Audio engineers are translators. We translate ideas into sounds. Creative descriptions into technical decisions. Drunken late-night texts into mix revisions. That’s the secret to this job: we manage personalities and egos, insecurities and interpersonal dynamics, and we translate them into recordings. Knowing what all the knobs and faders do is nothing compared to the daily psychology we dispense. What many of us are not so great at is clear, direct talk with clients about money, credits, timeframes, money, professionalism, money… There’s a forced intimacy to our work that is very often intertwined with friendships and relationships, which can complicate dynamics and blur lines. In the following paragraphs I outline situations recording professionals encounter regularly but don’t often address. This essay is intended to speak to engineers and musicians alike, and I hope it shows both sides real steps toward better communication and ultimately better recordings. A quick note on feelings: don’t take anything I say here personally. We’ve all done some of the things I’ll mention below, and if your producer/engineer wasn’t on some level ok with a certain behavior, they would have said something. I sourced input for this essay from a number of studio professionals for whom I have tremendous respect, and while not everything we discussed is included, I have tried to keep what follows applicable to anyone who doesn’t have a Waves plug-in named after them. Yet.