How To Sing Karaoke On A Computer Through A Microphone
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The popularity of karaoke on PC in our country is growing steadily. Bursts of interest in it fall on national holidays, such as New Year’s Day, Independence Day, March 8 and others, when streams of fun and joy warmed by strong drinks awaken vocal abilities and talents dormant in us.
All karaoke content in the Russian-language part of the Network is created by the work of enthusiasts, and the stronghold of karaoke maker is the portal Karaoke.Ru, which today unites four projects in Russian, Ukrainian, English and Lithuanian (respectively, www. karaoke.ru, www.ukraine.karaoke.ru, www. karaokegalaxy.com and lt.karaoke. ru) These sites have earned the people’s love because all the services on them are free. Here you can download the necessary software and documentation for it; promptly receive any advice in the chat or on the forum; quickly find your favorite song using the convenient search system by name, artist or text; visit the Top 20 section, which contains links to the most frequently downloaded songs; congratulate your friends or acquaintances with musical cards; and, finally, it’s nice to have fun playing on-line game “Guess the melody!”, “Without grand pianos” or “Musical puzzles”.
Projects are regularly updated, as evidenced by the regularity of newsletters: information about adding new songs comes from one to three times a week. In fact, each of us can replenish the collection of karaoke files by sending our own masterpiece to email@example.com, however, at the same time, the composition must satisfy certain requirements described on the site www.karaoke.ru.
You cannot download all KAR files from the server at once in one go, but it is possible to accumulate them one by one or collect them in “the basket” 20 pieces each and then receive an archive with them by e-mail (or download by the specified link). However, it is most effective to download such files using the RussianKaraoke Office package (see on disk), a brief description of which you will find below.
To play karaoke on a computer today, one of the following players is most often used: vanBasco Karplayer, the good old RealOrche and Karaoke Galaxy Player (or simply GalaKar).
VanBasco Karplayer (see on disk) is available for download on the developers site. www.vanbasco.com. The main advantage of this program is its absolute free, while it does not contain intrusive advertising. The player has almost all the necessary functions for playing karaoke files. It provides complete control over the text output: it allows you to change the font size, background pictures, the way the lines are displayed, in addition, you can customize the tone, tempo and volume of the composition. The player’s pluses also include the ability to turn on / off individual instruments in a karaoke file, output music tracks if desired, which can be useful for those who like to accompany and write variations. vanBasco Karplayer allows you to create playlists of files (playlists), and they can store information not only about the sequence of file playback, but also about the changed sound parameters (tempo, tonality, volume, etc.)
RealOrche, a Creative product, today, alas, is not officially supported, but its latest version 1.42 sh can still be found on the Web, for example at www.starvideoke.kit. net / downloads / packs.htm. Read more about this player in the article. “Karaoke on. home PC” (“Home pc”, # 11, 1999).
And finally, GalaKar (see on disk), developed by the creators of the Karaoke.Ru project. The product is shareware, registration costs 20, but for the Russian-language part of the Internet, this procedure is free. To do this, right-click on the player and select the item from the context menu Show preferences; further in the window GALAKAR player properties go to tab MIDI, push button Register now and in the window that appears, enter the phrase in capital letters “KARAOKE IN RUSSIAN”. After entering the registration code, you will need to restart the player. The player also supports all basic functions, works with playlists, is able to change skins. Sets of covers and background images are easy to find on the site. www.karaoke.ru. The only inconvenience is the lack of volume control directly from the player.
The basics of high-quality karaoke playback on a PC
You can often hear talk that karaoke on a PC is of very low quality. However, this is far from the case, and to make sure, let’s plunge a little into the theory. So, karaoke files are built on the basis of the generally accepted standard MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), i.e., in fact, these files contain notes and indicate the instruments by which they should be played. Thus, the quality of playing karaoke files depends entirely on the sound card, or rather, its MIDI synthesizer. The best MIDI synthesis is provided by sound cards with tabular (wave-table) synthesis. A table is a collection of sounds of real instruments. Thus, the synthesizer, receiving a note and instrument number from a MIDI file, reproduces the sound (sample) flashed in the table. The quality of this synthesis depends on the size of individual samples, their quantity for each instrument, and “mastery” the real instrument used when recording.
Sound cards can contain a built-in table of sounds or support an external one. For example, Yamaha cards include an integrated sound table with a size of only 4 MB, however, using proprietary synthesis algorithms, the developers achieved excellent sound quality. Unfortunately, changing the built-in sound table is not possible.
Cards with an external sample table allow you to load sets of sounds of any size, you can change them, choosing the most pleasant sound of a karaoke file. Modern cards support one of the two most common formats. Sound font (files have the extension .sf2) or Downloadablesound (expansion .dls), and the capabilities of both standards are generally similar. Sound cards usually come with 2-8 MB sound tables, which, in general, are sufficient for acceptable playback.
The most successful and affordable option for today is the cards from Creative: SoundBlaster Live! (OEM version costs about 25) and Audigy. The best choice is Creative SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 which supports the standard Sound font, has a high-quality microphone input, allows you to apply reverb and chorus effects to voice and music without using the resources of the central processor. At the same time, users of Creative SoundBlaster Audigy have more modest capabilities in this regard. Cards from Yamaha also sound good, but the set of effects that can be applied to the microphone input is very small. Do not have hopes to hear quality karaoke on most cards integrated into the motherboard, as well as those produced by little-known companies.
If you currently do not have the means and / or desire to change the sound card, then you can install a software synthesizer. But at the same time there is some time delay, because the time and resources of the processor are spent on software synthesis. Therefore, when playing the words will be ahead of the sound. Although in a number of players, for example GalaKar, It is possible to adjust the time delay for software synthesizers.
Very often, users complain that the sound in some compositions is clearly not like the original. There is nothing surprising in this: original compositions are created on professional samplers and synthesizers, many times superior to computer ones in both quality and price. Therefore, for most instruments, more or less close analogues from a standard bank are sought, which is limited to only 127 instruments and 40 percussion instruments.
There is also some confusion over the existence of several sets of MIDI instruments. The reference is a set of sounds General MIDI (GM). But besides him there are others. often richer in capabilities toolboxes. This is Yamaha’s most common XG format from non-professionals and the less famous GS from Roland. If you take a file in one standard and play it on a card that supports another, then it is possible that instead of drums you will hear slaps, instead of winds, strings, etc. That is why karaoke players provide the ability to change the synthesizer without restarting the computer. The best option for your home PC is a combination of a sound card that supports GM (for example, Creative SB Live! 5.1) and a Yamaha S-YXG100 software synthesizer. However, switching between MIDI synthesizers when playing a particular karaoke file can pretty much spoil the mood. The authors of the Karaoke.Ru project try to convert all karaoke files to the GM standard, although quality is sometimes lost, but high compatibility of compositions is ensured regardless of the sound card.
Almost all players allow you to install a specific MIDI synthesizer. To do this, in vanBasco Karaoke Player, right-click on the player and select the item from the context menu Setup. In the window that appears, go to the tab MIDI and in the field Output device specify the necessary synthesizer. In RealOrche, select the item from the context menu Configuration. And then in the window that appears RealOrche Configuration on the tab Default In chapter MIDI out device perform the same task and click Apply. And finally, if you use Karaoke Galaxy Player, then look in the context menu Show preferences (or press the key). In the window GALAKAR player properties should go to the tab MIDI and in the field MIDI output port indicate the desired synthesizer, confirming your choice by pressing the button Ok. About the same procedure can be done in any other karaoke player. If necessary, the software synthesizer is set in exactly the same way.
Possible problems and solutions
Sometimes when playing a karaoke file in the corresponding player, no sound is heard, although WAV files, as well as Audio CDs, are played in the system without problems. The most common steps to resolve this issue are:
First, check if the sound card drivers are installed correctly. For this in Control panels click on the icon System, go to tab Devices and check if the section Sound, and gaming devices items marked with exclamation points. See also The properties each of the devices presented here, look at the tab Resources. possible conflicts should be described in A list of conflicting devices. When troubleshooting, you will need to reinstall the drivers of the audio card, and possibly other devices.
Secondly, double-click on the volume control in the area System tray (or run the command Start. Programs. Standard. Entertainment. Volume control) and make sure that in the window that appears Play control not checked Off in section MIDI (if your system uses another mixing program, for example Audiorack, Cowon Jet Audio or similar, then perform the same actions in it).
Thirdly, sometimes the silence of a karaoke player is explained by the wrong choice of MIDI sample bank. In this case, you need to refer to the documentation of your sound card and check if the table of sounds is loaded.
Pleasure from karaoke will be scanty if your beloved neighbors do not hear you. To do this, just connect the microphone to the sound card and turn on the appropriate input in the mixer. Microphones can be divided into two types. dynamic and electret. Dynamic microphones have a low output signal amplitude, which requires an amplifier at the input of a sound card (almost all modern cards are equipped with a ten-fold amplifier. 20 dB). The sound produced by such microphones is usually more natural, less distorted. Electret microphones have their own amplifier, which is fed through a special contact on the microphone plug or through a separate power source (usually one or more AA or AAA batteries), due to which the signal at the microphone output is much stronger, and the amplifier built into the sound card not required. An ideal option for the home is a radio microphone. Now a large number of radio microphones are on sale, including sets of two radio microphones with one common base. Such a set costs from 150 hryvnias for microphones without quartz frequency stabilization and from 300 hryvnias with one. The latter are characterized by lower noise levels, less moodiness with respect to the power source, and greater resistance to radio interference.
Self-made karaoke recording
Often, the user has a desire to record his own singing under karaoke, for example, in absentia to demonstrate his vocal data to the jury of a competition. All this is quite feasible if your sound card is able to work in fullduplex. that is, to simultaneously play and record sound. In this case, it is better to use wired microphones, since radio microphones are very noisy. Also, be sure to tell the system that you want to record from the microphone. To do this, run the command Start. Programs. Standard. Entertainment. Volume control. In the window that appears Play control execute Options. The properties and in the section Volume setting choose Record. Next in the list Display volume controls Mark Microphone MIDI and click OK. Then in the window Record control In chapter Microphone check the box Choose, and in the window Extra options (called by pressing a button Other) if necessary, enable signal amplification by checking the option 1 Mic Boost (20dB).
And finally, to record sound you need a special program, note that the standard Windows phonograph is not suitable for this purpose. In this case, it is best to use a full-fledged audio editor, for example, Steinberg WaveLab, Cool Edit Pro, Cubase VST, CakeWalk Pro Audio, SoundForge.
The last package is perhaps the most convenient, since in SoundForge, starting with version 5.0, there is a mode Remote in which the recording control panel is displayed on top of all windows. In other words, by setting up karaoke, you won’t need to frantically switch between windows to start recording. Do not forget that, unlike a KAR file, a song with your voice will be recorded in a WAV file, which will take up significantly more disk space. The resulting file must be processed in the editor, remove unnecessary fragments at the beginning and at the end, normalize the volume, and if necessary, clean the recording or apply the required effects.
If you are serious about developing your vocal skills, then the VocalJam program (www.vocaljam.narod.ru) will undoubtedly help you in this matter. With its help, you can control yourself while singing for the accuracy of taking a particular note and matching tempo. Comparing a pre-recorded exemplary vocal part with your singing, VocalJam will display the points you have earned. The program works with 16 MIDI channels, supports file formats mid, kar, st3, wav, mp3, avi, your own svd and others.
How to create a karaoke file?
As already noted above, karaoke compositions for PCs are created from MIDI files, where messages are stored that are standard for many electronic music devices. The MIDI file contains tracks containing special sets of commands that describe musical scores, sound volume, various effects, etc. Each track is assigned one of the 127 available General MIDI instruments, plus one or more tracks contain percussion instruments. A karaoke file, unlike a MIDI file, includes an additional track in which the lyrics of the song are placed, synchronized with the melody according to certain rules. By default, the zero track is used for the vocal part, and the first is used for the melody.
To create karaoke files, most often they use the built-in RealOrche editor (the work with which is described in detail in the article “Karaoke on. home PC”) or program KarMaker (see on disk), offered on the site www.karaoke.ru. By the way, having put a little effort into getting to know the latter and appreciating its convenience, you will forget about the built-in RealOrche editor forever. Let’s take a quick look at working with Karmaker.
But first of all, before creating a KAR file, you need to make sure that the corresponding MIDI file has the MIDI1 standard. Almost any MIDI editor, for example Cakewalk Audio Pro, can convert MIDI0 files to MIDI1. The utility will cope with the same task. Wavmaker, presented on our disk.
Next, run the KarMaker program and open the MIDI file (File. Open file), on the basis of which karaoke will be created. Then we fill in the data about the composer, the author of the words, the creators of the MIDI file, the track with the melody and the karaoke file. Now go to the tab Lyrics (shortcuts are located at the bottom left) and from a text file (Text. Load text from file) or through the clipboard we load the lyrics and break them into syllables. It is best to choose an equal sign as a separator character. “=”, since it does not appear in the lyrics. Each space is also considered by the program as a symbol of separation, therefore, so that prepositions without vowels do not violate the sequential breakdown, use the underscore between the preposition and the next word (for example, “B_tom sa = do where we c_va = mi meeting = ty =”)
Now you can transfer the text to the track of the MIDI file (Text. Load text to track) This will automatically create a grid (Grid) to combine words and notes in a melody. So, in the window on the right (with the image of the keyboard), you will find that at the beginning of the sound of each note, a dashed red grid line appears, showing the position at which the desired syllable is inserted. However, it is very rare that the text breaks into syllables and the melodic track by notes coincide. Therefore, you need to start playing the file and track the correspondence of the words of the melody. If necessary, grid lines can be removed or added. To remove an extra break line (for example, when one or two syllables corresponds to one syllable), you should first click in front of the line to be deleted and set the command Grid. Select as start, then click on this line and execute Grid. Select as end. At the same time, you will see how a section is highlighted on which dividing lines will be deleted. After that, it remains to choose a team Grid. Delete grid in selected region. To add a stake line, just click in the desired position and execute Grid. Add grid line. For these operations, it is convenient to use the toolbar located above the window. Note that after each change in the breakdown of the text or grid, you must specify the command Text. Load text to track. At the end of the work, do not forget to save the finished karaoke file.
Please note that if you want to create a new KAR file, you must definitely exit the program and start it again, when you open the next MIDI file, the old one is simply replaced by the new one, and the breakdown and arrangement of syllables is saved. But this is convenient in cases where you need to quickly edit the MIDI file.
If you need to use KarMaker to correct an existing karaoke file, then also upload it to the program, indicating the type in the file open window Karaoke files (.kar). Then go to the tab Lyrics in the stakeout window and on the toolbar enable the option on words. After that in the menu Text select team Load lyrics from track to memo and then follow the instructions described above.
As already noted, the KAR format is essentially a MIDI format where the lyrics are located on track zero. Thus, if we assign the mid extension to the kar file, we get a regular MIDI file. True, some KAR files sometimes contain incorrect information in the header, and therefore a simple renaming will cause some MIDI editors, including CakeWalk Pro Audio, to be unable to open such a MIDI file. To solve this problem, the site www.karaoke.ru offers a Valkar program that works in command line mode and correctly converts the necessary KAR files to the MIDI standard.
Converting a MIDI file to WAV is quite simple. To do this, first of all, you need to decide which synthesizer you will use to play MIDI: either through the banks of sounds flashed in your sound card, or through software synthesis. The second method is preferable if you are dealing with an old sound card. Before starting the conversion, it is advisable to listen to all available options and determine the best one yourself. Next, in the window Record control (on how to call it, read the information above) do not forget to check the MIDI section Choose. Then use any sound editor (considering the mode Remote we recommend Sound forge), initiate recording, and then start playing the corresponding MIDI file in an accessible player. In addition, there are many utilities for converting MIDI-to-WAV, such as WAVMaker, VocalJam, or Audio Compositor v. 4.4.
RussianKaraoke Office 2.1
Naturally, after several weeks of working with the sites mentioned at the beginning of the article, you will accumulate a certain number of karaoke files, and it will become increasingly difficult to search for the desired songs, you will want to have a song catalog, a convenient search system. This is where the RussianKaraoke Office package (see on disk) It includes convenient means of downloading files from the portal Karaoke.Ru; GalaKar player; developed search system (according to the catalog, song authors, words in the title and text, the date the song appeared on the site and the download date from the server to your computer); a utility for synchronizing downloaded files, for example, on a working and home computer; a program for creating a catalog of your songs in Microsoft Word format, as well as a program for quickly launching karaoke files by the song number in the catalog.
In addition, the package allows you to remember file playback settings. That is, if you change the tonality or tempo while playing a karaoke file, then these parameters will be restored during repeated playback. To do this, you need to click on the button Personal settings and create a user profile, and users can be any number. Also, in the near future, the authors promise to export these settings, so it will be easy to write them to a floppy disk and go to a friend who also has this software package and sing their favorite songs with your settings. The disadvantage of the package is that only karaoke files from the Karaoke.Ru portal can be added to the database.
Well, the information given in this material is enough to thoroughly prepare for the New Year, because what a holiday without a good song!
Domestic karaoke players and music centers with karaoke
In fact, today only one company offers such solutions. LG. Samsung and Daewoo also had similar systems, but they have now discontinued them.
LG produces two versions of devices. household karaoke players (from 250) and music centers with a built-in karaoke player (from 350). At the same time, the karaoke repertoire is delivered on a special CD that comes with the systems. All devices use wave synthesis from the corresponding MIDI files, and the quality of the built-in synthesizer leaves much to be desired.
The advantages of such devices are many. First of all, it is an opportunity to change the tempo and tonality of the composition. In addition, the lyrics are displayed on the TV screen, and a four-minute clip is used as the background. As a rule, there are about 2000 Russian and more than 200 English songs on the disk. In addition, the devices usually support two microphone inputs with adjustable reverb effect.
The disadvantages of these systems include a rare update to the repertoire; today, the devices come with a third-version disc, which is already more than two years old. However, it should be noted that media from third-party manufacturers have recently appeared, which undoubtedly compensates for this shortcoming. In addition, karaoke discs can also be played on these units.
These systems also use wave synthesis. The quality of karaoke devices are comparable to LG devices. You can hear your singing using any FM tuner tuned to a frequency of 87.9 MHz. Songs are delivered on special cartridges, on each of which about 30 compositions are located. Lyrics are printed in the booklet that comes with each cartridge. The microphone range is about 50 meters. The disadvantage of such a system is its rather high cost (microphone. 200, cartridges. from 50 apiece). Today in “repertoire” The system has about 700 Russian songs.
This new product from Leadsinger is connected to a TV using a special wire. Thus, the lyrics you will see on the TV screen. A microphone is very expensive. about 530, a cartridge with 300 Russian songs. 85.
These media contain clips with phonograms of songs in VCD or SVCD format. Lyrics line by line are displayed on the screen. As is customary in karaoke, syllables and words that should be sung by the present moment of time are painted in a different color. The quality of the phonograms is quite high, often on such discs use “backing tracks”, i.e. real recordings of songs without vocals. Unfortunately, with this approach, there is no way to change the tempo or tonality of a song. It is easy to reproduce such media both on household DVD-players and musical centers LG, and on a computer. One disc usually contains about 20 songs.
In general, there are three ways to organize karaoke on a PC.
The first option is the discs already discussed above.
Second. “backing tracks”recorded in files in the format WAVE, MP3, WMA, etc. The main advantage of this type of karaoke is the high quality of phonograms, which practically does not depend on the type of computer sound card. The disadvantages include the large file size, the inability to display words, as well as changes in the tempo and tonality of the song. However, recently appeared karaoke compositions based on the MP3 standard, which provided the opportunity to demonstrate the lyrics. However, this format is not yet generally accepted, and there are only a few not very successful players that support its specifications.
And finally, the third option is karaoke files based on the MIDI standard, but with an added track that contains the lyrics of the song synchronized with the melody. This topic is dedicated to this article.