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Multitracks x Stems: Know the Difference

With technology advancing the way it constantly is, it is becoming easier each time to manipulate and work with your production/music in a way that suits everyone the best.

And one of the main features that makes the production process easier and more volatile, is the way you can render your music from your DAW, in any way you’ll want, to send it to friends, producers, and potential audio engineers that can work on your music after it is recorded, even living far away from you.

And with this in mind, there is a lot a different ways to do one or many things at once to work in what is best for your production, so there’s certain terminologies in audio engineering which are very important to know from the start, so you always manage to do exactly what you had in mind. For today, the key differences between multitracks and stems.

The drum recording situations are always an incredibly good example to illustrate both terms.

You’ve used 8 or more microphones to record your drums in a recording session, and now you have each individual, unprocessed microphone tracks of the drum session in your DAW, what you have are the drum’s raw multitracks.

Drum's Individual Multitracks

These multitracks can be very useful if for an example, you’ve recorded your drums at one studio, and now you want to mix them in another studio.

So, if you want to use individual tracks for this kind of situation, make sure you’re using raw, unprocessed multitracks.

  • Stems:

Again, using the drum recording session as an example, if you’ve already recorded your drums, mixed it, processed it, and rendered it into a single stereo file, what you have now is your drum stems, stems can be mono or stereo, but they stand for an already processed, mixed render of a group of instruments previously recorded.

Stereo Drum Stems

Stems can be extremely useful for live environments, if you’re the only one singing on stage, for an example, but your original song is full of backing vocals, you can render your backing vocal stems to use them on the stage.

Knowing these terms and what each of them stands for can be a particularly crucial step for your workflow and easy production methods.

And with this knowledge you can use technology on your favor, to combine with other tools such as CoLabs, that allows you to jam, record, and produce your music with people around the world as much as you’d like.

Here's an example of vocal stems to one of the latest Billie Eilish's songs:

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