How To: Remove Vocals from Any Song to Make a Karaoke or Instrumental Track

Remove Vocals from Any Song to Make a Karaoke or Instrumental Track

Finding an instrumental or karaoke version of a song can be pretty easy unless you're dealing with a song that isn't popular. That leaves you with just the full version of the song, complete with vocals. So how do you convert it into an instrumental or karaoke track?

Accompaniment tracks are made in the studio and are often referred to as "minus-one" tracks because they are missing one track. In our case, that would be the vocal track. The only way you would be able to remove the vocal track perfectly from the music entirely is if you have a multitrack version of the song, which is unlikely.

However, there are ways to remove vocals or significantly lower them on any stereo song file to create a near-perfect instrumental or karaoke version. This guide shows you a couple of different methods using popular free and paid audio editors. These techniques can be audio, phase, or voice cancellation, configuring the equalizer, and using professional-quality machine learning tools that give the best results possible.

Option 1: Moises (Android, iOS, Web)

Moises is an app for the web, Android, and iOS that can remove vocals from many songs using artificial intelligence. The free app is limited to how many times you can use it each month, and the premium option costs $3.99 per month or almost $40 for an annual subscription.

Like a few other apps we're going to cover, Moises leverages Deezer's open-source, MIT-licensed Spleeter tool to perform music information retrieval. It uses advanced machine learning to split a song into two, four, or five different stems, i.e., tracks. Each of those options will let you remove the vocals from any song. To learn more about Spleeter, check out our full guide on using Moises.

Moises, developed by Geraldo Ramos, started as a web-based tool for desktop and mobile environments but has recently created Android and iOS apps. To see how it works on a smartphone or tablet and get the app download links, check out our full guide on using Moises.

The separation options on iOS (left) and Android (right).

Option 2: Splitter.ai (Web)

Splitter.ai is a web app for desktop and mobile that operates much like Moises because it also utilizes Spleeter machine learning to separate the stems in a song. However, you only have the option for a two- or five-stem model, not a four-stem track separator. Splitter.ai is completely free unless you want to buy the browser extension, currently $19 but normally $29, which is useful on YouTube videos. Watch the video below to Splitter.ai in action.

Option 3: Acon Digital Acoustica (macOS, Windows)

Acon Digital's Acoustica is a paid app for macOS and Windows that goes for $199.90 for the Premium Edition or $59.90 for the Standard Edition. Both come with 30-day free trials. Versions 7.2 came out in March 2020, and it features a new Remix tool on both software tiers. Like Moises, this tool takes advantage of Spleeter's models for stem separation, which lets you split a song up by five different stems.

With the new Remix tool, you can remove the vocal track from the other ones, such as drums, bass, and piano. Also, when you load a complete mix into a multi-track session, the app will split it up into different tracks for you, making voice separation even easier. Check out this video to see how to use it:

See 2:56 in the video below for a sample of Remix's work, as well as at 6:55.

Option 4: iZotope RX 8 (macOS, Windows)

Izotope's RX 8 is a paid app for macOS and Windows with three different versions, but only two of those has the vocals-removal tool you'll need: Standard and Advanced. The former is on sale right now for $299 (normally $399) and the latter for $999 (normally $1,199), and each has a 30-day free trial.

RX 8 features a Music Rebalance tool that does all the vocal separation. From what we can tell, it does not use Spleeter but has its own proprietary AI that performs the magic. And from the word around the web, RX 8 does a better job removing the vocal track from songs than any Spleeter-based tool. With the cost of RX 8, it's not surprising. The following video has a demonstration.

Here's iZotope's video showing off the feature too:

Option 5: Audacity (Linux, macOS, Windows)

Audacity, a free program for Linux, macOS, and Windows, offers a simple way to reduce vocals on a digital song file. Actually, there are a couple of ways. First, you can use the "Invert" tool to cancel out most of the vocals from an MP3 or other digital audio file. You split the track in two, invert one half, and switch the audio to mono.

There's a newer feature in Audacity called the "Vocal Removal and Isolation" effect. It's easier to use, and it works much better than the inversion method. However, it's not perfect, and you'll have better success with one of the previously mentioned tools. Watch the video below to see how both techniques work in Audacity.

At 1:25 in the video below, you can see another example of using the "Vocal Removal and Isolation" tool in Audacity.

Option 6: Avid Pro Tools (macOS, Windows)

Avid's Pro Tools for macOS and Windows, much like Audacity, provides tools you can use to perform audio canceling by inverting one half of a track to reduce vocals. However, unlike Audacity, Pro Tools is expensive.

There are three different tiers currently: Pro Tools First, Pro Tools, and Pro Tools Ultimate. First is free but may not have the audio editing tools you need. Pro Tools is $29.99 per month, and Ultimate costs $79.99 per month and is your best bet for removing vocals. The Ultimate tier does have a free trial available.

While an old video, you can see below how to remove vocals from a song in Pro Tools. It uses Pro Tools LE, now discontinued, but it should be very similar in Pro Tools and Pro Tools Ultimate. There may even be better ways to remove vocals in updated Pro Tools versions.

Option 7: FL Studio

FL Studio is a paid app for macOS and Windows with four different versions available. There's the Fruity Edition ($99), Producer Edition ($199), Signature Bundle ($299), and All Plugins Edition ($399), all of which should have the tools necessary to remove vocals. FL Studio does offer a free trial, which is "equivalent to FL Studio Producer Edition + All Plugins Edition, with a few limitations."

The program has a few tools that you can use to reduce vocals through the audio canceling method (also called phase cancellation). While the process is the same as on Audacity and Pro Tools, the method is different and takes a bit more time, but it is easy to follow using the video below. The video is old but straight from the source.

Option 8: Apple Logic Pro (macOS)

If Logic Pro is your digital audio workstation of choice — it's only available for macOS and costs $199.99, but there is a 90-day free trial — you can check out the video below to learn how to perform phase cancellation rather simply.

To get a better result, you can use iZotope RX 8's Rebalance tool in Logic Pro, thanks to ARA 2. You can learn more about that here.

Option 9: Ableton Live (macOS, Windows)

Ableton Live is paid software for macOS and Windows, and there are three different versions: Intro, Standard, and Suite. Version 10 is available now, but it's available at a discounted price with a free upgrade to version 11 when that comes out. The Intro tier costs $79 (regularly $99), Standard goes for $359 (regularly $449), and it's $599 (regularly $749) for Suite. Ableton Live gives a 90-day free trial of the Suite version, which is pretty sweet.

In all three versions of Ableton Live are capabilities to remove vocals, but not all versions can use all methods.

The best way is using Max for Live, which is available already in the Suite version and as a paid add-on for Standard. With that, you can then install the "Max for Live stem splitter (Spleeter)" plugin from Azuki. As you could probably guess, it's based on Spleeter's open-source tool. The effect is totally free, but you can donate as little as a dollar to support development. To see how to use the plugin to remove vocals, watch this video:

There's another option in Ableton Live, and it's available in all three versions of the program. With the "Utility" effect, you can invert the phase of a channel to cancel out a stereo song's vocals. The video below shows it in action. It's an old video, but it's more or less the same on newer Ableton Live versions.

Option 10: Apple GarageBand (iOS, macOS)

While Apple's GarageBand is incapable of doing audio canceling, you can still mess with some of the tools it has available to decrease the vocals from a track. Luckily, the process is pretty simple: just add the AUGraphicEQ plug-in to your track and drop the middle frequencies in the graphic equalizer, where the vocals are the strongest on a track.

Use the video below as a companion to help you configure the sliders in the EQ since it follows the same guidelines, but just be aware that the results will differ on each track.

Each Method Above Will Give You Different Results

Before stem separation tools became available to the masses, which use machine learning to intelligently separate vocals from instrument tracks, the old-school way of using phase cancellation or inverting tracks never delivered great results.

With the old way, you're just lowering the vocals' audio significantly, but with Spleeter-based and other proprietary technology for separating stems using artificial intelligence, you're extracting each layer like the pros. It's not always perfect, but it's much better overall, not to mention easier. So you'll have better luck with Moises, Splitter.ai, Acoustica, RX 8, and maybe even Ableton Live above.

Of course, you can also search for free or paid karaoke tracks online, pay for a "minus-one" track, or get a multitrack recording from a studio, which takes all the work out of separating or canceling the vocals for you. But in most cases, one of the options above will work just fine — even the free ones. And since Spleeter is an open-source tool, there are many other tools online that use it, so you're definitely not limited to the apps in this guide.

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24 Comments

I have found an old cassette that my grandfather is singing in a duet. I would like to remove the other person so that you would only hear my grandfather singing...and then figure out a way to put on a computer or save it to a cd. I thought this would be a nice sentimental gift for his kids (he passed away in1988). Does this sound like something I would be able to do with this? If not, if anyone has any suggestions i would really appreciate it. I am not the most technical so the easiest cheapest method would be great if possible. Thanks for any assistance..

"Nette Traylor," I'm sorry to tell you this, but unless you're really lucky about how the audio is mixed, it's probably not possible. However, if you can find someone to help you get it onto your computer (for me help you with that would be difficult without actually being there), send me a message with the audio file (or send me a message and I'll give you my e-mail address if you can't attach the file to a message on here) and I'll play around with it to see if I can isolate your grandfather. Again, it's probably not possible, but if I have the audio, I can tell you for sure. I'm sure his kids would be delighted to have it, either way.

Nette, I am an audio engineer , and I have the same type of thing. My dad is playing in a video and I want to extract the audio. also I have my father inlaw playing the accordian back in 91 . I was able to extract it from the video ,, tempo map it and build a track around it , so I actually get a chance to play on the track with him. I would be willng to try to help you accomplish your goal. Give me a shout. Jnc38@verizon.net

Hi mr. Zhon zacmester. I'm Justin mailing u regarding about the problems that I'm facing on the following days. I try to covert mp3 song to karaoke but it's makes me to lost many nights of sleep if it's possible can u contact me. Don't hesitate to contact me.

Thank you so much for your response and the offer. I know I have it but it would be very old and packed away. I will have to find it and see if I can get it on my computer etc. I just figured before I tried I would ask first. Again thank you so much for the input and assistance.

Hi, i would like to know the opposite, how to increase the volume of the voice of any song, its a regular song so its not multitrack, can it be done?

The voice volume is a little low in comparison to instruments so would like to modulate by increasing the voice volume, thanks in advance

P.D. : I personally use audacity and FL Studio

Shiva

Hi - I followed your instructions so the letter while using Audacity and there was no difference at all in the sound level of the vocals. I'm wondering what I might be doing wrong. The sone I'm trying to lower the vocals on is "Just Like Christmas" by the band Low.

Any advice you might have would be great.

Thanks!

First off, awesome band. Secondly, I gave it a try in Audacity using the same technique and the vocals did sound much lower, though, the song sounded a little weird overall. Mileage probably varies from song to song.

Ok, I'll give it another shot. Thanks

Can u help to reduce or remove the vocal in this song?

there are some songs in karaoke machines and when you press (*) star button it cuts vocal sound and just play music and when you want to hear vocal again while playing you press star (*) button again and vocal sound is back . i want to know if there is any software that i can do it on my videos ???

I have tried doing this in audacity and although it removed most of the vocals like promised, the song became extremely muffled. Is there anyone that could simply remove (as best you can) the vocals from an audio track for me? I would greatly appreciate it and can provide the song for you if needed! Please help if you can!

Great, easy to follow tutorial on Audacity! Is there an easy way to add the lyrics to play on my tv for use as a karaoke track?

I have purchased an mp3 file of a rather obscure christmas song that my kids want to sing. I've tired all the free software to remove the vocals with no success. Any suggestions? Could you help?

There's no way to remove vocal part without loose a quality of sound. Absolutely.
Especialy if you don't have stems or isolated tracks of that song!

I usualy download multitracks from rutracker dot org and backtracks4all.com or make them for myself (if case if song is not very popular and stems are not produced yet!)

I am not having success in removing the vocal from this you-tube song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_1YMrk4VMc

I converted the song in to the MP3 file. and then used Audacity software to remove vocal. I would appreciate directions I can use with the latest version of Audacity software.

Hey. So I'm able to accomplish this but is there a way to keep the background vocals in a song and keep the main vocals out?

I want to remove the vocal cause i want to use it for a competition,can u help me i need it fast!i would be so grateful,this competition can let you become a singer !

When i am a singer i would promote this website! So please help me! THANK U!! Please please please!!

Do you have, or know where to find, a high quality version of that song? The youtube video has some audible artifacts in it, so the end result isn't going to be real great. I can try (if you still are in need of it) if you can find me a high quality starting point :)

Can someone get rid of the vocals of a song please the song is called gappy ranks good girl gone bad and ghetts pick up the phone

Excelent article! In cases that the left-right substraction trick does not help there is a solution. I would recommend UnMixIt. Windows only, but works remarkably well in the majority of songs I have tried.

Something to remember when attempting to reduce vocals in a song; the higher quality original file you have, the better the end result tends to be (or better chance you end up with something useable). It's rare I can take a crappy 128kbps mp3 and end up with anything good, no matter what I do to it.

Hi- you mentioned above that you can pay for a minus one track.
Can you recommend someone who does this? Thanks so much!

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