How to get an acapella in Audacity

Written by simon foden Google
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How to get an acapella in Audacity
Audacity approximates the function of a studio mixing console. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Audacity is a free, open source recording programme, which can be downloaded from from Sourceforge (see Resources). While it lacks the sophistication of professional level programmes such as Pro Tools and Logic Studio, it is a handy application to have if you like to record and edit on the fly as you can use it without any connected hardware. An acapella, which translates as “in the style of the chapel,” is an unaccompanied vocal. You can use acapella vocals for remixes and mashups. If you don’t have an unaccompanied vocal recording, you can use Audacity to extract the vocals from an accompanied vocal.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Audio files

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  1. 1

    Open Audacity by clicking on the desktop icon. Click “File” and select “New.” This opens a new project.

  2. 2

    Click “Project” and select “Import.” This opens a browser window. From the browser window, browse for the audio file containing the song from which you want to create an acapella vocal. Double-click on the file when you locate it to load it into the Audacity project. Once it’s loaded in, it will display as a series of waveforms.

  3. 3

    Click the “Track” menu, which is denoted by a small arrow and select “Split Stereo Track.” This recreates the original audio file as two separate mono tracks. The right-hand channel displays on the bottom of the window and the left-hand channel on top.

  4. 4

    Use the “Mute” button to identify which channel contains the instrumental. Hit play and turn the mute for each channel on and off to find out.

  5. 5

    Select the instrumental channel. Click “Effects” and select “Invert.” It may take a few seconds for Audacity to complete this command. By inverting the right-hand channel, you create a cancellation effect on the left channel. This means that the waveforms located in the instrumental channel become a mirror image of themselves, which effectively cancels instrumental channel. The degree to which this effect occurs varies according to the type of recording you’re using. This approach is a lot more effective on older recordings but moderate results can be gleaned from modern recordings.

  6. 6

    Click on the right-hand channel. Open the "Track" menu and select "Mono." Repeat for the left-hand channel. This configuration sends each track to their respective speaker, rather than spreading the mix across both speakers.

  7. 7

    Use Audacity’s equaliser tool to refine and tweak the resultant sound recording to get rid of any extraneous instrumentation by curtailing the frequencies on which they appear.

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