0 Love It
Save it

The best karaoke in Sydney

We came, we saw, we murdered ‘When Doves Cry’. Time Out tried and tested a bunch of the city’s best karaoke palaces – here’s our top ten...

Photograph: Daniel Boud

Sydney, we stand before you empty-lunged and sweaty-browed... We've hit up Sydney's karaoke dens to discern for you the best. The criteria? The room, the sound system, the song list and that special something – we'll call it k-factor. Who topped the charts? Read on.

Big Echo

It’s been around for quite a long time and it does what it does: good-sized rooms, clean, strong sound system. Drinkswise you have beer (ten kinds), wine (five kinds) and spirits (mixed in jugs) and food from the Japanese restaurant. It’s not as flash as some of the Johnny-come-lately venues, but nowhere near as scungy as most similarly venerable K-joints.

The system
Touchscreen, though there are volume controls on the walls, allowing on-the-fly level-adjustment for the roaming karaokester. There are four mics, two wired and two wireless, and you can really pump up the volume.

The songs
Pretty average selection, though it does have ‘Folsom Prison Blues’, which is a good sign in any room. Most of the songs have typically bizarre karaoke clips (we recommend Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ just for the narrative masterpiece the k-gods created for it).

K-factor
Big Echo is a Sydney karaoke landmark for a reason. However, locking the system before the hour is up because they figure you’re not going to be able to finish another song in time is possibly forgivable if the place is packed, but on a quiet Friday afternoon, it’s a dick move. Rooms up to 25 people ($12pp for three hours).

Read more
Sydney

Ding Dong Dang

The classic Sydney karaoke club may not boast the most amazing song selection, but it does have fluoro hieroglyphs painted 
on the walls. Do your sweet singing thing surrounded by pink sphinxes and a lurid green Horus. Out the front, they serve cheap Korean beers and prawn crisps.

The system
This is an old-fashioned, books-only system (none of that touchscreen business here), complete with a dodgy old remote that you basically have to sit on to make work.

The songs
It’s fine if you want to go on a K-pop or Kate Bush rampage, not so fine if you’re after Tina Turner, Patti Smith or Johnny Cash. Remain open to singing an entire set of Belinda Carlisle.

K-factor
This was once one of Sydney’s most violent karaoke joints. They still have bouncers out the front with metal detectors but the most trouble you’re likely to get into now is getting caught on the tables. Rooms from six people ($30/hour) to 15 people ($80/hour).

Read more
Surry Hills

Dynasty Karaoke

An unobtrusive doorway in the middle 
of Dixon Mall in Chinatown leads to an elevator, and then you walk into a Blade Runner-style idea of the Shanghai wine bar of the sci-fi future: glass, screens, mirrors, jade statues. You’ve got a choice of either private rooms or taking your chances on 
the big main stage, and staffers here seem to think that if they keep you fed and watered, you’ll stay all night. They’re right.

The system
Touchscreen, and it’s 
the familiar system used by many of the K-rooms around town. Videos are mainly the original clips, allowing you to either sing along if you’re a timid little k-coward (koward?) or mute out the vocal.

The songs
The selection is merely adequate, but we discovered a song that’s likely to become a new favourite at Time Out karaoke events. Yeah, we’re amazed that we’d never done ‘Take My Breath Away’ before, too.

K-factor
For a night out with folks, this rules. It’s gaudy and shiny and over the top, with statues on everything, one-way mirrors on the private rooms, unisex toilets, touchscreen tabletop games if you get bored with the singing and great food – we especially recommend the beef noodles. We’ll be back. Rooms range from seven people ($10pp/per hour) to 15 people ($138/hour).

Read more
Haymarket

Echo Point

Sydney Karaoke enthusiasts swear by the Point. Fans will fondly describe its battered ’80s aesthetic as careworn, like a favourite coat. Others will equally accurately add that the rooms smell like a teenage boy’s poorly supervised sock. Either way, this is where the karaoke men are separated from the karaoke boys. The staff are friendly and you can get snacks, sushi platters and booze, but this isn’t a place to cuddle up and dine: you’re here to work.

The system
Not immediately intuitive, based on a touchscreen with stylus, but you’ll work it out. The speakers could also do with more bass: the plinkity-plonkity synths are tinny enough as it is.

The songs Amazing. Echo Point has Sydney’s greatest and largest range 
of tunes, hands down. They’re all MIDI-style keyboard backing tracks, which might sound like a minus but it is in fact an awesome plus since a) you can adjust the pitch and b) you can also adjust the tempo. Want to start randomly changing a song’s pitch because it’s Depeche Mode’s ‘People are People’ 
and you’re bored? Good news!

K-factor
If you want to prove something about how this karaoke game is won, then this is the arena in which to do it. Rates from $5pp/hour.

Read more
Sydney

K1 Karaoke Lounge

This collection of 18 rooms up a few grungy flights of stairs off Dixon Street lacks in the design stakes – in our room, the walls were decorated with a stencil of an afro’d bloke next to the words “I’m rapper”, and a large poster for Hennessy VSOP. But rooms are big and uncluttered, making for a good amount of dancing space, and the black leather lounge seats and tables are sturdy (not that we’d encourage getting on them… ahem). Word of warning: you have to pay a holding deposit to order any alcohol and the staff can be less than friendly.

The system
Similar to most around Chinatown: search in the system for your singer using a not-too-glitchy remote.

The songs
The selection is decent, and there are some original clips – just look at Kylie and Robbie getting all grabby in ‘Kids’ – but K1 rates a zero on our ‘Where’s the Johnny Cash-o-meter’.

K-Factor
The sound system is killer… and you can have four microphones per room for those latter-career Spice Girls moments. Rooms range from six people ($38/hour) to 40 people ($148) – prices for Friday and Saturday nights. Happy Hour rates available.

Read more
Haymarket

Karaoke World

It’s Sydney’s oldest collection of rooms to sing in and still one of its best, especially after a recent renno (that old Karaoke World smell is gone). The 18 rooms are now all dark walls, chunky glass tables (watch your shins) and rave-y lasers. Food is still your basic chips, spring rolls and wings, though.

The system
The remote is easy to use if you’ve laid off the sake but the mics can play up. Thankfully, the front desk is swift to the rescue with a replacement.

The songs
Mammoth and always up to date with the latest Top 40 tracks.

K-Factor 
This is where the celebs come to let their hair down (one Time Out-er recalls singing ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ here at 3am with a WWE wrestler). Rates from five to six people ($60-$66/hour) to 30-35 ($166/hour).

Read more
Sydney

K-Square

Even for a subterranean Sydney karaoke joint, K Square is rabbit warren-y. You burrow down off George Street through dark tiled walls all sprayed with graffiti 
to your room, which, if you’re a big group, will be a blissfully air-conditioned space that fits 50. We’re loving the playing card-style Kings and Jacks on the wallpaper almost as much as we’re loving our own bathroom (and it’s clean!). Order a bite – the menu is mostly Thai – or a three-litre tower of Asahi.

The system
Plus one: most songs feature the original music videos (no longing gazes across Manila Bay here). Plus two: there’s a book as well as a searchable digital system. Mild minus: they play the original vocal track with each song – good if you’re a blender, bad if you were planning your big all-ears-on-me Dreamgirls moment for later in the night.

The songs 
A big list, and current – Haim were there just as they were breaking. Alas, no Johnny Cash.

K-factor
There are rooms for one or two people, if you wanted to pop in for 
a lunch-time practice sesh. Rooms range from one to two people ($28/hour) to 26-50 people ($148/hour).

Read more
Haymarket

Lantern by Wagaya

This relative newby has thrown down the sparkly, Michael Jackson-style gauntlet. 
The rooms are like little mod capsules – ours was all mirrored oval tables and plush, light olive lounge seating – and the Japanese menu (order via the touchscreen near the door) is extensive: bowl of ramen with your ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’? One question: Was the air conditioning on?

The system 
One of the easiest touchscreen systems in town for an English-only speaker. But with no books for browsing, the queue at the screen gets long.

The songs
The song list is huge, but still fails our Johnny Cash test. Does no one in this town want to sing a rollicking good-times version of ‘Ring of Fire’?

K-factor 
You enter via the Sun Tower on George Street – the bouncer waits by the lifts – and there’s something fun about sneaking tipsily into an office building late at night. Rooms from four to six people ($50/hour) to 15-20 people ($150/hour).

Read more
Sydney

Mizuya

So Sydney’s karaoke land is a bit of an oligarchy, with the same folk who own Mizuya also owning K Square and a few others. That would normally raise our pro-competition hackles, but damn if they don’t do a good job. The food here – the same extensive, order-via-a-touchscreen fare you get in the attached restaurant – is tops, and service is quick. Just push a button and your $10 happy hour cocktail practically rushes through the door. Rooms can be 
a bit tight – they’ve fit 24 of them into the sub-George Street space – but they’re slick, modern and clean enough to lick a spilled cocktail off.

The system
The remote-control system is standard, so aficionados will pick it up quickly (just remember to aim right at the sensor). A hardcopy songbook to pass around keeps things moving.

The songs
There are 200,000-plus songs in four languages. So where were the staples? Is any karaoke night complete without a little bit of ‘Lovefool’? Or – we ask, looking bashfully down – the Biebs’s ‘Baby’?

K-factor
Those coloured lights on the ceiling keep changing colour – disco time! Rooms range from $10pp/hour for first two hours ($5 every extra hour) to $15pp/hour ($7.50 every extra hour).

Read more
Sydney

Sydney Korean Karaoke

SKK offers free snacks, tambourines (!) and little else in its Spartan rooms and the scoring system that it employs with the performances adds a competitive element 
to proceedings that might be unwelcome, if you’re too well sauced.

The system
Unique, initially baffling, and not designed for drunk journalists. It’s a sort of mini-pad remote control a little larger than most handheld gaming systems, but we worked it out the second time we asked someone to explain it to us.

The songs
A list with some surprises (NB: ‘Trash’ by Suede initially seems like a great idea, but it isn’t).

K-factor
The free snacks are a nice touch, and having your time count down on screen is oddly comforting, even as you wonder if there’s any hope in squeezing in Nicki Minaj’s ‘Super Bass’ before the hour is up (NB: ‘Super Bass’ seems like a great idea, but it isn’t). Rooms from ten people ($15-$30/hour) to 20 ($30-$50/hour).

Read more
Sydney

Kick on to one of these clubs

The best clubs in Sydney

Sydney's nightlife scene – despite the lockouts – is still as colourful and diverse as ever. There's a strong set of local producers and DJs, complemented by plenty great venues where you can head for a boogie.

Read more
By: Jonathan Seidler

Comments

1 comments
Isabel W
Isabel W

I was a regular here, but will not go there anymore! !

The SECURITY on Sat 20/08 is EXTREMELY RUDE and UNREASONABLE. He asked me to show ID twice and gave me very nasty look when he needs to do body scan. I was questioned him why he gave me such attitude and he stopped everything and simply just NOT LET ME IN for NO REASON. I have asked my friend to call duty manager out, and he is not putting single effort try to solve the situation, but just stood there and listen to security abuse me. Worse part is i have called my friend to come out, and the security also pointed to my friend with fingers and abused my friend. The duty manager did not let us in either after he stood there 5 mins and just went inside. Our group of 8 has left the karaoke bar as we have no choice because the security just not let me in. what a rude person who think he own GALA. if you ok with been abuse by security on sat night while you suppose to enjoy good time with frds, then choose GALA.