How do I prevent Stem Creator from compressing the audio quality so badly?

Sand
Sand Member Posts: 3 Noise

Hello,

Recently I've begun using Stem Creator to create stem files of my own tracks. Every stem file I create has heavy mp3-style compression, like a 64k mp3 (or worse). It's unacceptably bad quality, something nobody would ever want to play in a live situation. I've tried importing both WAV and AIFF, at multiple standard bit depths and sample rates. I've tried importing AAC files but get an error that they are unreadable. I've also tried on two separate Windows PCs, in both the regular Stem Creator executable and the "DirectX" compatibility version.

I have opened the .stem files in Audacity to confirm the audio quality is not a problem with Traktor. It's in the exported file itself, on all 4 stems and on the master track

Reading the manual, I saw the note in my attached screenshot under the "Known Issues" section. I suspect this may be related. Either way, seems like this version of Stem Creator should not have been released in such a state!

Anyone know where I can download an older version of Stem Creator for Windows?


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Comments

  • Sand
    Sand Member Posts: 3 Noise
    edited April 16

    Update, have learned a lot in the past few hours, unfortunately it looks like a set of problems that's been around for 7 years now that remain unfixed by NI;

    • The Stem Creator on Windows uses the worst possible AAC encoder in the world, which causes stems created with WAV & AIFF files to come out as horrible compressed lossy disasters. The Mac version does not have this problem but can still spit out corrupted .stem files I think
    • You can use ALAC files instead and it will spit out a lossless stem file without the compression, but Traktor won't play it
    • NI representatives have claimed that Traktor not playing .stem files created with ALAC audio is due to the tracks in the .stem being different lengths, but again I have opened the .stem file in Audacity and verified every track is exactly the same length...
    • Supposedly you can use the ni-stem command line tool instead of Stem Creator to create stems without these aforementioned problems, but it is literally impossible to find this tool for Windows - doesn't seem to be included in the developer SDK you can get off the official Stems website (???). The STEM-SDK's user manual has a whole section dedicated to how to this tool works for both Mac and Windows and even says the exact file name of the .zip it comes in, but the .zip is nowhere, and searching for the filename in multiple search engines reveals nothing. You can get the ni-stem tool included in a couple different third party tools on github, but they both seem to be the Mac version only

    Just thought I'd give a summary as this information was spread across years in the old forum's archives

  • Kaiwan_NI
    Kaiwan_NI BerlinAdministrator Posts: 1,119 admin

    Hi @Sand I saw that you raised a ticket with our support team. Please keep us updated if you're able to resolve the issue.

  • D2Lover
    D2Lover Member Posts: 29 Sine
    edited April 20

    This has been a problem since day one with the Stem Creator tool unfortunately.

  • Ninesense
    Ninesense Member Posts: 38 Tri

    I used a freeware called Media Human Audio Converter to convert my wavs to ALAC files.


    Recently (in the past year or less) traktor received an update and FINALLY it can now read the .stem files created with ALAC. I was beyond happy about this and had been waiting as you said, 7 years.


    So I have my stems mastered, then convert to ALAC, then convert to .stem.

    I run a software called Audio Hijack after Traktor with a very low latency Limiter (Traktor's limiter isn't that good). I put traktor with -6db headroom and on the limiter I put +6db. Sounds very very close to the mastered stereo audio.


    Anyway, all was great...

    But now... I got an m1 Mac... and the Stem Creator won't export... anything... :(

  • Sand
    Sand Member Posts: 3 Noise

    Only resolution I've found unfortunately is using Stem Creator on Mac (pre-M1) but I am moving entirely to Windows recently so I had to give up and take a different path that doesn't involve stems. There is no real solution on Windows as Windows Stem Creator uses an insufficient AAC codec and stems created with ALAC files on Windows don't work (see below)

    @Ninesense on the most recent version of Traktor Pro 3 on Windows it still won't read ALAC stem files, but I'm not sure if that's the fault of Windows Traktor or Windows Stem Creator

  • Ninesense
    Ninesense Member Posts: 38 Tri

    That sux...

    I just created some stems using the Stem Creator Tool for windows and I'm able to load them in Traktor on the Mac.

    I really wish Native Instruments would update and fix these issues.

  • Ninesense
    Ninesense Member Posts: 38 Tri

    And a shame that you had to move away from Stems... shame on NI for not making Lossless an option right from the start on windows and Macs

    I'm holding on to dear life... it's such a great format to play live with..

  • Josefhead
    Josefhead Member Posts: 3 Sine

    Well, I tried now every way I can think of...


    ALAC Just don't work... I tried to convert it on windows first..didn't work, then read this.. then I used a macbook, doesn't work.. I tried every combination.. of doing all on mac, all on windows, differend bit depth of the originial wavs to convert to alac, differend programs to convert to alac, tried the between things.. like converting on windows, creating stem on mac and vise versa... doing all on mac and let traktor analize on windows.. ...


    It just doesn't work.... when analyzing with traktor.. nothing happens except the traktor icon appears next to the title... and when I drag it on a deck.. it sais.. can't load.. corrupt file...


    how the hell is this still not working ?!?!?


    If it takes over 7 years for such stupid simple stuff like having lossless audio... no wonder it never took off ?!? and people wonder why so many guys using ableton or going back to normal pioneer stuff...


    what the hell is wrong ?.... just put that damn wav file into that stem container... nobody cares today if the track is then 400mb big... even if it would be 1gb big.. .. it's not raw video.. it's just audio

  • Ninesense
    Ninesense Member Posts: 38 Tri

    I feel your pain mate...

    How can they expect something to "take off" when all it can do is play MP3 quality audio...


    Anyway... make sure you double check that

    1) All files are the same exact exact size (cut them and re-export them if you need)

    2) Convert wav or aif to ALAC (I use freeware MediaHuman Audio Converter for mac, itunes works as well)

    3) Of course make sure you have the latest version of traktor (Only recently they've updated so that it doesn't say "can't analyze file or corrupt or whatever... yes... more then 5 years after releasing STEMS)

    I hope you get it to work, it took me years in this battle and finally I can play lossless stems with traktor.

    Now they need to update the stem creator tool because it doesn't work with Mac os Monterey :\... so I had to install windows on my mac.


    But it does work, finally... hope you can track down whats missing.


    Or... NATIVE INSTRUMENTS could just make a proper stem creator tool that you could just drop WAVs or AIFs and it make proper lossless 16 or 24bit .STEM files! ....

    Good luck

  • Ninesense
    Ninesense Member Posts: 38 Tri

    Maybe would be good for you to post about this on the Beta forum as a request ?

    Would be nice to have more people pushing for them to fix the Stem Creator Tool. There they might actually listen



    https://community.native-instruments.com/discussion/comment/22593#Comment_22593

  • Josefhead
    Josefhead Member Posts: 3 Sine

    yes I tried it with these exact steps you described, didn't worked... I had hopes after I read your comment that I just need to convert and create the stem on the mac... but unfortunately it doesn't work for me.


    I will look into the beta thread

  • Ninesense
    Ninesense Member Posts: 38 Tri

    Yea please help me make them see that we need an update for the stem creator tool.

    if you want, send me a private msg and I’ll give you my contact info and maybe we can setup a call or screen share where I show you what I do. Maybe we can figure it out.

    yesterday my stem creator wasn’t able to export for some reason on my windows (that I have on my virtual machine on the mac). Turns out i just had to export to a different folder other then the one with the original files (go figure)

    also mine doesn’t export if there are any special characters in the text, so just plain letters and numbers 🤦🏻‍♂️

    cheers

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