Experiments with removing vocals

Like most people who digitize music, I've often wondered what instrumental versions of my favorite songs sound like. I like listening to drums and getting rid of the vocals is occasionally an aid to my enjoyment.


The first thing I needed to do was download a decent ripper. Software enthusiasts remind me of car freaks. Everyone's an expert. I decided to follow popular opinion and installed CDex. If you're familiar with installing software and know what you're doing, you'll find CDex is a breeze to download and get working with.

Then I ripped three tracks from three different albums to standard CD-quality WAV files.

With the ripping process out of the way, I needed to get hold of some vocal removal software. Some people will recommend using an audio editor, but I was lazy. I grabbed YoGen Vocal Remover and installed it.

A friend recently explained to me how vocal removal is fraught with problems. "You can't get the eggs back out of a chocolate cake after you've made it," he said. "It's the same with trying to remove vocals or a particular instrument from a song."

He was correct, but not totally. As AnalogX, who has his own vocal removal software, states: "In most instances vocals are equally mixed in both channels, and can (be) removed by simply changing the phase on one channel by 180 degrees. While this won't remove vocals in all instances, it does work in many cases."

And YoGen's developer agrees. "This software tries to remove any monophonic components from stereo sound," claims the web site. "So, the quality of removal depends on how songs are recorded and mixed. YoGen Vocal Remover works very well for vocal tracks that are 'up the middle' of the stereo mix. If songs are not recorded in this way, they do not work at all."

So I tried out YoGen. Track number one was perfect. A total instrumental, with barely any evidence of a vocal track. Track number two was a disaster. Some of the vocals had gone, but then so had some of the music. It sounded shitty, but would be OK for sampling. Track three was mostly fine. The vocals were removed, with the exception of the chorus. It was actually quite a good version of the song.

Beware. If the song you are trying to remove the vocals from has other instruments mixed into the center of the mix, you will probably lose them. Secondly, effects such as echo and reverb are sometimes applied to vocals but not necessarily added to the center. This means you might get rid of most of the vocals but still end up with the occasional 'oh yeah' and so forth.

It might be a bit frustrating if you really NEED a specific song without vocals. But vocal removal is a bit of a hit 'n miss process. Read the DFreqTIP story below and check out the software. Experiment and enjoy.

DFreqTIP - Eliminating the Lead Vocal. Here's how to do the job with Sound Forge and Cool Edit Pro.

The Truth About Vocal Eliminators. I recommend this.

AnalogX Vocal Remover (Winamp) v1.03 for Windows 95/98/NT

AnalogX Vocal Remover (DirectX) v1.00 for Windows 95/98/NT

WinOKE 2.10 for Windows 95/98/2000/NT

YoGen Vocal Remover 1.07 for Windows 95/98/2000/NT

Sound Forge 6

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