Native Instruments unveils groundbreaking new file format for DJs
Native Instruments is singled-handedly responsible for some of the most innovative DJing technology to emerge in the last ten years. From Traktor Scratch, to remix decks, to their all-in-one MIDI controllers, the company has never been content with leaving things to the status quo.
Native Instruments’ newest development, which they unveiled last Friday at a WMC panel, is a brand new file format for DJs called Stems. While that may sound a bit bland to the average consumer, it holds some serious potential for the performance world. A ‘stem’ is essentially a layer to a song, be it a track’s drums, vocals, synths, etc. With NI’s new stem file format, the company is opening the doors for DJs to be able to manipulate these layers on the fly without having to use a DAW like Ableton.
The new file format will look like “.stem.mp4,” and will work as both a normal stereo track and a Stem track. Native Instruments said of the new technology: “Stem files use the mp4 container format to store the four individual stems of a track within a single file.”
To be able to use a Stem track to its full capacity, one will need Stem-supported software and hardware. Naturally, Traktor will be the first software to be compatible with the new format, but NI will be open-sourcing the Stem technology to allow other developers to work with it as well.
In accordance with the news, Native Instruments has teamed up with labels like Toolroom Records, Get Physical, and Noir Music — not to mention retailers like Beatport, Juno, and Traxsource — who will be support the Stem format upon official launch.
DMC legend DJ Craze said of the idea: “The Stems format is very exciting to me because I come from the generation where records have 1/Instrumental/Acapella and Dubapellas, so now I’ll be able to get way more creative with my sets and have fun combining elements from tunes I like.”
Furthermore, underground champion Luciano added: “Stems are the most innovative idea for DJing because they push creativity to the next level and they push DJs and producers into a new era for dance music. We are finally to the point where it’s not about playing A with B anymore, but we can take the essence of A and adding C, D and B and splitting this upside down with an absolute freedom of composition.”
Full information on Stems will be available in June with tutorials, downloads, and technical specs. For now, you can read Native Instruments’ FAQ on Stems to get more details.