If you’re looking to create professional, industry-standard music, tracked-out files/stems are ESSENTIAL.
In this short article I’ll explain the following:
- What are tracked-out files/stems exactly?
- What are the benefits of using tracked-out files/stems?
- Why are they better than using an MP3 or WAV?
- But I can’t afford the tracked-out files/stems?
What are tracked-out files/stems exactly? 🤔
The terms “tracked-out files” or “stems” are commonly thrown about in the music industry and are especially common when buying beats.
So, what are they?
Well, simply put, tracked-out files/stems are single instrument (or vocal) tracks. For example: kick, snare, piano, pluck, lead vocal, BG vocal etc.
It’s each one of these instruments broken up into individual stems.
What are the benefits of tracked-out files/stems? ✅
There a couple reasons why professional audio engineers work with tracked-out files/stems but there is one main reason.
It is vital for an audio engineer to have complete control over the mix in order to deliver the highest quality sound.
With tracked-out files/stems they can:
- Adjust and EQ individual instruments
- Cut or boost frequencies in an individual stem to ensure your vocals sit correctly.
- Add or remove specific elements of the beat to really mold the instrumental around your vocals.
If you’ve ever mixed a song before, you’ll be familiar with one of the classic problems like a snare being too loud and interfering with your vocals or the kick being too low and not punchy enough.
This is some of the things having the tracked-out files/stems will fix!
With tracked-out files/stems, you have total control and this will alone help your final mix sound 100 times better.
Why are they better than using an MP3 or WAV? 📁
As I mentioned before, the main reason for using tracked-out files as opposed to an MP3 or WAV is control. But, there are a couple of other reasons.
Firstly, if you’re serious about your music career and want to create the highest-quality music you can, then you have to stop using MP3 files for your songs.
The reasons I say this is one; MP3 files are not the industry-standard and second; you cannot professionally mix and master an MP3 file.
WAV files are a higher-quality version of an MP3 which is a lot better but you still cannot professionally mix and master a single WAV file.
I would always recommend grabbing the single WAV file if you’re just demoing or if you’re still writing the song and just want to practice, but as soon as you are looking to record, you NEED tracked-out files/stems.
Another very important reason why I’d recommend tracked-out/stems over single MP3 or WAV files is MASTERING.
All the beats on my beat store have been pre-mastered. This means that if you’re purchasing the single MP3 or WAV file then you’re receiving a pre-mastered file.
The issue with this is that you cannot master and already mastered track!
If you were to try, you’ll end up with a low quality, over-compressed and squashed mix.
And this is the last thing you want especially if you’re uploading your music publicly.
But I can’t afford the tracked-out files/stems? 😔
If purchasing the tracked-out files/stems isn’t in your budget, that’s completely understandable. We all have to work with what we got.
What I would recommend is getting at least the WAV file. As mentioned, it’s limited in terms of mixing and mastering, but with the right engineer, you could definitely get a decent sounding mix.
However, I wouldn’t recommend just the WAV file if you’re actually looking to upload to Spotify, Apple Music or other platforms.
The reason I say this is because these are platforms where your song is in front of a lot of industry professionals and so you need only your best work on there.
I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!