Hacking Stems: How To Extract Parts From Stem Files


H/T to our DJ instructor Pete O’Karma for sending us this link.

Stems are an important tool in a DJ’s repertoire, but finding stems can be tough. Native Instruments has released a program called Stems, which allows songs purchased from websites like Beatport, Juno, Traxsource, whatpeopleplay, or Wasabeat to be isolated into 5 tracks; typically the Drums, Vocals, Bass, Other and the Master Stereo mix.

Until now, Stem files have needed the Stems application to run, but our friends over at DJ Tech Tools have discovered a way to isolate individual stems without the Stems program.

Here are the steps you need to follow:

1: Purchase and download any stems you want from the sites listed above.

2: After you’ve done that, download and install Audacity. Audacity is a free audio editor available for both Mac and PC.



3: You’ll also need to download and install FFmpeg. This is a video encoding application, and is also free.




4: Once both FFmpeg and Audacity have been downloaded, open Audacity and then go to Preferences. Under the “Libraries” tab, you should see something that says “FFmpeg Library” with a button next to it that says “Locate.” Click the “Locate” button and search for the FFmpeg library you recently installed.

5: Now, import the stem file of your choice into Audacity. Go to File, and select Import, then Audio. Then, select the Stem file.

6: Once you have selected the file, a menu will come up that says “Select Streams.” While it may look like nothing is there, but there are actually just blank-titled streams in the menu. Select them all, and hit enter.  The streams should now start importing.

7: Now, you should have several stereo audio files.  These are your stems.  You can listen to them if you want, but if you want to import them into the DAW of your choice, go to File and select Export multiple.  It is recommended that you export them as AIFF files or WAV files, as they are the highest quality and most DAWs can use them.  Also, make sure your files are being exported to a location you can find later.

8: All you need to do now is place your stems into the DAW of your choice, you’re done!

This tutorial was brought to you in part by DJ ESQ a/k/a UR Boys, one of our fantastic DJ instructors here in our Central Square lab. Check out his latest mix here:

Killer BoomBox Mixtape Appetizer by Esq. on Mixcloud

Want to learn more from Pete but don’t know where to begin? That’s easy, schedule a tour with Sarah and we’ll start you of on the right foot.

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