Below are all the available resources and know-hows with focus on STEM files. We have gathered as much information as possible with the hopes that we are able to better educate you and allow you to benefit from your STEMS. If you have any other questions or think we might have missed something then feel free to reach out!
WHAT ARE STEMS?
Firstly, you’re probably wondering what a STEM file is if you have landed up on this page. A Stem file is an audio file that contains a track split into four musical elements: A drums stem, a Bassline stem, a Harmony stem, and a Lead stem for example. The Stem file also includes the original stereo master of the track for standard playback. You can refer to the following video:
WHAT MAKES STEMS AN ‘OPEN FILE FORMAT’?
The Stem format is open because all details on how to make Stem files and how to play them is publicly available here. Anyone can create Stems without paying licensing fees for creation, distribution, or use of the format.
CAN I CREATE A STEM FILE MYSELF?
Yes you can – the technology is free for everyone to use. The free Stem Creator comes with a quick-start guide on how to create Stem files. You can download it directly at the bottom of this page! Check out this video on how to make a STEM file.
HOW CAN DJS BENEFIT FROM PLAYING WITH STEMS?
Stems expand DJ mixing and performance possibilities by allowing you to mix with isolated parts of a track such as the vocals, or by applying effects to specific parts of the song. This can make DJ sets stand out. Check out this video!
I’M A DJ BUT I ALSO PRODUCE MY OWN TRACKS. WHY SHOULD I USE STEMS?
You can export your tracks as Stems and play them in a DJ setting with full control over individual parts of your track. This gives any producer-DJ a hands-on, flexible way of playing live that’s exciting for the crowd to watch. Check this out! Mixing With Stems:
WHERE CAN I BUY MUSIC IN STEMS FORMAT?
The open file format means that anyone can sell music in Stem format. Online music retailers Beatport, Bleep, Juno, Traxsource, whatpeopleplay, and Wasabeat already offer a wide variety of music in Stems format. With time, more retailers are expected to support Stems.
The Tech Side Of STEMS:
HOW MANY INDIVIDUAL STEMS ARE INCLUDED IN A STEM FILE?
The Stem file format contains four stem tracks. The original stereo master of the track is included in the file as the ‘fifth’ stem.
ARE THERE ANY BEST PRACTICES ON HOW TO CREATE A STEM FILE?
A document outlining best practices for instrument grouping, order, names, colors, and mastering techniques is included with the free Stem Creator. The Download can be found below.
CAN I CREATE STEMS FROM MY DAW?
Any DAW allows you to export grouped tracks such as a mixdown of just the drums, the bassline, harmonic elements, and lead sounds plus effects. Once these four files are processed by the free Stem Creator application, these become a Stem file.
WILL MY DAW SUPPORT THE STEM FORMAT?
Any DAW developer can implement additional Stem features into their software. Developers may already be creating a tool for this right now or better yet – implementing the format for direct exporting as a Stem file.
CAN I DECODE A STEM FILE INTO ANOTHER FORMAT LIKE MP3?
No, mp3 does not support multi-channel audio as required by the Stem format.
IS THE STEM FORMAT LOSSLESS?
The Stem format uses the mp4 framework which allows Stem files to be encoded either in AAC 256 kbps VBR or Apple Lossless audio (ALAC). The upcoming Windows 10 provides native ALAC support however previous Windows operating systems do not. Please note that any playback software used on older Windows systems needs to support ALAC itself.
HOW ARE STEM FILES MASTERED?
To achieve optimal Stem file quality and to match the sound of the original mixdown of a track, there are some guidelines to consider. You can get a quick overview, or an in-depth breakdown of the mixdown and mastering process with videos featuring the team at Wired Masters in London. There are 3 videos you can follow in the playlist below that gives you a detailed explanation.
We hope that the tutorial provided gives you enough information and understanding of Stem Files. You can download StemCreator and get started with your Stems today.
Stem Creator Software: