Tips for delivering mastered stems?


Senior Member
I've recently been asked to contribute to a trailer music house that requires stems and the full track to be delivered mastered.

As I'm used to mastering the stereo out, I need to adjust my composition and mixing process.

Does anyone have any tips or 'best practices' on how to handle this?

Should I treat each stem as a master in their own right, mixing them individually with my usual mastering plugins (such as a limiter on each stem bus), making sure everything sounds as it should without any plugins on the stereo out?

Are there any issues that may crop up with FX sends such as reverb?


Part of
add the buss effects onto auxes/tracks and print those. you can have buss effects on the master track.
Editors will put together the mix using the stems but they wont be like, "it doesn't match 100%" so don't go crazy on the master bus but its ok if it doesn't match. so yes treat each stem as a master.
same with reverb. add some on each stem but not that much so when you sum the stems its not too much reverb.


Senior Member
You might want to look at this tut by Eric Tarr.
It's about using sidechains to compensate for mixbus compression when sending stems.
I haven't personally tried it, but Eric Tarr knows his stuff.
The example tune is not to my taste, but that irrelevant.



Lunatic - it's really that simple
just a couple quick observations...

First, the folks that will be working with your stems will, in effect, be mastering them, leave them some room to do so. Most important, leave some extra dynamic range for them to play with.

Second, while it may not end up sounding exactly like you hear it, it doesn't hurt to monitor with whatever final processors you might normally use on the 2-mix.

Third, while not every mixer will appreciate it, sometimes more stems is good stems, put another way send them the strings, and then the strings effects, and so on. I'd always ask first, but this way you have a little more 'control' over the final result since it will be the effects you would have used.

It takes a certain level of courage to send of tracks to someone that you know is going to tweak them<G>!


Part of
oh yeah. forgot about that (number one above)... when i mixed a few tv shows, the template we used squashed the shiat out of music and also dialogue and also effects. it didnt sound bad in context but yes, its like a quick and dirty mastering processing.