Stem Mastering

At Woodlands studio, we liked to offer a range of services to meet our clients needs and demands. Unlike traditional mastering in which our engineer will enhance the stereo audio file (premaster) for commercial release; stem mastering combines multiple stems or stereo grouped audio files to create a final master. By separating the stereo mix (premaster) into separate stems (Kick, Bass, Percussion, Music [synths, fx, pads] and Vocals]), stem mastering allows us to obtain far more precise tweaks and control over your sound than tradition stereo mastering. Even though the end goal is still the same (which is to enhance your music and make sure they are ready for commercial distribution), we want to give more choice to our clients on how they want to achieve that goal whether that be 100% digital or split between digital and analogue. 

Stem mastering is a great option when you are 95% happy with your mix but can’t quite put your finger on what else is needed. Often that 5% is in the final tweaks of the mix which allows our mastering engineer the flexibility and control to correct any balance issues and adjust certain stems according without affecting the rest of the track. For example, if your kick and bass aren’t working with each other as well as you had hoped, there isn’t a lot a traditional stereo master would do to be able to rectify this issue – however by having more flexibly and control over these two stems, our engineer can easily tweak and balance the relationship of both stems to work in harmony.  It is important to note that our stem mastering service should not be used to make up for a bad mix. Although we have slightly more flexibility, you should put the exact same amount of effort into you mix as you would to prepare for a stereo master. A stem master will benefit significantly more when the mix down is already at a very high standard.

With state-of-the-art hardware equipment and industry standard mastering plugins – we believe that a hybrid approach is the way forward when it comes to stem mastering. Each stem will first be balanced, enhanced and cleaned up before separately run through our Neve 8816 Summing mixer for clarity, depth and warmth. Each stem will also run through our SSL Fusion and Bettermaker Mastering Compressor as part of a 17 process Mastering chain. 

Stem mastering is not to be confused with our stem mixing service where we ask for processing to be removed on the grouped audio files. When it comes to a stem master, we ask that you leave all of your processing on each stem when group. Essentially when we put all of your stems into a new project it should sound exactly like your stereo premaster that you heard inside your DAW.

You can send a maximum of 5 x stems. The following is just an example:

  •  Kick
  •  Bass
  •  Percussion 
  •  Music (Synths, Pads, Fx, Textures, background ambience etc…)
  •  Vocals

How to send your music?

  • Check your final with after a break and with fresh ears – tired ears won’t give you a proper mix reference.
  • Check you aren’t unintentionally clipping anywhere in your mix.
  • If you can, check your mix in mono and stereo and on different speakers
  • Make sure the level of your track peaks between -6db and -3db. If the overall sum of your tracks are above -3db; please rebalance your individual tracks in your project to hit these levels on your master output channel. Do not use your master fader to adjust to hit these levels.
  • Remove all plugins from the master output channel (ie Compression, Maximisers, Limiters, Tape emulators etc…).
  • When exporting/ bouncing, make sure dithering and normalising is turned off.
  • Leave some silence at the start and end of your track.
  • Allow reverb/ delays/ fx to play out at the end of the track when suitable
  • Send all stems as 24bit WAV 
  • Critically listen to your stems before hand. Ensure that you are happy with the final result.
  • Once you are happy, please upload to WeTransfer using the link function or any other similar file hosting websites and paste the link in the order page for us to download. Do not send separate wetransfer emails.
  • Remember not to leave your tracks until the last minute of a deadline. Allow enough time for stem masterings.
  • If you are ensure whether your track is ready, please use our ‘In-depth Feedback Service‘ before hand for further guidance.

Stem Master

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Products Price Quantity Action
Stem Master 24 Hour Turnaround
PLEASE NOTE: Purchasing a 24 hour turnaround on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday will result in the Master being completed and sent within 24 hours of the next working day.
View a comparison of our Mastering Services here

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