Preparing Your Project for Stem Mastering

August 13, 2014

Preparing Your Project for Stem Mastering

Stem mastering is ideal for those who have problems getting their mix to sound the way they want or just wish our help in perfecting it. Stems also allow for Out-of-the-Box summing, which can give a more clear and open analogue sound. The steps for getting your songs ready for Stem Mastering are mostly the same as stereo mastering. We recommend you review this article before reading further. The main differences are outlined below.

Make stems

A stem is a collection of similar tracks that have been mix down together in your DAW as a stereo audio file. The level of each instrument in a particular stem should be as close as possible to the desired volume of that instrument in the final mix. However, stems do give more room for us to fine tune those levels. Our standard for stem allocation is as follows:

  1. DRUM – kick and snare drums
  2. PERC – the remaining percussion such as hi-hats, crashes, hand drums, etc
  3. BASS – whatever instruments are playing the bass part of the song
  4. INST1 – the primary or most important instruments
  5. INST2 – the remaining instruments, special effects, risers, etc
  6. VOX – lead vocals or most important samples
  7. BGVOX – background vocals, less important samples
  8. FX – reverbs or delays, etc

If we need any tracks broken out from these stems, we will request it and not charge you for the additional stems.

Leave headroom

None of the meters on any of the stem channels should exceed -8 dBFS. Some channels, such as FX, may peak much lower.

Organize it

Please organize your project before sending it to us. Create a folder and name it after the overall project. Then create folders inside it for every individual song naming them after each song. Place all the stems with both the song name and stem name in it. You can include any reference versions in the folder for the song.

You can then Zip up the parent folder and proceed to the order page because you are ready to go. As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions about our services.