Earlier this year, the makers of DJ software Traktor, Native Instruments, unveiled Stems: a new audio format that stores up to four different tracks in a single audio file. This allows DJs to quickly and painlessly isolate different elements within a song (such as the drums, for example) for mixing purposes. Today, Stems officially launches to the public, with music retailers including Beatport and Traxsource already offering songs available to download in the new format. Beatport even allows shoppers to try out Stems in their online player, usually splitting up tracks into drums, bass, synths, and vocals.
Stems can be played like normal audio files
As the video above shows, Stems makes it easier for DJs to mix tracks by picking out certain elements within a song and adding, for example, filters or tempo changes. Previously, if DJs wanted to isolate parts of a track in this way they'd either have to have access to original recording files or use software to haphazardly filter out certain frequencies. The format is also backward compatible (meaning that Stems tracks can be played simply as MP4s), but high prices and large file sizes mean that this tech is really only for the DJ crowd — whether they're professionals, or just playing to their bedrooms.
Although at the moment, Stems only works with Native Instruments' Traktor range of software and hardware, the company says it plans to release developer tools soon to allow other companies to add support, and will also launch a free Stems Creator Tool so anyone can release tracks as Stems.