Stem mastering

Stem mastering £45.00 per track (up to 8 stems)

Stem mastering is different from 2 track stereo mastering. Stem mastering uses a number of grouped instruments such as drums, keyboards, bass, guitars and vocals. For electronic styles typical stems might be drums, bass, sub bass, lead synth 1, lead synth 2, effects sweeps etc. This allows the mastering engineer additional scope to discretely enhance and optimize any specific set of instruments within a mix down. It also affords enhancement based on the summing of the stems. Additionally, standard stereo mastering processes are included. Stem mastering can produce subjectively improved sonic results, increased depth and dimension to the resultant master.

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Read on for further details or check out these short videos on stem mastering which explains the basics, the detail on how to export your stems is further down this page:

I am professionally analogue equipped with audio mastering specific tools and at your service: MANLEY Massive Passive, Vari Mu compressor, SUMMIT AUDIO DCL-200 valve compressor, Sontec custom stereo switched mastering equalizer, PMC IB1S monitors, Crane Song Solaris Quantum DAC, audiophile conversion. Beware of those who do not list or show their equipment inventory.

It is worth clarifying that stem mastering is very obviously not mixing. Mixing uses very significant and highly detailed fader riding, send automation, effects processing, track based dynamic processes, tuning, complex synth parameter automation, bussing of signals, track based character processing and possibly includes many hundreds of tracks/alternative takes etc. Stem mastering uses very occasional automation and no tuning or effects. It does allow the mastering engineer to target the use of eq, dynamic adjustment and other forms of enhancement to the stems (maximum 8) often producing an improved master.

Stem mastering service

Clients list and testimonials

I am convinced you will be very pleased with the results of my stem mastering service. I believe it to be the best quality vs value stem mastering available in the world and many of my clients do too. The results on your music will speak for themselves. This service is priced highly competitively, being lower in cost that some mastering studios stereo 2 track mastering.

When is stem mastering worth considering?

Mastering from stems is worth considering if you feel there are some specific issues which could be improved upon by a fresh set of ears in a highly linear monitoring environment. If your music mix is lacking separation, width and depth stem mastering can help to achieve these desirable characteristics. It can be used when you cannot get your tracks to sound like your favourite genre references.

Stem mastering is not the same as mixing. Mixing balances individual multi track recordings and involves many man hours and copious use of automation, equalization, dynamic control and effects processing. It is clearly not possible to get a professional to mix for £45.00

Mastering from stems tends not to use lots and lots of automation, occasional tweaks are more common. Stem mastering uses groups of instrumentation and allows additional sonic tweaks and targeted adjustment in addition to global stereo processing. Stem mastering allows additional and specific enhancement to instruments such as width, depth, warmth, punch, gluing, summing improvements, eq improvements, adding “air” and reduction of harshness.

How do I prepare tracks for stem mastering?

exporting tracks for stem mastering

It is important that your stems “sum or re-combine” to sound identical to your mix down as resubmitting stems is chargeable.

Please supply 24 bit stereo interleaved files of identical length/duration. Export your stems from exactly the same time code position in your digital audio workstation time line so they will synchronize in my digital audio workstation. This will invariably involve setting left and right locators when you bounce/export your files. When preparing files consider that ideal stems should combine/sum in your digital audio workstation and sound virtually identical to the stereo mix down when combined and played together.

I have been mixing into a limiter will this affect my export/bounce for stem mastering ?

If this is the case please send a stereo mix down with the limiter on in addition to your unlimited stem exports, so I can hear what you have been hearing.

Is there any other information you require?

If you have a reference track you aspire to (i.e. a commercially released track) by all means send it along as a guide. (Please do not send a reference that is sonically too disparate to your mix down, there are limits to what can be achieved.) It assists me to understand your tonal and perceived volume aspirations.

Any notes about sonic issues that have been of concern during the mix down would be of use. Pointers such as “bass line sounds muddy”, “cannot get bass line working with kick”, “drums require more punch”, could be useful. Also please confirm the aspects of the mix you are happy with so I can avoid changing things you like already.

Free preview is not available for stem mastering work and payment needs to be made in advance of the job being scheduled. However revisions are free of charge, within reason, to your satisfaction. Resubmitting your mix stems is chargeable.

Note: Stem mastering produces a stereo interleaved master file result. (of 16 or 24 bit as per your requirements/note some distributors do not currently accept 24 bit files.) It is not typical to deliver back stems individually. The reason is that any stem based analogue or digital processing and compression/limiting applied on a master bus will interact very differently with individual stems compared with summed stems and so summed “mastered stems” at the clients end would not sum to equal the stereo interleaved master. (It would also not make sense to limit these individual stems during the bounce process.)

Note: Resubmitting a stem post mastering carries a nominal fee of £15.00. It is time consuming to run the stemmed mix through analogue equipment again and this fee covers the time taken to run it through and quality control the file again. Of course small tweaks to the original master are free of charge.

Please deliver files using

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Or call to discuss your requirements Barry +44 (0) 7810 271371

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Order Stem Mastering £45.00 (up to 8 stems)