Old 12-14-2011, 09:52 AM   #1
MikeF
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Default Can You Separate Vocal & Instrument Sounds On Same Track?

I have a friend who recorded a vocal & guitar track with both recorded together as a single, 2-channel stereo wav file. He wants me to edit the vocal and guitar separately (reverb & delay on vocal, phase on guitar).

Is there a way to separate a vocal from an instrument like guitar when working with a single file that has both combined? Seems like there must be a way. If I duplicate the track I import, how can I delete the vocal out of one track and then delete the instrument (but leave the vocal) on the other track? There must be a way: look at Kareoke systems. Can it be done through EQ plug ins, envelopes, etc.? Maybe it's not possible. But there are so many people who still record things on cassettes where it all gets recorded together as one item.

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Old 12-14-2011, 09:55 AM   #2
plamuk
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not really. once it's together it's like a cake. you can't take the eggs out of a cake once it's been baked...try to get your friend to record them separately if possible.
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Old 12-14-2011, 10:02 AM   #3
MikeF
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Thanks for the advice. But don't vocals have distinct (or different) waveforms or frequency ranges than other instruments? If so, you would think you could delete those waveforms that you don't want to keep on your track (maybe by EQing them down to inaudible sounds??) Maybe not. Just wondering.

How about Reaper's analytical tools? Don't they show different frequency patterns for different instruments (say, two different guitars)?
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Old 12-14-2011, 11:58 AM   #4
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Guitar and vocal freqs overlap if u got rid of One youd lose the other. If he panned guitr hard left and vocal right then gave you that as a stereo file ud have somethbing to work with. But no trickery can un tangle what u describe unfortunately.
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Old 12-14-2011, 01:41 PM   #5
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Open up a stereo file and zoom in real close.

You have a varying voltage for the left channel and a varying voltage for the right channel. That's it. Period.

Vocals and instruments are all over the frequency ranges with tons of important harmonics everywhere. The only 'pure' sound instrument would be a single-frequency sine-wave synth.

There is no 'magic'. (Yet. Give them a few decades....)
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:02 PM   #6
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Celemony will come thru it I'm positive about it. Just look what they brought to us so far, things we wouldn't thought possible and yet its now possible with DNA right?

Patience
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:02 PM   #7
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Well, if this was a record,
where the guitar was panned or recorded stereo,
and the vocal was mono in center,
you could do some M/S-processing,
and get a useful separation.

But, if both are recorded with only a stereo-pair, same take,
then, no, you can't really separate it.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:14 PM   #8
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Thanks, guys, for all your input. I get the point. Let me ask you this: can one use two old-fashioned tape cassette recorders to record a vocal and guitar separately and still have them be in sync after copying them to your computer as two separate Reaper tracks? Just curious if THAT is a possible option for those who still have older cassette players that don't record separate tracks.

I waa thinking one could record a guide track on one cassette of say vocal and guitar together, then put that in another player and use headphones to hear the combined output. On the original recorder, put in a new tape and record just the guitar on one cassette side to the guitar you are listening to on the other player through headphones. Then flip over the cassette (or use a new one) and record just the vocals along with the same vocal you hear through the headphones.

Would this work when someone sends that one casette recorded on two sides (or two separate cassettes) for the voal and instrument to be then separated onto separate tracks in Reaper? I just know so many songwriter friends who still have only simple tape cassette recorders that want me to work with their simple recordings. A Lot of them don't even have computers.

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Old 12-14-2011, 02:38 PM   #9
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yes that could work and with claps introductions on the guide and a clap in sync with those on the other parts, you could line them up quite easily.
the problem is losing the quality of performance recording parts seperately to an audio guide with no click. they could record the guide with a metronome to help there, but that has limitations too.

could your friends with one tape deck - feed guitar into the L input and voice into the other?. that would keep them seperate and remain in sync, yet when digitised you could seperate and tweak quite easily.

or are you talking about using a tape recorders built in mic?

do the tape decks have aux inputs? a mic or stereo line input?

what kind of tape deck i guess is the question.

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Old 12-14-2011, 03:04 PM   #10
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Hey, Ben, thanks!!

OK, with an older cassette recorder, I need to ask this: when you record to a cassette, is it mono or stereo?? Not sure. If it was stereo with two separate channels, then that solves everything. You can explode the two channels as separate tracks in Reaper and work with them individually.

But HOW does an older cassette player record when using one cassette? Is it mono on each side of the cassette? Or is it stereo on both sides? Again, not sure. I have a TASCAM 4-track recorder, so that is a no-brainer on track separation. Yet I also have a cassette recorder/player that has no options for separate tracks: maybe a headphone input and a mic input jack is all. In that case, will I only get a mono recording on my cassette?

Oh, you asked about a built-in mic or a mic jack. I have cassette recorders that have both. I believe it's just a mic line input (rather than a stereo line input).So where do I go from here?

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Old 12-14-2011, 03:13 PM   #11
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Ben, you mentioned feeding the guitar into the left input and the vocals into the right. What if the cassette recorder doesn't have separate inputs like that? Some just have one input. Even then, if you try to record a miked guitar into one input and the miked vocal into the other, you would have problems with each mic bleeding sound into the other while recording both at the same time, right?? Or are you talking about direct input with no mics involved? That would solve the problem but I don't know if the sound quality would be as good without mics involved.

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Old 12-14-2011, 03:15 PM   #12
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if no stereo line input, you have problems and will be in 2 tape deck territory as you described.

cassettes do record stereo, its just the deck you describe records a mono signal and slap it onto both cassette channels, so two mono's are as good as one and not much help.

i toyed with this with minidisc, (a snazzier version of cassette!) as i could feed guitar onto one channel and vocal on another, bit easier as they have stereo line in and i have the mics and DI's and cable connectors to fudge it to work, which isn't your scenario.

recording each part seperately with a guide of somekind seems your only option to get seperated parts.. i think.

re your q above:
bleed depends on mic placement etc., but you'd have more control than just mono thats for sure, and recording direct from guitar pickup is often done, the mic pointed at the vocal will be mostly vocal and some guitar, so that blended with pure pickup is often desirable. but if you don't have stereo in, its moot as they say.
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:41 PM   #13
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Thanks, Ben, for all your time and help. You have been more helpful than anyone so far on this forum. I will keep in touch, is that OK? I won't over both you, but sometimes I might have other questions. I really am learning a lot because of people like you.

Hey, do you have your own website? I have one too. I just need to add before and after samples of what I've been doing to complete it.

Mike
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:56 PM   #14
Gerry G
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Default On your first question

This may not be worth the time or impractical because it may degrade the sound but it is quite possible to separate the guitar from the vocals if they are discrete in time.

If the track goes 'la la la' and there is a refrain lead bit after that when the vocals are not sounding 'riff riff riff'.

Then you can just cut the sections into separate tracks preserving where the las and the riffs are in time. Then you can process each track separately with distinct effects.

You could use a combination of this for where the guitar is sounding without the vocals and vice versa then one of the methods above for where they overlap but this second method is likely to degrade the sound and not really be worth it.
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:57 PM   #15
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Quote:
But HOW does an older cassette player record when using one cassette? Is it mono on each side of the cassette? Or is it stereo on both sides? Again, not sure. I have a TASCAM 4-track recorder, so that is a no-brainer on track separation.
It can be mono or stereo. Home & car-stereo cassette decks were stereo. Battery-powered portable decks (used for recording notes in class, etc.) were usually mono.

A normal stereo cassette tape has 4-tracks. If you play a stereo (or mono) cassette in 4-track mode on your TASCAM, you'll hear side-B playing backwards on two of the tracks.

If you take a 4-track tape from your TASCAM and play it on a regular machine, you'll only hear 2-tracks. If you flip the tape over, you'll hear the other two tracks (backwards).

And, the TASCAM runs at double-speed, right???

You can play a mono tape on a stereo machine and vice-versa. I assume a mono machine simply has a "fatter" head so that it can record a fat-track that can be picked-up by both head-coils in a stereo machine. And, when you play a stereo tape on the mono machine, the fat-head will pick-up both tracks at the same time.
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:02 PM   #16
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Thanks, Gerry. I appreciate your comments.

Yeah, when vocals and guitar play together, I guess it's just not possible to separate them EQ-wise or however. I understand what you mean when you can isolate them as they play.

So how does Kareoke systems work when they can silence the vocals from the instruments?

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Old 12-14-2011, 04:08 PM   #17
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Thanks, Doug. Yeah, I understand my TASCAM having 4 tracks. But what about cassette recorders (you know, the older cheaper ones) that don't have separate track capabilities? You just press record, it records on the cassette, etc. Is THAT just a mono recording then? Only one input for recording, no 2 inputs for stereo. Or is that cassette actually stereo with two channels?

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Old 12-14-2011, 04:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
I just know so many songwriter friends who still have only simple tape cassette recorders that want me to work with their simple recordings. A Lot of them don't even have computers.
It's just kind-of sad, because with a computer and a couple-hundred dollars worth of equipment (and a good room/studio) you can make professional-qualty recordings that would have been impossible to do at home in the "cassette & vinyl days".

There's only so much you can do in post-production. It's "links in a chain", and it all starts with a good-quality recording of a good performance.
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Old 12-14-2011, 05:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
Thanks, Ben, ....
Mike
no problem, i been not exactly busy and recall using a dictaphone as a mic many years ago - i also been thinking about something similar for a guy who isn't into computers and for a way of him recording song ideas for me to tweak with as little tech as possible but keeping the parts seperate, seemed a relevant topic...

perhaps instead of buying blank cassettes they can save and head over to your place and do a better job of it from the start.
or pool resources and help get the guy with a computer (you) a cheap little multi-input audio device, for all your benefit.
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:08 PM   #20
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Cassette can be mono or stereo. Either way it's 1 7/8 ips speed. Stereo is compatible with mono, but it only plays back mono. Imagine a two-lane highway. A single lane of traffic goes each way. That's a mono cassette. No imagine a 4-lane road, but take out the suicide lane. That's stereo, only the lanes are skinnier that with mono. A good cassette deck has a stereo head, L and R. Flip the tape over and it uses the same stereo head to play the lanes that were going the other direction.

Many of the 4-tracks ran at 3 3/4 ips, double the speed of a regular cassette. There will be no compatibility.

Syncing two decks is hard with consumer equipment. I've don't it with good decks and with decks that I've calibrated to run the same.

Cheap boombox decks might be stereo, but if you use the built-in mics and play the parts together, then you can't separate them.

You can record hard left and hard right through line ins and separate, but cassette leaves much to be desired. A better option would be to use a stereo Hi-Fi VCR...or minidisc, computer, etc.

If you are doing this for someone, then you'll be ahead of the game if you just record them again with better equipment. If that isn't an option, then you do have another option. I have sometimes copied the stereo track and processed it a bit differently EQ wise for the instrument I was trying to "bring out".
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:38 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
So how does Kareoke systems work when they can silence the vocals from the instruments?

Mike
These machines rely on the fact that in almost all commercial recordings the vocal is effectively mono, dead centre in the stereo image, and if you subtract one channel from the other the vocal is almost cancelled out. Anything recorded with different amounts of level or phase across the L+R will still be heard (including the main vocal's reverb).

It's not perfect, but it's good enough for Karaoke. It does rely on vocals being panned dead-centre and the instruments not.



>
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Old 12-15-2011, 03:48 AM   #22
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have you tried building these guys a little adapter that would allow them to connect one mic to left and one mic to right of their current single input stereo socket?

Shared neutral, split the phase lines out to two mono mic sockets?

Couldnt be any worse than what you have and may get you some separation for future stuff?
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Old 12-15-2011, 07:52 AM   #23
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Default Just some thoughts

Further from what Planet9 says, also some Karaoke tracks are taken from the multi tracks where they just eliminate vox1 (the main vocal).

Seriously I would get a laptop and just about any cheap interface for two four or eight mics rather than use a casette these days. The hiss was always horrendous. You could minimise it by adjusting the tape head using the screws but even dolby noise reduction left a big gap in the mid highs. It boosted the hiss range of frequencies on record then cut them on playback but there was a pretty bad level of degradation. Still we had fun using casettes to record way back.

A good 1/4" or 1/2" reel to reel was better and some bands, even now, throw their recordings into reel to reels to get a nice bit of tape saturation.

After this there was DAT or Digital Audio Tape. It was cleaner but did nothing to improve the sound like tape saturation. Then there were digital recorders with hard drives on board. Some are pretty good but limited in what they can do.

To save money I would look at a laptop with maybe a Behringer preamp with an inbuuilt or separate AD/DA to convert to digital or a hand held four track recorder like Art Evans sometimes uses. Ask if you need further explanation but a bit of feedback on budget and what you want to do might help to zoom in on the solution.

Last edited by Gerry G; 12-15-2011 at 01:48 PM.
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