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Arts & Entertainment

Vocal Session, Part 3: Editing and Mixing

Armin van Buuren

Lesson time 16:52 min

Learn how Armin uses editing and effects to get a clean, powerful vocal track that still sounds natural to the listener’s ear.

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.


- I would want to listen to the take without the music and without the auto-tune to see if I'm happy. And if I wouldn't be happy, I would ask him to go back and do a couple of takes more. But I think he did a great job. So let's listen to the takes, our favorite pick in one line without auto-tune. MAN: (SINGING) She woke up in the morning with the sunrise in her eyes. All that she sees is darkness, and she won't tell you why. - If you carefully listened, you heard he smacked a little bit with his voice, which is normal. But the DAWs are so-- you hear everything on a vocal performance. I don't remove all the breaths because it makes it feel unnatural. Sometimes I put the volume down on breaths and stuff. I do, however, want to remove the little click that he did with his mouth. And that was around here. You see? You hear a little smack going on there. And you won't really hear it unless you start adding compression. If you add compression to a vocal, which is something you normally do when you've finished recording and you've got auto-tune and everything set, and if you have a little click, the compressor will bring it up. And it will sound like something that could bother the groove a little bit. So that's why I always spend a little bit of time on actually cleaning the take and use fade-ins, fade-outs without making it sound unnatural. I would go in here, I would select this take, and I would say here, a little fade-in. MAN: (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. - Because I don't need to hear the other audio, so fade out here. But just be very, very careful that you don't make it too short. Because the human voice-- you hear when somebody is taking a breath. And it's actually part of the singing process for me. So I like to hear when he's taking a breath to sing a certain sentence. MAN: (SINGING) She woke up in the moon. - So I will remove that, then fade in on this one, fade out on this one. Let me say. MAN: (SINGING) She woke up in the morning. - And I would turn it up a little bit so I could really hear everything that's going on in the take. MAN: (SINGING) She woke up in the morning with the sunrise in her eye. - See? Now the S is gone. Where's the S? MAN: (SINGING) She woke up in the morning with the sunrise in her eyes. - See? I don't see the S, but I hear it, because the waveform is not showing it. But you do need to check. You need to be very, very careful when you're cleaning your vocal takes. MAN: (SINGING) With the sunrise in her eyes. - There's a little tick at the end. And we can clean that up with a fade out. MAN: (SINGING) With the sunrise in her eyes. With the sunrise in her eyes. - There's a little breath. I want to hear that breath. So here's the thing. This is where I also-- this is why I want the singer to be there when I'm comping the vocal-- because I think it's important to have a discussion. Some singers don't like their breaths, as some singers do. I...

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.

Great teacher, great examples, invaluable advice.

This was an amazing and very fun class! I learned some much and had a great time with it. It's everything you think it is and a little bit more.

I loved it & I'm definitely inspired!! You gave me hope again Armin to keep going ....Thanks so much!!!

Armind is magic, I learned a lot and I'm going to perfect my work because as he says: everything is possible ...



Excellent! As both a vocal artist and someone who has recorded other vocalists, I totally agree with this process and I appreciate how involved he allows the vocalists to be in the mixing process. This isn't always the case. Many times the vocalist leaves and the mix engineer chooses all of what they perceive as the "best takes" without inquiring of the person who sang the parts. I really like how Armin talks kindly and is personable with the vocal artist.

Ido M.

Can someone tell the singer to stop nodding in the background it distracting me lol 😂😂


wonderful process. so in depth. most of my recordings are like, "eh. good enough". but admin gets every detail right, and that's why he's a world class producer

Henry P.

The way you treat any hired gun can make all the difference. Make them as comfortable as possible. As a vocalist I can say that some producers are better than others at this psychological game, but I find myself much more willing to comply with those that handle the communication with respect and professionalism. Solid lesson!

Marc T.

Great lesson! I was really looking forward to learn more about vocal editing and this was really helpful.

Michael D.

Tahini (sesame seed paste) is the worst for messing up a vocal performance. Clogs up the throat.

Mike B.

This was just gold. I wrote down all the plugin settings. It'll be a good place to start when recording my own vocal tracks. I'm also sold on many of the plugins Armin uses, especially the Arts Acoustic reverb. He mentions using a utility to get it to work on a mono vocal track. Anyone have any ideas on how he's doing this?

James M.

I watched this lesson and then went and bought FabFilter's compressor (very happy with it) and used Armin's simple vocal chain. Here is my mix—any ideas for improvement? Last time, I posted a mix I was so happy with all the feedback and it helped very much, so appreciate your honesty! This is a song I wrote (NOT dance music) and mixed in my home studio. I did all the instruments in Logic Pro X, except the bass and guitar which were recorded live.

Christian S.

Is there any problem with latency if I play my prodject with all synt´s running, and use direct monitoring to the vocal performer? My interface Antelope Orion 32 let me do direct monitoring, with reverb.. Logic compensate for the delay and place the audio in time? ..Right?

Nick C.

Can someone shed some light on what a de-esser does that's so important for vocals specifically, and why Armin uses it for all of his vocal tracks?