I’m sure you will agree with me that there’s nothing better for the spirit than karaoke. Whether you like singing or not, once you get over the initial embarrassment and start picturing yourself standing on stage and singing with a real band, it becomes a truly uplifting experience.
Karaoke is not necessarily a group activity – what about karaoke tracks you can listen to in the car, singing along to yourself? Or even while working on your computer? There’s an endless amount of fun to be had with vocal-free tracks.
Somehow, though, it’s always hard to find the ones you really want. YouTube is full of vocal-free tracks, but it’s never the ones you really feel like singing. I’ve always wished I could create my own karaoke tracks from my own favorite songs, but it always seemed like a really complicated task. Something only real audiophiles would be up to. Turns out I was wrong. Creating your own karaoke tracks is actually easy as pie, and takes about 5 to 60 seconds to accomplish, depending on the method you choose.
The songs you create may end up sounding a little bit warped, but hey, no one’s coming to karaoke night for the quality of the music anyway.
Do It Yourself With Audacity [Windows, Mac, Linux]
I’ve been seeing this method around for quite a while, but never believed it actually worked until I tried it. This method is the more satisfying of the two, and works with any audio format you can think of (I tried Mp3 and Ogg, both worked perfectly).
To create karaoke tracks using this method, the first thing you need to do is download Audacity. Audacity is a great audio editor, and works on pretty much any OS. Once you have Audacity, launch it and load the song you want to strip of vocals (File –> Open or File –> Import –> Audio will do the trick).
Once your audio track is loaded, you’ll usually see two blue tracks. These are the two stereo tracks of your song. In order to get rid of the vocals, your first step would be to split these tracks into two separate audio tracks which you can edit individually. To do this, click on the small black triangle on the top left and choose “Split Stereo Track”.
Now that you have two separate tracks, double click on one of them (doesn’t matter which) to select all of it. Click the “Effects” menu and choose “Invert”.
This will invert the entire track, which will enable us to cancel it out. If you listen to the track now, the vocals will still be there. There’s one step left, and this is the important one: Click on the black triangle for both tracks, and change both of them to Mono.
It’s very important that you change them both, otherwise the vocals will not be stripped. That’s it, you can now hit play and listen to your new karaoke track. You can also export it into an audio file to create your custom karaoke playlist (you’ll need the LAME Mp3 encoder if you want to export to MP3).
So how does it work? This method doesn’t work with every song, but it should work with most. Without getting too technical, most songs are recorded on two stereo channels, with some instruments balanced more to the right, and some balanced more to the left. The vocals of the song are usually in the center, therefore appearing on both tracks. When we split the tracks and invert one of them, the vocals on the inverted track cancel out the vocals on the regular track. We then switch them both to mono, and we’re left with only instruments.
If the song you chose uses reverb, you might here a slight echo of the vocals, but this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If the song you chose is different than most, and the vocals are not dead centered, this method might not work at all. The best way to find out is to give it a try!
For Mp3s & CDs: Karaoke Anything! [Windows]
If you don’t feel like doing the actual work, you can let Karaoke Anything! do it for you. Note, however, that this app only works with audio CDs or Mp3 files, and you can’t load Mp3 playlists, only individual files.
Using Karaoke Anything is dead simple. Launch the app, choose “MP3 Player Mode” or “CD Player Mode” and you’re pretty much done. If you chose to use Mp3 files, click on File –> Open to add your song. Click play, and the song will start playing without any vocals. It’s like magic!
You can use the “Karaoke Effect” slider to control the vocals’ volume, in case you want to be able to hear it but still sing over it without it interfering.
Which One Should You Use?
That really depends. In general, both methods give similar results, although some songs may end up better using one method than the other. If you want to create your own vocal-free files, if you want to use anything other than Mp3s or CDs, or if you’re not using Windows, Audacity is the obvious choice. Otherwise, give Karaoke Anything a try, and you might be able to kick off the party in the time it takes you to download a 2.5MB installer.
Do you know of other ways to create your own karaoke tracks? Don’t forget to tell us about them in the comments!
Image credit: Singing cat image via Shutterstock