Learning the Language of Recording Studios by IADTTampa


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                                          Learning the Language of Recording Studios
                                          If you have ever had the opportunity to spend some time in
                                          a recording studio, you know that it is essentially a different
                                          world than the one most of us live in. There is an
                                    abundance of high-tech equipment that the average person can’t
                      begin to identify, and people speak some strange combination of English and
         what sounds like a foreign language.

With some practiced observation you can usually begin to figure out which buttons control which
functions for the studio. However, deciphering the language used by recording arts professionals can
prove to be quite the challenge.
So what exactly is this Babel-inspired language, and how
can you learn to speak and understand it? Unfortunately,
recording studio terminology is not something you can
learn overnight, but with a little dedication and some
great resources, you too can speak this intricate language.

Mastering the Recording Studio Lingo
Competition is fierce in the recording arts industry, and
knowing the lingo will help place you ahead of the
competition. If you are pursuing a degree in recording arts
you will most likely come across most of the terminology
through your classes and coursework. However, change occurs frequently in this versatile industry,
and it will serve you well to stay on top of developments at all times.

Below you will find a sampling of some commonly used recording arts terminology. This is by no
means a complete list, but it will help you get a good start on learning the lingo used in recording

Recording Studio Terminology

    •   AD/DA converters - AD converters convert analog audio signals to digital; DA converters
        convert digital audio back to analog.
    •   AES/EBU - A digital audio signal standard, used for transmitting digital audio between
    •   AIFF - Common sound file format (Audio Interchange File Format)
    •   Bandpass filter - In a crossover network, a filter that passes a band or range of frequencies
        but sharply attenuates or rejects frequencies outside the band.
    •   BIT Width - The number of bits, or binary digits, used to store each individual sound sample.
    •   Capstan - In a tape-recorder transport, a rotating post that contacts the tape (along with the
        pinch roller) and pulls the tape past the heads at a constant speed during recording and
    •   DAW - An acronym for Digital Audio Workstation, a stand-alone system of hardware and
        software which will allow the recording, playback, editing, and storage of digital audio
    •   DBX - A type of noise reduction used by some analogue magnetic tape machines.
    •   EEPROM - An acronym for Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. A
        computer chip that can be loaded with data (sound samples, program patches, etc.) and later
        erased (with an electrical voltage) and loaded with updated information.
    •   Foldback - Also known as 'FB' or 'Cue system', a monitor system that permits musicians to
        hear previously recorded tracks, along with their live performance, through headphones.

    •   MIDI - A simple data transfer system that allows computers to communicate with
        synthesizers, music keyboards to communicate with computers etc.
    •   S/PDIF - The Sony/Philips Digital Interface, used for transmitting digital sound signals
        between equipment.
    •   XLR - A type of audio connector, common in studios and professional audio equipment.

The selections above are a brief introduction to the vast and varied amount of terminology used in the
recording arts industry. Clearly, this industry has managed to create a language that is entirely its
own. If you are interested in pursuing a career in recording arts, it is essential that you master this
lingo. For a more complete glossary of commonly used recording arts terminology, we recommend
checking out the Guitar Nine Records Glossary of Terms and Bruce Bartlett’s Glossary of Recording

This article is presented by the IADT – Tampa. Contact us today if you are interested in pursuing a
rewarding career or a recording arts program through one of our innovative and industry-current
degree programs.

IADT – Tampa does not guarantee employment or salary. All trademarks are property of their
respective owners.

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