Does it make sense for someone who doesn't even sing
in the shower to review Karaoke software? I thought so,
so I did and I was impressed with what I found.
I firmly believe that first impressions are lasting
impressions and if kept simple, things work. Apparently,
Vorton Technologies, distributor of Soft Karaoke holds
the same belief. Installation of Soft Karaoke is so
simple that all the instructions are printed on the CD.
At first, this confused me since most software comes with
multiple pages of instructions. Thinking this was too
good to be true, I gave the CD to my six year old
daughter and had her install the program.
Before you could sing the opening lines to O Canada,
which is included on the CD, Soft Karaoke was installed
on our 486 PC! The selection of songs provided on the CD
contains a larger number of kids' songs and my kids were
delighted that they recognized most of them.
Song selection is through a simple but attractive menu
system. Once you have selected your song, pressing the
space bar accesses the control or "Player panel".
The Player panel allows you to adjust the volume control,
scan forward and backwards through the song, stop the
song at any point and rewind to the beginning. My kids
quickly learnt how to use the tempo button since they
like to sing faster than the default setting for some of
If a microphone is connected to your PC, Soft Karaoke
will automatically recognise and configure itself to
support it. Unfortunately, on my PC and the two other PCs
that I used for testing, the automatic microphone
configuration did not work. The reason it did not work:
the sound mixer on all three machines was pre-configured
to have the microphone turned off. How to turn it on was
not immediately obvious, since I had to go through the
options selection on the Mixer control panel.
Soft Karaoke on-line documentation is very good and it
does document the solution to the microphone installation
problem. However, I was disappointed that it was very
hard to find the text describing the solution
particularly since they have a hyperlink to a section
called Troubleshooting. I would suggest more cross links
between the Automatic Microphone Setup help section and
other help sections for the microphone. On the initial
start-up of the program, a popup window providing a
hyperlink to the Quickstart section of the help file
would be useful. Alternatively, a small tutorial or
walkthrough of the features and functions of Soft Karaoke
would contribute to the ease of use of this fine product.
Since I could not easily find a solution to my
microphone problem, I decide to send Vorton Technologies
support desk an email. I give top marks to Vorton
Technologies support desk. They quickly responded to an
email which only vaguely described my problem. After a
quick clarification of the problem, they provided clear
and detailed instructions on how to set up the microphone.
Unfortunately, their efforts were a waste of time. The
microphone that is supplied with Soft Karaoke is
unidirectional. If you want it to pick up your voice you
need to hold it uncomfortably at a right angle to your
mouth. I never did figure out how to obtain greater
amplification. My kids don't notice and use the
microphone as a prop.
Soft Karaoke is a well thought out and constructed
entertainment package. Overall, it is easy to use. My
children and their friends enjoy using it and it has
quickly become one of the more heavily used CDs. Now if I
could just figure out what "pitch" is and
whether of not it will help me sing better!
P.S. Representatives of Vorton Technologies
demonstrated Soft Karaoke along with several of their
other products at our April general meeting. Judging by
the response from the audience, they found the product as
enjoyable as I did. It is hard to argue with that many
people when they are singing along to Day O!
Soft Karaoke (Proprietary)
301 Moodie Drive, Suite 306
Nepean, ON K2H 9C4
Tel: (613) 721-1107
Fax: (613) 721-0116
Originally published: November, 1999