Software for Both Solos and Sing-Alongs

March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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Anyone who has ever grabbed a microphone and belted out some Bruce or Waylon in a bar knows he could do better with subtle tweaks in technique, acoustics or blood alcohol content.

Mobile apps can help tremendously, with software that can train vocalists, provide backing vocals and instrumental tracks or record performances for others to hear.

In this realm, aspiring crooners who are armed with Apple devices will have an edge against their Android-toting counterparts (which is true with many music-related app categories).

Apps like Glee Karaoke (free), VocaLive ($20, with a limited free version), GarageBand ($5), VoiceJam ($7, with a limited "Lite" version for $1) and Sing Sports (free), are highly polished, but they appear only on Apple.

There's something on that list for people of all abilities and ambitions, but on Android, it's a thinner selection.

There, more serious vocalists may consider Vocal Ease ($2 on Android and Apple), Voice Tutor ($3 on Android and $5 on Apple), and Prima Vista Sight Singing ($1.49), while casual singers might consider free options like Android Karaoke -- Sing-Along and Karaoke Anywhere (free on Android and $2 on Apple, with a limited free version).

Of all the apps I tried, Glee Karaoke and VoiceJam were the most fun. Glee, which has been in the app store since 2010, is a brilliantly executed karaoke assistant and global jam.

Roughly 150 songs are available in the app, but only a few are offered free. To sing along with the others, you must either earn tokens toward their purchase or spend $1 or $2 of real money on them.

You can also sing along to selections from your iTunes account, but if you go that route you sacrifice some of Glee's best features, starting with the song-related graphics.

When you sing "Imagine," for instance, the app provides a scrolling lyric sheet that highlights words at the proper time. At the bottom of the screen is a graphic representing the notes on an ascending and descending scale, along with the length you are supposed to hold the note.

If those great visual cues aren't enough to get you to the pop star level, the tone-correction feature helps by steering your recorded voice to the proper notes. Depending on how out of tune you are, the effect can be subtle or jarring, but probably not as jarring as hearing your own voice destroy a song.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:01:23

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