Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Magic Sing vs Miic Star

Let's get ready to rumble...

With the arrival of the new Miic Star MS-62 Karaoke System, we now have a serious competitor to the Magic Sing ET-23KH.

The Magic Sing brand has been around for many years, we have been selling them since 2007 at Karaoke Home Entertainment.

Back then it was a single wired model called the Magic Sing ED-8000 with an optional wireless duet microphone. Together they sold for around $750, with approximately 2000 songs on board ready to plug and play through your home TV and sound system.

Over the years there have been many knock offs trying to take on Magic Sing with similar concepts, but additional songs was always the downfall. We always stuck with Magic Sing as it was the well-known brand.

Receiving 2000 songs with your new karaoke system sounds great to most people, however, how many of those songs actually appeal to you? Even if 50% did, you’ll soon hear a new song on the radio that you want to sing and you can’t on these platforms, as they don’t make many new songs.

When customers enquire about a Magic Sing we always point out that they should carefully look at the songs included and then at the other English song chips, before making a decision to purchase.

As a karaoke machine without the songs you like is boring.

Magic Sing has the foreign songs pretty well covered, but for English the latest songs are up to two years old, so hardly the latest chart hits.

This is where the CD or DVD based karaoke systems had systems like this over a barrel, as they have thousands more songs available, with songs from the 1930's through to current chart hits. The sound re-production of the CD or DVD karaoke titles are vastly superior.

These songs are re-produced by a real band in a recording studio, with real instruments, and as close to the originals as possible, complete with cover vocals in the chorus line to back you up.

If a customer wasn’t interested in foreign language songs they quickly decided against the Magic Sing and purchased a disc based unit, because the quality just wasn't there, nor the range of songs.

The other issue was depth of songs from a particular artist, for example Abba. On disc you can get every song made, for Magic sing they’ve only done 7 songs, which you had to purchase three additional chips to obtain, making it an expensive exercise.

The ED-8000 had promised customers the ability to download songs for a long time, but that never eventuated, to many customers disappointment.

In February 2013 the ET-23KH arrived. This new model had two features never before seen in Magic Sing. Firstly, customers were given the ability to download songs. Songs could not be downloaded from Magic Sing, they added an app which enabled the machine to switch from the Magic Sing environment, to the digital environment for MP3+G karaoke songs. Secondly, HDMI was added to enable the unit to be connected to the latest smart TV’s.

But it only allows one or the other so you can't run a HDMI picture and Analog Sound to your Amplifier at the same time.

Why would you want to do this I hear you ask? Because when you sing when solely connected via HDMI you will find your voice is around 1-2 seconds behind that of the music.

HDMI is simply not designed to be used with Microphones and you cannot avoid this inherent issue. So with Magic Sing you either use the Analogue Stereo Audio Cable and Composite Video Connection or HDMI, this can be an issue these days as some HDTV's simply don't have the older Composite (Yellow) connection.

The Miic Star MS-62 is however equipped to do exactly this enabling you to use the HDMI for Video Picture only and feed the stereo audio signal without any such delays perfectly to you Amplifier, making the experience just the way it should be perfect!

In all the years Magic Sing released very few new song chips, averaging around two new English song chips in a year. At one stage they did release a whole new range song chips, however we soon discovered it was the same old songs simply re-shuffled and re-branded on new volumes.

During these years the main disc based karaoke format, CD+G, grew hugely in popularity and became the world’s largest English library of songs. In 2009 the CD+G platform turned digital, morphing into MP3+G and made available for download on Karaoke Machines like the Sonken MP4000.   

Suddenly the ET-23KH Magic Sing had access to the songs everyone else had already been enjoying for years. Many older customers upgraded to the ET-23KH just for this feature. They wanted to enjoy their original song chips, with the benefit of over 85,000 songs on the MP3+G format.

Magic Sings entire English library doesn't exceed 10,000 songs and it would be an expensive exercise to purchase them all, given they sell priced upwards of $170 per chip.

As a result, the song chip sales for English songs have come to a grinding halt, with people only looking at chips for the older models.  Many of these customers have come back to purchase a CD+G player to complement their Magic Sing, enabling them to sing the songs they want, for the cost of single song chip.

Now with the ET-23KH Magic Sing you are not left with no new songs to sing. You can continue to download all the new tracks, as they become available.

What’s so appealing about the Magic Sing karaoke platform?

Firstly, it’s portable. Being small and self-contained makes it much easier to take to a friend’s house for the night.

Secondly, the vast array of foreign language songs. Many different languages are available, some with multiple chips.

You can plug in a song chip to add Chinese, Thai, Philippines, Russian, Vietnamese, Hindi and Indonesian songs in seconds. This has been the biggest driver of the platform, especially for the Philippines market.

You would think they would have taken over the karaoke world with this simple compact karaoke platform where you could dial up a song as quickly as entering in a 5 digit code, however it has its limitations.

The biggest being the audio quality of the karaoke songs. Magic Sing songs are midi files, which are computer generated and they tend to sound very Casio keyboard-like, customers are generally in two camps, they love it or hate it, there is no middle ground.

That sees the new kid on the block arrive at Karaoke Home Entertainment, The Miic Star MS-62.

This new machine has been ramped it up with a whole lot more entertainment power.

The Miic Stars is very small at 14.5 x 11 x 2.5cm and weighs a tiny 200 grams.  It has two wireless microphones and a remote control, it supports HDMI and RCA Video cable (Red / White / Yellow).

The Magic Sing has 4 additional bays for extra song chips and runs the MP3+G karaoke downloads from a USB memory stick, which plugs into front of the machines base.

The Miic Star runs from a single SD Card with a maximum 32GB capacity, but it has the amazing ability to play pretty much any video format you want, it’s truly an open system, playing of course MP3+G songs but all of these: MKV, MP4, AVI, MPG, WMV, MOV, FLV, RM and VOB.

This means you can load any type of karaoke songs you want, even your own language, as long as it’s in one of the above formats. Especially now with HDTV's we even have over 60,000 Karaoke MP4 songs in crisp HD quality which can be used on the Miic Star system.

It too has popular foreign languages available, generally you’ll find the Miic Star has more songs than the Magic Sing and they don't make you buy 4 or more chips to get them all, opting for a single song pack for each language.

The playback of the Miic Stars foreign language packs is visibly crisper and features a fun animated full motion video background, with the lyrics appearing over the top. You can even add your own full motion video background to the different language packs from Miic Star making it truly customizable.

The Magic Sing will only play MP3+G songs. Its app is extremely basic and sometimes complained about from customers as you can't search by title or artist. You can only scroll up and down the list to choose the song.

Multiplex (MPX) MP3+G / MP4 songs which enable you to switch the full cover vocals on and off aren’t supported by Magic Sing, it plays these MPX tracks as full vocal tracks and you can't switch off the vocalist.

You also can't change the key or tempo or change the microphone or music volume, they are pre-set. The Magic Sing is just a simple playback interface for MP3+G, it’s better than nothing, as other Magic Sing users will testify.

The Miic Star on the other hand plays MP3+G songs, record (your performance), change the key and tempo, add echo to the microphones, change the volume of the song music track and it also supports multiplex songs so you can switch on and off the lead vocals on MPX tracks.

The Miic Star even creates a catalogue of all your MP3+G and MP4 songs just like the Sonken MP4000 does, which you can then print out, enabling you to quickly play back any song by keying in a unique number.

Magic Sing has a real competitor now with the Miic Star, as it was designed to give you the freedom to play the songs you want, not what the factory wants you to sing. It also offers the most flexibility to expand your song library and you are not locked into or limited by their platform.

It's well worth a look, and if you've always liked the Magic Sing concept but ended up with a disc based player the Miic Star does everything our flag ship disc based player, the Sonken MP4000 does and much more with the added bonus of included dual wireless microphones though obviously without the optical CD+G / DVD disc drive.

The Miic Star is a true 100% digital version and being digital means it is very compact multi-media playback device. Many customers in addition to playing Karaoke songs playback digital movies from the SD Card and of course You Tube videos which have been downloaded to a PC and transferred to the SD Card can also be played.

Your Karaoke DVD's or VCD's could be converted^ also on a PC to one of the compatible formats like MP4 or AVI and used on the Miic Star as well.

It can play all your CD+G discs which have been converted^ to the digital MP3+G format once on the SD card. That makes your entire library select-able from the on-screen menu, or create a song book using the Miic Star and key the unique number to play your song.

The Magic Sing can’t do this but still is a very capable unit. If you’re looking to upgrade from an older model Magic Sing I would recommend you take a look at the Miic Star, it packs more of a punch for your hard earned-dollar and comes with a comprehensive Australian warranty and can be serviced in Australia unlike the Magic Sing which are shipped overseas at the purchases cost as condition of the local warranty from Magic Sing to be serviced. 

See: www.miicstar.com.au or www.magicsing.com.au for more information and songs included with each unit.

MP3+G karaoke downloads available from www.karaokemp3g.com.au
or MP4 HD karaoke download songs from www.karaokemp4.com.au

Available from Karaoke Home Entertainment or order online at
  www.khe.com.au (Australia) or www.khe.co.nz (New Zealand) or
call 1300 550 630.

Please Note: The Magic Sing ET-23KH was discontinued in late 2018 and as of 13/5/2019 no replacement model has been announced for Australia.

* Sonken MP4000 Karaoke System supports CD+G, DVD, VCD and Digital MP3+G Songs.

^ PC Conversion software is not included with the Miic Star for CD+G, DVD or VCD optical discs but can be found from several sites online.

For CD+G to MP3+G conversion visit www.mp3g.com.au