Importing and exporting stems
- Live Versions: All
- Operating System: All
A stem is a discrete or grouped collection of audio sources mixed together. For example, a song might be split into five separate stems: vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards and drums. If each individual track is rendered as a separate audio file, e.g. each drum sound, these may also be referred to as parts. Creating remixes of tracks or having tracks mixed by a mix engineer are common instances where you would need to work with or create stems/parts.
Note: The usage of the term stems here is not to be confused with the Native Instruments Stems format, which is not supported in Live.
Importing stems or parts
Example: Receiving stems or parts from an artist for a remix.
1. Open Live's preferences to the Record Warp Launch section.
2. Turn off Auto-Warp Long Samples. This is important to ensure that start markers line up exactly at the beginning of the audio files - even if there's silence at the beginning - and that no warping or audio degradation will occur. Also turn off Create Fades on Clip Edges, otherwise clips with a sharp attack (eg. kicks) will have that attack slightly muted on the first beat:
3. Drag the audio files into Live, either from the Browser or from Finder (Mac)/ Explorer (Windows). Select multiple files and press CMD (Mac)/CTRL (Windows) to drop them into separate tracks.
4. Set the tempo in Live to the same as the source files. You can ask the person who provided the files to let you know the original tempo, or you could find it out by warping a drum track.
5. If you need to change the tempo in Live, you'll need to warp the audio files so that they follow the new tempo.
Exporting stems or parts
Example: Sending stems or parts to a mix engineer for a professional mix-down of your track.
1. Select the entire arrangement and open the Export Audio/Video screen: CMD + Shift + R (Mac)/ CTRL + Shift + R (Windows).
2. Set the Rendered Track dropdown to All Individual Tracks.
3. Make sure that Render Start and Render Length span the entire length of the arrangement, from the beginning to the very end, regardless of where an individual instrument begins or ends in the arrangement.
4. Turn off Render as Loop, Convert to Mono and Normalize.
5. If the mix engineer is using Live too, turn on Create Analysis File, then when they import the files all the settings will remain the same. If not, there's no need to create an analysis file.
6. Set your preferred sample rate and ensure that whoever else works with the stems/parts uses the same sample rate in their own DAW.
Note: Any sample rate conversion causes a minimal quality degradation of the signal.
7. Enable Encode PCM, then select either Wav or AIFF.
8. It's best to export at a bit depth of 32 bits, to avoid doubling dithering of the audio. The mix engineer should take care of the dithering on their end. See the audio fact sheet for more details.
9. Press Export to export all tracks individually.
Note: Any grouped tracks will be rendered at the group level with group effects intact, and each individual grouped track will also be exported, without group effects. If you used return track or group track effects, and want to export these combined with the source clip track then you need to take some additional steps.
Include return and master effects when exporting (Live 10.1 and later only)
Use the option to "Include return and master effects" on the Export Audio/Video dialog. This allows you to export individual stems all at once with return and master effects included.
In Live 9:
- Solo a clip track which has return track or group track processing.
- Make sure that Solo in Place is active in the options menu so that you can hear the return channel/group effects too.
- Open the Export Audio/Video screen and set the Rendered Track dropdown to Master Track.
- Follow steps 2-9 above.
- Repeat for any other clip tracks with return track/group track processing, making sure that only one clip track is soloed at a time.