Initial plan was to stream karaoke files as video to the PS3. Hardware needed: PS3 (got it), mics with echo chamber (got a pair lying around in the old house), AV receiver & surround speakers (not really needed for this particular use, but you know.. we must have them!).
Forgetting about hardware for the time being, we need to do a POC.
PS3 Media Server does not show CDG files on the XMB, so that’s off the table. TVersity shows them, but requires a DirectX filter to play them. A free DirectX filter available on the net can’t work, because it’s too old and missing some tech. There’s a paid one available from Power Karaoke, but I can’t get the trial version to work (no audio in WMP, slow load in PS3 and hangs after about 5 seconds of play).
Another issue: English CDG files are usually paired with an MP3 file for the audio, so they’re usually zipped together for distribution. We assumed that they should be unzipped to be played, but apparently most karaoke players can play them zipped (in fact the free karaoke filter I mentioned earlier can do that using a bundled unzip filter). The IRC channel that we hang out in to get new English karaoke songs also requires our files to be zipped for sharing. Seems like a waste to keep 2 sets of the same files for different purposes (1 set is currently 7GB).
Both PS3MS and TVersity don’t show ZIP files on the XMB. PS3MS has an option called Browse ZIP/RAR files, but that doesn’t help in this matter.
The next idea that we had was to instead stream the karaoke playlist from the media server as a webcast. We can then configure PS3MS to grab it as Internet TV. It’s better than the original idea whereby we can browse for songs and add them to the playlist while people are singing.
Problem is, we can’t find any webcasting programs that simply supports DirectX. None of the karaoke players have a webcast function either. Windows Media Player has a media sharing function, but you can’t drag zip files into its playlist.
I’m currently attending a C# .NET class. Kinda tempted to just code one someday. 😛
But anyway, that particular alternative is a dead end. The last choice that we have: use a dual-screen notebook. A notebook would be better than a desktop because 1) we already have two, and 2) we’re trying to keep the number of running machines in the house to a minimum. Besides, having a full tower that generates enough heat to power the Matrix in a living room without A/C isn’t generally a good idea. 😛
So we have Faizah’s Powerbook G4: it’s nice and small, but it needs a proprietary AV out. It also has an overheating battery that was recalled in 2006 but we’re still using it. Contacting Apple now to see if we can still get it exchanged. 😛 Available karaoke players are also not free.
And then we have my HP Compaq 6910p: new and tons of RAM, but it’s the office notebook. 😛 Only needs an S-Video out, so we’re set! For software, we’d use Karafun, which is free and simple enough to use. We’d just mount the karaoke folder from the media server and use Windows Search to search for music and drag them to the Karafun playlist.
So that’s settled mainly. Just need an S-Video cable to complete the POC.
Then we moved on to looking for Japanese karaoke files. Scoured IRC for a few days but couldn’t find any. Searched the web but nothing in English. Enabled Japanese IME to start doing Japanese language searches, which finally shed a little light.
There was one major source for Japanese karaoke: Club DAM, a website for the makers of a line of Japanese karaoke machines. At 1035円 a month, you can download all the DRM10-encrypted karaoke videos you’d want. But my Japanese is rusty, so I’m not sure if the files expire after you terminate a subscription.
Today, I managed to find some videos on YouTube (search カラオケ) but it’s definitely not comprehensive. It’s a start. Most are high quality and downloadable using DownloadHelper. Playing them back, however, was another problem: the FLV splitter that comes with K-Lite does not play the HQ35 Youtube format (which is essentially AVC/H264 and AAC in an FLV package), but I fixed that easy by downloading a newer version of FLVSplitter (188.8.131.52) to replace the K-Lite one (184.108.40.206).
But now I’m stuck with the fact that Karafun can’t play FLV files. O.o I’m pretty sure there’s another player that does, but I can’t remember which one. Or I could just convert it to AVI or whatever.
I’m still tempted to sign up for a karaoke@DAM subscription. Might acquire Tunebite Platinum for DRM removal.