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How to Take Out the Vocals in a Song on GarageBand

by Simon FodenUpdated September 22, 2017

GarageBand is a digital audio work station for the Mac. With it you can record, edit and mix your music using your computer. You can also use GarageBand as an audio editor for music in your MP3 collection. If you want to remove the vocals from a track, for example, to create a karaoke backing track, the GarageBand equalizer tools let you do this. You can do this in two ways, depending on the type of recording with which you’re working.

Setup

Click the GarageBand desktop icon or open "Applications" and launch the program from there.

Click "File," "Open Recent" and select the relevant session from the drop-down menu. GarageBand’s default configuration means that the last saved session opens automatically. If this isn’t the session you require, use the "Open Recent" command.

Click "Audio" and select the relevant song from the media browser. GarageBand gives you the option to browse your iTunes library for songs. Click on the song file when you find it. This opens the song in GarageBand. It opens as a wave form file, with peaks and dips representing the volume profile of the recording.

Equalization Method

Click the eye icon on the bottom right of the GarageBand interface.

Click on one of the gray boxes in the right-hand panel. This opens an effects menu. Select "AU Graphic Equalizer." Equalizers enable you to remove specific frequencies from audio.

Check the box that says "Manual." This configures the equalizer to let you select the frequencies you wish to remove.

Click on the equalizer icon in the right-hand panel. This opens the equalizer in a separate window. In the window is an array of virtual slider dials. Each controls the volume of a specific frequency band.

Drag the slider dials for the middle frequency down to the bottom of the equalizer. The human voice has a typical frequency range of between 8 and 80 Hz. By reducing these frequencies, you reduce the prominence of the voice in the track.

Track Inversion Method

Click on the audio and press "Command + C."

Click on a spare channel and press "Command + V" to copy the audio over.

Turn the "Pan" dial fully left on the first channel. The "Pan" dial is the one with "L" and "R" at each side.

Turn the "Pan" dial fully right on the second. This inverts the two audio tracks, canceling out any audio panned centrally. Because vocals are typically recorded dead center, this technique removes them from the audio.

Click "File" and select "Save As" to render the inverted files as one audio track.

Tips

The equalization method works best on modern digital recordings. The inversion method works best on recordings originally released on vinyl, because the mastering process for vinyl is different than for CD or MP3.

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