How to Isolate Drums From a Song: 6 Simple Ways
In this article, you’ll learn exactly how to isolate drums from a song.
Whether you are learning to play drums or just interested in hearing them separately from your favorite songs, isolating them is the easiest method. From vocals to the many different instruments that make up a song, it is easy for drums to get lost in the sound. So, if you’re having trouble hearing the drums in your favorite song, let’s look at ways you can isolate it.
Here are a few ways to isolate drums from a song:
- Download Audacity, the audio editing app.
- Try the Moises app.
- Import and edit in Pro Tools.
- Try out Logic Pro.
- Phonic Mind app.
- Bonus: Check out a drum tutorial.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these methods and see what works best for you.
1. Download Audacity, the Audio Editing App
Audacity is a free app available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. This app is for recording, mixing, and editing music, but you can also use it to isolate certain instruments in existing songs. Let’s go over a little bit of how the app works and what you need to know before getting started.
First, you’ll want to download the app to whatever computer you plan to use. Because of its design and intricate features, you need some sort of PC to run Audacity. Though, this probably isn’t surprising for those familiar with recording or editing software as you can rarely run them on a smartphone.
So, download the app and ensure your system has enough room to run it. Once you have it downloaded, you’ll want to import the song you want to edit. Audacity supports the click-and-drag method for audio that you want to import, but that may not work for everyone. Alternatively, you can click on the “File” option at the top of the screen. From there, choose “Import” then “Audio.”
Doing this will allow you to import songs that you have saved to your PC as long as they are files supported by the app. Audacity supports MP3, WAV, and AIFF files. So, you may need to convert your music files if they differ.
Once you import the song you want, you can begin isolating specific parts of the song you want to hear. You can isolate the drums to only hear them throughout the song. You can even take it one step further, get rid of the drums, and play the song without them.
To specifically isolate the drums in Audacity once you have the song imported, look for the “effect” drop-down menu at the top of the page. From there, select the “DrumExtract” option. This will allow you to isolate or remove the drums in the song you imported. So, isolate the drums to hear them, then remove them and play along with the song once you learn it.
This program lets you do many things with songs considering that it remains free to download. One of the only issues that Audacity users face is that it may not work with lower-quality audio. To get the best possible isolation experience, the music should be as clear as possible. Otherwise, it may not be completely reliable.
2. Try the Moises App
The Moises app is another great option for isolating drums in a song. This app allows you to remove vocals and specific instruments from a song of your choice through the app. Unlike the Audacity app, this app is for smartphone devices. So, let’s get into how to use the app.
The app separates each instrument and sound in a song allowing you to minimize and maximize each sound. You need to have the song purchased or downloaded to your device to use these features. For iTunes, the app will redirect you to the iTunes store, where you can purchase the song that you want to edit.
Once you have the song ready to go, import it into the app by clicking the green plus sign at the bottom of the screen. After you choose the song you want, the app will prompt you to decide how many parts you want the song split into. While some songs may only be available in two parts, the vocals and instruments, plenty of songs will have the option to be broken down further.
This app has plenty of features for those who are looking to improve their musical talent. Not only can you isolate the drums in just about any song you import, but you can also export that version of the song. This means you can listen to the isolated drum version of the song you imported even outside of the app.
You can control the volume of each part of the track while the song plays. So, feel free to play around with the sound levels until you get the exact sound mix that you want. While drummers don’t have to worry about notes, the app shows the chords of a song as it plays. You can keep track of what note progression the song follows as you drum along.
The Moises app also works in reverse, meaning you can isolate the drums in a song or choose to remove them. Once you are confident in playing a song, you can play the song and drum along, replacing the drums with your own. Unfortunately, there is not yet a way to record your music and add it to this app, but it is great for practice.
While the Moises app is free to use, there are features you must pay for that you should know about to help you out. The chord tracker is available for each song for free, but it does not cover the entire song. If you want to follow the chord progression throughout the entire song, you will need to upgrade to the paid version.
The paid version of the app also allows you access to the smart metronome feature. Many drummers use metronomes to keep time when practicing, recording, and even performing. There is no shame in using one to help your accuracy and timing. This is especially true if you are learning a new song. Consider the paid version of the Moises app if you want this feature.
3. Import and Edit in Pro Tools
Pro Tools is a great program for musicians to record and edit their music. While there are many awesome uses for the program that we could talk about, let’s focus on how it can help isolate drums.
It is worth noting that Pro Tools is a major music-creating software. Therefore, Pro Tools gives you all the options that a traditional recording studio has. Because of this, the program is not free and may be out of your price range if you only plan to use it for isolating drums. But if you want the best possible quality, then this is the best option for you.
Let’s talk about how to isolate drums in Pro Tools. Start by importing a song into Pro Tools. You can do this by choosing “import” under the “File” drop-down at the top of the screen. Select the “audio” option and choose the file for the song you want to edit. This will import the song into Pro Tools allowing you to edit it.
When you import a track into Pro Tools, it will break it down as individual instruments and vocals. From there, you can easily remove certain parts of the song. Use this feature to remove all but the drums if you want to hear them isolated. You can also do this in reverse and play everything but the drums.
One thing that sets Pro Tools apart from the other programs above is that you can remove the drums for the entire song or just parts of it. If you want to isolate the drums just for the chorus or specific parts where they are difficult to hear, you can do that easily with Pro Tools.
Consider using Pro Tools to isolate drums, especially if you plan to use it to record music as well. It can be an investment. However, it is worth it for many musicians for all the specs and details you get with Pro Tools.
4. Try Out Logic Pro
Logic Pro is a digital audio workstation similar to Pro Tools. One of the most common praises about this program is that it allows you to do many different things without being confusing or overwhelming.
It works similarly to the above programs allowing you to easily import songs and break them down into separate parts. While it is possible to remove other parts of the track leaving only drums, that can affect the overall quality of the music. Instead, you can use Logic Pro to lower the volume of every other part of the track allowing the drums to outshine the rest of the song while still allowing it to play at a lower volume.
Having this option will help the drums remain clear and crisp compared to the potentially compromised audio that can happen from simply removing the rest of the sections. Use Logic Pro to lower them instead. This can help save the potential loss of quality that some songs suffer as you heavily edit them.
When you use Logic Pro software, you will be able to import a song and break it down into different instruments. From there, you can remove other instruments and isolate the drums. This will give you exactly what you are looking for without much effort. If quality is an issue, make sure you adjust the volume of each instrument.
Much like Pro Tools, Logic Pro is pricey considering what you want to do. But if you are looking for studio-quality mixing and editing, then this is a great option for you.
5. Phonic Mind App
This is a free app for those who aren’t looking to record music but rather just looking to edit existing tracks only. So, it doesn’t give you much room to play around with mixing and editing the song. Instead, it allows you to simply raise and lower the volume of different parts of the songs like the vocals, bass, drums, and overall sound.
This is a perfect, free option for those looking to just hear the drums of a song without needing any extra features. While Phonic Mind is a free app, it is not completely free to use. In fact, Phonic Mind charges you depending on the number of songs you want to edit. After the free trial of editing songs ends, the app will ask you to upgrade.
The upgrades offered in the Phonic Mind app are Basic and Pro, depending on your needs. Both the Basic and Pro memberships are pretty affordable, so consider signing up for one if you think Phonic Mind is the app for you. Both options give you unlimited songs to edit, full conversions, fast processing time, and the ability to cancel at any time.
The only difference between the Basic and Pro versions of the Phonic Mind app is the type of downloads they accept. So, this may be important if you don’t have access to MP3 versions of the songs you want to isolate drums from. The Basic version covers MP3s only, while the Pro version covers MP3s, FLACs, ZIPs, and MP4s.
As long as you have MP3 files of songs you want to convert, then you don’t have to worry about upgrading to Pro and can stick with Basic. The small difference between the two subscription levels only applies to the files accepted. So, there would be no other benefit to selecting the more expensive upgrade if you don’t need to convert other file types.
After you figure out the plan that suits your needs, you are ready to get started. Start by choosing an MP3 (or other for Pro users) to import. The app works quickly to read the music and separate the parts of the song for you. In fact, it can download about a song in a minute. From there, the app will show you four options.
These options cover the vocals of the songs, the bass, the drums, and a category for the remaining instruments and sounds. To use this for isolating drums, turn everything else down except for the drum section. Like other apps, this can affect the overall quality of the song. Try setting different volumes for these sections until you find the clearest possible sound.
If this app interests you, you can actually try it before downloading the app by visiting their website. Here, they have a “How It Works” section that describes how to use the app. In this section, they also offer five examples of songs that are embedded in the website and ready to test. This will show you how it works and what it sounds like and can help you decide if it’s right for you.
6. Bonus: Check Out A Drum Tutorial
If you want to learn and understand the drumming part of a song and are having trouble isolating the drums, then a YouTube tutorial video can do it for you. Now, this is not a guaranteed method of learning the exact drum progression in a song simply because people can make mistakes when recording a cover.
You will need to take the time to find a drum cover that is as close as possible to the original song. Look for covers done by people with a good understanding of music like teachers and artists. Also, play the cover along with the song a few times to ensure it is a decent fit.
Once you are confident that the cover accurately represents the song, go ahead and learn it from there. One of the best parts of using a YouTube video for this is that you can see how the drummer is playing. This is especially important for beginners who are still learning the basics of drumming. For experts, this may not seem as important.
Consider your options carefully when looking for a cover video. Most drummers like to add their own flair and flavor to a cover, so it won’t be just like the original. One exception could be a drummer playing their own song or a video meant to teach people how to play a specific song. Look for these more than just basic covers, as they are more likely to be accurate.
Overall, the process of separating drums from an existing song is not easy unless you have the right tools. Some of the above options are for musicians who want to also record their own songs, but other options are free and easy to use for beginners.
When you try the options above, remember that it is nearly impossible to separate the drums from the rest of the track without suffering audio quality. So, be aware of this expecting an imperfect audio experience. Otherwise, have fun and enjoy the experience of learning the drum patterns of your favorite songs.