Simply Sing, an iOS karaoke app, takes a unique approach distinct from Smule. However, Smule singers might consider incorporating it into their singing journey to enhance their skills. I tested the app for you.
When you launch the Simply Sing app, you first have to finish an introduction course. It will teach you some basics about the app and singing in general. In addition, your vocal range will be determined. After that, you unlock the song book and the pitch of all songs will be adjusted to match your vocal range.
The app features a small learning section with short video explanations and practices. It explains things like ‘chest voice vs. head voice’, gives breathing tips and so on. You have to finish the lessons to unlock additional lessons. Of course it can’t really replace singings lessons, but can still be useful for beginners.
Singing songs from the song book
The app’s song book is much smaller than Smule’s and doesn’t allow user uploads. All songs are professionally produced cover versions and feature a singer’s voice, which you can turn off or set to 50% or 100% volume. New songs are added all the time and the song book features many popular songs from today and the past. But if you are used to Smule’s selection, the number of available songs could be quite disappointing. You also need to purchase a monthly or yearly subscription to unlock the entire songbook.
When you start a new song, the song’s key will automatically change to match your vocal range. But you can easily make further adjustments by quickly trying out the highest and lowest parts in the song. This is a really useful feature! You don’t have to sing for three minutes just to find out that you actually can’t hit that high note at the very end of the song.
When you sing a song, you can choose either the portrait or the landscape mode. The portrait mode focusses on the lyrics, while the landscape mode shows less text and instead shows the notes you need to sing in much the same way as Smule does. If you are not familiar with a song, you can turn on the singer’s voice and set it to 50%. This works much better than Smule’s guide track.
At the end of the song you get a simple star rating and information about your timing and the notes you hit correctly. You can also replay the entire song and see the notes you hit and missed, but this will not include your voice. Unfortunately, there are no recording or monitoring options in the app, let alone audio and video filters. You just sing along as you would with a karaoke album.
You can group your favorite karaoke songs (including custom selections like key and background voice) into playlists. The app even suggests occasions such as “In the Car” or “while cooking”. You just start the playlist and sing along.
In comparison to Smule, the app is very basic and leaves a lot to be desired. You can think of it like a getting 20 Karaoke albums with a convenient player to customize the playback. But there are no community features and no recording options. We will have to wait and see if the feature set gets larger over time. But there are also features that Smule doesn’t have. Like the karaoke playlists or the option to easily change the key of every song. So, if you want to practice singing while driving in your car or while doing housework, the app could be right for you, even if you already use Smule.
In order to connect professional XLR microphones to your Smule device, you need an audio adapter or preamp. If you use a condenser microphone, you even need an adapter supporting phantom power. For many years, the IK Multimedia’s iRig Pre has been a popular choice among Smule singers. It was affordable and easy to use. In the meantime, the successor, the iRig Pre 2 has been released. Here is what is new.
The casing now looks similar to the more expensive iRig PRO I/O. But the iRig Pre 2 still uses a traditional analog audio jack. This made perfect sense at the time the original iRig Pre was released, but today you will usually need a lightning or USB adapter to connect the iRig Pre 2 to your phone or tablet. Unfortunately, such adapters are not included and the audio cable of the device cannot be switched out. An improvement is that the device can now automatically switch between a TRS and and TRRS connection. As a result, more devices (including digital cameras) are supported without the need for additional adapter cables.
As the original iRig Pre, the iRig Pre 2 features a gain control knob and a headphone jack. The device now uses two AA batteries (instead of one 9V battery as before). You can expect up to 20 hours of use with one set of batteries. But if you turn on phantom power for condenser microphones, only up to 7 hours are possible.
If you want to use XLR microphones (especially condenser mics) with Smule, the iRig Pre 2 is one of the most affordable way to make that work. If you already own the older iRig Pre however, there would be no need to upgrade. The improvements mostly relate to better compatibility (e.g. in regards to digital cameras), which are irrelevant for Smule users.
The biggest disadvantage remains the fact, that the iRig Pre and iRig Pre 2 can only work with batteries. So for power users we still recommend the iRig PRO I/O, which offers a fully digital connection with better audio quality and allows for a power supply (sold separately).
Smule just started a beta phase for a new feature that allows users to save audio-only songs as a video with the lyrics being animated in various styles. The feature is available for new solos and collaborations on the latest iOS version. You just record your audio-only solo or OC as always. On the last screen where you choose whether the song is public and whether you want to invite all your followers, there is a new options to save the song with animations.
If you select this option, you can pick from currently 12 different animation styles, as seen in the picture above. Solos and joins using this option will now be saved and played as video. Here is a song with this feature turned on:
What do you think? Do you like this new feature?
You can also submit feedback to Smule here.
In an older article we already talked about creating Smule background tracks without vocals, but with a focus on apps you would use on a desktop computer. This time, we introduce two recommendable web services as a convenient alternative.
The first service, vocalremover.org, can be used completely free (with optional, affordable membership plans for faster and more extractions). The process is pretty straightforward: just upload a song (for example as mp3) and Vocal Remover will try to split the audio into a background track and an ‘a cappella’ track with just the vocals.
If you are happy with the result, just choose Save → Music.
I have gotten acceptable results using this service, but the quality of the results will always depend on the specific song. It can be perfect for one song and unusable as background track for another. But since it is free, there is no reason not to try it out if one of your favourite songs isn’t available on Smule yet.
By the way: Don’t you hate it when songs you love contain a few notes which are just too high for you to sing? Well, then give the ‘Pitcher’ feature a try! With it, you can change the key and speed of a song. Don’t overdo it though! The bigger the changes, the more artificial the track will sound, but moving a song one or two half-tones up or down might be give acceptable results.
Lalal.ai is an extremely versatile, AI-powered service which lets you extract vocals and even individual instruments from a song. You can try the service for free and get a short preview of your tracks, but to regularly remove vocals from full songs you have buy one of their “packs” covering a certain amount of minutes to convert. But the isolation quality can be worth the price. The results are absolutely stunning and clearly beat the free services and other traditional extraction methods. Just try it out with the free previews. No registration is required. Just upload your favourite songs here. (Partner link)
We tried out many more services but didn’t find them worth featuring, because the quality of the extraction was lacking or there were too many limitations. The two services featured above stand out because of the quality of Lalal.AI and what is offered for free by vocalremover.org. But if you use a different extraction service which gives you great results, feel free to recommend it in the comment section below.
On Smule we can sing with people from all over the world—from the safety of our homes. Like Eva Stultjens, Ilona Dekker (both from the Netherlands) and Julieanne Reel (from Ireland), who sang a lot of group Karaoke songs on Smule.
But despite the distance between them, they decided in 2022 to form a band and sing together on stage. They are performing classic songs with intimate acoustic backing and 3-piece harmonies.
More information can be found on https://www.moonsistersmusic.com
If you become a Sing.Salon supporter, you are not only helping us to maintain this community website for Smule users—you also gain more and more benefits: an ad-free use of our website, credits for our download service, and much more. And we just added a new benefit: Sing.Salon supporters can now create a record in our Featured Singers database:
This was previously available as a separate product, but now we simplified it and all Sing.Salon supporters can create an entry in this database without any additional costs.
If you create an entry in this database, it will be shown on the Featured Singers page and as part of our banner rotation throughout the website. Entries in this database usually get hundreds of thousands of views.
When Sing.Salon users click on your entry, they see a page where you can tell them a little more about yourself and where they can listen to your favourite Smule performance. And of course they can open your Smule profile to follow you on Smule.
How to get featured?
Make sure you are currently a Sing.Salon supporter
Go to the Featured Singers page
Click on the button “Add new Singer”
Fill out the form:
Your Smule name (required) in exactly the same spelling as on Smule
Something about yourself (optional)
Your location (optional)
Featured Song (required). The web URL of a Smule solo or collaboration you took part in. You can use the “Copy Link” function in the Smule app or find the song on smule.com.
A proper address looks like this (short version):
or this (long version):
A profile image (required). Preferably in a square format just as on Smule. If you don’t have an image with a square format, make sure you are in the center of the image.
Submit your entry.
We will check your entry within 24 hours and publish it.
You can only create an entry for your own personal Smule account, not other Smule users, Smule groups or anything else.
You can only add one entry to the database
Your entry remains visible as long as you are a Sing.Salon supporter
After the endless back and forth regarding the profile layout, Smule has finally added a feature that has been requested for years: Playlists. So far, the only way to group your favorite recordings was the Favorites feature. But for many Smule users it wasn’t sufficient. There was no way to create multiple lists or change any privacy options. When you added a song as a favorite, all collaborators were always notified. And many users were even hitting the limit of songs you can mark as favorite, so it became impossible to add more collabs. But now you can finally create and manage multiple playlists with custom privacy options!
Smule playlists can contain all content types: OCs, solos, duets and group songs. Once you have opened a Smule performance, click the ‘three dots’ menu and select ‘Add to Playlist’. You can either use an existing playlist or create a new one. Your favorites are still there as the default playlist. But now you add many more playlists. So far, the only customization option is the title. You can give your playlist any name that you like. The cover image is taken from the first song and there doesn’t seem to be an option to change the order of the songs in the playlist.
Playlists can be private or public and you can switch at any time between the two options. So you can finally add collabs to a playlist that no one else can see but you! Yes!
Here are a few ideas for playlists:
Songs grouped by music genre (e.g. musical, hard-rock)
Songs grouped by language
Songs grouped by type (e.g. all group songs)
Songs from a specific group
Songs with a specific duet partner
Songs grouped by playback occasion (e.g. ‘jogging’, ‘dinner music’)
Songs grouped by presentation style (e.g. cosplay)
What kind of playlists will you create? Let us know in the comments!