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Old Jan 07, 2004, 05:23 AM
johnnapig johnnapig is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 103
Default Running Karaoke from a PC / Laptop

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All ideas / solutions in here please!

I'm thinking of getting a laptop with a video out connection to run Karaoke from by firing the cdg screen out through the svideo connection and using the main laptop to organise tracks etc.


There are three bits of software out there to help with this:

Winamp 5 + cdg plugin

Sax n Dotty's Karaoke Hoster

Swift Elite 1.0

Does anyone have any experience in using these? Are they good / worth their money (well apart from Winamp, which is of course, free)

The new version of Winamp has an excellent media catalogue, which i'm keen on using, but it is essential that the ID3 tag information is written to each track, and also the file name.

Is there any quick way of renaming my collection (like cddb or something?) or do i have to plough through them all manually and alter them (very boring and time consuming).

Also, I'm not sure about gooty's 'error correction' project on the cards at the minute. Will this include a renaming of the files to a standard format, and the addition of the ID3 tags.

If not, does anyone fancy collaborating on such a project - it will make running karaoke a breeze using Winamp, and I assume using the other programs too.


Is a Laptop the best answer? I read somewhere on here someone was using a Shuttle cased PC - is this not noisy / bulky? And I've been pricing it up and once you add a monitor (TFT), it's more expensive than some of the laptops that are around at the minute.

I'm led to believe that the PC does NOT have to be particularly high spec to run CDG with Winamp. Does anybody actually USE this system? What are your views.

Two sound cards for mixing / cueing? How do you do this with a laptop (AudigyEX? would that work, and then use the main soundcard too?


Basically, I've got a ton of questions and I'd be interested in hearing anybodys views on how it can be done, particularly from those already running such a system (I saw one running in Brighton recently where the KJ just typed a number into a system and up came the Track name and played straight away).

Thanks in advance to any posters!
Old Jan 07, 2004, 07:04 AM
oxocubeman oxocubeman is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 736

I have just started to do the same thing and I use Winamp 5 (do not use winamp 3- a waste of space) I have an Avermedia plugged into the vga port on the laptop which enables me to view just that part ( lyrics window) of the desktop enabling the cueing of the next track hidden from view. I have a mish mash of tracks all loaded onto an external hard drive and all linked to a catalogue in Xcel which can be loaded to find tracks by artist/title or track number. I have yet to print up the catalogue but it will be easier to use and a dvd/cdg player with a case of discs for back-up. I just plug the headphone socket into the mixer and on to the amplifier for audio. I considered the mini pc/ shuttle (or even a second hand tower which is the cheapest route ) and they would be fine but not as portable for me and as you said, just as expensive as a laptop. External drives are £100 for 120 gig now and leaves the laptop "clean" for other work. I bought Sax and Dottys hoster but the zipped files weren't the greatest quality and the search facility isnt great either but try the trial version and see how you get on. My wife thinks this a bit over the top for a home set up but its my only hobby.
Old Jan 07, 2004, 07:19 AM
johnnapig johnnapig is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 103

thanks for the tips oxocube. just seen a 160gig external HD in Aldi for £120. That'd be enough for mp3+g woudn't it?
Old Jan 07, 2004, 08:33 AM
partytime again partytime again is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 110

That would hold a few files !!! Quite a few , just make sure it's USB2 or Firewire , if you go for USB2 make sure your lappy has USB2 too .....
Old Jan 07, 2004, 08:53 AM
dennisgb dennisgb is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 95
Default Laptop vs PC

We have had other discussions on this subject before.

I use a small form factor PC which is about the size of a dvd player. It gives you a much cheaper upgrade path than a laptop...buying all of the extras you will need along the way...bigger HD, more memory, sound card, video, etc.

I tested the whole concept with an old laptop. The sound could be an issue running from the headphone port. I upgraded my on board sound card right away. I also use the Avermedia digital to ****og converter, which I think gives you much better control over video.

I also added a video in card (TV card) to run VCR and DVD player. I also use it to capture video. Have a few hundred music videos that I play between songs and other videos, vcd's loaded to HD. Laptop makes it difficult or expensive to do this.

If I were to do it again today, I would build an ITX system, which has a very small mother board with everything you need to do Karaoke, including video out with both S-video and composite. These boards are fanless, so you won't have a noise problem.

BTW, my small form factor is very quiet. Mounted in a rack you can't here it. My amps are louder than the PC.
Old Jan 07, 2004, 09:08 AM
tangentbang tangentbang is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 11

I'm also putting together a laptop system.
It's coming together but I'm not quite finished yet.
But I did play one private show with it.


I'm using the WinAmp/Sax n Dotty combination.
Don't forget to get the Pacemaker plugin to handle pitch changes.

Sax n Dotty's Hoster program works pretty well for me.
The singer rotation queue could be better, but the search works great.
Sax is working on a new version that may be out soon.
I used an external keyboard with the laptop because I'm not used to the laptop's keyboard layout. If your songs are properly named and numbered,
using the keypad makes finding songs pretty quick and easy.
But I don't know of any method to quickly rename your collection.

Swift Elite is just way too expensive for me to just play CDG and VCD discs. WinCDG Pro 2 almost does everything I need,
except you can't change the pitch on VCD discs.
Tricerasoft told me they're planning to come out later this year with a stripped down version of Elite to address this problem.
Because of this, I haven't decided on what software I'm going to use
to play discs just yet.


It seems a laptop would be the way to go
since it gets pretty expensive by the time you add a LCD display to a desktop/shuttle system. I'm using a Compaq Presario 916US with
1.5Ghz Athalon.

First make sure that the laptop supports dual display.
Just because the laptop has a video output does not mean that the video card in the laptop supports dual display. I found this out the hard way when I bought a Dell Inspiron 1100.

I didn't want to add another external box to my setup, so I didn't want use the VGA port solution. But you may have to add a box anyway if you need to RF modulate the video signal.

Plus you may want to split the video signal if you want to monitor what's being shown on the second display.

Also make sure the laptop has USB 2.0 ports. USB 1.1 works fine, but it's slow.
If the laptop doesn't have USB 2.0, you can add ports using a cheap PC card if you have a slot available. This is what I had to do.
I'm currently using a 160GB USB 2.0 ext drive.

The sound quality coming out from the laptop is OK,
but I was hearing a little noise coming out of it as I was working on the laptop. But you can buy a Creative External USB soundcard that works pretty well. This is what I did and it works fine, even with USB 1.1.

I'm also using a mini optical mouse because it's easier for me to navigate than using the laptop's touchpad.

So even though I initially didn't want too many external things coming from the laptop, I basically have a laptop with a bunch of stuff plugged into it
with wires running everywhere.

Currently I'm still working on the wire management (and AC power supply) issues.

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