Thursday, November 02, 2006

Criteria for Karaoke Box Reviews

I guess many wonder how I rank Karaoke Boxes. Those with less than stellar reviews might say I don't know what I'm talking about. Well, actually I do as spent time in Japan and saw how Karaoke's motherland did things. The Japanese place a high emphasis on presentation. In restaurants its more important than the taste. I also spent some time in China and the big city Karaoke boxes their are equal in every aspect. The big things I saw with all Karaoke Boxes in both countries were:

1. Facilities: Places need to be clean, funiture in great shape. The Japanese and Chinese take their Karaoke seriously.

2. Equipment: It should be hard to overload a mike and you should have a decent sound even if you suck rocks. Karaoke is about the participation and good equipment is essential.

3. Food availability: People who spend hours sing want more than drinks. They will also want food. So many places wimp out on that here but it really helps. Especially if you are hungry and want to "Sing on".

4. Selection: The Japanese and Chinese karaoke boxes had enough English songs I could have fun with. My ability to Sing Japanese songs is somewhat limited and Chinese ability non-existent yet places here had at least 3000 English songs to choose from even though I didn't expect it. After all I'm in their country. Now, if they can do this in China, than surely it isn't to much to expect Karaoke Boxes in Canada (in which the official languages are English and French) to have at least DOUBLE the English songs in China. Those who don't are frankly not very courteous to Canadians in general and in an English/French Country it makes Karaoke look bad because it limits the ability for Canadians to participate. In Tokyo, Japan, I'm told everyone subscribes for access to a song database and download it from there so I guess it helps improve standards. Oh, ability to LOCATE songs is also part of the selection scoring. If I have to work hard to find the songs you have, I'll dock points because if someone can't easily find a song they have, its almost as bad as not having it at all. (many give up). There is no suitable substitute for books yet folks.

5. Sound quality: MIDI systems are cheap. Its as simple as that. If you have a MIDI only system it shows lack of caring in regards to sound quality. There are so many better options out there with computers and MPEG, even if karaoke box owners are looking to reduce staff which were need to change LD's in the old days. If all you have is a Taijin system, the best you will get on Selection is 6.5 and points off on equipment for sound quality. Its barely passable for an English speaking country on its own.

6. Wait times: this may seem academic but some systems react faster than others.(although the difference is less and less these days)

7. Location: How easy is it to reach you? (By TTC primarily) How easy it is to find you? Is it a reasonably safe neighborhood? Can I find Parking? These are the questions I ask myself in this category.

8. Average price for a small room on a weekend is ~$25 so I start from there.

Additional comment:
I'm told there are great deals in Richmond Hill if I'm willing to put up with extremely limited English selection or I prefer singing Chinese. Again, this is basically telling English speaking Canadians (Chinese is not an officially supported language here) to get lost. Frankly this disturbs me. If I see a place I feel has little regard for the English speaking residents here, I'm going to point it out regardless of location (within Canada).

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