Video Training: How To DJ With Stems & The Traktor Kontrol S8

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 6 April, 2018

In this final part of our Traktor Kontrol S8 series, we look at the new Stems file format, and how to use Stems files on the S8.

In Get Started With The Traktor Kontrol S8, Pt 1 which started this series, we looked at how the Traktor Kontrol S8 works with your music files, and in Part 2 we looked at external inputs. Part 3 took on beatgridding, and Part 4 was about looping. To end this Traktor Kontrol S8 series, today we demo how to use the exciting new Stems file format. Below is the info you need to make the most of this lesson, and the video training itself is at the bottom of the article.

What are Stems files?

Stems are a new type of music file for DJs. While they play just like normal music files in iTunes, for instance (and indeed on any gear or software that can play MP4 files), on compatible software and hardware, they give you four “parts” or “stems” of the original song (such as drums, bass, synth and vocals).

While the tune can be played, scratched, looped etc. like any other song in your collection, you get to control the volumes of these individual parts, and also you can add filters and FX to them. They give you huge possibilities for more inventive mixing and on-the-fly remixing, but the whole concept is nice and simple and there’s no preparation – you can play the files just like normal songs too, if you want. The amount you do with them is totally up to you.

The Traktor Kontrol S8 makes it all easy, because the four mini-faders and their associated knobs and buttons, plus the screens, give you all the controls and waveform feedback you need to make the most of Stems.

In the video below you’ll be shown:

  • What Stems files are – …and the kinds of things you’ll be able to do with them
  • Stems basics – How to spot them in your libary, and how to load and get them playing
  • Altering the volumes of the stems – How to use the four mini-faders for instant instrumentals, acapellas, remixes etc.
  • Adding filters and FX to stems – …in order to change just one part of the song leaving the rest intact
  • How to use parts of two stems files together – For instance, we demo replacing the drums on one file with those for another, even ones in a totally different genre, for some amazing results

What to do next

First, watch the video to see us demo all of the above. Then, get some Stems files and have a go! At the time of writing the release of the first Stems files and Traktor software that can use them hasn’t happened yet (keep an eye on the official site for news), but it’s close…

So once everything is public and you’ve got Traktor fully up to date, grab some files from Beatport, Traxsource, Juno or wherever you like from the participating retailers, load up and have fun…

Video talkthrough

Check out the other parts in this series:

Also check out the 7 things we learned DJing with Stems live.

Are you excited by this format? What are your feelings about it against the Remix Decks feature? Can you see yourself using this in your DJing? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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