No More MP3s: Native Instruments Wants DJs to Use Their New Audio Format

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Now, there’s a new format from Native Instruments that offers a lot more creative flexibility.

Beatport may have launched a streaming music service, but they haven’t forgotten about paid downloads.  In June 2015 Beatport, Juno, and Traxsource will begin selling song downloads in a new file format called Stems.

So what is this format?  Aren’t stems just the parts of a song?

Well, yeah.  ‘Stems’ is the term for a track that has been separated into its individual parts: drums, synth, vocals, etc.  Native Instruments is introducing a new music format based on that concept.

Native Instruments is releasing a free software program called Stem Creator Tool.  Producers and labels can use this software to separate their song into four different parts, such as synth, bass, drums, and lead.  The Stem Creator Tool will then store the four different parts in an MP4 file.

This MP4 file will operate as a normal audio track on most platforms. iTunes will play it back as a normal audio track.

But starting this summer, Native Instrument’s Traktor software will be able to separately control and manipulate the MP4 Stem file’s four parts.

Native Instruments is opening up the code to developers, so outside companies can create compatible software and hardware. They say the format will give DJs greater control, and will give labels a new source of revenue.

The Stems audio format is being supported by Toolroom Records, Hypercolour, inFiné, and many others.

Here’s a video tutorial of the format from DJ TechTools:


Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more: @nine_u

9 Responses

  1. Matt Aimonetti

    I wrote a blog post explaining how NI stems work, basically they didn’t invent a new format but used the MP4 container format invented by Apple (for QuickTime) and probably have their own specifications. Anyone using free tools can create stem files, listen to each track and even extract stems easily. The question is can we have a standard used by the entire industry and should it be defined by only one company?

  2. theo b

    You will still be able to use mp3’s aswell.