Review: Memorex SingStand MKS-SS1 Microphone and Speaker System
Though there are certainly hundreds and perhaps thousands of iPod speaker systems out there, most of the new ones more or less identical to previous models, there are occasionally innovations. Today, we're looking at four recent releases, two from Logic3, and the other two from Memorex. Both companies are known for budget-priced offerings, and true to form, these affordable speakers range in price from $50 to $130. None is sonically phenomenal, but each has a unique design or feature that we've never seen before.
Perhaps the most outside the box of today’s speakers is Memorex’s SingStand MKS-SS1 ($70), a combination of a floor-level stereo speaker system with a microphone, microphone stand, and simple mixer controls. Your iPod docks below the microphone, providing music to sing along with, and after flipping on the microphone and setting its level relative to the music, you can belt out lyrics, beat box, or whatever floats your boat. Dual microphone ports are included, along with access for a guitar or keyboard, should you want to try and assemble a duet or band around SingStand. You assemble all the pieces yourself, and get what looks like an adjustable microphone, stand, and base with a circular dock inbetween.
Though it’s probably unrealistic to expect a fantastic audio experience for the price, the reality is that SingStand is a poor man’s karaoke box, relying on only decent speakers and so-so amplification to provide a similar experience. This is not, notably, a PA system in volume. Even given the physical size of SingStand’s base, the stereo speakers put out only enough sound at maximum to let people in a small, not-so-loud room hear both the music and your voice; this audio is flat, and we noticed a fair bit of audio interference when the system was connected to only an iPod nano. Similarly, while SingStand includes an echo feature for the microphone, it doesn’t effectively filter out a song’s existing vocals, leaving you to “sing along with” rather than “to” your tracks. If you don’t have karaoke-ready tracks in your collection, you’ll be singing backup to your favorite artists rather than in place of them.
It’s also worth noting that the central iPod dock isn’t actually an iPod-specific well with a Dock Connector, but rather, features a headphone port connector and a recess that generically fits iPods and other MP3 players alike. This dock doesn’t provide fantastic stability, but it does hold any iPod inside, assuming that you don’t kick the stand over or attempt similar stage acrobatics.
What ultimately makes SingStand somewhat worthy of consideration is its competition, or lack thereof. Back in 2006, Griffin released iKaraoke, a $50 microphone, vocal fader, and FM transmitter solution that forced you only to supply your own speakers; a more recent version drops the transmitter in favor of line-out, and can be found for $25 or so. SingStand offers a more complete, though not comparably impressive collection of parts for a higher price; competing iPod karaoke options we’ve reviewed were generally more expensive, and have either been discontinued or rendered difficult to find. Thus, while we wouldn’t recommend SingStand to all of our readers, kids looking for a low-cost all-in-one way to sing along to their iPods will find this system to be an easier and less expensive option than piecing together other, better-sounding parts.