Music is the universal language and transcends all boundaries and A. R. Rahman winning the Academy Award for music in two categories is probably the best testimonial. It is quite possible that the non-Indian crowd really appreciates the music, but does not understand the vocals or maybe even we have heard an Italian song, where we don’t understand a word of the lyrics. In such a situation, we might just want to eliminate the vocals, right? Or you may be trying to remove vocals for a Karaoke.
Hence, today, at Vertical Horizons, we aim to equip you with tools that will help you remove the vocals, the caveat being that it is not always entirely possible to eliminate the vocals and the results may not be entirely what you were looking for.
Vocals placement on Digital Audio Tracks
We need to understand a little bit about how vocals are encoded on the digital audio track – the vocals are on the center track, with instruments spread around them or vocals are on one channel and the rest of the sound on the other. Most vocal removal tools work best on tracks wherein the vocals are encoded on the center track.
Vocal Remover Tools/Plug-Ins
The most popular one is Audacity. You can download Audacity from its website. The latest beta version (1.3 Series) has an in-built feature that allows you to remove the vocals. All you need to do is run the Vocal Remover effect on the stereo track.
If you want to stick to the Legacy version or 1.2 Series, then download the latest version 1.2.6. The Audacity Vocal Removal Wiki page describes techniques that can be used to remove the vocals from a music track. You can also use different third-party plug-ins to remove the vocals. The plug-ins that can be used with Audacity:
Center Pan Remover – this is a Nyquist plug-in, available for download from here. This plug-in is most effective on removing vocals, which are centered on the stereo track. To install the plug-in, simply copy the file “centerpanremover.ny” to the Plug-Ins folder in Audacity. To use it, from the Effect menu, select “Center Pan Remover”
kn0ck0ut– is one of the VST plug-ins available on Windows and can be downloaded from here. It is free to download and use. This plug-in can be effective in removing vocals that are not centered or on a different frequency compared to the rest of the track.
Another plug-in available on Windows for Audacity is Voicetrap. However, this is shareware and needs to be registered by paying $25.
In versions 1.2 Series of Audacity, for VST plug-ins, you need to install the VST Enabler and desired plug-in to Audacity Plug-Ins folder.
We tried the Audacity Vocal Remover from the beta version, and the best that it does is muffle the vocals, not eliminate them. If you have found any tools that effectively remove the vocals, we would like to hear about them. Do leave us your suggestions or feedback in the comments section below.