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Everything you need to know about stems

You may have heard of stems before, but when do you use them, how do you use them, and most importantly how do you export them right? All these topics are covered in today's blog! First, what are stems?




Table of Contents:

1 - What are stems?

2 - Exporting stems

3 - Effects



 


1 - What are stems?


Stems are grouped collections of audio sources from your track elements. Some good examples for those groups are drums and vocals.


A vocal stem, for example, contains your main lead vocal, backing vocals, and harmonies. These are just some examples. Basically, the different stems cover all elements of a specific topic in your track.


Why do we use stems?


Stems are great for different things. They can be useful if you want to send your song to an audio engineer for mixing purposes. But they can also help you if your CPU can't handle all the different audio sources and you just want to start a clear mixing process in a new project. Stems are also important if you work on a remix. As you can see there are a lot of different ways to use stems.


Especially when you work with other artists or audio engineers, you want your stems to be as good as possible. So let's talk about how you export them.




2 - Exporting stems


I told you that stems are about grouping different elements. But how many groups should you create?


So this depends on your song. But most of the songs have at least 4-5 different stems. Group your vocals, the drums, the percussions, and your instruments. To get the best results, the audio engineer needs as much power as possible over the whole mix, so it is recommended to create more than 4 stems.


TEAMMBL wants you to get the absolute best results, so we offer you 50+ stems in our own mixing/mastering service over HERE.

It is also recommended to create extra stems for the bass and the differentiation between different main elements like pads, pianos, synths, and the main lead. These are just some examples to get started.


So it's up to you how many stems you create. Just make sure you don't do way too much.


To actually export them there are different ways in different DAWs. In FL Studio you just select the range you want to export, click WAV File export, and make sure to activate "split mixer tracks". For this method, make sure all elements are sent to a mixer channel, all the other ones won't be exported.



If you want dry and wet stems, you have to enable/disable "Enable insert effects". Sometimes audio engineers request that. But more about that later.


Sometimes you get way too many different elements going on and you would have over a hundred different stems with the previous method. You can now decide to export things manually, by just selecting and exporting the different groups or you clean up the project at first and throw off all elements you don't need.


This is up to you!


Another thing to mention is that you should send a full version of the song too. Just render it out. The audio engineer will need it to make sure he aims for the right sound. The last thing I really want to mention is that you should organize your stems before sending them anywhere. Working with unnamed stems is awful and is just way more work for the audio engineer. Also, make sure to include the BPM, key, song, artist, bit depth and sample rate. You can put all of this in a separate text file or put it in the folder name.



3 - Effects


As I mentioned before, you can enable/disable the effects for exporting dry/wet stems. For doing this super fast just use the "Enable insert effects" function in the export settings right before the export. Also, make sure to disable all effects on your master. This is important because the audio engineer doesn't want to work with already compressed files for example.





 


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