it will really make or break the karaoke experience
Wireless Microphone System
I prefer using a wireless microphone system so that you don’t have to deal with wires and it gives you more freedom to move around while you sing. I’ve tried many different systems and the biggest problem with them is that when you try to sing louder, attenuation starts to kick in and the voice quality goes to the potty. I found this high-quality wireless mic system, Innopow 80-Channel Dual UHF Wireless Microphone System (WM-333) that has very good quality and the best bang for the buck. This system also allows for single channels and mixed channels, which means that you can separate singer 1 from singer 2 or you can have one combined signal from both singers. The quality of the microphones are great as they have premium solid metal construction and have good battery life.
We’ll need an audio mixer to mix the sound from the TV and from the wireless microphone system. There are some all in ones that combine the wireless mic system and a mixer, but they are horrible!! I did some research on multiple audio forums and landed on the Mackie Mixer ProFXv2, 8 A-B Box, 8-channel (PROFX8V2). This is because this mixer offers sound effects like reverb which is really necessary for karaoke singing to help provide a fuller sound. It also has a USB out and includes software to help record and playback your performance. Looking at all the knobs and sliders can be a bit overwhelming, but once you start to use it, it’ll be easy peasy.
If this is too much for you then you can go for the Mackie 402VLZ4, 4-channel Ultra Compact Mixer with High-Quality Onyx Preamps. It doesn’t have the sound effects and USB recording but will get the job done.
Digital Optical Audio Toslink Cable – The optical cable is used to connect the audio output of the TV to the Optical to RCA converter. There should be one included with the Optical to RCA converter.
1/8″ TRS to Dual 1/4″ TS Mono Stereo Y-Cable – This cable will be used to take the output from the mixer and put it to the aux jack of the soundbar.
2-Male to 2-Male RCA Audio Cable – We will use this cable to connect the output of the Optical to RCA Converter to the Mixer.
XLR Male to Female Microphone Cable – This cable will be used to connect the wireless microphone system to the audio mixer inputs.
The step by step guide
Finally, now that we have everything that we need, we’re ready to get started with setting up the system.
1. Connect your Chromecast to the TV
Connect the Chromecast to an open HDMI port in the back of your TV. If you have an open USB port on your TV that can power the Chromecast then that’s awesome, if not then you have to plug it in. Here is some additional help if you are having trouble with that: How to cast: A quick start guide – Chromecast Help
2. Plugin the Optical Cable to the digital audio out port
Plug in the optical cable into the optical audio out port of your TV. This will allow your sound to flow from the TV to the Optical to RCA converter.
3. Change your TV sound settings to optical audio out
Go to your TV audio settings and change the audio output source to use the optical port. You can test if it’s working by plugging in a pair of regular headphones to the aux jack of the optical to RCA converter.
4. Connect optical cable and power to the Optical to RCA converter
Now plug the other end of the optical cable to the Optical to RCA Converter and also power the converter using the micro USB port.
5. Connect RCA cable to the output of the converter
Then plug the 2-Male to 2-Male RCA Audio Cable to the other end of the converter.
6. Test the converter sound output
Turn the converter on and put the volume to the max. You can hook up your headphones to the converter AUX output jack to make sure sound is being played properly. There is a Youtube video that does a pretty good job of explaining it. Or else you can reference the troubleshooting guide here: DAC Troubleshooting Guide
7. Connect the output of the converter to the mixer
Plug the other end of the 2-Male to 2-Male RCA Audio Cable into the tape in section of the mixer. This will allow the sound from the TV to be fed into the mixer.
8. Setup the Wireless Microphone System
Now we’ll set up the wireless microphone system, take out the microphones and pair them to the wireless base. You should see the signal icons light up when you talk into the microphones. Follow the instructions in the manual here: Innopow WM333 Manual
9. Connect the output of the wireless microphone system using XLR cables
Connect the XLR cables to the outputs of the microphone system.
10. Connect the XLR cables from the wireless microphone system to input jacks of the mixer
Then connect the XLR cables into input 1 & 2 of the mixer.
11. Connect the 1/8″ TRS to 1/4″ TS Stereo cable to the output jacks of the mixer
Get the 1/8″ TRS to Dual 1/4″ TS Mono Stereo Y-Cable and plug the 1/4″ plugs into the mixer output
12. Plug the output of the mixer to the soundbar
On the other end of the 1/8″ TRS to Dual 1/4″ TS Mono Stereo Y-Cable, plug the 1/8″ plug into the aux input jack of the soundbar.
13. Power on the soundbar and configure it to aux input
Power on your soundbar and change the input to aux input and set the volume level appropriately
14. Configure the Mixer settings
Configure the Mixer Settings as shown in the picture below.
15. This is what it should look like when you’re done
16. Let’s test the system
Now we’re ready to test 😊😸
17. Stream a karaoke song on the Chromecast and see if it plays through the soundbar
Find your favorite karaoke song on Youtube and stream it to your Chromecast and see if the sound plays through the soundbar. If not you may have to increase the tape input volume on the mixer or adjust the volume on the Chromecast itself.
18. Once the song is playing through the soundbar, sing into the microphone system
Once we hear music coming from the Chromecast, we’ll need to test the microphone system. Speak into the microphone A and see if you hear anything from the soundbar. If not you will need to adjust the volume of input 1 on the mixer. Repeat for the second microphone and input 2.
19. Yay Congratulations!! Let’s karaoke!
Where to find Karaoke Songs
There are so many Youtube channels that have free karaoke songs I have listed them below
I hope you enjoyed this guide and are able to set up a home karaoke system by yourself. I believe this gives you the most bang for your buck and has lots of potential for doing other things such as recording your singing of the song, adding additional instruments, etc…