Bringing Vocal Forward

Audaciry 3.1.3. I’m trying to increase volume / presence of the vocal on a song where vocal recording is weak and instruments over-power. I’ve played around with vocal reduction and isolation, but confess I may not have the right touch. The song is from a traveling lounge act from the early 1960’s, featuring my Mother-in-law who juts passed away at 107. She and her husband played with some of the big bands and Sinatra. Anyone willing to give this a try? Thanks! - Bob

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You can only do so-much… The human voice and musical instruments overlap the same frequencies (often singing and playing the same exact notes) and with harmonics & overtones they both cover most of the audible range.

But you can experiment with the Graphic Equalizer. The main vocal frequencies are mostly between 200 & 1000Hz, and “T” and “S” sounds are in the higher frequency ranges so boosting the higher frequencies can often help with intelligibility But cymbals & horns also have lots of high frequency harmonics, and assuming this is an analog tape recording, boosting the highs will also boost tape hiss.

If you boost with the Equalizer you can push the levels into (potential) clipping, so turn-on Show Clipping and run the Amplify or Normalize effect to make sure the levels are OK before exporting.

The vocal isolation effect relies on vocals being “centered” (identical in both channels) and you’ll only get that with multi-track studio recordings where the vocal is recorded in mono and then panned to the center in the stereo mix.

And it usually doesn’t usually give you “professional” results because there are usually other centered sounds. (That might not be a problem since your main interest is “archiving” her voice.

There is something new called Spleeter that might be worth a try… And artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly!



My dad used to talk about big band music but I thought it was “boring”. He used to hear it live at dances when he and my mom were dating. But it didn’t sound that great on our little stereo… And it wasn’t rock & roll!

Later I heard it live and it was much better. Several years ago I searched-out some modern (probably digital) recordings of the old big-band music And some of the recordings from the 1950s or later are pretty good even though they were done on analog tape and sometimes in mono.

Thanks Doug. Great advice. As I expected, “you can only do so much”.

Those Audacity tools can only work on stereo recording.

If it’s a mono recording you’ll need AI tools to isolate the voice … Best Vocal Isolation & Instrumental Extraction 2021 [ vs Spleeter] - YouTube t=148s

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