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Soulo turns iPad into personal karaoke bar

Turn your iPad into a karaoke star-making machine with the Soulo mic and app. Download songs or sing along to your own iTunes collection. Pitch correction fixes your vocal mistakes.

Soulo mic and iPad app
She wore a raspberry beret. Amanda Kooser/CNET

Having already conquered the world of virtual karaoke, I turned to the unexplored frontier of tablet karaoke. I got out my spandex pants, made the sign of the devil, and tested out the Soulo karaoke mic for iPad.

Rocking the mic
Soulo sent along the $69.99 wired mic kit for me to embarrass myself with. A $99.99 Bluetooth mic kit is also available.

The mic itself has a pleasant heft to it and the cord gives you an opportunity to swing it around like Roger Daltrey (though this probably voids the warranty and could leave your iPad in ruins).

The mic works with the free Soulo iPad karaoke app. You can choose between songs in your iTunes collection or songs purchased from the Soulo Music Store.

Soulo has helpfully included a small external speaker to make up for the fact that plugging the mic into your audio jack cancels out the built-in speakers.

You may have to monkey with the iPad's volume switch before singing a song. A patch is on the way to smooth out the volume control.

Song selection
Soulo songs cost 99 cents, though you get a few free bonus tracks with your mic. The Soulo songs have the advantage of coming with lyrics and cues ready. I tried out several before settling on making a video of "House of the Rising Sun." (See below.)

Soulo iPad screenshot
Why, yes, "Safety Dance" is available to download. (Click to enlarge.) Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

To my dismay, "Never Gonna Give You Up" is not among Soulo's offerings. There goes my dream of personally Rickrolling everyone I know.

The app does a reasonably good job of lowering the real vocal tracks on your iTunes songs so you can sing along without competing directly with Whitney Houston. You can manually enter the lyrics to your own library through iTunes and Soulo will display them.

Share your masterpiece
The app's audio and video recording and sharing capabilities only come into play with songs purchased from Soulo. This is disappointing, but not surprising considering how copyright kerfuffles can flare up.

You are also limited to sharing one-minute clips, so your friends won't know if you knocked that final note out of the park.

The reverb, echo, and pitch correction controls can make your singing sound a lot better than it actually is. This is great for those karaoke dreamers who can't hold a tune.

Soulo may have some limitations with sharing and official song selection, but the ability to dip into your iTunes portfolio means you'll never run out of material for your home karaoke parties.