What is Stems?

NI_Stems_Traktor_Kontrol_D2_Stems_VisualIn audio production, a stem is a group of audio sources mixed together, usually by one person, to be dealt with downstream as one unit. A single stem may be delivered in mono, stereo, or in multiple tracks for surround sound. In music mixing for recordings and for live sound, stems are subgroups of similar sound sources. When a large project uses more than one person mixing, stems can facilitate the job of the final mix engineer. Such stems may consist of all of the string instruments, a full orchestra, just background vocals, only the percussion instruments, a single drum set, or any other grouping that may ease the task of the final mix. Stems prepared in this fashion may be blended together later in time, as for a recording project or for consumer listening, or they may be mixed simultaneously, as in a live sound performance with multiple elements.


This year Native Instruments introduced new way to DJ using Stems files. Native Instruments site describes a Stem file as an open, multi-channel audio file that contains a track split into four musical elements – bass, drums, vocals, and melody for example. With each element available independently, you can mix in ways that just weren’t possible until now. The Stem format provides the ability to freely interact with a track’s different musical elements. Stems for DJing are available at online stores Beatport, Bleep, Juno, Traxsource, whatpeopleplay, and Wasabeat.

More info available at Native Instruments site: www.stems-music.com

Photo Credits: Photos courtesy of Native Instruments

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