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Karaoke Disc Explained

The CD+G format of a karaoke disc, which contains the lyrics on a specially encoded subcode track, has heretofore required special—and expensive—equipment to play. Commercial players have come down in price, though, and some unexpected devices (including the Sega Saturn video game console and XBMC Media Center on the Xbox 1) can decode the graphics; in fact, karaoke machines, including video and sometimes recording capability, are often popular electronics items for sale in toy stores and electronics stores.

Additionally, there is software for Windows, Pocket PC, Linux, and Macintosh PCs that can decode and display karaoke song tracks, though usually these must be ripped from the CD first, and possibly compressed.

In addition to CD+G and software-based karaoke, microphone-based karaoke players enjoy popularity mainly in North America and some Asian countries such as the Philippines. Microphone-based karaoke players only need to be connected to a TV—and in some cases to a power outlet; in other cases they run on batteries. These devices often support advanced features, such as pitch correction and special sound effects. Some companies offer karaoke content for paid download to extend the song library in microphone-based karaoke systems.

CD+G, DVD, VCD and microphone-based players are most popular for home use. Due to song selection and quality of recordings, CD+G is the most popular format for English and Spanish. It is also important to note that CD+G has limited graphical capabilities, whereas VCD and DVD usually have a moving picture or video background. VCD and DVD are the most common format for Asian singers due to music availability and largely due to the moving picture/video background.

CD+G (CDG, CD+Graphics)

CD+G is the standard format of karaoke disks made by popular manufacturers such as Sunfly, Easy Karaoke, Zoom Entertainments and others. A cd+g disk is like a normal audio cd, except that it has the additional "g" or graphics containing the words to the song. The "g" is carried on a subchannel that can only be recognised by a player that is compatible with the cd+g format, otherwise it will just play (or copy) like a normal audio cd.

Other Karaoke Disc Formats

CDGM - also known as CDG Multiplex, these disks carry song versions both with and without the lead vocal for the purposes of learning the song. If your player has a multiplex button (MPX) or balance control, the lead vocals can be muted as required. If not, you can just play the other track that does not have vocals on it.

VCD - A video CD. These discs have a moving video as a background with the words to the song appearing across the bottom of the screen. They usually have the lead vocal removed.

DVD - This format is likely to increase in popularity in the future as it has the capacity to store many songs, videos and may different versions of songs.

Super CDG - This is a compressed format developed by CAVS which allows over a thousand tracks to be stored on one cd. You will need a Super CDG player to play these disks.

NEO CD+G - Another proprietary compressed format, this time developed by RSQ, which allows about 70 songs on one disk. You will need an RSQ NEO compatible player in order to play these disks.

MP3+G - This is the format you get if you "rip" karaoke tracks from a cd+g disk, in the same way as you get MP3 files when you rip audio tracks from a standard audio disc. MP3+G actually consists of two files - a standard MP3 which contains the audio file, and a CDG file which contains the graphic file. These two files are often zipped together as a pair - but they need to be unzipped before they can be played.

MIDI - Midi files are standard formats used by computers. They do not contain sounds themselves, but store information on which instrument(s) are to be played, what note is being played etc to tell the computer which sounds to play.