Following a five-week period of beta testing, Native Instruments has officially launched the Stem Creator, a standalone application for creating files in its new Stems format. The app offers drag-n-drop operation and mastering controls that enable you to fine-tune a Stem file's sound.
Stem files, as you surely know by now, are designed to give the likes of DJs and remixers more control by providing them with access to up to four individual elements of a track rather than just a mixed stereo audio file.
The creation process involves dragging four such elements into the Stem Creator (eg, drums, bass, melody and vocal) along with the final mixed version. You can then use a limiter and compressor to match the Stems' volume levels and dynamics to those of the original master.
A balancing act
It's this balancing/mastering process that a lot of people have focused on since the Stems format was announced - how can you guarantee that your split-up tracks won't sound like a dog's dinner when they're put back together by someone else?
Native Instruments' advice is that: "Individual track stems should be imported into Stem Creator with the same equalisation 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."
Finished Stem files are housed in the .mp4 container format, and also feature the mixed stereo master so that they can play back as normal in standard audio software. You'll need a Stems-compatible application (currently, that means Traktor Pro 2) to get access to the individual elements. NI also offers Stems support in its Traktor Kontrol S8, S5, D2, and F1 hardware.
Find out more on the Stems website, where the Stem Creator can be downloaded for free.