Thursday, February 03, 2011

Karaoke Review Update: Bar + Karaoke

January 22nd, 2011

Seeing the need to update reviews and venues change I'll start with the one Closest to where I live (because its easy :D) When I checked Bar + Karaoke There were positives and negatives. I had chatted with the owner about them both so let's see how its come along since then.

This is the first karaoke box I'd seen with either LCD or plasma screens. I'm happy to say this so far is the cleanest Karaoke box I've seen to day as well as the most convenient for me. I had made some comments on the equipment last time I was here. There have been a few improvement in the years since I write my first review of this venue.

The Good
: Well the plasma screens were all in excellent order and the computer selection by song number makes it easy to add, remove or switch order of songs. The look of the place felt like karaoke box meets night club feel to it. The looks of the interior was actually very nicely thought out. The selection was identical to XO which is to say it was decent and there have been a number of songs added. A few hundred in the English category which isn't bad. The microphones/receiver are working significantly better and more consist ant then when I first arrived so someone had been looking over the equipment.

The service level is now fairly good level. For rooms, equipment, and food a red button will bring an attendant for any help required including food service (I should perhaps say "snack")

The Mixed: While the microphone and receivers have improved significantly there are still a few things missing which the original had in its favor before it fell into disrepair (and now has a new owner). There are key changes in SOME of the rooms but not all of them. Primarily the more expensive medium room have a key changes. I actually spoke with the owner on this. He says he's working on it. Not sure what the difficulty could be but I'll just say if the owner can get key changers into the small rooms as well, this will be the best Karaoke Box in Toronto. The other mixed issue is the remotes. The remote control key functions are not always consistant. Some rooms seem to have slightly different key mappings to the remove then others which can cahas risen to use confusion for regulars.

The food quality is actually fairly good but the limited food selection means you can't actually get a meal here. This place (as most of the Toronto Karaoke Scene these days), is primarily geared for alcohol. It would be really cool if one could order a real meal. For now, I suggest either eat before you come, or bring food for a party if your group is really hungry. Outside drinks are not allowed, so bear that in mind.

One qualm I have with the computer karaoke system is if you want to use the computer catalog, the song order seems to be questionable. In fact, I'd almost suggest only use the books for song selection. It may be a glitch in the software that makes the order of songs in English rather irregular, but still, it can be confusing. Again, I suggest sticking to the song books to find your selection.

The Bad: There is nothing that stands out as bad. (Hooray!)

Summary: The owner of this place perhaps should consider a career in interior decorating (or refer the person he hired) because he seems to think “westerns” have no knowledge of what karaoke is all about or what quality equipment is. Let's start with basics: People have different song ranges, so key changers are ESSENTIAL. Yes, ESSENTIAL so that everyone can participate comfortably. Not having simple key changers that will work on any analog audio system is, frankly, very discouraging considering the great work on initially done with XO. Not only that but cheap Korean equipment and radio signal feedback on the audio (when there was no radio component on these receivers or perhaps I should say preamp) also suggests that the owner was doing everything to get this operation up on the cheap using excellent decorating to hide the fact. After six weeks of telling them they should have key changers and even telling them where to get them with no results show lack of attention the customers. Every time I went to the place (generally Fridays) I didn't see much of a crowd. Perhaps its just as well given the lack of respect for Karaoke lovers. Perhaps this is why he has let XO become so run down it is now dangerous to go to in the summer due to lack of proper ventilation and working air conditioners which had not been repaired properly for at least 2 years. I had to stop bringing the Toronto Karaoke Meetup Group as a result. There may be a general trend of business and Karaoke Box owners trying to avoid initial business costs with the invent of computer based Karaoke song changers, but just because a computer can do the rotations doesn't mean you don't provide the basics if you are going to be in the karaoke business at all. Anyone looking to start a karaoke box be aware there are those of us who have been to Asia, know what standard karaoke is supposed to provide and we will let people know who respects their customers, and just as importantly, who does not.

Summary Scores

Facilities: 9.0 (Nice rooms, really clean, furniture in amazing shape)

Equipment: 7.5 (Improved mikes, key changes in some medium rooms). Significant improvements here but can't give full marks without key changers in the majority of the rooms. The remote control system should be uniform throughout all the rooms as well.

Location: 8.0 (Block north of Dundas Subway. Parking will cost you a pretty penny at Yonge/Dundas however)

Food Prices: NA (Prices on drinks are average, but only snack food)

Service: 8.0 (Staff improved quite a bit since the last time I review this venue)

Selection: 7.0 (~7500 English songs, lots of Korean, Chinese, some Japanese, same as XO).

Wait Times: 9.0 (Its a computer AVI/MPG server. So this is expected)

Room Prices: 7.0

1-5 people: $25/Hour

6-10 people: $40/Hour

50 Large Room: $50/Hour

Final Grade: C+/B- (Its getting better, owner seems to be making an effort)

Venue Information:
Bar + Karaoke Lounge
360 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M5B 1S5
(416) 340-7154



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