On a daily basis I come across many words used in the recording world that have no meaning to me or have lost any meaning they might have once had. These words come out of clients' mouths, from other studio's websites, from advertising and from gear catalogs. (My apologies to anyone who uses these words on a daily basis.)

World class

I know I've gone on a rant about this one before. I think it's a term that people who have invested too much money into large studios dreamed up to make themselves feel justified.

Industry standard

When referring to recording equipment, this phrase gets used a lot by small studios that are trying to talk big. What does it mean? Do their clients believe it?

Top engineers

I saw this one listed a bunch at some studio site. I guess those are the people who are not bottom engineers?

Cutting edge

When used in reference to recording technology this is sad, at best. Wouldn't you rather your album was recorded using equipment and techniques that the engineer had mastered instead of new, untested, cutting-edge gear that they don't understand yet?

Radio ready

Oh god. I had a client seriously use this once. All of a sudden the quick songs I was supposed to be knocking out turned out to be heading in a good enough direction to make the manager decide I should try to make the results radio-ready. "Uh, yeah, sure. Let me plug that device in real quick. You know I was holding back before you suggested this!"

Straight wire with gain

Used in reference to preamps. And cows can fly. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of electronics and amplifier design knows this is a joke.


The stupidest of stupid studio words. I go home and beat myself silly if I catch myself using it in a session. If clients use this word I stare blankly at them and ask them what it means. Probably used frequently after tracking a Telecaster through a JC120.


Almost as dumb as 'warm'. Apparently this word was invented by A&R dorks. "No, really. I was trying to make the snare sound like a wet box of noodles. I never imagined it could have any 'punch'."


Makes sense with wines. I think this just means 'old', especially on eBay. I'd rather have gear that works well, sounds good and is reliable. I don't care how old the shit is.


I see this in ads for recording equipment that will be landfill soon. What does it mean? That it's not quite 'pro' but something less? Pro-Style?


This doesn't get used much these days. Wonder why?

Professional results

I find it amusing that gear can be guaranteed to deliver something despite the fact that the operator of said equipment will determine the results.

State of the art

My true favorite. See 'cutting edge' for this one. If it's truly art, who in the hell could determine a standard with which we could set a scale to determine this level one must approach? Used by ridiculous studios on their websites to describe their engineers, gear and techniques.

Fix it in the mix

Doesn't everyone know this is a freaking joke? I saw it on the cover of a magazine the other day, and immediately felt sorry for the copywriter who tossed it on there. Ouch.

Professional-quality demo

First of all, I HATE the word 'demo'. It has no meaning for me. A demo should be something a songwriter makes in order to remember the song or show it to other musicians. It's not something you should hire me to do for $55 an hour (unless you're a wealthy rock star and these 'demos' will be used as b-sides or future bonus tracks). If you are entering the studio you should be trying to capture the art of what you do. What's the point otherwise? We're making albums and tracks people want to hear, not some weird intermediate stepping stone for managers and A&R dorks to listen to and throw in their stupid ideas. And then to call a 'demo' 'professional-quality'? Why, it's not good enough to release but good enough to be 'pro quality'? Huh? A favorite phrase used by small studios trying to bilk the local teens out of money earned on newspaper routes or borrowed from parents so they can record their band and find out they need a lot more practice, better gear, songs, talent and more time.

Ouch. If anyone has more words like these, send them in! — editor@tapeop.com

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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