How to Separate Vocals & Instruments From a Song

By Joshua Laud

Separating the vocals and instrumentation in an audio file is useful if you want to remix a song, learn a specific music part or make a karaoke track. Making an a capella version (where you remove all the instruments and just leave vocals) is incredibly unsuccessful without the original multi-track audio streams. Vocal removal, however, can be achieved using a basic sound inversion method. This method works if the vocals are panned equally to both the left and right audio channels.

Removing the Vocal with Audacity (Freeware)

Step 1

Go to the Audacity website (see Resources) and download the relevant version for your operating system.

Step 2

Double-click the downloaded installer to begin setup.

Step 3

Click "Start>All Programs," then "Audacity" (in Windows) to open the program.

Step 4

Click "File," then "Open." Locate your song, click it and then click "Open."

Step 5

Click the drop-down arrow next to the track title and select "Split Stereo Track."

Step 6

Click the area to the left of the bottom audio stream (the right channel) to select that channel.

Step 7

Click "Effects," then click "Invert."

Step 8

Click the drop-down menu next to the top stream (the left channel) and click "Mono." Repeat with the bottom stream (the right channel).

Step 9

Click "Play" to hear your new track, which should have vocals removed. Click "File," then click "Save As" and choose a destination folder and file name for your new track.

Removing the Vocal with WavePad (Shareware)

Step 1

Go to the WavePad website (see Resources) and download the program. There is a trial or full version available.

Step 2

Double-click the downloaded installer to begin setup.

Step 3

Click "Start>All Programs," then click "WavePad" to open the software.

Step 4

Click "Open File," locate your song, click it, then click "Open."

Step 5

Click "Effects," then "Special Effects," then "Reduce Vocals."

Step 6

Click "File," then "Save As" to save a copy of your song without vocals in it.

Removing the Vocal with Adobe Audition (Software)

Step 1

Go to the Adobe Audition website (see Resources) and download the software. Trial and full versions are available.

Step 2

Double-click the downloaded installer to begin setup.

Step 3

Click "Start>All Programs," then "Adobe Audition" to open the program.

Step 4

Click "File," then "Open." Locate your song, click it and then click "Open."

Step 5

Right-click the song and click "Split."

Step 6

Click the "fx" button, then click the right arrow next to an empty fx track. Click "Stereo Imaging." Click "Karaoke (Drop Vocals 20dB)."

Step 7

Click "File," then "Save As" to to save the karaoke version of your song.