After a successful five-week beta period, Native Instruments recently released the official full version of Stem Creator – the first standalone application developed specifically for Stem file creation. Available now for free download via stems-music.com, the new tool provides a simple way to create high-quality Stem files using a drag-and-drop interface and integrated mastering controls to fine-tune the final mixed Stem file's sound.
Stems enables producers, DJs, labels, online stores, and the entire world to create their own Stem files and discover a new music experience. A Stem file contains a track split into four musical elements: A drums stem, a bassline stem, a melody stem, and a vocal stem for example. Each 'stem' can be controlled independently to create instant new mixes, mashups, instrumentals, a cappellas, and more.
Stem Creator is designed for the sole purpose of processing audio files into the four-channel stem.mp4 format – streamlining Stem file creation for simplicity and ease of use. To create a Stem file, creators first prepare and export four isolated musical parts of a track from their DAW or audio editor, along with the final mixed version – five uncompressed audio files in total. Then each file is imported into the Stem Creator where a limiter and compressor are adjusted to match the stems with the volume and dynamics of the original stereo master. Standard metadata like track name, artist, and album can then be edited, along with advanced options like stem name and color, catalog number, and album art before finally exporting the finished Stem file.
Available now for download at stems-music.com – the online home for the Stems format, the Stem Creator free download comes with accompanying guides and technical documentation suited for all potential users such a producer, or a label, for example. Later this year, a special developer toolkit with specifications, code examples, and the application's entire DSP library will also be available from stems-music.com. The developer toolkit will make the technology behind Stems readily available for anyone to integrate into future software and hardware.
Native Instruments recently introduced Stem file support in Traktor Pro 2, providing instant plug-and-play connectivity with Traktor Kontrol S8, S5, D2, and F1 – the world's first Stems-ready DJ controllers.
To support the Stems producer community, the hashtag #makestems can be followed on social media.
Mastering with Stem Creator
To match the signal from the uncompressed stems with the completed track's stereo master, the user can toggle between the integrated real-time compressor and limiter signal and the finished stereo master signal to ensure they match before exporting.
Individual track stems should be imported into Stem Creator with the same equalization and imaging processes applied to them as the stereo master. The Stem Creator's limiter and compressor are only intended as the final stage of master dynamics processing.
Technical details about the Stems format
Stem files use the .mp4 container format to store the four individual stems of a track within a single file. Using the file extension .stem.mp4, this single file can be managed just like an mp3 file. A standard master version of the track is also included in the file and can even be played in stereo with any compatible audio player following standard mp4 specs, like iTunes for example. To play with a track's individual stems, Stem-compatible software or hardware is required.
A video interview on how Berlin's NGHT DRPS uses Stem Creator is available at: youtu.be/zSQJYhj5bvE
Additional information on the Stems format and Stem Creator is available at: www.stems-music.com