Creating Stems in Ableton Live

Sometimes to collaborate with other musicians we need to turn our Ableton Live Tracks into Stems. Using stems is a great way to send tracks to other people that use different DAWS, such as Logic, or for remix contest. Before we get started though, let’s define what a Stem is.

Stem-mixing is a method of mixing audio material based on creating groups of audio tracks and processing them separately prior to combining them into a final master mix. Stems are also sometimes referred to as submixes, subgroups, or busses.

In other words, it’s taking our track and turning it into a handful of stereo tracks. That way you can send 8-10 tracks instead of 50 individual tracks or one final master.

I created an in depth PDF that walks you through the steps needed to turn your track into stems. Below is the video walk-through.  I also have a free PDF guide for download below that.

Download PDF

As an added tip here is some examples of Stem Grouping for your tracks:

Dance and Midtempo:

1.Texture
2.Melodies
3.Harmony
4.Additive and Other
5.Percussion
6.Beat/Drums
7.Kick
8.Bass

Hip Hop and EDM
1. Vocals
2. Synths
3. Kick
4. 808
5. Bassline
6. Snares/claps
7. All other percussion (hi hats, shaker, crash, etc.) and sound effects

Rock or Jazz
1. Vocals
2. Guitars
3. Bass
4. Kick
5. Snare
6. All other drum mics: rooms/overheads/toms/etc.
7. Synth/strings/miscellaneous

Singer/Songwriter
1. Lead vocal
2. Background vocals
3. Acoustic guitar
4. Tambourine

4 Comments

  1. dj Corr August 28, 2015 at 10:02 am - Reply

    pdf download no works!

    • Subaqueous August 28, 2015 at 1:27 pm - Reply

      Sorry about that, I just uploaded it and fixed the link. It should now work no problem. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. DJ_Shaker October 10, 2016 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Thank you, I find it useful!

  3. Mose Cagen December 10, 2016 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Nice work, but it is still a few levels removed from what I am hoping to accomplish. I would like to play live using 8 stems – the main issue I am coming up against is getting them to sound the same as within the project with a mastering plugin on the master chain. I have tried the option of exporting each stem independently through the master but have read elsewhere that applying any sort of limiter to an individual group of tracks is a different effect than applying it to the mix as a whole and have noticed problems with my levels when I bring those 8 stems back together in a live mix. So I thought maybe the better option would be to throw my mastering set up on the master or on a bus in my live set up but this creates a ton of latency and makes playing things live impossible (I use Ozone which uses a lot of processing power). Any ideas of how to get around these obstacles?

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