If you're a karaoke die-hard, you know that half the challenge is finding the right song to sing. Singtrix, a new karaoke system from the creators of "Guitar Hero," seeks to eliminate that challenge once and for all by stripping the vocals out of any recorded song, from any source, such as YouTube. It can also autotune your voice so the experience is fun for your listeners, as well.
Replicating a karaoke experience at home is not easy, although you have lots of options. You can play karaoke video games, scour YouTube for vocal-less tracks or pick up a dedicated karaoke machine. The trouble is that each one of these choices confers a relatively limited selection of songs.
This is where the $300 Singtrix comes in. Tom's Guide had a chance to go hands-on with the device and see if it could really deliver what it promised. The creators assert that Singtrix can transform even the most tone-deaf singers into rock stars, complete with backing vocals, for any song, using any device.
While the device is not perfect, it generally succeeds. The Singtrix itself is a small box with a number of knobs and buttons to control volume and effects that you can apply to your voice. Although you can activate effects that make you sound like a chamber choir or Barry White, the device's primary draw is its ability to strip vocals out of any song so you can fill in your own voice.
Here's how it works: You plug your phone, tablet or computer into the Singtrix device using the headphone jack, which connects to external speakers and a microphone (both included). Press "play" on your device's music player, and the Singtrix handles the rest via a novel algorithm that cuts out frequencies associated with vocals on rock and pop songs. Whether your song comes from your personal MP3 collection, YouTube or streaming services like Spotify, the device mutes the vocals while playing the backing music.
Just like with a regular karaoke track, you'll be able to belt out your favorite songs as the lead singer. Furthermore, based on the effects that you choose, the Singtrix can autotune your voice and make you sound more like your preferred band's leading man or lady — even if you're not the same sex.
Another unique feature of the device is its "hit" effect. Using a button on the microphone, the Singtrix will listen to the notes you're singing, weigh them against the instrumental music and add three backup vocal tracks to sing in harmony with you.
In our experience, we found that the Singtrix was impeccable at removing vocals from songs, but the backup harmonies were hit or miss. During a rendition of "Dead Flowers" by the Rolling Stones from a YouTube video, it was impossible to hear Mick Jagger singing, but the Singtrix harmonized in a minor key when we sang along ("Dead Flowers" is in D Major). The resulting sound was ugly with the harmonies added, but very pleasant without them. Other songs, like Adele's "Rolling in the Deep," harmonized properly.
Also available is the free Singtrix app for Android and iOS, called Karaoke Anywhere. This delivers a more traditional karaoke experience, optimized for the Singtrix device, complete with scrolling lyrics (the Singtrix itself does not display lyrics, and requires users to provide their own via smartphone or memory) and song recordings designed without vocals. The service will offer more than 13,000 songs available via subscription or à la carte purchases, and is available for download now.
The complete Singtrix package — device, microphone, mic stand, and speaker — retails for $299.99 via the Singtrix website, and can ship in time for Christmas.
Singtrix is admittedly expensive, and not for the casual karaoke fan; you could spend a lot of time in karaoke bars for that price, with enough money left over for ample libations. On the other hand, if you want to make your house the new get-together place for karaoke night, you can't find a bigger selection than "every song on the Internet."