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Multitracks Versus Stems - What's the Difference?

Multitracks versus Stems - What’s the difference?

If you have dived into the world of using multitracks, you have heard these two terms interchangeably: multitracks and stems. Perhaps you’ve even been in a conversation and someone has asked you, “Do you have the stems?” and you reply “Yes, I have the multitracks.” The person might look confused and say, “no, do you have the stems?” and you say “Yes, I have the multitracks.”


So what really is the difference? The big difference between stems and multitracks is the organization and playability of the tracks that are being played live with a band. When a song is professionally recorded there are layers of multiple instruments stacked together to create a full and complete sound. This process can be known as multitracking. Multitracking now can refer to both the process of adding layers as well as using those multiple instruments and multiple layers to be played simultaneously in a live performance.

In short, multitracks are the multiple track layers used to create a full sound for a live atmosphere. Now to play these multiple layers, you wouldn’t want to open the original recording session that holds these instrument layers and hit play, close the session, open another session every time you are playing a song live. This is where stems come in!


Stems are mix groupings of multiple instruments that are condensed to be played live. So for example, within a multitrack you might have 5 electric guitar parts (EG 1, EG 2, Lead EG, Bridge Lead EG, Rhythm EG). To play these 5 layers live in a simple format, you create a Stem that is a single stereo .wav file that is simply labeled “Electric Guitars.” This is the difference between a multitrack and a stem.

Multitracks vs Stems Breakdown

Multitracks Versus Stems Breakdown.  Stems are grouping of instruments compared to Multitracks
Multitracks vs. Stems Breakdown

So when you are playing a multitrack, you are referring to the pre-recorded instrument layers that are available to be played simultaneously in a live environment, and you use stem mix groupings to simplify the playback of these multitracks.

Simplify Your Multitrack Process by Making Your Own

Making your own multitracks doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, you can learn to make your own worship multitracks in 4 simple steps. You don’t have to try and force your team to fit into pre-made multitracks anymore. Now, you can make multitracks to fit and empower your worship team to sound their best. Making your own tracks is all about embracing and amplifying your team’s unique gifts, sound and vibe.

The course, made by a South Florida Worship Leader who’s a Berklee Music Production grad, includes:

  • 7+ hours of video course content

  • A course booklet

  • Downloadable templates for Pro Tools & Ableton

  • Recording checklist

  • Tech Purchase Lists & Pricing Guides

  • 3 Amazing Worship Drone Packs

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