Splitting Vocals Into Left And Right Channels

The mp3 I have contains a recording of a group singing a capella, so music is not an issue. It is a recording of a singing group with a lead singer who, in a call and response manner, leads and then is silent while the chorus responds. Occasionally he harmonizes with the chorus when it responds. I would like to isolate the lead singer’s vocals so his voice only comes out of one channel, it does not matter which one it is. I suppose one way to achieve this is to remove, or suppress, the lead singer in one of the channels, so that he is only heard in the other. Can I do this using Audacity? Is there another method that will work? Thanks.

What do you want to come out the other channel?

For the parts where only the lead singer is singing - no problem. For the parts where he is harmonising, no chance.
Do you need help with the possible part?

Out of one channel, say the left, I want the leader’s vocals. Then out of the right would come the choral response.

Yes, please, I do want help with the possible part.

I can think of some painful ways to do it. Using the track drop-down (on the left) > Split Stereo track. That gives you two timed mono tracks – left will be on top. Drag-select the parts you don’t want and silence them with Control-L. Then Drop-Down > Make Stereo Track.

The disadvantage of this is the total, absolute, dead silence when you use Control-L. That’s not natural, but it would work.


That is very close to what I had in mind, but a slightly different order.

  1. If it is a stereo track, convert it to mono (Tracks menu)

  2. Go through the track and place a “Split” at each point where it swaps from lead vocal to chorus, or from chorus to lead vocal.
    Edit > Clip Boundaries > Split (keyboard shortcut: Ctrl+i) http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/edit_menu.html#split
    Before pressing Ctrl+i to make the split, press the “Z” key. This will adjust the position if necessary so that the cursor lies on a zero crossing point (where the waveform crosses the “silence” centre line). This will help to reduce clicks at the edit points.

  3. Duplicate the track (Edit > Duplicate or Ctrl+D)

  4. Use the Pan sliders on the (now mono) tracks to pan one track to the left and the other to the right. If you want total separation left/right, pan one track all the way to the left and the other all the way to the right. If you want something that sounds more natural, pan them about 30 to 50 %.

  5. The tracks are now split up into “audio clips”. To select on audio clip in one track, double click on it. To silence the selected audio clip, use Ctrl+L (Edit > Remove Audio > Silence Audio". Silence all of the lead vocal parts from one track and all of the chorus parts from the other track.

5a) (optional). Use the “pan” and “gain” sliders on the left end of the tracks to adjust the volume (gain) and pan position of each track so that you get the balance that you require. Keep an eye on the audio meters to keep the level a little below 0 dB.

5) Ctrl+A to select All, then Mix and Render the tracks (Tracks menu).

  1. Normalize the (now stereo) track (Effect menu). Enable the first two options only in the Normalize effect. http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/normalize.html

  2. Export your finished masterpiece as a WAV file (after all this work you will certainly want a high quality version of it. If you also want an MP3 version, export as an MP3.