How To: Remove Vocals from Any Song to Make a Karaoke or Instrumental Track

Remove Vocals from Any Song to Make a Karaoke or Instrumental Track

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

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.

Pro Tools

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

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.

Logic Pro

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.

Ableton Live

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.

GarageBand

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.

These Methods Don't Remove Vocals

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.

13 Comments

I have found an old cassette that my grandfather is singing in a duet. I would like to remove the other person so that you would only hear my grandfather singing...and then figure out a way to put on a computer or save it to a cd. I thought this would be a nice sentimental gift for his kids (he passed away in1988). Does this sound like something I would be able to do with this? If not, if anyone has any suggestions i would really appreciate it. I am not the most technical so the easiest cheapest method would be great if possible. Thanks for any assistance..

"Nette Traylor," I'm sorry to tell you this, but unless you're really lucky about how the audio is mixed, it's probably not possible. However, if you can find someone to help you get it onto your computer (for me help you with that would be difficult without actually being there), send me a message with the audio file (or send me a message and I'll give you my e-mail address if you can't attach the file to a message on here) and I'll play around with it to see if I can isolate your grandfather. Again, it's probably not possible, but if I have the audio, I can tell you for sure. I'm sure his kids would be delighted to have it, either way.

Nette, I am an audio engineer , and I have the same type of thing. My dad is playing in a video and I want to extract the audio. also I have my father inlaw playing the accordian back in 91 . I was able to extract it from the video ,, tempo map it and build a track around it , so I actually get a chance to play on the track with him. I would be willng to try to help you accomplish your goal. Give me a shout. Jnc38@verizon.net

Thank you so much for your response and the offer. I know I have it but it would be very old and packed away. I will have to find it and see if I can get it on my computer etc. I just figured before I tried I would ask first. Again thank you so much for the input and assistance.

Hi, i would like to know the opposite, how to increase the volume of the voice of any song, its a regular song so its not multitrack, can it be done?

The voice volume is a little low in comparison to instruments so would like to modulate by increasing the voice volume, thanks in advance

P.D. : I personally use audacity and FL Studio

Shiva

Hi - I followed your instructions so the letter while using Audacity and there was no difference at all in the sound level of the vocals. I'm wondering what I might be doing wrong. The sone I'm trying to lower the vocals on is "Just Like Christmas" by the band Low.

Any advice you might have would be great.

Thanks!

First off, awesome band. Secondly, I gave it a try in Audacity using the same technique and the vocals did sound much lower, though, the song sounded a little weird overall. Mileage probably varies from song to song.

Ok, I'll give it another shot. Thanks

Can u help to reduce or remove the vocal in this song?

there are some songs in karaoke machines and when you press (*) star button it cuts vocal sound and just play music and when you want to hear vocal again while playing you press star (*) button again and vocal sound is back . i want to know if there is any software that i can do it on my videos ???

I have tried doing this in audacity and although it removed most of the vocals like promised, the song became extremely muffled. Is there anyone that could simply remove (as best you can) the vocals from an audio track for me? I would greatly appreciate it and can provide the song for you if needed! Please help if you can!

Great, easy to follow tutorial on Audacity! Is there an easy way to add the lyrics to play on my tv for use as a karaoke track?

I have purchased an mp3 file of a rather obscure christmas song that my kids want to sing. I've tired all the free software to remove the vocals with no success. Any suggestions? Could you help?

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