How to Make a Minus Track

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A minus track is basically just an instrumental audio track. Find out how to properly make a minus track with help from an experienced audio engineer in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Guitar & Professional Audio
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Video Transcript

What's going on, guys? My name is Joey Biagas, and I'm an audio engineer and musician of about seven years now and today I'm going to show you how to minus a track. So let's get to it. Alright so let's go ahead and create a minus track and just in case you don't know what a minus track is, how did you get here? No I'm just kidding, but a minus track is actually basically just an instrumental track. It's a song without the vocals. A lot of people like minus tracks to be able to sing along, to practice to karaoke with, whatever reason is your reason, let's go ahead and create one. Now I'm going to be using a program called Pro Tools. It's a digital audio workstation, DA for short and you can basically use any program, any digital audio workstation, any program that you have available to you. It's the same process. It's just you know maybe a little bit different way to get there as far as the program that they are using, just make sure that you are doing the same major points and I'll point them out as we go along. It's really just a simple process. So let's go ahead and get started. So first I'm going to create two mono tracks in my program, okay? So if you can with whatever program that you are using please try and create two separate mono tracks. If not, go ahead and import your stereo song and split that up into two separate mono tracks, that is the first goal, the first step here that we're trying to achieve okay? So in Pro Tools let's go ahead, new tracks and I'm going to hit two for two mono, hit create, perfect. Okay so let's go switch over to I'm going to switch over to my finder because I have my song, this is one of my songs I feel in love with "The Lighter" is the title, okay and I'm going to click and drag and import that and it should take just a moment to process, there we go, alright. So I'm going to let you guys take a listen to this so you know I'm telling the truth about it. It does not have, or does have vocals. So before I let you listen, let me pan these mono I mean, yeah, these mono tracks, left and right so you can hear the full stereo sound. Alright, so here we go. Okay so perfect, you heard that there's vocals and there's singing and all that jazz. Alright, so the next step, like I said if you are not using Pro Tools and you're using something else, make sure that you have control over left and right because that is the main point, separating the stereo into two monos, okay? Because what we're going to do next is process one of the channels so you can pick, it doesn't matter, left or right, just choose one. I usually do the left, I usually do the top one but it doesn't matter and you want to process this into, well you want to invert it. You want to change the way forum upside down and I'm not going to get all technical and scientific of why and why this happens but just know to invert one of the channels okay? So select the channel, the left channel like this guy, you know what, let me zoom in so you can see the whole thing, okay. So I selected it, right, it's highlighted. I'm going to cruise over to Audio Suite, cruise down to other and then find invert, there we go, invert okay? And then I'm going to process it. Boom, okay, it's processed, it's done and that's basically it on how to minus track. So let's go ahead and take a listen to this track, I'm going to zoom back in and I am actually, oh one last thing if you are kind of following along what I was doing, you want to make sure that these tracks are actually mono now and what I mean by mono is pan to the center, so both the tracks, both left and right pan to the center or else it's not going to work. Alright, so let's go ahead and take a listen to this track now. Okay, hear that see, there are no more vocals in that, okay so like I know I'm not going to get technical and scientific and I'm not but I'm going to tell you kind of what's going on here because I'm sure you can tell that it's not perfect, it's not, it's basically impossible to take out just vocals but what it's doing is it's taking out the center track of the stereo field within this song. So whatever was originally panned to the center, direct dead on center of this track is going to be taken out so not only is it vocals because vocals of course are generally traditionally panned to the center but so is the bass guitar, so is the kick drum, so is the snare drum. So you kind of lose all those things within the song as well but here's another thing what you won't lose are you'll hear vocals every once in a while because sometimes there will be background vocals that were panned, you know, to the left or to the right or somewhere in between but they weren't dead on center so those you still will hear as well as reverb artifacts because when we add reverb to the vocals, even though the vocals are panned dead center, the reverb is a stereo field so you'll be able to hear a little bit of the reverb here and there but it will sound kind of ghostly because again, it is just reverb that is you know, floating from left to right space okay? And that's basically it. From there you can just export it. It doesn't matter how you do it. Within Pro Tools you can obviously go to bounce to disc or export but it really, like I said, it doesn't matter, it just matters that you get the song back out. Alright guys, so there you go, that's pretty much it in minusing a track. So if you do have any other questions, please let us know. Thanks for watching.

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