How To Extract NI Stems In 5 Easy Steps

When I first learned about the new Native Instruments Stems format, I was excited and curious the same time. I understood the conventional application of utilizing stems my DJ sets, but I couldn’t stop thinking that all I wanted to do was extract the stem files and take a peek inside.

The first issue I came across was that nothing could extract the format. It was just errors whenever I tried importing it into various pieces of software, and nothing seemed to read them in as a multitrack except for officially supported software.

Started digging deeper until I finally found the solution. I discovered that the audacity software with a free addon would allow me to extract the stem files to take a closer look inside. With lots of trial and error, I finally found a solution that worked.

Extracting The Native Instruments Stems Format

If you have ever been curious and wanted to extract the Native Instruments Stems format into individual files, follow along, and I’ll share exactly how to do that here. Also, the best part is all of the tools are free.

1.) Download The Audacity Software

The first thing we need to do is get a copy of audacity. It’s a free software that is both Mac and PC compatible and can be downloaded from the link provided. Once downloaded make sure to install the software first. http://www.audacityteam.org/

2.) Get The FFmpeg Codec Add-On

Once Audacity has is installed, we then need to get the FFmpeg codec from the buanzo website. We then need to install it as well. It functions as an add-on for audacity enabling the software to read additional formats with it codec. http://lame.buanzo.org/

We recommend downloading the “exe” for windows and the “dmg” version for Mac instead of the zip file versions. These versions are installers that will place the codec in the exact location Audacity wants to find it. This helps get everything working much easier.

3.) Verify the FFmpeg Installation Was Successful

Once audacity and the FFmpeg codec have been installed open Audacity and click the file preferences menu. Then click on “Libraries” in the left sidebar. This presents the folder options where we can verify the codec has been detected by Audacity so we can use it. Click the “Locate” button next to the words “FFmpeg Libary:” in the lower section.

Audacity should auto detect the location of the codec files because we used the installer. Click “No” at the prompt screen and then click “OK” and close the preferences window.

4.) Open A Stem File In Audacity

Now to the fun part! We are ready to extract our stem files. Use the file menu to import a stem file into the software. You will be presented with a small box and five sets of numbers. Each of these numbers represents a stem file channel. Click on the top number with your mouse and while holding the shift key on your keyboard click the last number. This will highlight all of the five sets of numbers. Once they are all highlighted press “OK”.

You should now see your stem files being imported into Audacity. This process can take time depending on how faster computers. Inside you will find the stereo master as well as individual stem files. These are the individual pieces of the track.

5.) Extract The Stem File To Wav Or Aiff

Lastly, we were going to extract all five of the multi-channel stems into a uncompressed file format.

To do this, we are going to select “export multiple” from Audacity’s file menu. We will then be presented with a set of options. These include “export location” as well as “export format”. Press the choose button and select your desired export location. Then from the export formats pull-down menu, select either aiff, wav 16bit, or wav 32bit float as your preference. In our case, we mostly use wav 16-bit.

You will then be presented with multiple meta-data windows. One for each stem. Leave all the settings at default and impress “OK” for all five channels on each window as they appear.

The stems will then start extracting, and you will be presented with a success window once the process has completed.

The Stems Have Successfully Been Extracted

You should now have access to stem files individually. This can have many potential uses, from studying the production tricks, To sampling the sounds, to remixing the file completely. Whatever your reason, I hope that this information was valuable and useful to you.

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