Remove Vocals From Song - The Complete guidelines

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Have you ever yearned to make beats? All you need is to learn some simple tips and tricks to shave off the vocals from songs, leaving behind the music. Although it is not that easy, by applying some useful tools, good quality audio can be achieved.

1. Use high-quality tracks in editing software

To get clear results in output files, always start with high-quality tracks with .flac or .wav files with editing software. Starting from the super-compressed .mp3 files will result in poor sound quality.

2. Trace the vocals in tracks

There are always two channels in stereo tracks: vocals, and instruments. Locate these channels, isolate them from each other by splitting the center, and inverting the other. To keep the sound centered, the vocals are kept in the center while instruments pushed to the side. 

  • How to find the vocals? Just use good-quality headphones to listen to the audio. Vocals mixed in the center will be coming out of both the channels simultaneously. Vocals coming out of one side means they are at on that one side.
  • In some cases, the balance is different among the different channels. The vocals are not centered in such a style of music, instead, they are pushed to the sides. Editing and removal of such channels are easy.
  • To separate and invert the vocals from the songs with a lot of effects are often very challenging. The presence of the echoes in such channels is difficult to remove. 

3. Choice of editing software

The choice of editing software is a key step in audio editing. Select an editing software of your choice, import the audio into the software, and invert the vocals of any particular audio track. Although the exact locations of the tool may slightly vary in each available software, the basic part of audio editing is the same in most of the software editing programs. Following editing tools are commonly used these days;

  • Ableton
  • Pro Tools
  • Reason 
  • Audacity

4. Separate the channels into separate tracks

This feature is available in most of the audio editing software programs, where the high-quality audio file is split into two separate tracks. Click on the black arrow next to the track title. Select the option Split Stereo Track, and you will find two separate channels.

5. Select the channel to invert

Since the split channels also have embedded vocals in the tracks, it is important to select either one. Vocals can also be removed if you double-click and select the entire track.

6. Invert the channel

After selecting the track, the channel is inverted by clicking the “Effect” function and then the “Invert” function. After inverting the track, the sound of the song might feel different from the original sound. Instead of coming from the middle, the sound might feel like coming from the sides. You will also feel like hearing multiple vocals at the same time. Once you bounce it back to the mono, the effect is complete, and the split channels merge into one.

7. Convert back the two stereos to the mono

After inverting one of the channels, convert the two split stereo channels back to one that should have a low amplitude. The combined mono file will have instrumentation only, without the vocals. Although the instrumentation will be usable, complete elimination of vocals is not possible and you may hear faint hints of the original singer from the background.

8. Use voice eliminator software

To overcome the problem of the faint vocals of the original signer, vocal eliminator software can be used. Software packages are commonly available online, some are free while others are available at a variety of prices. The list of vocal eliminator software packages is given below; 

  • Roland R-MIX
  • IPE MyVoice Karaoke
  • WaveArts Dialog 
  • Vocal Remover Pro
  • E-Media MyVoice

9. Choose an audio equalizer software package

Choose an audio equalizer software compatible with your operating system, voice eliminator software, and the sound file you are using. A variety of audio equalizer software packages are available on the internet, but these software packages are not free. The purchased software package will have installation instructions. Few commonly used audio equalizer software are listed here;

  • Equalizer APO
  • Profound Sound CSharp
  • Boom 2
  • Graphic Equalizer Pro

10. Record Karaoke tracks

Although the general purpose of all the software packages is the same, the working of each software package is slightly different from the other. To guide you through the process, tutorials specific to the software are available with the package. Operation and the working of the software designed to record the karaoke tracks are quite easy. The audio tracks are automatically removed by most of the available software packages. While using an equalizer software once you play the audio file which you want to edit, it automatically removes the vocals from the audio. 

11. Preserve the Bass

You need to adjust the audio equalizer software to preserve the bass. For example, signal attenuation of +5 dB is set below both the channels (right and left), at 200 Hz. These are few important adjustments to make sure you don't lose the bass.

12. Concept of channel phase

For good quality sound, it is important to understand the channel phase concept. “In Phase” means two sound waves moving up and down together. “In Phase” waves produce good quality sound. On the other hand, out of the phase waves cancel each other. One goes up and the other move down at the same time, resulting in a flat line of sound. This concept may work theoretically, but the efficiency of this theory is debatable. Neither, it is a way to save a song file without vocals.

13. Swap the two wires going into one speaker

In the next step, swap the wires to the speaker or microphone. Usually, two wires in different colors (white and red, white and black, and red and black), are going to the back of two different speakers. Among the two wires, one is with a positive lead and the other with a negative lead. Swap around the wire of one color with the other, such as, move the white wire to the red’s terminal and connect to red wire to where the white was connected. But this type of swapping is not allowed in many modern stereo systems. One reason for this could be the use of one wire sleeve instead of multiple wires. Still swapping is done by re-solder the connector or splicing the bundled wires.

14. Use of the digital signal processor

With the emergence of modern technologies, you see innovations in every field of life including audio editing technology. These days, digital techniques with special chips, known as “Digital Signal Processors” are being used for flipping. These modern processor chips flip off the wave inside the hi-fi or stereo. 

Flipping of the stereo image phase is done with the Karaoke button. If the “Karaoke” button is present in your stereo or app, you just need to click it and the vocals will either disappear completely or will get very soft.

15. Adjust the levels on your stereo to correct the sound

To accommodate the loss of the vocals, slight adjustments in the levels are necessary. Background vocals are moved either to the right side or left, so their complete removal is very difficult. To create a karaoke track, you might have to sing along pretending that they are your backing choir.

Similarly, there is a possibility that during the flipping phase bass might disappear along with the vocals as it affects the bass waves. Digital DSP Karaoke systems can solve this problem by flipping the phase on only the vocal frequencies. To get the correct sound, try adjusting the levels on your stereo.

Modern and advanced vocal removal software packages also can flip off the unwanted frequencies.