Using Audacity to Remove Vocals from Audio for Free

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Recently I needed to remove the vocals from a audio file. The instrumental version of this song was not available, and my partner, a school teacher, required the instrumental version for her students to sing to in a school assembly.

After a lot of Googling, and many poor quality suggestions, guides and applications, I finally stumbled upon an easy and free method to strip vocals from a MP3 or other file using the program Audacity.

Here is a short YouTube video on the very quick process to remove the vocals using Audacity.

If you can view the video, here are the steps:

  1. Install Audacity, download for free for Mac or Windows from SourceForge.
  2. Open the file you wish to strip the vocals (File > Open).
  3. Where the song is loaded, you will see an “X”, file name (e.g. Test Song), triangle pointing down. Press the downwards triangle and select Split Stereo to Mono.
Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 3.00.09 pm
  1. Press the downwards triangle again and press Mono.
  2. Repeat Step 4 for the other channel (after stereo is split to mono, you will see there are two “X, Test Song, Down Trinagle”).
  3. Select the bottom channel, up at the top menu select Effect > Invert.
  4. Export the file to save in your desired format such as WAV or MP3 (File > Export).
  5. Enjoy your vocals free track.

There is some quality degradation when removing the vocals, and an original instrumental version would be preferred. But for many uses (such as a school assembly), this is very suitable.