(The dark art of...)
Step by step guide by Chris Chetland about getting
your track ready for Mastering at Kog!
Our latest Mastering projects
Kog are New Zealand's most experienced and well-endowed music mastering facility, having over 20 years experience and credits on more than three million albums and single sales, tens of millions of streams, plus multiple top and award winning releases - gold and platinum selling or indie or whatever. Whether you prefer to come in for your session or have it done online as so many do these days (especially if you are out of town) itʻs easy.
Mastering is the final process you need to get done before your music goes out to the world. Our job is to work with the engineer and the artists to make the best out of their hard work sound and make it sound even better, so they get more fans and more jobs :)
These days, especially with the number of digital mixdowns being done, it is more important than ever to make sure the mix goes to things like top level analog gear to polish and breathe that extra important life into it and make it stand up with the best in the genre. Mastering is the one stage that you are wise to use the highest quality of gear and monitoring.
There's a good reason that every top level or classic albums are mastered in the analogue realm... And we are happy to have been able to help out on the mastering more award winning (and finalist) albums, EPs and singles than any other mastering studio in NZ.
If you are sending us your project to work on there are a number of ways to get it to us.
Personal delivery if you are in the area is always nice, but in many cases these days we get the project over the internet.
There are a number of ways of digital delivery, and ultimately the choice is yours, but we find the easiest are systems like Dropbox, Wetransfer, Google Drive, Mega, Hightail, and Sendspace.
Here's some extra info for Mastering jobs -
When you bounce your tracks for mastering, PLEASE DO NOT apply any compression* or limiting to the stereo output. This severely inhibits the mastering process and affects our ability to give you good results. Please allow some headroom for your track. It should never touch digital 0.0. For example, headroom of at least 4 dB, i.e. your highest peak will be minus 4dB.
PLEASE NEVER hit 0.0dB! The audio files can be .wav, .aiff, or SDII.
We prefer all audio supplied to us for mastering to be 24 or 32 bit. We may still accept 16-bit though it is not as favourable (32 bit is fine). There’s 144dB of dynamic range in a 24-bit audio file, so there’s no need to get the signal as hot as possible, a few dB of headroom is totally fine. To put it in perspective, if you listened to your music on a system playing back the full 144dB of dynamic range it would be so loud that you would die... serious. But give us some good dynamic range and let us use our fancy mastering gear to get the best levels for you. :)
The sample rate needs to be at least 44.1kHz, we can accept everything up to 192kHz, but in all honesty anything over 96kHz is probably unnecessary.
Reference tracks - If you have a particular track you’d like us to use as a reference point (i.e. that you would like yours to sound 'similar' to), please send us that too (make sure if possible it's CD quality i.e. 44.1kHz 16-bit or the best quality possible) and we can match them. We recommend for high quality tracks you get them from QOBUZ - click here for the link.
Choose a track on it's sonic characteristics, e.g. the amount of highs and lows, or middle crunch, not just because you like the track, e.g. you might really like a Katy Perry track, but please don't provide that as a reference track for your metal bands album unless you want some smart ass comments and a request for a more appropriate reference track.
Please make sure you are totally happy with your mix before sending it to be mastered.
Because the mastering is done with boutique outboard gear, if we need to make any changes for you, it is time consuming. The settings for each piece of gear in the signal chain need to be reset and re-calibrated, which is pretty boring even for the most saintly person, so even for the slightest changes (e.g. if you resubmit your mix with some tweaks) we usually have to charge for the time taken. We can do one revision of the supplied track master for no charge (fwiw it is pretty rare we need to :) ), and after the first revision there is a charge rate for each extra revision. Please note this applies only to the particular mix you submitted. If you supply a new adjusted/revised mix then, as explained above that counts as a new mastering job (as the gear set up will be substantially different and that all takes time). So, please make sure you and everyone in the band is happy with the mix and has signed it off as completed and ready for mastering.
All files are to be given to us as data, ideally by internet, or USB stick, hard drive, CD, or DVD with each track clearly named please.
Well done on all your hard work!
Please - No compression or limiting applied to the stereo output your bounce
Don’t hit digital 0.0dbFS.wav, .aiff or SDII files ideally 24 bit.
Same sample rate for all tracks if possible (if not please try and label the sample rates that are different and we can convert them as appropriate for you).
Provide reference tracks
Please label everything clearly, and listen through your mixes to check they are correct and signed off by everyone that needs to before you send them for us to master :)
*If you are really confident at using compression on the master out as part of your sound then we trust you, so if you can send us 2 versions - 1 with your mix buss compression on it, and one without the compression on it.
Terms and Conditions -
TERMS OF TRADE (short version)
1] Please pay your bill on time :)
2] Don't be a dick and not pay :(
3] Have a productive and fun week and enjoy the music you created :)
4] If you don't pay your bill, we technically OWN your song which we don't really see the point of doing..
So use your karmic common sense and pay your bill. :)
So you know, if you don't respond to us in a professional manner or in a normal amount of time, we will be forced to use our debt collection partner AEL. (boring)
FULL LEGAL VERSION
The terms of trade set out below govern all of the supplies of Products and Services from Kog Mastering Limited ("Kog", "we", "us") to the customer ("you"). They will replace all earlier Kog terms of trade and any conditions contained in any document used by you and purporting to have contractual effect. Your acceptance of any Products from Kog indicates your acceptance of these terms of trade.1.0 General1.1 In these conditions, Supplier means Kog’s suppliers; Products means goods or services of any kind which are supplied by Kog to you. Any variations to these terms must be previously agreed to in writing.2.0 Price and Orders2.1 Prices may be altered without notice.2.2 Kog reserves the right to refuse to accept any order or any part of an order, and to deliver goods by instalments, in which case each instalment will comprise a separate contract and shall be paid for as if it were a separate order.3.0 Risk and delivery3.1 You are responsible for insurance and risk in the Products from the time they are received by a carrier for delivery to you or collected by you or your agent.3.2 You agree to pay all delivery costs.3.3 All claims for shortage or damage during delivery must be made to the carrier within 7 days of the date of delivery. Where goods appear to be damaged or missing you must contact the carrier and us immediately.3.4 We will make every effort to ensure delivery of Products, or performance of services, is on time, but will not be liable to you for any loss or damage arising in any way from any delay in delivery or performance. Delay in delivery or performance does not entitle you to cancel any order.3.5 Where you ask us to deliver goods directly to another person, that person takes possession of the goods for you as your agent, but you are still directly responsible to us under these terms of trade.4.0 Payment4.1 Unless we have agreed to extend credit to you, you must pay in cash or direct credit before supply.4.2 Where we have agreed in writing to extend credit to you, you must pay in full within 7 days of supply, or (only if we have agreed in writing) by the 20th of the month following the dispatch of an invoice. Your payment is made only when funds have fully cleared through the banking system into our bank account.4.3 We have sole discretion to determine the amount of credit we will extend to you at any time.4.4 You agree to pay for the Products in full without deduction or setoff and to pay goods and services tax and any other government duties, levies or taxes in respect of the Products.4.5 If payment is not made in full by the due date, we are entitled to charge you interest on the unpaid overdue balance at the rate of 2% per month, compounding monthly on the unpaid balance owing on the first day of each month until payment in full is received by us, and we may charge you costs (including collection costs and legal costs on a solicitor-client basis) and suspend delivery of further Products or performance of further services until the account is paid.4.6 Notwithstanding clauses 4.2 and 4.3 above, all payments shall immediately become due to us if you refuse to accept delivery of any Products, if we reasonably believe that the information which you have given us in your application for credit is incorrect or no longer correct and you have failed to give us correct information satisfactory to us within 5 days of our request, if you sell or otherwise dispose of any goods which have not been paid for without our consent, if you become insolvent, commit any act of bankruptcy, if a receiver, liquidator or statutory manager is appointed over any of your assets or undertaking, if you make or attempt to make an arrangement or composition with creditors, or if you fail to comply with any of the provisions of clause 6.5.0 Property5.1 Property and ownership in Products, whether in their original form or incorporated in or attached to another product will not pass to you but will remain with us until we receive payment in full of the purchase price of the Products and all other amounts that you owe to us for any reason.5.2 Until property passes to you, you shall hold any Products in trust as fiduciary bailee for us and/or our Supplier, and store them in a manner to enable them to be identified and cross-referenced to particular invoices.5.3 Unless otherwise notified in writing, you are authorised to sell the Products in the ordinary course of your business, but you must keep the proceeds of any Products sold in a separate account in trust for Kog and/or the relevant Supplier.5.4 Where Kog reasonably believes you are or will be in breach of any part of clauses 4, 5 or 6 of these terms of trade, Kog or its agent may without notice enter any premises under your control to remove any Products which are the property of Kog, whether or not those Products are installed in or attached to any other goods, using such force as is necessary, and without prejudice to any other of Kog' rights. You indemnify Kog against all costs and claims in respect of its exercise of rights under this clause 5.6.0 Security interests6.1 You agree that you will do all acts necessary and provide us on request all information we require to register a financing statement over the Products or their proceeds, and that you will advise us immediately in writing of any changes to that information. You waive all rights to receive a copy of any verification statement of a financing statement.6.2 You agree that you will supply us, within 2 business days of our written request, with copies of all security interests registered over your personal property, and you authorise us as your agent to request information from any secured party relating to any security interest which is held in any personal property which is or has been in your possession or control.6.3 You agree that we may require you to pay all reasonable costs, including legal costs on a solicitor-client basis, associated with the discharge or amendment of any financing statement registered by us, whether or not the change was initiated by you.6.4 If we repossess goods under this agreement, we may retain those goods or dispose of them without notice or statement of account to you or any other person, and, after deducting reasonable costs of sale, we may credit any surplus by way of setoff against any sums owing to us. We will not be obliged to re-supply any repossessed inventory.6.5 You authorise us to search the Personal Property Securities Register at any time for any information about you or (if you are a company) your parent or associated companies.7.0 Returns7.1 You acknowledge and agree that returns shall only be accepted by us in accordance with our returns policy as notified to you from time to time, and that you may receive a credit for goods returned only if we have consented in writing.8.0 Warranties8.1 Goods are subject to the manufacturers’ warranties only. We will pass on the benefit of those warranties to you, without being directly liable to you under any warranty.8.2 Where goods are subject to a return to base warranty, you are responsible for returning them to us or the manufacturer (as provided by the warranty) and you may be responsible for additional costs including (but not limited to) freight.8.3 Any warranty may be voided by damage to or misuse of the product, or problems caused by inadequate packaging or storage.9.0 Obligations to suppliers9.1 We may impose certain conditions on you from time to time where our suppliers require us to do so.10.0 Limitation of liability10.1 The provisions of the Consumer Guarantees Act shall not apply to any supply of Products to you, and the conditions, warranties and guarantees set out in the Sale of Goods Act 1908 or implied by common law will not apply and are excluded from these terms of trade.10.2 Kog’s maximum liability to you shall be limited to the value of any faulty Products or services supplied, and Kog and its employees, contractors and agents, any manufacturers of the Products or any of their materials or components, will not be liable to you for loss or damage of any kind however that loss or damage is caused or arises. This exclusion of liability includes, but is not limited to, costs (including costs of returning Products to Kog or to any manufacturer), consequential loss, loss of profits and damage caused by or arising from delays in manufacturing or delivery, faulty or delayed installation, unreasonable use, negligence (including a failure to do something which should have been done or to prevent something from happening), faulty specifications and design, and faulty materials, components, manufacture or compilation of the Products.10.3 We will not be liable to you for any losses caused by events beyond our reasonable control. We will not be required to settle a strike or lockout or other industrial disturbance against our wishes in order to benefit from this clause.11.0 Your further obligations11.1 Where you purchase any Products from us for re-supply as, or incorporation into, goods or services ordinarily acquired for personal household or domestic use or consumption ("Consumer Products") you warrant that:(a) if you supply the Consumer Products directly to an end user/consumer you will do so using terms and conditions of supply which exclude liability for any claims under the CGA; and(b) If your customer acquires the Products for re-supply, you will ensure that your customer and each person in the distribution chain will exclude liability in its contract for supply for any claims under the CGA, but in each case only where the end user/consumer acquires the Consumer Products for business purposes, and you agree to indemnify us and our Suppliers against any failure by you, your customers or any person in the distribution chain to properly contract out of liability to business end users/consumers under the CGA.11.2 You indemnify us against all costs (including legal costs on a solicitor and own client basis) expenses, losses, damages or claims arising in any way as a result of your failure to comply with any part of these terms of trade.12.0 Intellectual property and Confidentiality12.1 All intellectual property shall remain the property of Kog or any Supplier entitled to it, and neither Kog nor its Suppliers transfer any right, title or interest in the intellectual property to you.12.2 You must not use any trademarks which are the property of Kog or its Suppliers, or any similar words or marks, or any combination of words which includes any of those trade marks or any similar words or marks, except to the extent authorised by Kog in writing.12.3 You agree to dispatch the Products only under the trade marks under which they are supplied by Kog, and under no circumstances shall you apply any of the trade marks to any product which is not a genuine branded product supplied to you by Kog.12.4 You must not cause or permit anything which may interfere with, damage or endanger the trade marks or other intellectual property rights of Kog or its Suppliers, or assist or allow others to do so.12.5 You must advise Kog immediately when you become aware of any unauthorised use or attempted use by any person of the trade marks or other intellectual property rights of Kog or its Suppliers.12.6 You may not register a business name incorporating the words "Kog".12.7 If your account with Kog is terminated, you must immediately discontinue use of any of the trade marks which are the property of Kog in any sign, or advertising and thereafter you shall not use those trade marks directly or indirectly in connection with your business.12.8 You agree to ensure that all Confidential Information given by Kog to you is made available to your employees only on the basis that those employees at all times maintain strict confidentiality.12.9 This clause 13 shall survive the termination of the Agreement.13.0 General13.1 Kog reserves the right to change these terms of trade from time to time.13.2 If Kog fails to enforce any terms or to exercise its rights under these terms of trade at any time, Kog has not waived those rights.13.3 If any provision of these terms of trade is held to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the remaining provisions shall remain in full force and effect and the parties shall adjust their respective rights and obligations in accordance with the spirit and intent of the parties as shown by these terms of trade.13.4 This agreement is governed by the laws of New Zealand and any dispute under it shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of New Zealand.