Isolating Vocals from a Music Track [✏]

Saturday, June 18, 2016

One day I came across this reddit post with links to acapella versions of the songs in Taylor Swift's 1989 album. The moment I hit play on that first track, I was blown away. Those tracks contain Taylor's actual vocals used in the songs and they were just edited to have the vocals isolated. Cool, right?

I got really addicted listening to these versions. Just hearing Taylor Swift's voice made me feel all the raw emotions in it. I also got to hear some effects that I fail to absorb over all the instrumentals in the regular tracks. (special mention to the Out of the Woods track, which gave me goosebumps!)

Out of the Woods. The vocals blending is just so awesome.
I really wanted to learn how this editing is done, so I attempted to teach myself based on tutorials I found online. I already have experience editing tracks, but it was the other way around - removing the vocals so that what's left is the instrumental version of the song.

This is what I found out:

First, you need to have two versions of the song you want to edit: the original version, and the instrumental version. The latter one needs to be a good version, meaning it is as identical as possible to the backup instrumentals of the original track. This will determine how effective this method will be in isolating the vocals of the song.

Second, you need an audio-editing software to work on. For me, I used Audacity.

The process is actually very straightforward, with only that tricky part of aligning the waveforms of the two tracks in Audacity. You would need to be extra OC on that part for this process to be effective. For more on the details on how to do this in Audacity, click here. I used the same exact method described in that article in editing tracks that I have chosen from my music library.

Here are the results of those experiments:



These are songs from my all-time favorite KPOP group TVXQ (which the younger fans of today do not have the hell of an idea who they are). I especially liked how Try My Love turned out because I was able to hear very clearly their awesome vocals. ♥(ノ´∀`)

I also tried doing it on some of The 1975 songs that I have, but unfortunately I cannot seem to find decent instrumental versions of their tracks online, save for Girls. Listen here to result of my trial-and-errors in editing this track. I am satisfied on how this one turned out. I can hear in this version Matty's voice very clearly + the other backing vocals in the song. I really wanted to create a version for their Robbers song and just play it as my lullaby every night. Too bad though I cannot seem to find a good instrumental version online.

If you have a favorite song, I recommend you to try out this method. This will change the way you listen to it, and I bet you'll love it even more. :)

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