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Thread: Define: "stems"

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    Define: "stems"

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    What are track stems?

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    A "stem" is basically a sub mix or partial mix of only some of the tracks of a song. For example, one might take all of the drum tracks only and mix just those into a stereo submix. This would be called the "drums stem" of that song.

    G.
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    Ah, that makes sense. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by .guitar View Post
    What are track stems?
    It is basically Pro Engineering talk. I heard it before:

    "Hey, can we hear the mix of stem drums, stem guitars, stem songs?"

    You gits the picture, ey?
    [COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]"Tascam, Fostex or Studers don't make hit records...........people do"[/COLOR]
    MCI2424 - 2007

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    I always thought the term "stems" came from the post production for picture world. In audio/album world I always heard the word "submix" used.

    I think now the terms are interchangeable though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SonicAlbert View Post
    I always thought the term "stems" came from the post production for picture world. In audio/album world I always heard the word "submix" used.

    I think now the terms are interchangeable though.
    I think you're right on both counts. Al. "Stems", while still meaning pretty much the same thing, has a kind of "richer" meaning in AV post, where you can have the fx/foley stems, the music soundtrack stems, dialog stems, and so forth, where the stems can be broken down by source category.

    Personally speaking, and kind of weird when you think about it, the only time I use - or mostly have heard used - the term "stem" in audio-only music production is when talking about what kind of package to send to the mastering engineer. If I were to send him a package of submixes along with the full stereo mixdown, I usually call that "sending the stems". But as long as it stays in the realm of mixing, I just refer to them as "submixes" as you say. A submix doesn't often get referred to as a "stem" until it is sent to an ME. Go figure .

    G.
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    Just to jump in here...


    I was recently asked for "splits" from a music production house that I write Jingle stuff for occasionally. They meant the same thing as "Stems".

    I don't think it was a mistaken term on their part, as they are part of a fairly well known and well respected Mastering Facility.

    Just thought I'd throw another term into the mix for ya...

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    So many different terms for the same thing in recording...gets confusing.

    I've always just called them "bounced tracks" or submixes or something.

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    I call them "Crap". But, I only record and mix my own music.

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    And in some circles they are know as "separations".
    Tom Volpicelli
    The Mastering House Inc.
    www.masteringhouse.com

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