DFreqTIP - Extracting the Lead Vocal
Copyright 2001 by Scott R. Garrigus. Reprinted with permission.
In DigiFreq issue 10, I talked about how you can remove the main
vocal part from a prerecorded song to be left with only the backing
tracks for karaoke and other purposes. Well, some of you have asked
if you can also do the opposite. That is to remove the backing
tracks and just be left with the lead vocal part. The answer again
is yes and no.
Yes, you can extract the lead vocal from a prerecorded song, but
only if the vocal is panned directly in the center of the stereo
field. But as with eliminating the lead vocal, the process isn't
perfect. There isn't currently any audio software on the market that
can analyze and extract only a single part from a recording.
Instead, you have to isolate the material in the middle of the
stereo field. That means isolating the vocal and everything else
centered in the mix.
Fortunately, Sound Forge has a special Mid-Side conversion feature
(normally used for another purpose) that pretty much makes this
process automatic. Without it, the process would be much more
involved (ie. having to remove the vocal first, converting to mono,
phase inverting, and recombining with a mono version of the original
Here's how to do it the easy way in Sound Forge 4.5 and 5.0:
1) Open the original audio file.
2) Choose Edit>Select All to select all the data in the file.
3) Choose Process>Pan/Expand.
4) In the Pan/Expand dialog box, choose the Normal Mix Of MS
5) Click OK.
6) Choose Edit>Selection>Set.
7) Choose Left in the Channel parameter drop-down list.
8) Click OK.
9) Choose Edit>Copy.
10) Choose Edit>Paste Special>Paste To New.
11) Save your new audio file.
Depending on the type of material that you're processing, the
results will vary, but they'll never be perfect. Anything that was
in the middle of the mix will now be in your new audio file, which
probably includes the vocal, bass, and some of the other background
instruments. You can try to tweak the mix a bit with EQ, but other
than that, what you get is what you get. Maybe in the future we'll
have more sophisticated software available that will be able to
analyze and separate specific sounds from an audio mix.
Scott R. Garrigus - Author of Cakewalk, Sound Forge, and SONAR Power! books; Publisher of DigiFreq. Win a free copy of BBE Sonic Maximizer and learn more cool music technology tips and techniques by getting a FREE subscription to DigiFreq... go to: http://www.digifreq.com/digifreq/