STEM MASTERING - WE'LL FIX IT IN THE MIX
The advantage maybe also a disadvantage of working today in the digital domain is the possibility of delaying decisions and leaving final adjustments until the very last minute. Stem-Mastering is something in between mixing and mastering. You can take premixed instrumental groups (stems) like Drums, Guitars, Bass or for example Leadvocals and process them separately (EQ, Compressor...).
So you get the best out of every instrument without touching the other instruments at all. First of all - but this also goes for Stereo mastering - please send your files in the same resolution your mix session is in- no sample rate conversion or data reduction.
You can send them in stereo interleaved or split stereo, wav, aif or sdII. Plaese label them with songname and stemname so we’re not getting confused with 10 different drumstems we have to link to a certain song.
All Stems should have the same starting point regardless of the bar the instrument comes in. Then we can just align them and have the correct mix – without shifting soundfiles from left to right and back. Please always bounce with all effects and with the original levels and could you please always include a complete mixfile! Then we have the mix as you heard it in your studio.
Now what’s a smart way to group up your track. Or better to chop down. You should separate instruments that run in the same frequency range. Let’s say drums and bass because bassdrum and bass interact with eachother quite a bit. The same goes for guitars and keys. They all play in midrange. I’d say 4-8 Stems are a normal for stemmastering.
Of course you can make more stems if you’re not sure about the grouping, but please limit yourself to 10-12 Stems. So for a normal rock/pop track stems would be drums, bass, guitars, keys, strings/brass and vocals. But obviously there are more ways to do it. If you’re unsure of how to do it drop us a mail and we together will find the best way. Find more information in the FAQ section.