Its safe to say that although it sounds simple enough, exporting Stems can be a tricky subject. Especially when there’s parallel processing, FX Returns, & Mix Bus Processing involved. That being said - In last weeks video we covered the basics on using the ‘Export Stems’ function in Studio One, and more specifically - the difference between using Tracks vs Channels.
In this weeks video, I wanted to dig down a little further into some of the questions and comments I received from last weeks video "Tracks vs Channels - Exporting Stems In PreSonus Studio One”.
So essentially - a Q & A Video Response that will hopefully help clear things up a bit more for those who had further questions.
Furthermore, last week was all about how to export Stems from your Studio One Song - (and the difference between Tracks vs Channels) whereas this week I wanted to focus more on routing options, and how to go about structuring your Studio One Song to ensure that exporting Stems doesn't become a tedious process. Not necessarily any hard rules - but more along the lines of some guidelines and tips that I’ve picked up over my years of having to deliver stems for various clients.
However - one thing that I do want to mention with respect to exporting Stems, is that the minute you involve ANY Mix Bus Processing (on your Main Outs) the whole entire concept of ‘Stems’ kind of goes out the window.. Or to be more clear, Specifically when dealing with things like Mix Bus Compression, or any dynamics processing that may be potentially reacting to the whole mix vs individual elements.
Case in point: If you have some epic SFX Tracks that are kicking your Mix Bus Compressor or Limiter into overdrive - if you muted those tracks and played back the same mix - you would most likely note that your levels would be different. This is because the tracks are summing together and effecting the cumulative level that your dynamics processing is responding to.
This can also be the case when dealing with saturation as well.. It’s a cumulative effect. So the short answer is that “usually” (not all the time) this is something to be taken into consideration when printing stems. In my personal experience, things like basic EQ curves usually translate pretty well and don’t drastically alter the sonics - unless of course you are aggressively pushing gain or drive to saturate the Mix Bus on purpose.
At the end of the day, your deliverables will usually provide the best insight as to how to deliver your stems, and how to set up the routing in your DAW. So if it’s a matter of having to deliver stems that perfectly match your Stereo Mix Down - there are way’s to accomplish this. And in some cases Getting your stems to come ‘close’ to your final mix might be good enough as well.
But regardless, there is NOTHING worse than getting an email AFTER you’ve mixed a track saying “oh yeah, by the way, we’re gonna need stems printed for this mix” and having to go though your mix and find a way to print stems that even remotely resemble your finished Mix. Needless to say, you will only need to go though this once to see how much of a pain it is. And my guess would be that once you do have to go through this, you will most likely find a way to structure your songs to avoid being burnt a second time.
All in all, Stems are a regular part of my world - I deal with them all the time, but they don’t have to be a pain, as long as you think ahead, exporting stems can be a breeze.
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