“A completely new and intuitive tool for audio manipulation”: zplane’s Peel Stems plugin brings realtime stem separation to “almost every DAW”

zplane PEEL STEMS - YouTube zplane PEEL STEMS - YouTube
Watch On

Breaking up is hard to do, sang Neil Sedaka, but stem separation services and plugins are fast becoming ubiquitous. Perhaps developers sense a gold rush before this kind of audio extraction becomes a feature that comes standard in every DAW; Apple recently added it via updates to Logic Pro for Mac and iPad, and we’d already seen it in the likes of FL Studio and Serato Studio.

To be fair to zplane, though, it has plenty of history as far as audio algorithms go - see its previous work in the areas of timestretching and pitchshifting - so the release of Peel Stems, its own take on the stem separation paradigm, feels like a logical next step.

Offering all the features of the existing Peel plugin, including its Focus Frame EQ, Peel Stems has an advantage over some of its competitors in that it works in real-time - there’s no waiting for the stem separation process to be done offline before you hear and tweak the results. It’s said to operate at low latency, giving you immediate hands-on control over the various parts of the mix.

zplane Peel Stems

(Image credit: zplane)

As seems to be standard with these processors, tracks are split into four parts: Drums, Bass, Vocals and ‘Other’. You can turn each stem on or off, and there are also independent level knobs so that you can rebalance a mix from within the plugin.

Each stem also has an ‘isolation’ fader so that you can finetune separation precision, and a soundfield display visualises the audio in real-time, with each stem’s signal represented by coloured glowing circles so that you can see where in the stereo field and frequency range it’s placed.

The Focus Frame EQ, meanwhile, enables you to dive even deeper. You can isolate the snare or kick from your drums, for example, so that it can be processed individually.

“Peels Stems provides DAW users with a completely new and intuitive tool for audio manipulation,” reckons zplane’s co-founder and head researcher Tim Flohrer. “Being able to unmix tracks in real-time opens up possibilities that were unthinkable just a few years ago. We can’t wait to see how people get creative with this!”

Peel Stems runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats and is available now for €59 (an introductory coupon code enables you to get 25% off this price). A crossgrade from Peel, meanwhile, costs €19 - this can currently be had at a 50% discount.

Find out more on the zplane website.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects… image
Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects…
…with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine