How to Remove Vocals from Any Song to Make a Karaoke or Instrumental Track
Finding an instrumental or karaoke version of a song can be pretty easy, unless you're dealing with a song that isn't popular. That leaves you with just the full version of the song, complete with vocals. So how do you convert it into an instrumental or karaoke version?
There is no way to 100% remove the vocals from a song. Accompaniment tracks are made in the studio, and our often referred to as minus one tracks because they are missing one track (in this case, the vocal track). The only way you would be able to remove the vocal track from the song entirely is if you have a multitrack version of the song, which is unlikely.
However, there are ways to significantly lower the vocals on any stereo song file in order to create a near-perfect instrumental or karaoke version. In this guide, I'll show you a couple different methods (audio/phase/voice canceling and configuring the EQ) using popular free and paid audio editors.
Audacity, which is available as a free download for Mac and Windows, offers a simple way to reduce vocals on a digital song file. Using a method called audio canceling, you can scrub away most of the vocals from an MP3, or other digital audio file, by splitting the track into two, inverting one half of it, and switching the audio to mono.
To try out this method for yourself, check out the short video below.
Avid Pro Tools, much like Audacity, provides tools which you can use to perform audio canceling by inverting one half of a track to reduce vocals. Since Pro Tools is an expensive app (for Mac or Windows), it does offer many more tools to improve the finished result, since audio canceling does take a toll on overall quality.
FL Studio (another paid app, but only for Windows), is a great program for beginners. It has a few tools that you can use to reduce vocals through the audio canceling method (also called phase cancellation). While the name of the process is the same as on Audacity and Pro Tools, the method is different and takes a bit more time, but is easy to follow using the video below.
If Logic Pro is your digital audio workstation of choice (it's only available for Mac OS X and costs $200), you can check out the short video below (under two minutes!) to learn how to perform phase cancellation rather simply.
Thanks to SonicAcademy, whose video we used to show phase cancellation for Logic above, you can also learn how to reduce vocals if you're using Ableton Live. This program varies in price and is available for both Mac and Windows.
While Apple's GarageBand is incapable of doing audio canceling, you can still mess with some of the tools it has available in order to decrease the vocals from a track.
The process, luckily, is pretty simple: just add the AUGraphicEQ plug-in to your track and drop the middle frequencies in the graphic equalizer, where the vocals are the strongest on a track.
Use the video below as a companion to help you configure the sliders in the EQ, since it follows the same guidelines, but just be aware that the results will differ on each track.
It's important to note that these methods won't completely remove the vocals on a track, since that's what many videos and articles online claim. This will just lower the audio of the vocals significantly, offering you the best option of an instrumental for tracks that don't readily have one available for download online.
Of course, you can also search for free or paid karaoke tracks online, pay for a minus one track, or get a multitrack recording from a studio, but if you don't need to get rid of 100% of the vocals, the methods above should work just fine for you.
Are there any other audio editing programs that you use and want to learn how to reduce vocals with? Let us know in the comments below.