Stem Mastering

eMasterSound: Professional Stem Mastering Services

Stem Mastering Methods & Practices

As an Artist; You’ve crafted a unique sonic signature for your songs (Album/EP/Stream) and want a guarantee that your vision is mastered. Stem Mastering is one method to ensure this is accomplished, and is greatly enhanced over a Stereo Master.

Stem Mastering is a type of mastering that differs in that it uses “groups” of instruments such as 6-7 stereo Wav files ‘Stems’ several containing separate drum groups, one group with bass guitar (instruments), one group with all guitars, one with keyboards (instruments), one with lead vocals, and one with all the background vocals.

Advantages of Stem Mastering: The “collections” or “Group Tracks” allow the eMasterSound Mastering Engineer more options to create a master with more targeted corrections and enhancement to the equalization, dynamics, depth, and balance of the vocals, and instruments in mixdown.

eMasterSound will craft each individual stem by adjusting frequencies, effects, and levels for a perfect overall balance in depth, dynamics. We will make sure your song plays back at consistent level whilst taking the listener on a musical journey.

A Step by Step Guide to Sound Design Work Flow

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Step 1

eMasterSound suggest organizing track groupings because, they provide for the most amount of control while keeping things trouble-free and manageable. We recommend conventional “Tack Naming”:
Stem 1: KICK
Stem 2: SNARE
Stem 3: HIHAT/CYMBALS
Stem 4: TOMS/Special Beat Drums
Stem 5: BASS
Stem 6: GIT (legato or rhythm type instruments, Guitar, other…)
Stem 7: KEY (staccato or melodic type instruments, Keyboards, other…)
Stem 8: VOX (Lead Vocals)
Stem 9: BAK Vocals (Backup vocals)

Your Stereo Reference Song: Also, keep in mind we’ll need a reference song by another group that you expect your master to sound comparable to when mastered… (mp3 or wav).

Each stem should be printed complete with all effects processing, including any compression, EQ, time-based effects, like reverb or delay, automation, and any bus processing.

If you are printing multi-mic acoustic recordings, make sure that all those tracks are properly time and phase aligned.

Cubase Stem Master may look like this:

Cubase Group Tracks Stem

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Step 2

Setup: Print stems at the sample rate of your original session using 32-bit floating point WAV files. Export at 32-bit float will protect you from any overs that may take place in the session from improper gain staging.

32-bit float files allow you to go over 0.0 dBFS without any hard clipping being printed into the file. The mastering engineer can then attenuate all of the stem files and bring the peak level back below full scale (0.0 dBFS). Refer to the Waves Leveling Meter.

Logix Pro Stem Master may look like this:

Logic Pro Stem

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Step 3

One Method: Mute all of the source tracks (but not the effects returns or busses) and then un-mute each of the track groupings one at a time and bounce down to a drive.

Start with un-muting the kick, then bounce from 0 to the end of the song.  This should include all track processing, buss processing, time-based effects and stereo master fader processing.  Then, mute this track and move on to your next stem.

Another Method: An alternate approach, you can start by making all your source tracks inactive, and then only reactivate those that you want in the current stem. Either way, make sure that all of these stems have the same exact start point. If

NOTE: Be sure to bypass the pre-fader effects sends, as it will come through even if that track is muted.

FL Studio Stem Master may look like this:Fl Studio Group Tracks Stem

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Step 4

Why eMasterSound and why is it a bad idea to “Stem Mastering Myself”: Hearing your song a million times, your brain is powerless to detect and resolve those issues that make or break a final master.

Fresh Set of Ears: Get your stems as tight to the final sound as conceivably possible. Then “Take a Break”, allow eMasterSound work their magic. Do Not Listen To Your Song at all, no matter how tempted you feel the need. When your first listen to your song with a fresh set of ears, you appreciate the wait.

eMasterSound has the tools, and the experience to deliver, I promise you…

eMasterSound “Fabfilter” Editing plugins:

FabFilter Pro-Q 3

eMasterSound “Fabfilter” Leveling plugins:

Fabfilter Pro-C 2

Fabfilter Pro-MB

eMasterSound “Universal Audio” Editing plugins:

Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder

Manley Massive Passive EQ

Manley Variable Mu Limiter Compressor

Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor

eMasterSound “Universal Audio” Leveling plugins:

Fairchild Tube Limiter Collection

Teletronix® LA-2A Leveler Collection

1176 Classic Limiter Collection

SSL 4000 G Bus Compressor Collection

Teletronix® LA-3A Classic Audio Leveler

eMasterSound “Waves” Editing plugins:

WLM Plus Loudness Meter

C4 Multiband Compressor

C6 Multiband Compressor

Linear Phase Multiband Compressor

Vitamin Sonic Enhancer

Infected Mushroom Pusher

 eMasterSound “Waves” Leveling plugins:

L2 Ultramaximizer

L3 Multimaximizer

MaxxVolume

MV2

Renaissance Vox

Renaissance Compressor

Don’t Freak-out

Having trouble uploading? If this isn’t working, you can upload your file to your favorite file sharing site and send it via our contact form. You are also welcome to contact us for assistance, we are always happy to help.

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