Using Isolation: Tips & Tricks

Capo 3.4 and Capo touch 2.3 now include an all-new isolation effect that replaces the old Mono, EQ, and Vocal Reduction effects. While they’re gone, you can still do everything that the old effects did!

Vocal Reduction

To eliminate vocals from the mix, try the following:

  1. Start with the Effect switch set to “Solo”
  2. Adjust the pan slider so it’s positioned right in the middle
  3. Set the width as low as it goes, because the vocals are typically mixed to the center
  4. Select a frequency range that seems to capture much of the singer’s voice
  5. Set the Effect switch to “Mute” to eliminate the vocals


To re-position the left channel to center:

  1. Adjust the pan slider all the way to the left
  2. Set the width all the way to the right, to get the widest capture from the left channel
  3. Widen the frequency range to the extremes, if needed

If you want to re-position the right channel, repeate the above steps with the pan slider set to the right.


The frequency range control acts similarly to the equalizer when the Effect switch is set to “Solo”, but it provides far more precise control over the range you’re looking to isolate.

Below are a few instrument-specific tips to help you get started.

To isolate a guitar:

  1. Set the Effect switch to “Solo”
  2. Set the width slider somewhere in the middle
  3. Adjust the pan slider until you hear the guitar sound you are after
  4. Start dragging the width slider to the left to reduce interfering sounds
  5. If necessary, adjust with the frequency controls on the low end until you hear the bass and kick drum disappear
  6. If necessary, adjust the high end of the frequency range until the cymbals, hi-hat, and snare are reduced
Tip: Try switching the effect to "Mute" and see if the guitar disappears completely. That's a sure sign that you nailed the settings.

The bass and drums are commonly mixed to the center to provide more impact, but because the vocals also occupy the center you will have to use the frequency range slider to help you narrow in on the bottom end.

To isolate a bass:

  1. Set the Effect switch to “Solo”
  2. Set the width slider somewhere in the middle
  3. Adjust the pan slider to the center
  4. Set the frequency controls to 20Hz at the low end, and 200Hz at the high end
  5. If necessary, try narrowing the width by dragging the slider to the left
  6. Now, adjust the frequency control further to suit the bass line you are trying to hear


The sound I’m chasing seems like it’s coming from “everywhere”

If you’re finding that the target sound is “all over the place” in the mix, then you might want to try a reversed approach. Attempt to eliminate the stuff panned in the center, as with the vocal reduction steps above. Sometimes that’s the only way you’ll get a clear sound of the non-centered instruments.

I can’t seem to make this work with my music!

First of all, isolation only works with stereo songs. You can tell whether isolation is being run on a mono track if the pan energy display is showing a thin, straight line in the middle and nothing else. These are rare nowadays, but it’s worth mentioning.

Second, your success is highly dependent on how the music was mixed. If the instrument you are chasing was mixed closely to another one in the stereo field with the same frequencies then you’ll have a lot of trouble. For example, if the vocals and an acoustic guitar were both mixed equally to the center, then there isn’t much hope in separating the two.

With that said, you can still get some benefit from using the frequency range control to prevent the bass or percussion instruments from leaking in.

In modern music, quite a lot of the energy gets smashed right up near the center of the mix, so it can take a little bit more time to dial in the sound you’re after. Still, if you ever get stuck in these cases, you can get very far by eliminating the vocals, bass, and drums right in the center of the mix to hear all the instruments more clearly.

Tip: If you're feeling discouraged, be sure to turn the Effect switch to "Off" once in a while to compare it to the "Solo" or "Mute" effect that you are trying to achieve. Sometimes your ear will go hunting for the stuff you are trying to eliminate, and you may not realize just how much those sounds have been reduced.

What kinds of music does isolation work best with?

We recommend that you find some older recordings to practice with, since they often mixed with far less complexity. Instruments were often segregated clearly with different pan positions, and often times a guitar or piano would be placed very prominently in either the left or right channel.

Also, live recordings are a great source of material to test isolation with. Generally these recordings are mixed to preserve the positioning of the players on stage, and hence you will find the energy is distributed more evenly across the stereo field.