Saturday, April 4, 2015

Stems vs DI Tracks

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we're going to talk about two different type of tracks that we can find over the internet for many uses, for example for mixing practice.

Stem Tracks: these tracks comes from a tradition which has its roots into the technical limits of the past (it was largely used in the '60s), and they consist in tracks with a single intrument or a group of instruments (for example a drum buss) with the sounds already mixed, for example we can have a vocal track already with the mixing done, which could consist in some equalization, compression, de-essing, delay and reverb.
Why did the past music producers need this intermediate step before mixing the whole album?
Because it was impossible to do all in one step. Back in the day technology didn't allow to hear all the tracks in real time, each one of them passing into different processors as it happens today inside a DAW.
Mixing consoles had a limited number of tracks, which made necessary to create sub-mixes and to bounce them into a stereo track before proceding into mixing the whole album.
Today many bands are releasing the stems of their albums for free, mainly for learning purposes: we can hear for example only the vocal part of a certain song and analize it, to reverse engineer the mixing process and to learn more about how it's done. Some parts can also be used as base for karaoke purposes or for cover, or remix uses.

DI tracks: these tracks are usually with one single instrument, and most of the times are used for guitar and bass, straight to the audio interface.
The difference with stem tracks lies in the fact that these tracks are completely dry, it's the raw signal before any mixing.
Why do we need DI tracks? Usually for reamping purposes: we can take a clean guitar di track and apply for example a virtual amp simulator on it and hear how it sounds.
Some artist like Ola Englund have released DI tracks recorded with different pickups to let people hear how these pickups sound reamped with their own gear.
This same artist has released the DIs of a whole project, to let the people mix with his own tracks.

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