Please help me remove tracks? (I want backing voc's/instrum)

Hi. I’m new here, so sorry for (possibly) posting in the wrong forum area. Moderators, if you need to move this to the correct area, please do so :slight_smile:

I’m trying to use Audacity to remove backing vocals (or vocals, etc) except all efforts have been futile.

This ‘tutorial’ and similar ones don’t work. It just provides a muffled effect (as if they were singing with their hands covering their mouth, playing underwater or in a sound-proof room).

I’ve been trying to remove the main vocals from ‘Otherside’ by Red Hot Chili Peppers ( [which I have as a .mp3 file on my computer]) but it doesn’t work.
What I am looking for is this:
-The backing vocals of the song
-The instrumental bit from the backing guitarist/vocalist

This video might help you understand.

Are any of you able to help me with this by making a tutorial that works well? Or separate it yourself and put a download link? (Although I’d much rather the former :slight_smile: )

Thanks in advance.

The tutorials work fine. Not all music lends itself to karaoke, and in fact, most music, particularly internet downloads, fails. With the song on the timeline, magnify one small piece multiple times until you can see the individual waves like the picture below. If both sets are waving up and down at the same time like this, then you have a mono show or mostly mono show and it will never split into instruments and singer.

Try this short piece. It’s a very high quality stereo sound clip.

Do the vocal removal. The third segment should vanish completely.

Screen shot 2012-02-24 at 8.43.42 PM.png

That’s very interesting. Would that mean the videos and music versions of vocal removals, etc, would have the file ripped from the CD/DVD? Or is it something different?

Thanks for your help and input!

Removing vocals or any other specific instrument from a song is a hard task to achieve. Most of the times is not possible.

Separating instruments or vocals from one song is like uncooking a cake and obtaining the original ingredients…
If it is a cake with raisins you might be able to remove them from the cake, but you can’t get the eggs or sugar out of it, recover them to their original form and keep the rest intact without that ingredient.

In very particular cases when you have the vocals center panned and exactly identical on both left and right channels of a stereo track, while all other instruments are not center panned and not equal on both channels, then yes, you can remove vocals and the steps explained in the tutorial will work.
All other cases it will fail and there’s no way you can make it work!

For main vocals is somewhat common to have them center panned and identical on both channels. For backing vocals I’d say that’s probably less likely to happen. Removing only backing vocals I’d say it’s nearly impossible task.

The lower the quality of the audio source the more random noise you’ll have on it, which means left and right channel will probably have non-identical noise, distortion, etc… which means even harder to make it work even if the center panned requirement is fulfilled.

Even if you get a nice download, chances are very good it’s been compressed or processed for space or download efficiency. Not a good candidate for karaoke. Nobody misses that the show is in mono instead of stereo, (50% saving in filesize), but everybody notices when it takes twice as long to download. Mono, even two-track mono will not work. It has to be real stereo.

Of course, someone is going to throw cold water on the game by insisting all the musical performances you yourself play are in perfect quality and will separate into karaoke just fine. Like that clip that I made. Be sure and use WAV or other uncompressed format and not MP3, M4A, or other compressed music format. Those are deadly to musical production.


To your other point, yes, if you try to do this with a real Music CD or Movie DVD or BluRay, it should work fine, subject to the other rules:

– You always get a mono show out the other end, not stereo minus the voice.
– Any music in the center of the stereo field goes, too, like drums and bass.
– It still fails if the show was in absolutely perfect, top professional quality mono.
– It works crappily if the voice had stereo effects added to it. The stereo “ghost” stays behind.

Vocal removal fails way more often that it succeeds. Do you have a link to that training video for karaoke?


This is a lot more typical and even better than most. After and before: