I can’t sing. It’s something my closest friends, family and drinking partners have known for some time, so it was little surprise to find a piece of software confirming it.
But that’s exactly what Singing Coach Unlimited did. It’s a package aimed at all age groups really, although its cast of cheesy animated characters who guide you through the program lend it to a younger audience. An odd choice, because it takes you through the basics of singing and encourages you to fine tune your dulcet tones through an interface that then contravenes the animated antics that have gone before.
It’s quite easy to get going with the program, thanks to the aforementioned animations, which don’t half go on, but do get the message across. Included in the box is a headset with built in microphone, and you’re shown how to hook that up and test the relevant levels. Then it’s on to determining the pitch of your voice, and then it’s sing-song time.
And it’s the latter part where the software struggles to perform. The comfortable, friendly interface that’s brought you so far then switches to something more technical. A bit of fiddling and tunes were duly belted out. A visual guide shows the pitch you’re singing at in relation to where you should be, and at the end of each song – you get a short or long version to choose from – you’re given a score. You need to aim for 90 or so. Fat chance in my case.
So off to the tutorial side of the program I headed, to find the animations return and various American voices giving me singing lessons. Without me having to sing. A crucial mistake this: the tutorial sections lack the interactivity that would have really made them fun to go through. As it is, they’re a chore, pure and simple.
The flimsy headset broke almost as it came out of the box, and there’s only a small selection of in-built songs. Hits such as ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain’ get top billing, while many of the others you’ll have never heard of. Still, you can import Midi files and you also get twelve free downloads from the online song shop. That’s sparsely populated too, although there are a few tunes you’re likely to have heard of. And Celine Dion’s there too. Yikes.
Rounding the package out is a limited song composition function and the ability to track up to six singers. The ‘not unlimited’ edition of the program, which is cheaper, doesn’t come with as much.
However, the key problem here, in spite of some educational merit, is that it’s not even fun. The SingStar series on Playstation 2 offers a far better option. That range of games subtlety tweaks your singing too, albeit to songs you’ll know, with far more modes, microphones that don’t fall apart in your hand and a lower retail price (assuming you own a PS2).
As it stands, Singing Coach Unlimited is a brave but ultimately flawed exercise that fails to realise that singing is supposed to be fun. Singing Coach, for the most part, isn’t.
Company: Carry A Tune Technologies
Contact: 00 1 813 886 1955