How to Extract Vocal Frequency in Audacity

Written by scott knickelbine
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Removing the vocals from a music track is something lots of people want to do, because you could theoretically turn your favourite songs into karaoke tracks. But just deleting the vocals and leaving the rest of the instrumentation is a tricky thing to do, even with the best equipment. Audacity, an open-source audio editing software, now has an effect that removes vocals -- as long as they are in the centre of a stereo mix. It works by removing all sound that's common to both right and left channels, thus eliminating all sounds that seem to come from the middle.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Audacity 1.3.13 or later

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  1. 1

    Load the stereo track into Audacity by dropping down the File menu and selecting "Open." Navigate to your file, select it and click the "Open" button. Audacity displays the right and left channel as a pair of blue wave graphs running across the screen.

  2. 2

    Drop-down the Edit menu and click "Select" and then "All."

  3. 3

    Drop-down the Effects menu and select "Vocal Remover." In the dialogue box, make sure you select the options "Remove vocals" and "Simple." Then click "OK." Audacity removes all frequencies that are common to the two channels and displays the remainder.

  4. 4

    Listen to the result by clicking the Play button in the upper toolbar. Save the new track by dropping down the File menu and selecting "Export." Set the file type to MP3 and click "Save."

Tips and warnings

  • If you want, you can also use Audacity to record your own vocals for the track. Just remember to keep your vocal track set to play in the centre of the mix.
  • Audacity can't really tell a vocal from background music. It's just assuming that the vocals are coming from the centre, and by removing everything in the centre, it will remove the vocals. Unfortunately, any instruments panned to the centre will also be removed, and any backup vocals that are panned to the right or left channel will be retained.

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