Comping Vocal Performances

April 23, 2013

Recording vocals can be a tricky process. It’s hard to get spot on vocal takes consistently, especially through the entire duration of a song. There is nothing worse than asking a singer to sing the same parts over and over again, hoping to unearth a gem of a performance. There are some techniques that can help out here, and one of the main ideas that has come around with the use of non-linear DAW recordings is”vocal compings”.

“Comping” in this situation refers to making a “compilation” out of the best parts of multiple performances. This allows you as the engineer to get the best quality recording, and puts less strain on the performer’s vocal cords. As Bobby Owsinski outlines in his “The Music Producer’s Handbook“, most vocal comping is based on a standard technique. Here are some of the key points:

  • Get a copy of the lyrics and divide them into clear phrases.
  • Listen carefully during playback and make notes with evaluation marks after each phrase.
  • After listening to all of the passes, try to piece together a vocal.
  • If a phrase still isn’t working, try comping by the word or syllable instead.

You can read more about these techniques and see how to apply this skill set to modern DAWs at the Universal Audio blog here.

What does an Audio Engineer actually do?

November 9, 2015


What does an audio engineer actually do? That depends on a number of variables! The very basic idea of audio engineering is being able to get sound from one place, to another. An audio engineer needs to be able to set up mics, route signal, test equipment, add EQ or effects, and make sure the overall program is listenable.

For example, if we think about what happens at a concert – sound starts with the vocalist singing into a microphone. Where does the sound go from there? How does the crowd get to hear it coming out of speakers? What happens in-between the microphone and speaker?