To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

Arts & Entertainment

Vocal Session, Part 2: Comping

Armin van Buuren

Lesson time 11:19 min

Once Josh has finished singing, it’s time to “comp” his vocal performance. Watch Armin’s veteran ears and musical instincts at work as he and Josh select the best parts of each vocal take.

Armin van Buuren
Teaches Dance Music
Learn how to make dance music from the platinum-selling producer voted No. 1 DJ in the world five times by DJ Magazine.


- So now Josh left the vocal booth. He's here with me, and we're going to comp the first verse-- the first takes of the first verse. And I just want to have his opinion as well. I think it's important to know if he's happy with the recording that we just did. So what I'm going to do now, if you're OK with that, I'm going to go over each individual line, and play all the lines to him. And then we can both pick our favorites. And sometimes it means that he has a different favorite than me, and then we go into a discussion. So I'm really curious to see what he thinks of his vocal performance. So the first line in the song would be here. It's-- "she woke up in the morning" is the first line. So the first take was here. So I'm going to select the first take. And then I'm going to send it-- I'm going to send this to the stereo output for the moment. JOSH (ON RECORDING): (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. She woke up in the morning. She woke up in the morning. She woke up in the morning. She woke up in the morning. - One more time, first take. JOSH (ON RECORDING): (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. JOEL: Second take. JOSH (ON RECORDING): (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. JOEL: The third take. JOSH (ON RECORDING): (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. She woke up in the morning. JOEL: Do you have a favorite? - I don't know. It's between one and four for me, I think. - Really? - One's a little more subtle. Yeah. But I do like four. - I think the timing on three was good. - Three is also-- yeah. Two was definitely the one I don't like. - Two is the one you don't like? Why you don't like it? - Play it back. JOSH (ON RECORDING): (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. - That "C" on "cup" is so aggressive. To me, it has no feeling. (SINGING) She woke up. It's like a violent awakening. - OK. So your favorite would be one or four. JOSH (ON RECORDING): (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. - It's more subtle. - Yeah. - It feels like an opening line. - It's that morning. (SINGING) Morning. JOSH (ON RECORDING): (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. - This feels a little bit lazy. Laid back. Too laid back. - Mm hm. - So again, we were right. The very first take was the one. So for the first line, we've just selected the very first take. So that's going to go up. So I've selected this, and now I'm going to go to the second line. Again, first I'm going to play the very first take, which is this one. So I'm going to select this. Vocal comping is a very personal process. It is really what makes you an artist. And I think it's always very important to do it together with the vocalist, because he or she probably knows her voice the best. But I'm also knowing, as an artist, what I'm looking for, what kind of emotion I want. And I think you also have to take into account the meaning of the lyric, how you want that to come across. And somet...

About the Instructor

Every week, Armin van Buuren puts 41 million listeners into A State of Trance on his radio show. In his first-ever online class, the platinum-selling DJ breaks down his hits and builds a track from scratch to show you how he produces, performs, and promotes dance music. You’ll learn his technical process for using samples and plug-ins, mixing, recording vocals, and how to DJ a set. Your crowd is waiting.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Love Armin's presentation style, and that he actually worked up a track idea from scratch. Was more than a little surprised to find out that my usual workflow these days is nearly identical to his!

Specifically, this class helped me understand acquiring and processing vocals better. This knowledge, in addition to general helpful reminders about music (e.g. always have fun) and several technical tips, will help push my music further, achieve the sounds I want, and most importantly, make listeners (and myself) happy. Thanks Armin!

It is good to have insight and be inspired by what he says

As a fan of EDM this class allows you to enjoy the music even more.


A fellow student

What I found really useful when recording/comping - having a notebook and making notes (favourite take, what needs to be changed/tuned, etc.)

Kenneth S.

With all of the everything in this lesson to note, it's the bit about making an agreement with a singer before you get started. I very very helpful item later on, but it puts everybody on the same page and removes future issues. I like that...

Dale H.

I find it really interesting to hear what the unprocessed vocals sound like compared to the finished product. The impact of the doubling, reverb, and other effects is really noticeable when A/Bing this lesson to the finished product!


Amazing class on attitude in the studio with the musician. I remember the first time I recorded someone singing and now I see I had the worst attitude. Now I think I learned how to be nice and to create a good environment in the studio.

Szymon W.

I would be interested in seeing how this tune has been made more than the trance stuff. I'd love to see the songwriting and coming up with ideas more like this.

Rafa M.

I personally have no problem with autotune, unless it is used to compensate for someone who doesn't sing. But, let's face it, not every singer (even if trained) sings perfectly, so it's fine to add some slight autotune to fix some notes. Also, it can have creative uses as in Daft Punk's second album

Keegan D.

I agree that having the vocalist's opinion is crucial because he/she knows their voice the best and if you're trying to choose the right vocal takes for the track, you're just going to be guessing and the track won't have the same feel as you'd probably like it to have.

Mark S.

For vocals I like to use Melodyne 4 Editor - It keeps a natural feel even with some major fixes.


I didn't know that Logic could do all those takes on the vocals and then help you with comping!

DeWayne A.

This has been eyeopening for me. Having used many different software packages since the early 90s I can see that I need to spend more time learning Logic's advanced functions. I've always been an instrumentalist, and I really want to start learning how to record voices. My children are starting to gravitate to their areas of music and I want to be able to guide each. Of my 5, I have 3 singers, two composers/producers, one songwriter and two multi-instrumentalists.