Native Instruments has revealed Stems: a new, multi-channel audio format that gives DJs and live performers the ability to interact with different musical elements of a track independently.
Announced at Miami’s Winter Music Conference, the Stem file format allows DJs to interact with four different stem parts—such as bass, drums, melody, or vocals—for new performance and listening experiences. Users can modify and apply effects to different stem parts of a track independently, and DJs can also be transition between tracks part-by-part rather than using global volume and EQ control.
Stems is built as an open format, allowing anyone to create, perform with, and distribute Stem files in any way desired. Producers, DJ, and labels will be able to create their own Stem files using the free Stem Creator Tool, and developers will have full access to file specifications and code examples for future integration of Stem support into music performance and production tools. Stem files use the .mp4 container format to store the four individual stems of a track within a single file, which can be managed similarly to an .mp3 and played as a normal stereo track with any .mp4-compatible audio player (such as iTunes). Traktor will be the first software to offer Stem support beginning this summer.
More information will be revealed in the coming months. The full list of labels that are already supporting Stems officially is below. For now, go here for an informative FAQ on Stems.