The word `karaoke` has a Japanese origin from the words `kara` meaning empty or void and okesutora, meaning orchestra. It is a kind of entertainment in which singers sing with music pre-recorded played on a music system. The song used is usually a popular song, but the original recorded voice is removed or the volume is reduced low enough so that it does not interfere with the current singer.
Karaoke DVDs are discs that are specially formatted to have only music of songs and their lyrics displayed when the song is played from the DVD. The earlier formats used for Karaoke were VCD and CD+G. Another format which is used for karaoke discs is laser discs.
The CD+G discs were mainly normal audio CDs but also having lyrics data written on them. The discs can be played on a general CD player but the images for lyrics are of low quality. On the other hand VCD used for karaoke can store high quality MPEG videos for lyrics display.
In the karaoke DVD format, video is supported. Hence, the songs on the DVD can be accompanied by high quality video clips which are specially made for karaoke.
The karaoke discs (karaoke DVDs) are available in two formats – multiplex and non-multiplex.
The multiplex format contains vocal demos for the songs on the DVD which gives the user an option to listen to the song with vocals also. This is present to help the user to practice and compare his/her song with the original song. The vocals can be eliminated from the song by using the vocal remove button or the multiplex function present on the player used to play the DVD.
The non-multiplex format comes without vocals and is more appropriate for experienced users.
An important thing to note is that the tracks on karaoke DVD are not made from the original songs. Rather, the music is recreated. The karaoke songs are recorded again separately and care is takenthat the music sounds very similar to the track which was recorded originally. In the multiplex DVD formats, it may be possible that the original artist (singer) is not the one singing the song.
Most karaoke players use a technology that changes the pitch of the song electronically to suit the singer`s voice and at the same time maintaining the tempo of the original song.
Also, the karaoke discs come with the background singer, normally the chorus and it is not possible to remove these background singers.
A very popular form of karaoke venue is a Karaoke Box. It is a medium sized room which contains the equipments required for karaoke. This helps the singer to avail a more private and intimate atmosphere to sing for fun or practice for some performance. The room can be rented for as long as the user wants. Some karaoke bars also charge on a per song basis, typically or S2 for a song.
Another option is to buy a karaoke DVD player which can be used at home. The player generally costs less than 100 dollars and the karaoke DVDs will cost around 15 dollars a piece.
A popular game known as `Karaoke Roulette` or `Kamikaze Karaoke` is played in karaoke bars. In this game, random songs are played on the karaoke player and the participants have to identify and sing along.