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How can I get the instrumentals only from an mp3 file and remove the vocals? I understand this is called karaoke.

In windows I used VirtualDJ to do that.


The methods listed below are not perfect. There is still vocals within the instrumentals even though they sound far off.

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you will never be able to completely remove vocals - not unless those vocals are physically on a separate track. The best you can do is reduce the effect. MP3 format is irrelevant here - you can convert the format to something else like a .wav - remove the vocals and then convert back again. –  fossfreedom May 26 at 18:20
@fossfreedom The alternative here? I don't think I should load up windows just to do that. VirtualDJ seemed to do a clean job. –  Parto May 26 at 18:24
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2 Answers 2

A software that can do this is called sox Install sox

It has an option for karaoke:


Out Of Phase Stereo effect. Mixes stereo to twin-mono where each mono channel contains the difference between the left and right stereo channels. This is sometimes known as the ‘karaoke’ effect as it often has the effect of removing most or all of the vocals from a recording.

So from command line this ...

sox song.wav music.wav oops

would create music with vocals removed.

Can't get any easier?

There are more programs. audacity Install audacity can do it too. It is graphical.

Here is a how to. What sox automated you need to do manually with audacity so it is a bit more difficult but also lets you tweak more (so based on experience one or the other might be a better options).

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This doesn't work with MP3 even after installing the libsox-fmt-mp3 package. The output has vocals within it when using MP3. –  Parto Apr 27 at 17:16
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To have a live removal of vocals from a stereo recording we can add a LADSPA filter as a sound output to pulseaudio. There is a quite good karaoke plugin from the Steve Harris' LADSPA Plugins which will remove central vocals from a stereo recording, and which can also be used with Audacity.

These plugins will be installed with the package swh-plugins Install swh-plugins. The amount of voice removal and consecutive mono conversion is given as control parameter in dB.

To apply the effect we need to know the pulseaudio name of our default audio sink with

pacmd list-sinks

The default sink name is marked with an asterix like in the example below:

* index: 1
      name: <alsa_output.pci-0000_00_14.2.analog-stereo>

We can then apply the karako filter with the following command

pactl load-module module-ladspa-sink sink_name=Karaoke master=<name> plugin=karaoke_1409 label=karaoke control=-30

Replace <name> with the name of your audio device (e.g. alsa_output.pci-0000_00_14.2.analog-stereo).

Note down the module number given as output from above command in case we want to remove it again (pactl unload-module <nmber>). All modules are removed and default are reset with pulseaudio -k.

The control parameter gives a voice removal of -30 dB here, higher values (i.e. less negative like -10) for more vocals (but better music), lower values (i.e. more negative like -60) for even less vocals but also more original music removal. Positive values are possible but they will lead to heavy distortions.

Choose this newly created audio output sink as output in your sound setting before you start playback of your music player.

enter image description here

Note that not all music recordings are suitable for this karaoke plugin, the more central the vocal stay the better. Mono recordings will not work.

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