Electronic drum roll, please…
The wait is over. After nearly five years, Serato DJ 3 is finally here, and they want everyone mixing, remixing and mashing things up like never before!
With the push of a performance pad, Serato’s monster addition to the DJ software, Serato Stems, can cleanly isolate a vocal, completely separate a bassline from a drum or create an instant instrumental. And then some!
The concept of breaking a track down to its component parts for mixing or remixing on-the-fly has long been a DJ’s dream. Although stem technology has already surfaced in rival platforms, it has not been done to this degree, with this depth of precision or with Serato’s insanely intuitive integration!
There’s no mistaking that the game is about to change drastically. Here at Crossfader, we have been blown away with our testing in the studio. It just works. Serato simply bumping up their DJ version number does not reflect the magnitude of this incredible new mixing and remixing tool!
The new way to DJ
Billed by Serato themselves as the best real-time audio source separation the world has ever seen. Serato Stems is run by a one-of-a-kind machine-learning algorithm, providing unbeatable sound quality and performance.
DJs effectively now have the control of a recording studio under their fingertips, which has opened up endless possibilities for what they can do when mixing and remixing live.
Serato DJ 3 users can now:
- Create acapellas or instrumentals from playing tracks with the tap of a button.
- Pull grooves or hone melodic elements from any track and isolate or remove them with studio-grade precision. Instantly!
- Decks can effectively operate as remix channels. With four in the mix, each can control a different element, eg.
Deck 1 – Vocals,
Deck 2 – Melody,
Deck 3 – Bass,
Deck 4 – Drums.
…all being sourced from different tunes and mixed seamlessly, live!
Serato DJ 2 equipment is currently integrating the new Stems update by replacing one of the following two performance pad modes: Loop Roll or Sampler. Hopefully, all pad modes will be remappable in a future update.
Although not a native feature to current hardware, the Stems implementation is seamless and works flawlessly with eight performance pads per deck:
The top four pads toggle vocal, melody, bass, and drum stems on or off.
The bottom four pads add an effect before removing a chosen stem.
Pad 5 echoes out the vocals,
Pad 6 echoes out the entire instrumental of a track,
Pad 7 vinyl break’s the instrumental to complete silence,
Pad 8 echoes out the drums.
Serato has also improved its waveforms to allow the visualisation of stem data. The elements of a track that users remove are greyed out, giving access to striking and effective visuals at a glance.
The waveforms are now more data-rich than those found with rekordbox 6’s impressive 3-band EQ offering. This healthy rivalry is pushing the industry forward, and it’s only a matter of time before Pioneer DJ responds to the update!
To use Serato Stems, load any song into a deck and stems analysis will happen in the background. This works with both locally stored and streaming songs. If you want instant use of the stems when loading a song, then you can drag and drop the files into the new stems playlist crate, and this will analyse the tracks ready for stems isolation before loading the music in the deck.
If users find they are not using a track with Stems, they can delete that track’s stem data to free up computer storage.
Live analysis takes 1-2 seconds on Apple’s M1/ M2 CPU chips and slightly longer on older ones such as the Intel Core processors found in pre-2020 Macs. Once the data is stored, it is saved for future plays.
Listen to Serato Stems
Watch our review video below to learn more about Serato Stems and hear examples of how it sounds across various genres of music.
Future hardware integration
Undoubtedly, Stems will have accessibility built into the hardware of Serato DJ 3 equipment.
However, compatibility with today’s Serato equipment has not been an issue, the feature is working as though it has been custom-built for the hardware. This is a testament to Serato’s developers’ dedication to rolling out these game-changing abilities.
Stems is not only coming to Serato DJ Pro but also to DJ Lite so is completely free of charge! Seasoned Serato DJs and newbies will have access to a revolutionary new way of mixing it up.
The way DJs mix tracks from here on will undoubtedly evolve. Being able to drop out an entire element of a track in such a clean way will take mixing to the next level, no more will EQ and filter settings be relied on to make blends.
Just like in a recording studio, DJs can now begin layering sounds, blurring the line between DJ and producer and further adding to the debate about classifying DJs as musicians.
Remixing will also be more commonplace as access to acapellas and instrumentals is no longer needed now that users can create them on the spot!
Serato DJ 3.0 is now in public beta, meaning it is yet to have an official launch and some stability issues may exist. That being the case, the Stems feature has us very impressed! It’s the most polished sounding and best implementation of stems technology within DJ software that Crossfader have come across.
And we’re in good company! This amazing audio wizardry is already receiving industry-wide praise from DJ royalty…
“There have been certain groundbreaking things that have changed the art of DJing; the invention of Serato: not having to carry records; the invention of Phase: not having to worry about vibration in a live setting. I think Serato Stems will be bigger than all of them from a creative standpoint – This is about to be the most fun I’ve ever had DJing. I’m telling you, my brain is on fire!” – DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Listen to our Serato Stems performance
See how Stems can be used in real-time to create live mashups, isolating vocals and instruments providing a whole new listening experience and approach to mixing for DJs.
If you’re looking for a Serato tutorial or want to brush up on your skills, our Serato courses cover everything from getting started right through to advanced mixing techniques.