Native Instruments Introduces ‘Stems’ Audio Format Allowing Greater Manipulation Capabilities

Native Instruments, creators and proprietors of Traktor DJ Software, have announced a new open audio format entitled ‘STEMS’ rolling out in the upcoming months.

Introduced in Miami at last week’s Winter Music Conference, Stems primary goal is to make more aspects of music available for manipulation, whether in the studio or in the booth, by DJs, Remixers, and Producers alike. For example, four “Stems” (bass, drums, melody, vocals) exist within each file, which can now be accessed and modified as individual elements.  Each stem file, which ends with stem.mp4, contains a single stereo mix and all 4 parts. Though larger than an MP3 file, they average 70mb. Packed in the widely supported MP4 compression format, a stem file can be previewed in most media players including iTunes, Finder and more.  With this format, a DJ could then mix these individual stems, instead of an entire track, by using volume and EQ.

How Stems Appear on Native Instrument’s Traktor Kontrol S8

For Producers, there will be four added steps to the existing workflow:

– Isolate the song into 4 groups (bass, drums, synths, vocals, etc..)
– Bounce each group down separately (as WAV or AIFF files only)
– Load the four files into a Native Instruments-provided “Stem Creator Tool” (available in June)
– This will generate a new file with the “.stem.mp4″ format. This stem contains additional metadata for players that support it.  Each stem will have each been encoded in AAC format, as well as wrapped in a .mp4 extension

A slew of the industry’s biggest labels have pledged support behind the new format, including Baroque Records,  Cr2 Records, Get Physical, Green Herzblut Recordings, Hypercolour, InFiné, Kling Klong, Mobilee Records, Monaberry, Monkeytown Records, Noir Music, Rejected, Toolroom Records, and 50 Weapons with Get Physical releasing the statement:

“Remember the days when DJs had to carry very heavy reel to reel tape recorders into the club in order to make their sets special, to play around with basslines and drums and loop songs into danceable tracks? No? Well we do, and we still remember the pain of the physical implication. Hence we think Stems is a great idea to bring back that fantastic tool into the world of DJing without having to carry around these heavy machines!”

Additionally, several of several of the web’s prominent electronic music suppliers, including Beatport, Juno Records, and Traxsource, will embrace the new format offering easy to preview and download. Beatport describes their enthusiasm with,

“The world of electronic music is always evolving, both culturally and technologically. Beatport is therefore proud to support the new Stems initiative as a retail partner to continue serving DJs in any format they desire.”

while Juno Records calls Stems,

“…a truly exciting development for DJ and live music performance. It strikes the perfect balance between simplicity and flexibility, and incredibly, it’s all achieved with a universally compatible file format. We couldn’t be more pleased to give Stems our full support, and look forward to adding the download option to our site in the coming months.”

Stem files will be accessible on Native Instruments Traktor DJ Platform over the summer 2015 with more information being made available in June with the launch of a special website dedicated to resources and information on the Stem format for producers, developers and labels.

Source: DJ Tech Tools