Are you thinking of buying a karaoke machine? About 7 months back I had bought the Singing Machine 1028N and had been thoroughly enjoying it. You can read about it here. Since then, I have been into karaoke singing quite a bit at parties, singing at home and most recently I sang in a real auditorium for cultural event in the community. One thing I found about the singing machine is while the speakers are great for indoor singing, if you want to host a party in your yard it wouldn’t add up to it. That is because the speakers all but produce about 7 watts each. This kind of output easily gets dispersed in the open air and the surrounding noise. Anyway, so my mind started to think about options and contacted www.lightyearmusic.com. The salesman helped me with recommendations – a karaoke player (much like a CD player), a set of American Audio XSP-8a speakers and Heath and Allen ZED-10FX mixer. This would have made a great combination for me but I still need to build my home stereo system having wired the home already. I didn’t want to add to that coming mix with another player and additional speakers.
I definitely had realized that I needed a mixer. If you are new to Audio geekism, a mixer takes multiple inputs (voice, instruments such as guitar, multiple other sources) and mixes all into one output. With built in features such as equalizer and effects you can do quite a bit. For example, you can increase the gain of lower frequencies if you think a singer has a high pitch voice so as to bring some balance into the sound. With the Singing machine, I didn’t have any control. The microphones that come along with it is not great – I had to sing loudly to be heard. And when you record it, the resultant sound isn’t what you actually hear. This made me think of a mixer where I would have more control.
After getting the recommendation from Lightyearmusic (which is a great site for karaoke gear, while you can find the same anywhere else for a bit less price – so you have to make that call), I decided against it and thought about a more compact unit. The American Audio PPA-210 is a public announcement system with a built in mixer. This unit was a pricey $499! This is a great unit because it is portable and has built in powered speakers, each of which output 150W each. Buying this would render my singing machine useless. I am not a great fan of the PPA-210 looks while the Singing Machine fits greatly into the decor of the home.
I finally decided I will just get a mixer and zoned in on the Yamaha-mg102c. At $109 dollars on Amazon, this came with additional XLR cables. Again if you are new to Audio, XLR cables are more resistant to noise that longer wires attract due to interference. Each of these 15′ cables alone will cost $12-15 each. I was away when this arrived, so this weekend when I was back, the first thing I did is to open up the package. The unit’s package looked a bit old but the unit itself was fine. When you buy from a seller on Amazon, remember you might not get the same level of service as you do from Amazon. But soon I found out that the unit was a keeper.
Understanding a mixer is pretty daunting with all the inputs and outputs and the controls. Take a look at the one I bought and you will see what I mean. Which input to choose for the mic, there are balanced and unbalanced inputs for microphones. Then there is output – one for recording, one for monitor and one for stereo output. What I did first was to connect the XM8500 Behringer dynamic microphone I bought earlier. Little did I know earlier that this sort of microphones needed some power to run else your voice will not be heard much on the speakers. So I had now the mic sending input to the mixer. I wanted to take the output from the mixer and send it to the two tower speakers of the 1028N, but that was not to be as the speakers didn’t have any input jacks on themselves. They were driven from the main 1028N unit. Finally I figured that I had to take the output from the mixer and input it into the Aux sound into the 1028N to drive the speakers. I had also tried to take the stereo output from the mixer and making that as an input to the 1028N where the unit’s microphones would go in, but that wouldn’t capture any additional source such as a music player hooked into the mixer.
So now, I had the microphone capturing my voice into the mixer. I used my smart phone and had it feed the karaoke music into mixer on channel 9 which would take RCA stereo sound in. The output from the mixer’s stereo output now had both voice and the music mixed and this output was being fed into the 1028N’s speakers!!
I tried out singing and for the first time since I bought the 1028N , I could hear both high-pitch voice and the high-pitch music together. Without the mixer, the 1028N would mask the music. That felt gratifying finally. I played a bit with the equalizer on the mixer. The rule of thumb is not to over-do the equalizer. If, say, my voice is more baritone, then you want to increase the high frequencies a bit. If the voice is more high-pitch, then increase the lower frequencies a bit. On the mixer itself, increase the gain on the channel so the peak lights light up a bit at the highest pitch and then use the level control to increase volume. The gain once set, shouldn’t be meddled with again or often. The mixed sound’s overall volume can be controlled with the master stereo volume.
In short, this is how I hooked up the 1028N and the MG102C together.
1) Take the microphone (Behringer XM8500) as input into channel 3 as XLR input. You should be able to use either of channels 1-4. I needed a XLR-male to XLR-male cable.
2) Input the smart phone karaoke music as RCA stereo input on channel 9/10 with a phone stereo to dual RCA stereo cable. You could as well use channel 7/8.
3) Take the stereo output from the mixer and feed it into the Aux RCA stereo input on the 1028N. You will need two 1/4 inch male stereo to RCA male cables. Cost of $6 each at RadioShack.
In the end, the above gives me ability to control the mix of the music, but my goal of using the system outside is still not satisfied. For this I will need a set of speakers anyway, which will be my next area of exploration. Disadvatages with this configuration: for one most the 1028N’s features aren’t being used such as the CD player or the video output or the iPod input or any of its controls. Once I buy a pair of speakers that I can hook up to the mixer, the 1028N will not be used much.