Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


VanBasco's Karaoke Player
by Jocelyn Doire

I don't know if you are like me, but when comes the Christmas season, I like to sing. Especially when I'm in a group, but the results are not always as harmonious as I would like them to be. First, I often forget the words, then I miss a few notes here and there, and since I can't play any musical instruments, I cannot accompany my singing.

I heard many times of people using karaoke and have even seen it a few times, but singing in front of a crowd is definitely not my idea of fun. But as I found out last year, using karaoke on my computer is a great way to learn and practice lots of songs, and that can be a lot of fun when singing with a group of friends, where everyone can follow the words and the music as it plays.

I've tried a few karaoke programs, but the one I liked the most was VanBasco's Karaoke Player. Not only is the program ad-free freeware, but it has all the features I want and more.

VanBasco's Karaoke can play MIDI or karaoke files, which are small files that contain all the notes of a song but not the singing like an MP3 file. Karaoke files are similar to MIDI files except that they also contain the lyrics. Note that sometimes a karaoke file has a .MID extension instead of the normal .KAR for compatibility reasons.

The installation is pretty straightforward – it simply asks for your language, the directory where to install it, and whether it should be the default program to run .MID and .KAR files.

The program starts by displaying 6 different windows: playlist, piano, MIDI, control, karaoke and the main player window.

The playlist window lets you manage a list of songs that can be saved and reloaded. You can add, remove, move, etc. any songs to the list, and then play them in order or at random using the control panel.

There are two windows that display the notes being played; the first one is a piano keyboard which displays the notes as if someone was playing them in real time, and which can help you learn how to play a song on a piano. The second window, the MIDI output, shows all the instruments by name and the played notes as little moving rectangles. If you prefer, you can listen to a single instrument or turn off any of them by using the buttons on the left.

The next two windows let you control what's being played. The main player window is similar to a music player, from which you can start, stop, rewind, fast forward and jump to the next song in the play list. You can also select to play the songs in order or at random, to repeat a single song or the whole list, and finally to turn on or off any of the other five windows. The control panel lets you adjust the volume, the tempo and also the key, something very useful when the song is either to high or too low for your voice.


And finally, the last window, the karaoke window that displays the lyrics (if available) in real time, shows what to sing and when to sing it by turning the words red.

There are many sites that have MIDI and Karaoke files, for example:
http://www.cipoo.net/music_e.html
http://ingeb.org/
http://www.espace-francophone.com/karaoke/index.html (big, but with annoying ads)

The
http://www.vanbasco.com web site also has a search engine that can help find MIDI or Karaoke files by entering an artist or a song name. When using a regular search engine, it generally helps to add ".MID" or ".KAR" with the search string.

I wish you a melodious holiday season! :)

Joc


Bottom Line:

VanBasco's Karaoke Player
Freeware
http://www.vanbasco.com


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Ottawa Personal Computer Users Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

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