Griffin Technology

Price: $50

It’s hot. It’s cool. It works. It sounds good (but not great). It takes less than ten minutes to set up the first time, and ten seconds afterward. It speaks iPod, and iPod speaks and sings through it. So do you. It’s a terrific bargain, and a brilliant innovation. If you don’t have it already, stop reading and get it now.

It’s iKaraoke from Griffin Technology. Apple Store staff tell MyMac.com it’s flying off the shelves, week after week. (Editors note: this was one of the most wanted giveaway items during our AppleQuiz at the Apple Store in Grand Rapids. Everyone wanted this!) You use it to sing or speak via iPod through your stereo system. Fifty dollars? Ha! Once you try it you’ll be hooked, and go out of your way to find opportunities to use iKaraoke as often as possible. You’ll start telling friends and strangers about it, and drive them nuts until they obtain one and do the same ad infinitum.

Extract iKaraoke from its sealed plastic package, plug it into your iPod dock connector, configure a few basic settings, and sing along with whoever and whatever is playing on your iPod. Griffin gives you a choice of FM transmission or auxiliary cable connection to a stereo system. In our tests, “FM Mode” was inconsistent, so MyMac.com recommends “Line Out Mode” for best music and vocal quality. A printed manual is included with iKaraoke, so you don’t need to guess how to use the darn thing.

“The thrill of karaoke on your iPod” may not ring your chimes, but there are many other potential uses for iKaraoke. Music, dance, and other performing arts instructors will immediately see its benefits for enhanced teaching and rehearsing. Family sing-a-longs will never again be dull, assisted by iKaraoke. It “isolates the lead vocals and fades them into the background,” exactly like genuine karaoke recordings, using a physical Vocals switch.

Tiny buttons near the microphone-tip of iKaraoke control Play/Pause and Forward/Backward track selections on an iPod. A custom on-screen iPod display menu offers choices for music volume, including “Off” to use iKaraoke as a public address microphone. Other screen menus can set Reverb to Low/Medium/High/Off, switch output audio source between wired Line Level 3.5 mm and FM transmission, and set the best empty FM frequency to broadcast audio to your stereo. Griffin’s web page for iKaraoke includes a PDF download of its printed manual, with longer explanations of the switches and menus, plus all specifications.

iKaraoke receives its microphone power from your iPod. The mic is small and very lightweight, with a glowing red ring to indicate activity. The attached cable is 130 cm or over four feet in length. You’ll have to experiment with different volume settings on your iPod and stereo for optimum audio output in the room. More important is where and how iKaraoke’s microphone interface captures your voice and breath. If pops and hisses are annoying, consider buying an inexpensive pop-filter for cleaner vocals.

This microphone is not concert or studio quality. Considering its minute size and weight, vocal delivery is surprisingly robust. You will be heard, singing or speaking, and your voice will sound as good or awful via iKaraoke as it does in real life. Lose your inhibitions and risk losing your friends, or at least allow them to have a good laugh at your expense. It’s a load of fun, so join the party and croon to your heart’s content until you clear the room. Experiment! Find an empty FM frequency on your car radio, like someone recently told me: “It’s so fun! My teenage sisters and I used it on a road-trip and we had a blast.”

All recent iPods with displays are compatible with iKaraoke: 4th generation and up (4G, 5G, 5.5G), minis, and all nanos. MyMac.com averages out the plusses and minuses, awarding this versatile product a healthy 4 out of 5 recommendation.


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