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What does HTM mean?

A record player showing a vinyl record being pla

Tom |

HTM is a reference to mastering and cutting engineer Harry T. Moss, who worked for the EMI and Abbey Road Studios.

As a signature or mark of his work, Harry would etch his initials, "HTM," into the dead wax area of vinyl records. This etching served as a form of identification, allowing listeners and collectors to recognise his contributions to the mastering process. Harry Moss's work and his etched initials have become recognisable symbols within the vinyl community, often sought after by collectors as a sign of quality craftsmanship.

The HTM etching can be found on certain pressings of records like Revolver, Obscured By Clouds, and The Dark Side Of The Moon.

What is a Mastering Engineer?

In the context of vinyl records, a mastering engineer is responsible for preparing the final audio mix before it is pressed onto vinyl. Their role is crucial in ensuring that the audio is optimised for the vinyl medium, considering factors such as frequency response, dynamic range, and stereo imaging.

Mastering engineers adjust the audio to compensate for the limitations and characteristics of vinyl playback, such as surface noise, tracking issues, and frequency response limitations. Their goal is to create a master recording that sounds its best when pressed onto vinyl and played back on a turntable, delivering a high-quality listening experience for vinyl enthusiasts.

Can You Tell Me More About Harry Moss?

Unfortunately, there is not much publicly available information on Harry Moss' career. It is speculated that he worked at the famous Abbey Road Studios from around 1960, and played an integral role in the mastering of many of The Beatles' releases, as well as many other artists like Shirley Bassey, Deep Purple and Mike Oldfield. He left Abbey Road Studios in the mid-1980s.

As specific dates relating to Harry Moss' career haven't been confirmed, it is unclear exactly when he joined the mastering team at EMI Records, or for how long he worked as an engineer there. 

Why Were Words Etched Into Vinyl Records?

Etching words or symbols into vinyl records, particularly in the deadwax area, serves various purposes depending on the context. Here are a few reasons why people etch words into vinyl records:


In the case of mastering engineers like Harry Moss (HTM), etching initials or symbols into the deadwax area served as a form of identification. This allowed engineers to leave their mark on the record, indicating their involvement in the mastering process.


Some artists or bands may choose to etch personal messages, artwork, or other unique identifiers into the deadwax area as a form of personalisation or creative expression. These etchings can add a special touch to the record and make it more unique for collectors.


Record labels or artists sometimes etch promotional messages, catalogue numbers, or release dates into vinyl records as a marketing tactic. These etchings can help promote the record or provide additional information to consumers.

Anti-Piracy Measures

In some cases, record labels or manufacturers may etch serial numbers or other identifiers into vinyl records as a form of anti-piracy measure. These etchings can help track the origin of the record and deter unauthorised duplication or distribution.

Back To Harry Moss...

Many reputable sources including Steve Hoffman Music report that Harry Moss passed away sometime in the mid- 1990's after a career in record mastering spanning nearly forty years. 

If you have any records by the artists we've mentioned in this article, take a look and see if their dead wax has Harry's signature ‘HTM’ etching! If you want to learn more about different record etchings and other pioneers of record creation, take a look at the articles below.

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