The term karaoke microphone can refer to two similar devices. A karaoke machine that plays instrumental versions of songs requires a microphone for a vocalist to sing into. These vocal microphones can be wireless, though wired versions that make use of universal serial bus (USB), Radio Corporation of America (RCA), or tip ring sleeve (TRS) connectors are also common. A variation of this design can contain the entire karaoke machine within the body of a microphone. These units can be plugged directly into a television, computer, or other monitor device because the karaoke microphone itself contains the instrumental tracks for a vocalist to sing over.
Karaoke is an activity that allows an amateur to provide vocals for a variety of popular songs. Traditional karaoke machines contain a variety of different instrumental tracks and can be plugged into a television or other monitor. The amateur vocalist sings into a karaoke microphone, and the vocals are then played back along with the instrumental track. Some karaoke machines have video displays and lyrics for the vocalist to follow along. Others are software based and run on computers, in which case a USB karaoke microphone is typically required.
Another type of karaoke machine is entirely contained within the microphone. These karaoke microphones sometimes also include speakers, which allows them to be completely self contained. In many cases, a karaoke microphone needs to be plugged into a television, computer, or other configuration of a monitor and speakers. The microphone can contain digital storage for a number of different songs, and in some cases will also have a video program along with lyrics that can be displayed on a television or monitor.
Other more complex karaoke microphones are also available. Some systems include two microphones that are linked together to allow duets to be performed. In some cases, the video display will show the two vocal parts in different colors so the vocalists will know which lines to sing. Other systems include both instrumental and vocal tracks so that people unfamiliar with a song can learn how to perform it.
A karaoke microphone can also include functionality to judge the vocalist based on pitch or other qualities. In this case, vocalists can sometimes choose a difficulty level based on how well they are able to sing, which can affect how strict the karaoke microphone will be when judging deviation from the correct pitch. Other microphones include some type of pitch correction software that can be used to modify the singer's voice in a variety of potentially amusing ways.