Monday, June 23, 2014

INFO: Creating DIY Acapellas and Instrumentals

If you want to create a mashup or remix of a track, but can't get hold of the official studio instrumental or acapella via the sources listed here, then there a number of ways to create DIY acapellas and instrumentals or obtain unofficial or alternative versions of instrumentals and acapellas. Read on for a list of the main ways this can be done but keep in mind that there is no guarantee that any of these methods will actually produce a quality acapella/instrumental of a particular song.

Methods for obtaining alternative and DIY instrumentals and acapellas:

1. Extract the audio from a 5.1 surround sound DVD. On DVD's with 5.1 Surround sound audio is separated into 6 separate tracks (compared to stereo's 2). It may be that on some of the separate tracks there is either no instrumental or no vocal content and by isolating these tracks you can obtain a pretty good quality instrumental or acapella.

2. Phase Inversion or Phase Cancellation method. This method is not as complicated as it's name sounds. It involves getting the original and official instrumental versions of a song - inverting the signal of one of them, and then playing them back together to hopefully cancel out the instruments in the original track and result in a DIY acapella. This method can also be used the other way round ie if you have the original and studio acapella version of a track you could use these to obtain a DIY instrumental.

3. Knockout Plug In. This is a VST plugin which removes the sound frequencies in one piece of music from another. Therefore if you have a track and the official studio instrumental version you can use Kn0ck0ut to attempt to obtain a DIY acapella, and vice versa. To download Kn0ck0ut click here. Note that you will also need an application such as Audacity to run the Kn0ck0ut plugin in.

4. Centre Channel Cancellation. This is a common technique but in my experience the least successful. This method utilises the fact that the vocal of a track is often the only thing mixed in the centre (of the stereo field) of a track, thus meaning that in theory both left and right channels of audio of a track contain identical vocal content. Therefore by inverting one of the channels the vocal content in the two channels will cancel out leaving you with the instrumental. Adobe Audition is a popular choice for creating DIY acapellas and instrumentals using this method.

5. Soundalike cover or Karaoke version. If you can't find the original instrumental or acapella version of a track then you could always try to find a soundalike track. Karaoke backing tracks are probably the first thing that would spring to mind but they rarely sound the part. Soundalike acapella covers can sometimes be done quite well so can provide a suitable alternative.

6. Use a remix instead. Often a remix may sound quite similar to the original track so it if no official instrumental of the original track is available a remix could be used instead. Another thing to note about remixes is that if there is an (otherwise identical) instrumental and vocal remix of a track the phase inversion or kn0ck0ut methods could also be used to try and obtain the acapella.

7. Recreate the track yourself. Okay so a male bedroom producer is not going to be able to belt out a convincing Beyonce acapella but creating an instrumental cover of an EDM track won't be beyond the limits of a bedroom producer's ability. A good thing about this method is that you then have total control of the instrumental track. Listen to the recreation of the final countdown in this mashup album for instance.

8. Use the instrumentals and breaks of a track as loops to form a whole track. Depending on the structure of a song you may be able to create a passable instrumental by looping the parts of the song eg intro, outro, breaks and solos to form a new track. I used this technique on my D12 vs Fischerspooner mashup.

9. Use a demo version of a track. Some artists - particularly rock and indie musicians - may release or leak demo or in progress versions of tracks. Most of the time these tracks will include vocals but occassionally these tracks are instrumental.


Those are the main ways of obtaining an alternative or DIY acapella or instrumental should you not be able to find an official version. Note that with DIY methods such as Phase Inversion and Centre Channel Cancellation it may not be possible to obtain quality acapellas and instrumentals and often the resulting DIY acapella will require further EQ and filtering effects to remove unwanted sounds from the track.

If there are any methods I have not listed here or any information that is incorrect get in touch via the comments or twitter.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Hello again, is there any chance that could you perhaps make a DIY acapella of Las ketchup - The Ketchup Song (Aserje)for mashup purposes,please? There was a DIY acapella of that song on, but the acapella file on the website that I was trying to download it from is no longer available and I do not know how to make any DIY acapellas myself because it is so complicated!

    1. Hi hill. I've just had aquick look and I think the site has a version of this acapella. You will have to register (registration is free) with the site to be able to download the acapella but it is well worth it as they do have a wide range of acapellas on their site.

    2. Thank you very much! I'm very much obliged! I have downloaded it and listened to it and will make a mashup with it very soon! I didn't look for an acapella of that song on that website because it didn't come up on Google! Was this because the search results on Google(for that acapella) from that particular website were blocked for copyright reasons?

    3. I'm not sure why it won't come up on searches, possibly like you say Google might block that site on copyright reasons. A it might be because the information is stored on a database which the site loads as opposed to the links being on an actual webpage so Google can't index the page. Though I'm no expert in these things so I couldn't say for sure either way.

  2. Hi again, there's a studio acapella snippet of Selena Gomez available on the internet, but I want to find the full version of it, so I can use it for a mashup, but it is nowhere to be found! Is there any way that the full version could be found, if not, then could you please help me make a DIY acapella of the track, thank you.

    1. Which Selena Gomez acapella is it you are looking for?