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Stem Separation Software: Which is Best?

Noah Feasey-Kemp

Noah Feasey-Kemp

Stem Separation is rapidly becoming a popular tool for music producers and DJs, enabling them to split out the elements of an audio file and focus on particular layers.

This tool has many creative uses, from isolating vocals to use as an acapella, to chopping out instrumental stems to make live remixes with.

There are many stem separation tools out there, each offering different functions and levels of quality.

This guide explains what stem separation software is, how and when to use it, and shares some of the best options out there today.

TL;DR - Stem Separation#

  • Stem separation is a powerful tool for music producers and DJs, letting them isolate different layers of a track.

  • You can find a range of stem separation software available today, but some are better than others.

  • For DJs, stem separation gives them the ability to create better remixes and mashups.

  • DJ.Studio is a unique DJ mix creation app, which will have advanced stem separation features in an upcoming update.

DJ.Studio Stem Separation Demo#

DJ.Studio is one of the most cutting-edge stem separation tools on the market. It's still in beta, but the algorithm is better sounding and more powerful than most products on the market.

See it in action here:

What is Stem Separation#

Stem Separation in DJ studio

Stem separation is a type of audio processor that enables audio engineers, music producers, and DJs to isolate various layers and elements in audio files.

For example, stem separation tools can help you to separate vocals to make an acapella, or you can pull out the acoustic guitar, drums, bass, keys, or any other element of an audio track.

The exact way stem separation works varies from tool to tool, but typically it gives you independent control over the volume of each layer in a track - helping you to create independent audio stems for each instrument.

This type of technology typically involves some kind of artificial intelligence and machine learning, where the algorithm is trained to detect certain instruments and sounds, therefore enabling it to isolate elements.

The Uses of Stem Separation Technology#

stem separation technology

Stem separation technology is useful in a wide range of situations, from music production to professional broadcast. Here are some of the most notable examples

  • DJing - Stem separation has several applications for DJs. For example, it can give DJs more control over the balance of various elements, giving them more creative potential to mix multiple tracks together. You can find stem separation in a limited range of DJ software.

  • Isolating Vocals - By working as a vocal remover, you can use stem separation to separate vocals from the background music - giving you the acapella and instrumental separately. This is super useful if you want to cut out the vocals of one track and use them over another track to make a mashup.

  • Making remixes - One of the most useful applications of stem separation software is making remixes. It's the best tool for pulling out specific elements of a track to make a remix.

  • Audio Restoration and Enhancement - In some cases, stem separation can help in cleaning up old recordings by isolating and removing unwanted noises or enhancing specific elements of the audio.

  • Sound Design - In film, TV, and video game production, stem separation can assist sound designers in extracting certain sounds or instruments from a piece for use in creating the audio landscape of their project.

Best Stem Separation Software#

There are a bunch of different stem separation software available today. From stand-alone apps to plugins that work with a DAW, and even free online solutions. The quality of the results differs drastically from brand to brand - and you'll want to make sure that you use something that sounds clean and free from artifacts.

Here are some of the most recommended pieces of stem separation on the market:

Gaudio Studio - Free#

g audio studio stem separation

Free, browser-based. Sounds great, and the interface is easy to use.

Voice.AI - Free#

This free stem separation tool lets you isolate elements of audio tracks, and separates stems out pretty effectively. It works with multiple file formats, including MP3 and WAV files. I found that this works better on vocals than instruments like electric guitar, but it still does the job well for for a free piece of software!

Virtual DJ - Real Time Stem Separation - Free to try#

virtual dj stem separation

For DJs, currently one of the best options for real-time stem separation is Virtual DJ. Some of the more advanced versions feature stem separation tools built into the mixer, letting you isolate drums, vocals, bass, and other instruments.

This lets you use the stem separation tools in real-time while you're mixing, without requiring any preparation.

This is pretty handy for making more unique mixes in the moment, but the results can be a little iffy.

Serato Sample 2.0 - $149#

serato sample stem separation

This tool was released by DJ software giant Serato, and for $149 offers extremely high quality, and a few extra features and sampling capability.

FL Studio 21.2 - Starting at $99#

fl studio stem separation

FL Studio is a popular DAW for music production, and in their 21.2 update, they added a built-in stem separation plugin. This comes with the base software and doesn't require an additional purchase.

Sure, the features are pretty limited, and it only gives you 4 different separation types - but it gets the job done, and if you already own FL Studio it's a nice free addition.

Stem Separation in DJ.Studio - In Beta#

Stem Separation in DJ.Studio - In Beta

For DJs, your options are more limited for this type of software.

The only real choices you have are Serato Sample 2.0 (which requires a fair amount of preparation and forward planning), or Virtual DJ, which offers a decent algorithm, albeit with some audio glitches and quirks.

This is why, at DJ.Studio, we are developing a powerful stem separation feature built directly into our software.

DJ.Studio already offers a unique new approach to DJing: rather than mixing live, DJs can craft their mixes on a timeline, allowing them to be more precise. It also enables DJs to experiment more with a wider range of music (thanks to YouTube and Beatport integration).

You can think of DJ.Studio as a DAW for DJs. It's also a unique piece of AI DJ software that's at the cutting edge of technology. 

dj studio stem separation

In an upcoming update, DJ.Studio users will be able to separate stems from tracks in the timeline. This will help them to create more unique remixes and dive deeper into their mix creation.

Pairing this with the already uniquely powerful features of DJ.Studio will give DJs new mix crafting abilities unlike anything else.

To understand how DJ.Studio works, and why stem separation will be so powerful, check out the workflow.

  1. Install the DJ.Studio app

  2. Connect your Music Libraries - You can link DJ.Studio up to most DJ software and music libraries to access your collection.

  3. Create a Local file Project 

  4. Build the Playlist - Start adding songs to the playlist that you want to use in your mix.

  5. Automix - You can manually arrange the playlist, or use the AI automix assistant to analyze the key and BPM of your tracks, and then suggest the best order based on harmonic mixing and beat-matching - saving you a lot of time and brain power.

  6. Edit the Mix - Now it's time to refine your mix. You can sculpt your set in infinite detail on the editing timeline. You can automate effects, customize transitions, create loops, add samples, and do anything else you need to express yourself. This is the stage where you can get really creative with the stem separation tool.

  7. Export - Your mix can be exported to a range of locations. For local file mixes, you can create WAVs, MP3, Ableton Projects, animated YouTube videos, or even export your DJ set back into your live software, making you 100% prepared for a live show. In YouTube and Beatport projects, your mixes are legally hosted on our online player platform, where you can share them with fans and other members of the DJ.Studio community.

This only demonstrates one type of workflow offered by DJ.Studio. To get a full understanding of what it can do, check out the rest of this website, or try it out yourself with the free 14-day DJ.Studio trial!

You can hear a comparison of the Stem Separation quality here:

Finally...#

dj studio timeline transition

You're now ready to get stuck into the world of stem separation. This opens up a lot of creative doors for music production and DJing and is not a tool to be underestimated or ignored. 

Not all DJ Software for PC has this feature, but it's very useful to have. 

Check out some of the options shared above, or sign up for our newsletter to be updated about our upcoming DJ.Studio stem separation tools! You can even use DJ.Studio for Online Mixing!

FAQs About Stem Separation Tools

What is stem separation in AI?
How do you separate stems in a song?
How good is FL Studio stem separation?

Excited to start mixing?