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Stem Tracks

What are stem tracks?

A stem track, also referred to as stem or submix, is a selected group of audio tracks taken from your pre-master mix that are processed together to build the final master mix. The idea to create stems for the purpose of mastering lies in enabling the mastering engineer to process and manipulate a group of instruments such as the drums, guitars, or backup vocals at once. In music production stems are usually created from similar sound sources in mono or stereo.

How are stem tracks prepared?

The selection, preparation, and the amount of channels (mono or stereo) depends in part on the style of music. After preparing the desired result for the pre-master mix the tracks assigned to a stem are rendered out in groups. It is essential that relative levels, panning, and the balance between instrument groups and vocals are in place, and that any post processing is omitted.

All stem tracks should have the exact same length and start position so that the mastering engineer can assemble back your music with ease. Effect processing, equalizing and leveling is not desired, unless it is part of shaping the overall sound of the instrument.

Where necessary, and with analog mixing equipment, you may want to mute (not solo!) any tracks that are not in the group, and shut off any prefader sends or effect returns. Avoid any conversions such as for bit depth and sample rates, and make sure the files are labeled clearly.

 

Common Examples for Stem Tracks


 

Kickdrum

Kickdrum

Stem Track in Mono

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Drums and Overhead

Drums and Overhead

Stem Track in Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Percussion

Percussion

Stem Track in Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Bass

Bass

Stem Track in Mono

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Electric Guitars

Electric Guitars

Stem Track in Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic Guitars

Stem Track in Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Piano

Piano

Stem Track in Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Pads

Pads

Stem Track in Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

FX & Samples

FX & Samples

Stem Track in Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Brass

Brass

Stem Track in Mono (Leads) or Stereo (Sections)

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Lead Vocals

Lead Vocals

Stem Track in Mono or Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement

Backup Vocals

Backup Vocals

Stem Track in Stereo

Tracks Included

Processing

Placement