Stems....

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I always see people going on about new releases, saying 'I hope they have stems...' Could someone more knowledgeable explain this? I haven't the foggiest what they're wishing for, and I'm curious.

Comments

  • kal_el_0724kal_el_0724 Opening Act
    edited January 24
    Ok so to clarify there are two types of songs we are now receiving in Rock Band. Both of which have stems.

    Stems are the individual audio tracks for each specific instrument (guitar, bass, drums, vocals, piano, etc.). This allows you to hear no sound from that specific recording if you miss a note making the immersion much better than just playing along with no audio dropout.

    The one type, the better kind, has official stems from the master recordings of songs done in the recording studio.

    The other type, the kind people claim to have 'no stems', are either songs that were not given with any official stems at all or need some work. Harmonix has a way of making their own stems now. Aka DIY stems.

    Here's a quote from HMXOwl which should help all with the situation:
    HMXOwl said:

    songs aren't one single audio file if stems aren't available. It's still a unique audio file per instrument. Stemless just means we have to separate it ourselves.

  • CountWaescheCountWaesche Opening Act
    Ah. Thanks for the explanation!
  • WitticusWitticus VERY DEEP
    The 3rd even more confusing one is some songs have a mixture of the two. Some tracks will have 2 or more parts attached to the same stem. For instance Guitar and vocals will not be separated. These are rarer and spark so many debates its a whole can of worms you don't want to go into.
  • bonethug0108bonethug0108 Headliner
    edited January 24
    It could also be a case where only one or two parts are missing proper stems (no guitar stem but the rest are fine, drums and bass guitar bled together, missing snare stem, etc.), or even only certain sections of a stem are damaged and need to be worked up (the opening chorus section on guitar is messed up, etc.).

    And the quality of the final output varies. Some diy (do it yourself) stem songs sound much better than others. So just because a song has diy stems doesn't mean it will sound bad.

    The biggest issue is usually with the dropout (or lack thereof) when you miss notes. For some people this is game breaking, but most people don't even notice or care (which is why we are still receiving diy stem songs).
  • CountWaescheCountWaesche Opening Act
    I don't notice....lol, so all good.
  • LoopyChewLoopyChew Wordsmith
    A lot of people don't, so don't worry about it.
  • As someone who is rather picky about this sort of thing, my problem with the DIY stemmed songs is their lack of clarity compared to songs with isolated stems.

    A lot of music is just not produced well at all, and certain parts, instruments or vocals, can be completely buried in the mix. Poorly produced songs almost always sound better in Rock Band because we are finally able to hear those buried parts that had no reason to be buried in the first place.

    Take for instance the five songs we have from Oasis' albums Definitely Maybe and (What's the Story) Morning Glory?. I having not been an Oasis fan until after hearing their songs in RB, went out and purchased both of those albums. What a disappointment that was! Everything is just overly loud with no clarity at all. Had those songs not had isolated stems for guitar, bass, drums, and vocals when they came to RB, the RB versions of the songs would have sounded just as terrible as they do on the albums they come from.

    The way I like to think of the situation:

    DIY stems: The song as you've always known it.

    Isolated stems from the master tapes: A new experience.
  • kal_el_0724kal_el_0724 Opening Act
    EliBell1 said:

    DIY stems: The song as you've always known it.

    Isolated stems from the master tapes: A new experience.

    Sounds like a win-win to me then.
  • LordFlatusLordFlatus Rising Star
    The biggest problem with DIY stems, IMO, is that you generally get more "bleed" between the tracks that were DIY separated. With full stems from the publisher they are typically really isolated from each other, so if you could play only the drum track, all you would hear is drums. With stems that have, say, the guitar and the vocals on one stem, when you do the DIY separation a lot of times you end up with some vocals left in the guitar track and some guitar in the vocal track. Where it gets ugly here is that when you whammy the guitar, the vocals in the guitar track get whammied and then it sounds like crap. Same if you miss a note on guitar, the vocal part on the guitar track was reinforcing the vocal track, so it sounds like the vocals drop a little or a lot when you miss on guitar.

    Those kinds of issues can really sabotage the immersion factor that fully separated stems give you in this game. If you never miss any notes then you don't notice a lot of it. And a lot of the DIY stems are really well done so you hardly notice it. But then when you're rocking along and hit one of those songs where it really shows up, it just stands out more and therefore bugs more people more.
  • aimsmallmismallaimsmallmismall Unsigned
    edited January 25
    Like I mentioned in another thread - I noticed that one of, or maybe it was both of, the Skid Row songs didn't have much drop-out at all when you drop notes.. That was a bummer cuz I LOVE Skid Row and it killed some of the immersion for me..

    People claimed that the new Shania Twain song didn't have proper stems, but I very clearly noticed dropout on guitar when I screwed up.. So it sounded great to me.

    Long story short - I need more information than "no stems" when making decisions..
    Although - in the case of bands/songs I love (Skid Row), I'm buying them regardless.
  • Meat-PopsicleMeat-Popsicle Road Warrior
    As I experienced it, Guitar Hero Live didn't even have DIY stems. You were playing on top of the track (sour notes, whammys), and the whole track would fade out if you stopped playing. Ugh. It sounds so cheap. It might as well be a mobile game.

    DIY stems almost always lead to a better gameplay experience than that, often WAY better.

    Once you hear it done properly, with fully separated stems, it's like magic. Nothing is "fully separated" in RB4 anyway, to keep people from being able to isolate the stems for unauthorized purposes.

    Can't tell the difference either way? You win! Embrace the victory.
  • iuggiboyiuggiboy Unsigned
    So this week songs do they hsve proper stems?
  • Groudon199Groudon199 1 hour, 39 minutes, 52 seconds
    iuggiboy said:

    So this week songs do they hsve proper stems?

    Lonely Is The Night, yes. Takin' Care Of Business, won't know until the song is released, though the preview video hints that it doesn't.
  • uppyb0tuppyb0t Opening Act
    You can definitely hear the tin-canny resembling quality in BTO. The vocals sound so suppressed compared to the Squier song.
  • Meat-PopsicleMeat-Popsicle Road Warrior
    edited January 25
    As I remember it, The Beatles game started this whole trend.
    1) They had access to a vast quantity of "DIY" stems that had been made using a careful and expensive process (remixing songs for use in the show "Love").
    2) They were instructed not to fully separate the tracks when you played the game, so that people couldn't set up the game in a way that would give them full access to these professionally separated stems.

    And it was a great game. Did I notice that the tracks weren't as interactive, not fully separated? Yeah, I did. But it was still plenty fun. And I fully embraced the reasoning behind it. No matter what settings you used, or how you played, you couldn't alter the songs enough to make them sound "wrong", and you couldn't get a cheap and easy copy of the individual stems. At worst you would just be singing badly (or adding subtle THUNK noises) on top of the original track.

    Do I hate having a similar experience while playing RB4? Not really! It's just a bit disappointing, given how powerful / magical the separation of stems (and thus the fullness of immersion) was in RB2 + RB3 [and the original RB, I imagine? I didn't play that one as much].

    Life goes on.











    (La, la la la life goes on)
  • Yep, life goes on

    Long after the thrill of Rock Band is gone
  • I'd make a Cougar Town joke, but John Mellencamp deserves better joke material than that :p
  • LoopyChewLoopyChew Wordsmith

    I'd make a Cougar Town joke, but John Mellencamp deserves better joke material than that :p

    Hey, I understand Cougar Town actually develops into a very entertaining and smart sitcom after they went off the original premise a few episodes in. It just suffered the same fate as otherwise great but crappily titled ABC sitcoms like Trophy Wife and Selfie.
  • Cougar Town is very good, yes.
  • Cougar Town really had some quick wit - I compare the attitude to Happy Endings.. My recommendation to everyone is that if you like one of those shows, you'll probably like the other.

    (Vehement disagreements coming in 3..2..1..)
  • LoopyChew said:

    I'd make a Cougar Town joke, but John Mellencamp deserves better joke material than that :p

    Hey, I understand Cougar Town actually develops into a very entertaining and smart sitcom after they went off the original premise a few episodes in. It just suffered the same fate as otherwise great but crappily titled ABC sitcoms like Trophy Wife and Selfie.
    Oh yeah Selfie...better than the Chainsmokers song of the same name but not hard to do that.
  • tdc002tdc002 Road Warrior
    One thing I've been curious about as far as these less than pristine, "DIY" stems go is how do they sound playing as a full band? I rarely play with a full band anymore, so I haven't really experienced this. For example, if guitar and bass stems are "tied together," if I'm missing notes on guitar, but my bassist is perfectly FCing the song, what happens with the sound?

    It's also worth noting that some of the Stems Purists out there have been keeping list of all the "DIY Stems" songs, but not all of these songs are as bad as others. I remember when "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind was released, people cried no stems when there's actually only a brief moment in the intro where the guitar and vocals are tied together. The other 90% of the song is fine!

    The only two songs I've found DIY stems to be incredibly noticeable (to the point where it really threw me off) was "I Will Survive" and "Black Betty." I know there's others in my library that people have said don't have proper stems, but they're all pretty easy songs that I don't really miss too many notes on, so it's not all that noticeable.

    Hit moar notez, git gud, etc, etc
  • tdc002 said:

    It's also worth noting that some of the Stems Purists out there have been keeping list of all the "DIY Stems" songs, but not all of these songs are as bad as others.

    To say nothing of the songs they've got wrong or missed...
  • Groudon199Groudon199 1 hour, 39 minutes, 52 seconds
    I didn't know any songs lacked proper stems (except Great Balls Of Fire on RBN) until a day after Dystopia was released and someone brought it up, and I usually only notice it during long OD sustains. Shout is the only song where it's very obvious, and I Will Survive is actually tolerable when everything except the "faked" guitar track is turned way down.
  • V8VANTAGEV8VANTAGE Road Warrior
    Some songs are more noticeable than others, I'm guessing that some of it is down to how good the mixed down stereo master track is.
  • uppyb0tuppyb0t Opening Act
    HMXOwl said:

    tdc002 said:

    It's also worth noting that some of the Stems Purists out there have been keeping list of all the "DIY Stems" songs, but not all of these songs are as bad as others.

    To say nothing of the songs they've got wrong or missed...
    I actually have been noticing more pre-RB4 non-full stem songs than I expected.

    They’ve been around along with the obvious mentioned tracks. I was going to make a list, but I can’t remember the songs anymore, but there are more.
  • V8VANTAGEV8VANTAGE Road Warrior
    uppyb0t said:

    HMXOwl said:

    tdc002 said:

    It's also worth noting that some of the Stems Purists out there have been keeping list of all the "DIY Stems" songs, but not all of these songs are as bad as others.

    To say nothing of the songs they've got wrong or missed...
    I actually have been noticing more pre-RB4 non-full stem songs than I expected.

    They’ve been around along with the obvious mentioned tracks. I was going to make a list, but I can’t remember the songs anymore, but there are more.
    Some songs have full stems for the most part but have diy'ed parts too. For example the "oooh" intro to Boston's Something About You, the Guitar and bass separated by Low/High pass filters on songs like "Billionaire". The intro to "The Final Countdown" has a low pass filter on the bass stem to separate the bass synth from the rest of the keyboard/synth parts, but these aren't really noticeable in the game like the ones eq'd separated from a mixed stereo master track.
  • tdc002tdc002 Road Warrior
    uppyb0t said:

    HMXOwl said:

    tdc002 said:

    It's also worth noting that some of the Stems Purists out there have been keeping list of all the "DIY Stems" songs, but not all of these songs are as bad as others.

    To say nothing of the songs they've got wrong or missed...
    I actually have been noticing more pre-RB4 non-full stem songs than I expected.

    They’ve been around along with the obvious mentioned tracks. I was going to make a list, but I can’t remember the songs anymore, but there are more.
    Which is why people complaining about DIY Stems is pointless! There are songs ON DISC in Rock Band 1 that don't have entirely separated stems.

    The complaints really started maybe like 3-6 months after the RB4 launch, where some posters were trying to act like RB4 DLC was somehow shoddier and cheaper compared to the last generation. That's when people first started talking about DIY stems. There were seriously posters on here saying Harmonix should charge $1 for songs with DIY stems instead of $2, or release some kind of disclaimer in the song description.

    It seems to me that Harmonix is just less picky about needing fully separated stems; or to put it another way, they're not letting lack of pristine, separated stems keep them from licensing a popular song that's going to sell.

    At the end of the day, at least Harmonix is still trying. All of the songs in Guitar Hero Live don't use any stems. If you miss a note, the song just keeps playing. THAT is a lack of immersion.
  • BachiGBachiG Inconceivable...
    /waves hand in front of face to clear the smoke/

    Look. Doods. It all boils down to personal preference. Some people are okay with leaving the stems and/or seeds in and others aren’t. Smoke what you like and leave the rest to someone else.
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