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So here's the thing: the Akai KS808 is a great karaoke machine, except when it isn't. If you're on the market for something that gets more mileage than a simple plug-and-play unit but you're not quite interested in a fancy professional-grade model, this karaoke machine may be well within your range. The sleek tower unit is decently priced, doesn't take a lot of effort to assemble, does all the things you'd expect a karaoke machine to do, and even boasts a set of deceptively modest built-in speakers—all things that make it perfect.
However, both customer and expert reviews reveal an uneven range of experiences with the machine. Karaoke experts are left wanting more from a machine in this price unit, while a small but not insignificant number of consumer reviews note issues with everything from assembly to audio playback. However, when all goes well with the unit—and for the majority of customers, it does—most everyone agrees that the KS808 is an affordable, easy-to-use machine that's great for private home use.
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Akai KS808 Features
On paper, the Akao KS808 promises a simple, straightforward karaoke experience. The machine is designed with casual users in mind, who will ideally be well-satisfied both by the system's capabilities and its modest price. You're buying a machine that's ready to use after some basic, hassle-free assembly: after connecting the base, speakers, and body of the unit with just four small screws, you'll be singing in a matter of minutes.
The unit stands at just over 3 ½ feet and weighs 21 pounds, making it a great fixture for a living- or family-room home entertainment system. Feel free to follow song lyrics directly from the system's seven-inch display, or use the included AV cord to connect the system to your TV screen if you're hosting a larger gathering. As you might imagine, a system of this size runs on electricity rather than battery power, so the 30-watt unit comes packaged with a plug-in power cord. You have a range of options for audio playback: choose from the front-loading disc player that reads CDs, DVDs, and CD+Gs—that is, CDs that come programmed with lyrics and graphics.
Or, if you have access to MP3+G files, connect your MP3 player to the machine's USB input. Or, if you'd rather sing over an instrumental track from your own collection of tunes, use the line-in auxiliary cord to connect your MP3 player, phone, or tablet to the system. Whether you'd prefer to go solo or share some songs with a duet partner, the unit offers two microphone jacks.
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Akai KS808 Pros
So how does the unit stack up in performance? First, the pros. The KS808's voice control capabilities are ample enough to make any performer sound their best. Echo control adds a smooth finish to the sound, while digital key control allows you to sing in a register that best suits you.
Maybe you know some singers who can't find a key to begin with, or have trouble remembering lyrics. The auto voice control feature will be their saving grace, as it senses when a person has stopped singing and brings in a pre-recorded lead vocal line to help guide them. (If you're using your own backing tracks, though, no dice; this capability only works with CD+G and MP3+G files specially designed for use in karaoke systems.) And if you, your family members, or your guests are known for giving especially memorable performances, you'll want to make full use of the karaoke unit's recording and playback functions.
The feature that wins most users' approval is the Akai's built-in speaker system; surprisingly powerful, it produces a remarkably rich sound considering the size of the speakers. When you take all of these features together, the KS808 stands as a machine stocked with all the necessary capabilities and a quality sound system to match.
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Akai KS808 Cons
Things start to get a little stickier when it comes to packaging, shipping, assembly, and auxiliary functions—areas where many customers identify some of this system's cons. Most users offer standard comments about the quality of the pre-packaged microphones, claiming that they produce a thinner tone than many specially-made mics which can be purchased separately. While I didn't experience this myself, a fairly significant number of users complain that their boxes come inadequately stocked, with some people receiving two microphones (as promised in the product description) while others only got one, or getting fewer screws for assembly than needed, etc. Like I said, my unit came perfectly – nothing was missing!
Others complain about trouble with the unit's line-in capabilities, noting that the system might be unable to record or even play tracks if connected to a television or computer. And a few people report minor damage either immediately or soon after assembling and setting up the system. No one issue gets an overwhelming amount of attention, but I get the feeling that the Akai KS808 just barely hits the mark when it comes to many buyers' expectations about quality. I was perfectly satisfied with my unit, but it's always good to heed the general consensus with these things.
This is especially true for karaoke connoisseurs and electronics experts, who believe that a machine in this price range should sport a few more bells and whistles beyond the most basic display, auxiliary, and voice control functions. And I'd agree on that point: if you're looking for a system that includes fun extras like party lights, you'll have to keep looking.
Akai KS808 Conclusion
If you're in the market for a good karaoke machine, don't let these negative reports deter you. They're far outweighed by the good things users have to say about the machine. The vocal few who do run into trouble take advantage of Akai's 90-day limited warranty to get parts replaced. Let's face it: try as we might to find the perfect combination of convenience, functionality, and price, you'll never be able to find a machine that meets all of your expectations perfectly.
That said, you'll be hard-pressed to find a system that's both as decent and and affordable as the Akai KS808. Between its quick-and-easy assembly, its ample range of voice control functions, and excellent speaker system, you'll want to consider purchasing the KS808 if you're looking for a no-frills karaoke machine that can be used without much fuss. It's especially suitable for older children, families, and adults who'd like to have a karaoke machine on hand for use either on their own, with a singing partner, or in a small group.
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