Bouncing stems – same or different volume from stereo mix?

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  • This topic has 28 replies, 9 voices, and was last updated 3 months ago by Advice.
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  • #30950 Reply

    Alan – wthout getting too detailed, IMO, this is the best way to mix stems if you KNOW you are going to mix stems. IMO of course…

    For the random sake of argument, let’s say the stems we need are : 1.) Orchestra (input bus 1/2), 2.) Solo instruments (input bus 3/4), 3.) Rhythm section (input bus 5/6), 4.) Synths (input bus 7/8), 5.) Vocals (input bus 9/10). Then a stereo two mix – (input bus 11/12). Adjust whatever stems you decide on to suit your particular piece of music’s requirements and/or client requests. Put all tracks into “input” and “solo safe” them.

    So….you will end up printing 6 Stereo tracks when you print your mix. 5 Stems tracks that ultimately feed the 6th track which is your 2 mix bus. Send the output of all Orchestra tracks and associated reverb and FX to internal bus 1/2, the Solo Instruments outputs and their reverb and FX to internal bus 3/4, and etc. This should have all your individual track outputs feeding their respective stem inputs properly. Then, feed ALL the stem track outputs to bus 11/12 which will end up being your 2 Bus stereo mix. Go ahead and put whatever 2 bus processing you use (I use analog gear on hardware inserts) on your mix bus. Monitor your stems tracks and 2 bus mix track on input while you mix, and your stems and your 2 bus will be perfect level wise. Or at least they will be where you want them. 🙂

    This type of mixing can get quite elaborate, but saves a HUGE amount of time, and creates stems that are properly designed and mixed.

    And to answer your question – yes, the stem outputs combined should recreate your mix bus – sans processing on the mix bus.

    #30952 Reply

    I had a similar issue regarding the dilemna of keeping things MIDI or bouncing them to audio. before i would mix and master with MIDI tracks unbounced, but because of resource constraints i had to resort to having 2 session files per song (MIDI unbounced and bounced). I would have my mastering plugins on the bounced version though (again due to resource constraints)…then i came across a situation where a library asked me to change a string sound cause they didnt like the one i used, so i had to go back to the unbounced session, change the vsti, made some level and articulation tweaks, bounce to audio, then import that to the bounced session and remixed/remastered the track. a lot of work…if it was just timing or level issue i could have edited the bounced session, but if its an instrument or arrangement change i have no choice to go back to the MIDI track…

    i havent had an issue with my stems clipping through the mastering chain though…i’d assume the sum of all the stems is greater than the stems separately…

    #30958 Reply

    I always render (Cubase terminology) my midi tracks and then have a Macro key command to hide and disable the midi track. This saves resources and also places the hidden midi track just above the audio version if I need to go back. Regarding stems I just solo the relevant tracks and bounce out. There can be certain situations where the the send fx (reverb etc) need to be separate which requires a different setup from the outset. Jason Graves has a YT channel where he describes this in detail.

    #30959 Reply

    This is how I do it:

    Stems for a client:
    – everything printed running through the master FX, but with a little less compression.
    – I then (if there’s time) load these stems into a fresh new session and reduce the volume overall until there’s no clipping. Re-bounce / export

    Stems (stripes) for a mix:
    – no master FX, except for any gain automation. Still print all the track automation, or else the mixer will have a rough time.
    – Depending on the mixer, and their process, I will / won’t print reverb into each track.

    #30960 Reply

    does anyone know if the editors mix stems with compression or just basic level adjustments?

    #30961 Reply

    think about it…. Re-Mix engineers usually like less compression not more. It makes their job easier and sounds better. So for most feature applications, I’d say no compression is added, but we’re definitely in a transition phase as those coming into the power positions have never heard music that isn’t smashed to ****

    #30963 Reply

    If you want your music smashed, then mix through the stems mixes into your stereo mix as I described above. Put your processing on the stems instead of the 2 mix. You’ll have more flexibility, and the sum total of your stems WILL equal a smashed 2 bus mastered mix with no processing required on the 2 bus.

    for those requiring heavy compression / limiting to their music, this is the best of both worlds. If you’re using hardware to accomplish your sound though, this is pretty difficult to do without a LOT of outboard. There can be no cross pollenization of verbs, delays, etc., and you need enough hardware for multiple stems, so I’d say that in all but the most simple of stem mixes, this is unrealistic. (Hardware processing that is….)

    #30974 Reply
    Art Munson
    #30981 Reply

    In the production music world, stems are meant to give greater control to the editor, etc. You should be able to compile your stems and they should play back just like your original mix. So, FX etc should be printed. Sending stems dry or with no automation defeats the purpose of this. What of your snare is compressed with a short reverb but your kick is dry? They are grouped together so
    If someone wants to start with a fresh mix and add compression and reverb, they’d be affecting/effecting (whatever) the entire kit, right? Not the goal. If you want to print individual tracks
    without FX/auto then you are providing a multi track, not stems. You can do that too for your own backup or if someone truly wants to do a fresh mix. One thing we do is take stems with FX etc but unmastered so in case we want to get a cleaner, punchier, etc remastering that can be done. The end goal is to make things as easy as possible for your client.

    #30982 Reply

    Apologies for misspellings above. Typing on my phone.

    Re: smashing/bricking Your mix I would highly advise not to. Get it loud but keep it dynamic. Most editors can see the wave form and if it’s bricked may actually see it as a dated track because smashing/bricking was the thing to do years ago. Give them every reason to use your music. Cheers!

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