Traktor Pro 2.9 Out Now – Unleash Stems!
Native Instruments released the latest version of Traktor Pro: 2.9. It's a free update available in your Service Center Application. Looking at the interface, you won't be able to tell the difference between the last version and this update. Except for one small but essential detail: Stem files support.
What is new in Traktor Pro 2.9?
1. Stem Decks
This new Deck-Flavor allows you to load and play Stem files. You can set any of your four decks to "Stem Deck". But you don't have to. As soon as you load a Stem file into a normal track deck, it will automatically switch to Stem mode.Visually nothing changes - the stem deck looks exactly like the good old track deck.
2. Stem Controls
In case you don't own a Traktor S8, D2 or F1 controller and still want to be able to manipulate stem elements, you will have to use an external MIDI controller to do so. Good news: you can! From within the Preferences / Controller Manager, you now can assign controller inputs to the Stem elements. Go to "Deck Common / Submix / ..." and select the Stem element to control.
Quote from the manual:
The sub-mix controls for the Remix Deck have now been upgraded to Deck Common controls in the Controller Manager. Controls like Slot Volume, Slot Filter, Slot Mute, and Slot FX Send Amount are now located in “Deck Common > Sub-Mix”. When mapping a MIDI Controller to these controls, these controls will now control a Stem Deck or Remix Deck, whichever type is loaded. If you had MIDI Mappings for Remix Deck mix controls previous to this update, those controls are now automatically mapped to the Deck Common Sub-mix controls for convenience.
The bad news: If you only own a S2 or S4 controller, you will have to invest in external hardware to make full use of the Stem elements. The best candidates for the job would be the NI F1 (around $199.-), NI D2 (around $299.-), Kenton KillaMix Mini (around 250 Pounds) and the cheapest version: Samson Graphite MF8 Mini (around $40).
3. Stem Support for Controllers
If you do own a Traktor S8, D2 or F1 controller, your controller display will now show the 4 Stem layers at once and using the faders / knobs assigned to the four layers, you are now in full Stem-control.
Quote from the manual:
The KONTROL S8 and D2 will provide full 4-stem visualization of the Stems on the in-built displays, and the Performance Knobs, Buttons, and Faders control the sub-mix of the stems (such as Slot Volumes, Slot Filters, and Slot FX Sends).
The KONTROL F1 also supports Stem Decks via the same sub-mix controls that are also used for Remix Decks. When assigning an F1 to a Stem Deck, you’ll be able to control Slot Volumes, Filters, Mutes, and can also access the FX Sends via the shift-layer of the Pads. The Pads also serve as 4 visual level meters for the 4 audio slots in the Stem Deck so you can see if audio is playing on a slot even when its volume is turned down.
4. Improved Performance / Resource handling
In order to free up some CPU power for the processor-hungry Stems, NI has slim-lined some of the operations like the internal mixer, waveform rendering and output limiter.
5. Known Issues
Here are some things to consider before you install Traktor Pro 2.9. If you have no plans to use Stem files, you might better stay away from it.
- - No longer official support for OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)
- - Users on OS X 10.8 might experience high CPU load when loading tracks
- - Stem files must be analyzed before loading and playback
- - CPU Spike when enabling Keylock on Stem Deck
- - Windows users must run the 32-Bit version of TRAKTOR to be compatible with 32-bit audio drivers
- - Crackling During Playback of WMA Files on Windows
- - When moving the TRAKTOR GUI TO to a secondary screen, the CPU load increases significantly
Mixing With Stems
Stem is a multi-track audio file format, containing four layers: a drums stem, a bass line stem, a melody stem, and a vocal stem. These four ‘stems’ can be modified individually and singled out allowing you to interact with four different musical elements of a track independently. Volume control, EQing and effects can now be applied to each separate Stem, opening up whole new creative possibilities in the mix.
Mixing in key gains even further relevance with Stems: the option to separate out the bass line from one track and mix it with the vocal part of another is a great creative option but only works if you match the track key correctly!
Check out some Stem mixing with Traktor Pro 2.9 in action:
Where to get Stem Tracks?
If you just want to get hold of a Stem file quickly and play around with it - you can download these free files right now from Native Instruments.
Other than that, many major online DJ music vendors have started selling Stems: Beatport, Traxsource, WhatPeoplePlay, Bleep, Juno and Wasabeat are selling stem tracks for around $2.99 to $3.49.
Can I Make My Own Stem Tracks?
Yes you can! It's simple and straight forward:
1. Export the four versions of your track (drums, bass, instrumental, vocals) plus the stereo mix
2. Master all 5 files
3. Merge the 5 files into one Stem file using the Stem Creator Tool
The Stem Creator Tool is not available at this time (August 9th 2015) but will be in near future. Check the link above and subscribe to their mailing list to be the first to know.
This video here explains the process very nicely:
More about Stems here: Stems-music.com
Traktor Pro 2.9 is a must-have if you want to dig into the Stems–world and own the necessary gear to do so. If not, you may very well just skip this update.
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