How do I get music with a full stereo track?
November 11, 2011 1:22 AM   Subscribe

How can I find song files that are in full stereo?

I want to mix two song files together on audacity, mixing the vocals of one onto the music of the other.

I know how to separate vocals from music by splitting the stereo track, but whenever I import a song file into audacity both parts of the stereo track are identical.

How do I find songs that actually have two different parts so that splitting the stereo track actually does something?

posted by grimace636 to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Gift by the Velvet Underground has completely different tracks on the stereo channels, the Left a narrated short story and the Right an instrumental.
posted by 6550 at 2:39 AM on November 11, 2011

I think that you might need to post what songs you want to use, I don't believe there is a "tracks in full stereo" website.
posted by titanium_geek at 3:17 AM on November 11, 2011

I might be wrong, or completely misunderstanding what you're asking, but it seems like it's fairly common for stereo music recordings to have the lead vocal on both the left and right tracks.
posted by box at 4:00 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stereo works by giving your ears two signals from same sound environment, but from two slightly different positions in that environment, thus creating a sense of 'space'. You don't normally hear the vocals (or a particular instrument) recorded on just one side, except where it's done for specific effect. Vocals are very rarely isolated to one channel.

I think what you mean to ask for is for music where you can download the individual parts as separate recordings and mix them yourself. That's nothing to do with stereo. If I remember correctly, quite a few artists have released tracks where whey've allowed people to download the individual parts of the mix, and there are lots of 'a capella' tracks by well-known artists that can be used for the sort of thing you're talking about.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:14 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Early stereo recordings will often have that hard split, with half the instruments on one side and half on the other, so if you're lucky, you can pull the vocals out of some of these tracks by isolating one stereo channel.

In general though, stereo mixes blend all of the sounds together, so you can't really pull out vocals like that. In fact, cleanly extracting the vocals using any technique is difficult to do.

If you're looking to make mash-up mixes, one common technique used is to track down an acapella version of the track in question. These were occasionally included on the B-side of the 12" release. It's far easy to mix an acappela vocal on top of another track than to master the art of vocal extraction.
posted by iivix at 4:31 AM on November 11, 2011

To separate vocals from music what you need is a "multi track master" these will usually be in .FLAC format with 16 or 24 files for a single song.
posted by Lanark at 5:15 AM on November 11, 2011

This is kinda long and not exactly what you're after, but bear with me -- it might be more useful and interesting to you.

MODs are sample-based, four channel songs created with the computer (originally an oldie called Amiga). They have this hard stereo you want, but they are a different kind of music, its roots leaning more to video game music. MODs with vocals are rare.

With time, new variations of the format appeared with more channels, effects and stuff). The beauty of it all is that all songs are open: you have the notes, instruments and extra info to study or edit.

With the right player you can mute channels and export a WAV to mashup with Audacity. If you get an editor ("Tracker") you can do far more interesting stuff.

For your specific case, a musician called Hunz released the files of his album "Thoughts that Move" created with a tracker called Renoise:
You can download a free trial of Renoise and play all you want with the songs. Pretty cool. 
posted by jgwong at 5:58 AM on November 11, 2011

If I'm not mistaken, I think grimace636 may be referring to the vocal removal techniques listed on the wiki. That is, starting with just a "normal" "CD-version" stereo track, I want to 1) extract vocals from a track, to re-use them and 2) extract instruments from a (different) track, to re-use them. I hope that this might help others answer the question.
My own limited understanding of this task is that it is difficult, and whether it works or not really depends on what songs you want to use. Are you looking for a list of songs that would work well with the techniques listed on the Audacity wiki? Have you tried the plug-ins mentioned near the bottom of that page?
posted by mean square error at 8:15 AM on November 11, 2011

A lot of Beatles tracks were in the kind of "stereo" you want. But the people talking about vocal-removal techniques are probably pointing to what you ACTUALLY want.
posted by egypturnash at 8:19 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for the mixing used in e.g. the Beatles tracks egypturnash is likely referring to, the word you're looking for is "mono."
posted by rhizome at 12:35 PM on November 11, 2011

No, they were in stereo - it was just this really weird stereo where say, Ringo and John would be over on the left channel, and Paul and George would be on the right.

This was back when <<<<------STEREO------>>>> was new and people were still figuring out what worked.
posted by egypturnash at 12:57 PM on November 11, 2011

Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby" has the main vocals on the left channel.
posted by jgwong at 5:01 PM on November 11, 2011

What exactly do you mean by "full stereo"? Either the track is stereo or it's mono. Are you sure both channels are identical? If they truly are - meaning if you invert the phase of one side the sound completely disappears - maybe there's some weird setting where your songs are importing as mono? If not, it's likely that these songs actually do have different things going on in each channel but you just aren't hearing it. The stereo effect can be pretty subtle. What happens when you try the vocal separation technique you're referring to with these tracks?
posted by wondermouse at 7:57 PM on November 11, 2011

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