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Tutorial #7: Creating karaoke tracks (or removing vocals)

I came across an ad jingle recently and I so very wanted to remove the voice-over to enjoy the tune. So, I decided to dust off Audacity once again which I have used on and off for over a decade, mainly to create ringtones.

The process itself is quite simple. You simply have to open the track and apply ‘Vocal Remover’ from the ‘Effect’ menu. There are quite a few options available, but it is always best to start with the ‘Simple (entire spectrum) option using the default settings and see how it goes. It is pertinent to note that it only works for centre-panned vocals i.e. ones in which the vocal is identical in the left and right channels and hence can be used to cancel each other out.

Apart from the default option, the other options include retaining or removing only some of the frequencies. Since the average human voice extends over 300-3000 Hz (using telecom standards over here), you can certainly filter it out. But, and a big but here is that you will also be removing the audio from instruments that are present in the same frequency range. So, while you may have a voiceless track, it will mostly sound a lot inferior to the original track.

Hence, as always, your mileage will most definitely vary depending on the track. So, take this primer for what its worth and have fun playing with your music tracks. 

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