This article explains how to control the individual Stems (tracks) on a Stem file when loaded to a TRAKTOR Stem Deck. TRAKTOR 2.9.0 introduces the Stem Deck for individual control of volume, filter and FX amount on each Stem of a Stem file (.stem.mp4). Since TRAKTOR 2.10.1, the Stem Deck displays all four separate tracks as well as individual controls for VOLUME, FILTER and FX SEND.
Note: When loading a file to the Deck, the TRAKTOR software will detect the filetype and switch the Deck flavor automatically to Track Deck (for any supported file format), Remix Deck (for .trak files) and Stem Deck (for .stem.mp4 files). An automatic switch from Live Input Deck to another Deck flavor is not possible.
In the next section we will explain how to control and visualize the individual tracks of a Stem file.
Stem Deck Integration with a Dedicated Native Instruments Controller
The automatic integration of Stems is possible with the following dedicated Native Instruments controllers:
- TRAKTOR KONTROL S8
- TRAKTOR KONTROL D2
- TRAKTOR KONTROL F1
To gain hardware control on the individual Stems, simply load a Stem file (.stem.mp4) into a TRAKTOR Deck while your controller is connected (for the KONTROL D2/F1, you will need to select and confirm a Deck by moving / pushing down the encoder upon first connection). The device control elements will be automatically configured for Stem control in the following manner:
TRAKTOR KONTROL S8 / D2
- Full visualization of all 4 Stems (waveform, name and color) on the built-in display.
- Stem volume control via the Performance Faders.
- Filter or FX Send on / off via the Performance Buttons.
- Filter cutoff frequency or FX Send dry / wet amount via the Performance Knobs (press the Navigate arrows below the display to switch between FILTER and FX SEND).
The image below shows the Stem view on the built-in display of the TRAKTOR KONTROL S8 / D2.
TRAKTOR KONTROL F1
- Visualization of each Stem volume level represented by the output color (RGB) and brightness of the pads (columns).
- Stem volume control via the Faders.
- Stem volume mute via the STOP pad row.
- Filter cutoff frequency via the FILTER knobs.
- FX Send on/off via the FX pad row.
Mapping Stem Deck Commands to a Third-Party MIDI Controller
While optimal control and visualization of Stems can only be achieved with our dedicated NI devices, it is possible to map Stem commands to a third-party surface controller. TRAKTOR's Controller Manager includes a subset of input / output commands for controlling the volume, FX and Filter cutoff frequency of each of the four Stems of a Stem Deck or Slots of a Remix Deck. You can implement the set of commands found under Deck Common > Submix of the Add In... menu in the Controller Manager's Assignment Table for this purpose.
Use the Assignment field to define the target of the command. In the example below we have mapped four faders on our third-party controller to control the volume of each Stem on Deck A (Slot 1-4). You can define the target for each command in the Assignment field of the Mapping Details section.
Note: It is also possible to implement Stem Deck assignments in a Generic Keyboard mapping so you can trigger commands from your computer keyboard, however the physical properties of the computer keys are very limited in their scope of interaction. Learn more about MIDI commands and Generic MIDI mappings in your TRAKTOR manual and in the Related Articles section at the bottom of this article.
If you have no means to visualize the individual Stems (mapping commands to a third-party controller) or have only limited visualization (only colors are shown on the KONTROL F1), it can be helpful to take note of the conventions applied to Stem files, even when these conventions won't apply to every Stem file.
Stem Part Arrangement
- The first (leftmost) Stem is for drums (MIDI assignment: Slot 1)
- The second Stem from the left is for bass (MIDI assignment: Slot 2)
- The second Stem from the right is for a strong hook or melody for the song (MIDI assignment: Slot 3)
- The fourth (rightmost) Stem is for vocals. If the song doesn't have vocals, a catch-all for the remaining musical parts, essentially the accompaniment for the song, harmonies, additional percussion, etc. (MIDI assignment: Slot 4)
Each Stem also has an RGB color definition to be used by software and hardware as an additional identifier for the content. In general, the color used is based on the subjective frequency content of the Stem. For example, low-frequency / bassy stems are shades of red while high-frequency / treble stems are shades of blue. Below is an example of a possible Stem arrangement and color:
- Stem Part 1 (leftmost) contains drums (Color: Red)
- Stem Part 2 (second from the left) contains basses (Color: Pink/Purple spectrum)
- Stem Part 3 (second from the right) contains harmonic synths (Color: Green spectrum)
- Stem Part 4 (rightmost) contains melodic synths (Color: Blue Spectrum)
Learn more about playing Stems and using the Stem Creator tool on our dedicated website http://www.stems-music.com/.