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How do you deal with FX when printing stems?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
How do you deal with FX when printing stems?

Didn't know where to post it so,,,

Some of my clients ask for stems. That's cool.

I set up sends from my separate Aux groups (drums, bass, etc) to separate audio tracks and record in real time , one pass, stems all done. The stems don't get any 2 buss or "rear buss" EQ, compression, or limiting.

But, for my FX: I use some FX that route directly to a group Aux (like an Exciter I use for HH, OH etc. will go directly to the Drum Aux), so those FX show up in that stem, easy.
However some FX I like sharing (a plate, slap, delay). In order to give the client all of the stems, I route all of my shared FX through one AUX so that I can print that as a "FX stem".

Q1: How do YOU deal with FX when printing stems?
Q2: Is it better to leave time based FX out of stems?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Quetz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingwhistle View Post
However some FX I like sharing (a plate, slap, delay). In order to give the client all of the stems and still only have to do one pass, I route all of my shared FX through one AUX so that I can print that as a "FX stem".
I corrected it for you

Firstly, I don't have clients, so take this with a pinch, but I can't see how an FX stem that is a blend of shared send effects from multiple buses is going to be of any use to anybody.

I thought stems were there as an easy way of doing a simple rebalance without having to go into an entire mix session, having to have all the same plugs etc.

This is impossible when you can't separate the fx from different buses.

You can't deliver a meaningful stem product in only one pass with shared fx.
I'm happy to be corrected here if I do not understand the end use of stems, but it's illogical to render all send fx to one stereo pair other than for archiving.

If someone takes the stems you gave them and wants to do a quick version with the lead vox bus a little higher and the guitars a little lower, and you've had them both sent to the same room verb for example, those relative verb levels are baked in, so making those changes would throw the whole mix balance off.

It would also be impossible to change the effects levels for specific buses only, ie rebalance wet and dry.
If someone wants more verb on the drums and less on the vocals, they can't have it.

In my eyes the only way to do it in a way that makes it worthwhile is to do one pass for every shared send effect.
If you've got a bus sending to both time and space effects, I would say that you want to do yet another pass for that bus, so that reverb and delays have their own stems, and for each bus that uses them.

End result is that if you've got a plate verb being shared by 3 tracks on 3 different buses, you do 3 passes and end up with 3 plate verb stems.
I wouldn't separate out all the individual verbs on a bus though, at that point they may as well have the whole mix session.

I think you need to cover yourself and just give them the best product.
Charge more if you have to.
Are you running through lots of hardware and that's why you have to do it in realtime though?
You can just export the stems as you please straight out the daw, choosing which auxes are active when you don't have to do realtime, way less hassle.
You could still partly do that if there are whole buses that are soft.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Thank you.

You bring up the problem I have with creating stems in general. If they want the stems for the sake of a re-mix, then they probably want them with FX separate. However, my clients usually want the stems to be able to augment their live performances, so they want the FX included. It's a PITA.

I'm interested to know what any forum dwellers experiences may be with this.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Home studio, non-professional perspective. In the past I've provided: the dry track; the track printed with fx as I intended; and, the wet track. Three different bounces. That's just for one stem/track.

That's for session tracks to be mixed elsewhere but still effectively stems (designed to overcome the issues you outline above) and giving the mixer/producer a wider range of choices: original dry with new fx; original as is with fx; or level editing of the original with a matching wet fx track.
There are sill some compromises with this method though e.g. delay and reverb tails.

Another option is the use of DAW session files; as long as the end user has a compatible rig/plug-ins the session can be live mixed with the stems/original plug-ins.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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I think he was only talking about stems, not tracks.

Stems as I understand them are stereo (or mono I guess) bounces of multiple tracks.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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I think stem in this context is between a track and a mix. Like dry drums L/R would be a stem. All bass. All Guitars, All vocals.

Most call that a buss until it's recorded. Then I guess it becomes a stem after recorded.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Generally it's the same technical issue whether it's a track or stem; same solutions too.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingwhistle View Post
Thank you.

You bring up the problem I have with creating stems in general. If they want the stems for the sake of a re-mix, then they probably want them with FX separate. However, my clients usually want the stems to be able to augment their live performances, so they want the FX included. It's a PITA.

I'm interested to know what any forum dwellers experiences may be with this.
In my experience (post) the single best thing to do is to email the client and ask them what they want, and if something like this is a question ask them to clarify. Then just do what they want.

Technically I suppose it simply means setting up your sessions so that you can easily re-route to accomplish that goal. In your case I'm not sure what the problem would be (I just don't have the experience in delivering for live performances), but I would imagine that simply routing effects by stem-type makes the most sense, and if that means duplicating effects so be it.

In other words I'd probably set it up so that if I had one plate reverb that was (normally) shared between... acoustic guitars and vocals for example (whatever)… I'd just duplicate that AUX / FX channel and send acoustics to their dedicated reverb and vocals to theirs. Then when rendering stems reverbs would follow respective instruments. That way if there's a live performance where they want to augment some parts they won't get something that sounds like 'bleed' because cutting out the source acoustics still has them in the plate reverb stem. Instead cutting out "Acoustics" would include ALL sounds the instruments make, be it dry or reverberated.

Just my 2 cents.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattiasnyc View Post
In my experience (post) the single best thing to do is to email the client and ask them what they want, and if something like this is a question ask them to clarify. Then just do what they want.
Of course this is very smart! I have made it too complicated haha! If the client wants stems with or without FX, I will deliver what they want.

I have never tested ITB to see if sending 5 tracks to 5 separate (but identical) reverbs has the same overall result as 5 tracks to one reverb.

I share FX sends and also sometimes I am sending the drum buss and the bass buss to a tape machine together, and things like this where the point is to make things react together. I suppose clients will have to get stems without some of the "special sauce". Haha.

Thank you for your input.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingwhistle View Post
I have never tested ITB to see if sending 5 tracks to 5 separate (but identical) reverbs has the same overall result as 5 tracks to one reverb.
My hunch is that this is going to depend a lot on the reverb and how it's programmed. I know that the reverbs that in my opinion are better have algorithms that take a lot into account and it wouldn't surprised me if the result using those would be different.

For example; it's possible to program a "material" used as a wall in this virtual space to not behave linearly. So a (virtual) soundwave with more energy will resonate the wall or bounce off it differently than a soundwave with less energy. In that case a summed soundwave consisting of two signals would change the sound compared to them entering separate reverbs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingwhistle View Post
I share FX sends and also sometimes I am sending the drum buss and the bass buss to a tape machine together, and things like this where the point is to make things react together. I suppose clients will have to get stems without some of the "special sauce". Haha.

Thank you for your input.
Yeah, for dynamic effects most definitely you will have different results. The only way I can think of to mitigate that is somehow using side chains, but that seems cumbersome to me.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Thank you mattiasnyc.

Definitely newer programming of reverbs, amps, etc takes into account these things. I hear differences. It's fun to exploit them. But, challenging to make perfect stems. haha.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
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This thread is so refreshing. A common issue that hasn't been covered to death, has no obvious solution or established practice, and is complete with thoughtful and well-reasoned advice! My only complaint is that I'm going to have to run an experiment before I can get any work done tomorrow.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingwhistle View Post
I have never tested ITB to see if sending 5 tracks to 5 separate (but identical) reverbs has the same overall result as 5 tracks to one reverb.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Cheers silksow,

I had a mix working really well last night;
I was feeding my drum buss and bass buss into a tape machine plugin on another buss (not parallel). So they were together and causing a very cool reaction inside the plugin. I loved it!
But, I made a couple balance adjustments and then just couldn't ever get the sound back, SO, I switched to using separate tape plug-ins for drum and bass busses. This was my solution this time, who knows next time.
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