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How to Remove Vocals From a Song Using Audacity

Updated March 23, 2017

The free, open source Audacity audio editing software includes a plug-in that removes the vocals from a song without altering the remaining audio. When a music producer records a song, he usually places the vocals, often the most prominent element of the recording, in the centre audio channel. This leaves the instrumental parts on the left and right channels. Audacity's Vocal Removal plug-in replaces the centre channel with the audio from the left and right channels, cancelling out the vocals.

Double-click the "Audacity" desktop icon to launch the program. Click "File," then "Open." Double-click the song file that you want to edit.

Open the "Effect" menu, then select "Vocal Remover (for Center-panned Vocals)" from the menu. If you don't see the Vocal Remover effect in the list of effects, click the down arrow icon at the bottom of the pop-up menu until you reach the bottom of the list. Select "Remove Vocals" from the "Remove Vocals or View Help" drop-down menu in the window that pops up.

Select "Simple (Entire Spectrum)" from the "Removal" drop-down menu if you want to use the basic vocal removal effect. To remove or retain a certain range of frequencies in the song, select "Remove Frequency Band" or "Retain Frequency Band." Type the frequency range that you want to delete or retain into the "Frequency Band Lower and Upper Limit [Hz]" text field.

Click "OK." The Audacity Vocal Remover plug-in processes the audio and removes the vocals from the song.

Tip

The Vocal Removal plug-in works best on uncompressed or lossless audio. If you want more control for the vocal removal process, try the third-party VST plug-ins Extra Boy, Voice Trap and Kn0ck0ut.

Warning

You can only remove the vocals with the Audacity Vocal Removal plug-in if the vocals are panned to the centre of the song's stereo field.

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About the Author

Seamus Islwyn has been writing for radio, print and online publications since 2003, covering subjects from independent Canadian music to automobile smuggling in the Balkans. His work has appeared in the "Tirana Times" in Albania, and he also composes and produces electronic music. Islwyn holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from McGill University and a certificate in radio broadcasting from Humber College.