A guide for creating and mastering the newest way to play.
Stems is a new and open file format developed and released by Native Instruments. It blends production techniques and DJing into a power tool for playing live.
And the best part? LANDR is now Stems compatible. Giving you access to the best possible sound for your tracks and live sets.
But there’s a few things to keep in mind before you master your Stems with LANDR.
Like how to prepare Stems in your DAW, how to use the NI Stems creator to bundle your stems, and how to use LANDR to master your Stems file.
No sweat. This guide will give you everything you need to get yours Stems sounding superb.
What Is a Stems File?
Stems is an open multi-track audio format that allows you to play the main elements of a track independently—like drums, vox, synths and bass.
Developed and launched by Native Instruments in 2015, Stems combines all the best parts of producing and DJing into a powerful creative tool.
Stems goes way beyond selecting songs and pushing play. It’s a whole new way to play, remix, blend and create live.
Wanna take the vocal from one track and play it with the drums of another? No problem.
Or maybe you want just the bassline from one track playing during a breakdown? Stems lets you do that too. The potential for experimentation is limitless…
So let’s get to it!
Preparing Your Mixes for Stems
Creating Stems starts in your DAW. The first step is to export each group of tracks independently.
Drums, Bass, Synths and Vox is most common way to bundle your track up, but the groups you choose should be whatever fits your track best.
Solo the tracks you want in each group and export. Repeat the same process for each each element until you have your 4 grouped tracks.
During this step it’s very important to ensure that each track in your session starts at the same time. If you don’t double check, your stems files may not be synced during playback.
If you run into this problem just head back to your session in your DAW and make sure all your tracks lineup.
Export your ungrouped mixdown as well, you’re gonna need it in a sec…
Hot Tip: Always leave 6dB of headroom for mastering on each of your grouped tracks.
Creating Stems With NI Stems Creator
Now that you’ve bounced your grouped tracks from your DAW it’s time to repack them into the MP4 Stems format.
This will ensure your Stems are recognized as Stems when you go to play them live.
Download the Free NI Stems Creator. Drag your 4 tracks and mixdown into the 5 slots at the top of the Stems creator.
Make sure you add all the proper metadata during this phase like track titles, artist and release date.
You won’t be able to edit the metadata in LANDR so always update in the Stems creator first.
Important: Don’t worry about the Dynamics section in the Stems creator, LANDR will take care of all that for you!
Once you update all the info go ahead and export.
So you have your Stems file exported and ready to go. Now it’s time to master!
That’s where LANDR comes in. Simply drag and drop the track you just exported from the Stems creator into LANDR.
Pick the mastering intensity that fits and hit that master button.
LANDR will listen and apply a unique mastering process to get your Stems sounding their absolute best.
Congratulations! Your mastered Stems track is good to go and ready to be played live with all that oomph and presence you need.
Go ahead and close this tab, fire up your DJ controller of choice and start experimenting with Stems.
Oh yeah, and if you wanna play your entire tracks with all the elements working together, the MP4 file you exported can also be played back in all media players that support MP4 playback.
Playing With Stems
Stems takes DJing way beyond blending two track together.
Having control over independent elements of your tracks means you get to enjoy the ability of creating live remixes, mashups, acapellas and mind boggling live sets directly in the booth.
Here’s just a few of the possibilities that Stems unlocks:
A New Way to Play
Now that you know how to export your productions as Stems and create a Stems file it’s time to experiment!
Feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions.
Good luck with all your Stems creations!