How to Remove Background Music in Audacity

The open-source, multi-track audio editor Audacity lets you copy, combine, cut and splice tracks as well as add filters and alter pitch and speed. Sometimes, however, tracks require more drastic changes; whether you're working on a remix or just want to bring your favorite song a little closer to the a capella realm, you can use Audacity to isolate vocals, eliminating or reducing the presence of background music. Unlike the program's key features, this process takes just a little more effort than a few clicks.

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Audacity provides an outlet for both amateur and professional sound designers.
credit: John Howard/Photodisc/Getty Images

Step

Open the song of your choice -- Audacity supports AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3, Ogg Vorbis and WAV formats -- and choose “Select All” from the drop-down Edit menu to select the entire track. From the Edit menu, select “Copy.”

Step

Hover over “Add New” and select “Stereo Track” from the drop-down Tracks menu to create a new track. This creates a new track with a left and right audio channel. From the Edit menu, click “Paste” to create a duplicate copy of the song in stereo.

Step

Select the duplicate track and access the drop-down Effect menu. Choose the “Vocal Remover (for center-panned vocals)” option. Click “OK” on the dialog box that appears.

Step

Choose “Noise Removal” from the Effect menu with the duplicate track still selected. Press the “Get Noise Profile” button on the window that appears. This causes Audacity to capture the track's noise profile.

Step

Select the original track. Choose “Noise Removal” from the Effect menu once again, but this time press the “OK” button to apply the Noise Removal effect. This reduces or eliminates the audio presence of the backing music track.