Stem mastering export

I will be getting my first stem mastering done. Exporting them has been a bit of a headache. Let me walk you through

  1. I have some 2 bus processing going on. headache is coming because I have a compressor for groove. my idea here would be to add this compressor to every stem channel and send every other track to the sidechain. PITA but possible

  2. I have alot of sidechaining going on. everything is sidechaining everything. so if I were to solo busses for export, that sidechaining would be gone.

I will be considering this on the next track. how do you handle this? the labels wants a stem mastering for the track.

Forgive my ignorance but mastering stems just sounds like the most hideous idea ever, when you stick them all back together again it will sound terrible.

Or does Stem not mean what I think it means?

It means what you mean. Benefit of this is that the engineer has more possibilities to affect the sound.

For point 2, regarding your side chains, the easiest way is to render the tracks you want as stems, is in real time. Just set up another Audio track and bounce away.
For point 1, if you use dynamics processing for groove enhancement, my question would be, if I apply that processing to stems, do i get the same groove at the end? My guess would be no.

Anyway, best wishes for your project.


I am supposed to send my version too. so maybe the engineer will apply the groove compression. for normal stereo mastering I would leave the compression. this is new for me.

my advice would be, prepare 1 stem with full drum set inc. your compression and 1 stem without bassdrum, 1 stem bassdrum only.

normaly you don´t need every single drum instrument as stem … at least that´s what I read about it.

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I would say render every track with all your processing on them. Just nothing on the master channel. Stem mastering is, I’m guessing, so that the engineer can mix your track levels etc and then master the final result. It basically gives the mastering engineer more options and control over the track.

This might help:

Also, if in doubt, ask the label exactly what they want from you :blush:

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