What are the benefits of stem mastering?

Stem mastering gives us the opportunity to apply changes to certain elements of the mix without affecting others. With stem mastering your track is divided into a few busses (stems) so we can apply changes to one bus without affecting the other busses. Let’s take a closer look at this.

Example 1:
When you have a vocal track which has some loud ssss-sounds in the vocal, stem mastering will allow us to process the vocals separately from the rest of the mix. By doing this the de-esser will only affect the vocal part without affecting the rest of the high frequencies of the mix.

Example 2:
Let’s assume there is too much sub in the bass line. When having some sub mixes (stems) of your track we are able to process these signals separately. So when having the bass line and bass drum in separate files we are able to EQ the bass line without affecting the bass drum.

Which stems to choose

What elements of your mix we need stems from depends on the type of music and the problems you have in your mix. As a rule you could say that we need stems of the most important elements of your track. You can also create stems from elements you think will cause problems in your mix. When it comes to vocal electronic dance music you should at least provide us stems files from:

  • Bass Line
  • Bass Drum
  • Vocals

Don’t forget to make a stemfile of the mix without the Bass Line, Bass Drum and Vocals. You can name this file as “Rest Of the Mix”. So including this file you will have 4 stem files of your mix. You can send an e-mail to contact@digitalmastering.nl if you need advice in what kind of submixes we need from your mix. Please also include a download link to your track so we can take a listen.

Example of stem mastering electronic dance music with 6 layers (stems): The file set of this stem mastering could look like this:

  • Bassdrum.wav
  • Bassline.wav
  • Vocals.wav
  • All Synths.wav
  • SFX.wav
  • Rest Of The Mix.wav

How to prepare your tracks for stem mastering

It’s not so hard to create the stemfiles needed for the mastering. Below a few tips.

  • Decide which elements of your mix you want to use as stemfiles.
  • Simply mute the tracks that you don’t want in the stem you are creating.
  • Instead of muting the tracks you don’t want you can also solo the tracks you want.
  • Bypass all compression and limiting on the master output.
  • Turn off dithering and noise shaping.
  • Check your output level after removing the compression and limiting and make sure that it doesn’t clip.
  • Make sure your peak levels are anywhere between -12 and -0,1dB.
  • Render you track as aiff or wav. The minimum bit depth 16 bit The minimum sample-rate 44.1khz.
  • Import all the stems in your DAW and line them up.
  • Hit playback and listen if the stems are export correctly.

How to order a stem mastering

Stem mastering can be handled by our web interface. In step 3 of the web interface you can mark the multiple layers (stem mastering) option. Don’t forget to mention how many layers (stems) you have. The web interface will calculate the costs and will give you a quotation.

Upload your tracks

Press the online mastering button to start mastering your tracks at our studio: Mastering your music has never been so easy!

The Result of the Stem mastering

Of course the result of the stem mastering greatly depends on our mastering skills and experience. We have more than 20 years of experience in mastering various types of music. During these years we have had many satisfied customers. Check the credentials on this page. Also check our discography for a selection of the work we did in the past.However the result of the stem mastering will also depend on your personal wishes and the quality of your mix:

  1. Your personal wishes
    • Tell us what kind of sound you are looking for or what you feel is missing in the sound of your track. When uploading your tracks for stem mastering you can place comments using our web interface. After uploading and during the mastering you can also send us a message using the private online forum. The mastering engineer is reading these messages during the mastering. If we have questions or comments we will place them on this forum too.
    • Upload a reference track along with the track you want us to master using the web interface. The reference track can be a version of the track mastered by you. Or a track you would like us to use as an example for your sound.
  2. The quality of your mix
    • Use high quality sounds / samples / synths / recordings. The better your mix sounds before mastering, the better the result will be after the mastering.
    • Listen to your mix on a variety of sound systems.
    • Make sure you properly prepare your song for mastering.