This world of professional audio requires us to have a handle on of a lot of different makes and model numbers for all the many items of gear we use to make great sounds. Most manufacturers will have different versions of the same basic product, so with each new release announcement, you have one more little detail to file away in your brain - often it's something like the difference between the 6032 and the 6042 or some other seemingly random sequence of numbers. Recalling specific model numbers is not one of my strengths - I can rhyme off the differences between different models fairly easily, but I'm not so good at keeping the numbers straight. And you might think proper names would be better, but anyone who's needed to consult Google to remind themselves which species of cat they are currently running as an OS will know that it's not really a more intuitive solution.
This whole make and model thing can be problematic because this is a business where normal educational milestones are sometimes not as important as one's fluency in shop-talk. I imagine that a job interview in the standard business world might involve at least an acknowledgment of one's degrees and diplomas and some school name-dropping. Not in this game though. I have never been asked what degree I have or where I went to college - it's just not nearly as important as what projects I have worked on and who I know. A familiar job interview scenario involves a studio owner throwing gear names around to see if the prospective hire can follow along or, better yet, has their own opinions on which model/version of "widget X" they prefer. This is something I have been tripped up by in the past, getting confused over which version is which during a conversation. Given a minute or two, I usually manage to prove that it is my memory for names that's a bit weak and not my overall knowledge of the gear in question. The industry seems to thrive on building up it's own language that outsiders don't really understand and that distinguishes the old pros from the newbies.
I'm sure everyone's experienced this embarrassing moment before: the mispronounced product name. There are a number of audio brands that are pronounced differently in different countries. For instance: when I was in college we recorded all the sync sound for our student films on Nagra reel-to-reel recorders. I loved those wonderful workhorses and had great fun learning to use them. They are built like tanks and can be relied on to get the job done. The malfunctions came later when I graduated and started interacting with the international audio community. Here in Toronto we pronounce it "NA-gra" with an "a" like "apple" - but in other cities and countries, particularly in the US, it is pronounced "NAW-gruh". Not different enough to cause confusion, but evidently different enough to raise some eyebrows. Same goes for the "mogue" vs "mooo-g" pronounciation of the synth manufacturer Moog. I've been pronouncing it wrong since the 80s. I found out that I was incorrect because I heard straight from Bob Moog himself how it should be pronounced:
My excuse? When I was a kid, I was an avid fan of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team and they had a goalie named Andy Moog; the play by play announcers always called him out as "Mooo-g" and I'm sure that's why I latched on to saying the name that way as well. I later learned that Andy also prefers the "mogue" way of saying it.
I also suspect that living in close proximity to Niagara Falls has influenced people in this area to say Nagra in a similar way, with a "na" instead of "naw". How they pronounce it at the Kudelski HQ in Switzerland? No idea, but I'm almost positive it's neither of the above.
Another name that's tripped up almost every North American english-speaking audio pro is Schoeps. This German microphone manufacturer's handle is unusual enough that I'm not sure anyone on this side of the Atlantic is really getting it right, though a lot of audio geek one-upmanship has pivoted on this one little word. I'd been very familiar with the brand and its products for many years before I ever actually said the name out loud. In my head that whole time I had been saying "show-ps" but I have since learned that the consensus seems to be "sheps". To settle the argument, I have confirmed this by snooping around the videos on the brand's website. Although the employees who say it onscreen have thick German accents, I think "sheps" is close enough to pass muster.
To complicate matters, I went and picked a name for my own company, Azimuth, that is is pronounced very differently from how it looks. Those unfamiliar with the word might say it: "as-eye-mooth" but it's actually "as-a-myth". Old habits die hard though, and many people in my family still regularly mispronounce my company's name, even after eleven years in business!
At least my first name is phonetically no fuss, no muss. It's pretty hard to say "Tim" incorrectly, right?
Beyond the confusion caused by pronunciation, audio companies also like naming things with acronyms, often confoundingly missing key letters. For instance Protools' first de-noising plugin was called DINR. I have heard it pronouced "diner", "dinner" or simply spelled out as "dee-eye-en-are". I actually still don't know what the proper way is, but luckily I use newer, much better, and more straightforwardly-named plugins, like RX* , and don't give much thought anymore to DINR. One less thing to remember!
(Although I have heard RX's manufacturer pronounced as both Eye-zo-tope and ice-i-tope)
I am sure as I get older I will have more and more trouble with all the model and version numbers out there. For now at least I have "play," "record" and "save" all figured out, and really how much more do you need?!
Have I missed any obvious pronunciation trip-ups that you've fallen victim to? Please pass them along in the comments or through Twitter. Catch me @azimuthaudio.