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For the sake those I love, I don't Karaoke often. But there are times when I warble along with tracks and find myself wishing the pesky pro singer would stop reminding me how inadequate is my own set of pipes. But buying Karaoke files takes too long, and there's no immediacy to it. By the time I get through the process, I'm usually no longer interested in the tune. Enter Vocoo--an online service, Web portal, and locally installed client (CP3 Studio, the download available here) that allows you to convert many currently popular iTunes MP3 or M4A songs to the company's CP3 Karaoke format.
Eventually you should be limited only by your own library, but at the moment, Vocoo's selection library is the limiting factor. At the time of this writing, the library housed about 1500 songs--though that includes much of what was currently popular, and the company adds more songs daily. You may search the library by title, artist, and the iTunes top 200. Vocoo matches your song's ID info file to an iTunes ID template. If it's not an exact match, the conversion will not take place.
To convert a file, you find its listing on the Vocoo Web site, click the Go to CONVERT button, then upload the file. The results of my transcoding of Savage Garden's "I Knew I Loved You" were excellent. The CP3 file sounded great and if there was any lead vocal left, I couldn't hear it. According to Vocoo, it's a conversion process done using your own files. Whether it's all done via real-time algorithms, or according to a previously created template I can't confirm. Vocoo is understandably mum; however, the latter would certainly explain the small song list and the speed of the process.
The upload, conversion, download process took only a little over 3 minutes--not including the time spent in file dialogs. My only issue with the Vocoo.com Web site was that there was no progress indicator for the upload, only for the conversion and download process.
The Vocoo CP3 Studio player, which you need to play the converted CP3 files, is easy to use and attractive. It has three sliders to control the volume of the backing track, original vocal, and the volume of the mic, i.e. your vocal. You can record your efforts for posterity, though whether this is a good thing is reliant of the quality of your voice, or perhaps other's tolerance for it. You can also create your own slideshow or video on the Vocoo site for upload to social networking sites.
Vocoo CP3 Studio is available for the PC, iPhone/iPod/iPad, and Android. Because of the draconian restrictions Apple places on the use of its media libraries, the iPhone app can only download your converted files, not upload files from the player. An OS X version is in development. Currently, you may sign up and get ten free tickets for conversion. After that, conversions are pay as you go at 99 cents per song.
Aside from the limited number of songs you can convert, the only real wish on my Vocoo list is support for displaying lyrics. The company says it will add this, as well as a Mac OS X client, in the next year.
Vocoo is fun within its limits, and I highly recommend checking out. But it's in its infancy, and it's one of those services we'll have to check back on in a year.
Note: After the 10 free versions are used and/or the 30-day trial period has expired, the Vocooo.com service charges $1 per file converted.