Here you’ll find answers to common questions about Stems and StemSounds.com.


What is a Stem file?

A Stem file is an audio file that contains a track split into four musical elements: A drums stem, a bassline stem, a harmony stem, and a lead stem for example. The Stem file also includes the original stereo master of the track for standard playback.

What makes Stems an ‘Open file format’?

The Stem format is open because all details on how to make Stem files and how to play them is publicly available here. Anyone can create Stems without paying licensing fees for creation, distribution, or use of the format.

Can I create a Stem file myself?

Yes you can – the technology is free for everyone to use. When the free Stem Creator Tool* becomes available, so will a step-by-step guide on how to create Stem files.

How can DJs benefit from playing with Stems?

Stems expand DJ mixing and performance possibilities by allowing you to mix with isolated parts of a track such as the vocals, or by applying effects to specific parts of the song. This can make DJ sets stand out.

I’m a DJ but I also produce my own tracks. Why should I use Stems?

You can export your tracks as Stems and play them in a DJ setting with full control over individual parts of your track. This gives any producer-DJ a hands-on, flexible way of playing live that’s exciting for the crowd to watch. You then can sell your Stems on StemSounds.com and any affiliate of SoundtrackLoops.com

Where can I buy music in Stems format?

The open file format means that anyone can sell music in Stem format. Our online estore offer a wide variety of music in Stems format. With time, more retailers are expected to support Stems.

I work for a label or an online music retailer. How can I benefit from distributing Stems?

You can sell Stems at a premium price with in our estore and create new revenue streams for yourself / business.

I am a developer. What do I need to do to make Stem authoring and playback possible for my software and hardware?

All the necessary information to implement Stem functionalities in soft- or hardware is documented and will be available in summer 2015 for download here.

What are the benefits of the Stem file format for music software and hardware companies?

You can create new exciting products that will help redefine music performance for DJs, producers, and live artists.


How many individual stems are included in a Stem file?

The Stem file format contains four stem tracks. The original stereo master of the track is included in the file as the ‘fifth’ stem.

Are there any best practices on how to create a Stem file?

A document outlining best practices for instrument grouping, order, names, colors, and mastering techniques will be available once the free Stem Creator Tool is released.

Can I create or edit metadata in a Stem file?

You can create and edit the metadata of a Stem file using software, such as iTunes. The Stem Creator Tool will also offer this feature. However, it will initially be the only tool to allow editing the name of each individual stem track as ‘Drums’ or ’Synths’ for example.

Will I be able to play a Stem file in my audio player?

Yes. A Stem file will play as a normal audio track in any player that supports the mp4 format and follows the standard mp4 specs. This means you will hear the full track, but not have control over the individual Stem parts. To listen and play with the individual parts, you’ll need software or hardware that supports the Stem format.

Which software currently supports Stems?

Native Instruments’ Traktor Pro 2 is the first available pro DJ software that allows you to load and play with individual stem parts. Other software companies are expected to integrate the Stems format into their software and hardware using the developer resources that will be available for download here.

How can I perform with Stems? Which DJ controllers support Stems natively?

You can MIDI-map the controls to any MIDI controller or keyboard to control Stems in Traktor Pro 2. Native Instruments’ Traktor Kontrol D2, S8, and F1 controllers support the Stems format natively. With time, other hardware manufacturers are expected to support the Stems format natively.

Can Pioneer CDJs play Stems?

If the CDJ model supports the mp4 format, it will play back a Stem file as a normal audio track.

Can I create Stems from my DAW?

Any DAW allows you to export grouped tracks such as a mixdown of just the drums, the bassline, harmonic elements, and lead sounds plus effects. Once these four files are processed by the free Stem Creator Tool application, these become a Stem file.

Will my DAW support the Stem format?

Any DAW developer can implement additional Stem features into their software. Developers may already be creating a tool for this right now or better yet – implementing the format for direct exporting as a Stem file.

What will the file extension be?

Stem files will carry a stem.mp4 extension. For example: filename.stem.mp4

Can I decode a Stem file into another format like mp3?

No, mp3 does not support multi-channel audio as required by the Stem format.

Audio Quality

Is the Stem format lossless?

The Stem format uses the mp4 framework which allows Stem files to be encoded either in AAC 256 kbps VBR or Apple Lossless audio (ALAC). The upcoming Windows 10 provides native ALAC support however previous Windows operating systems do not. Please note that any playback software used on older Windows systems needs to support ALAC itself.

What kind of compression can be used when creating a Stem file?

Stem files can be created using 256 kbps AAC encoding with an output quality just like that of iTunes for example. Despite this similarity, Stem files encoded with AAC are of higher quality since each Stem is encoded individually. This is because the net quality of each Stem part is greater than that of a single file encoded in 256 kbps.

How are Stem files mastered?

Information for mastering houses has yet to be finalized. Check back with www.stems-music.com for updates.

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