Track Separation: The Importance Of Tracked Out WAVs

By adamack on Nov 20, 2013 in Uncategorized - 21 Comments

Before I begin, I’d just like to say that the goal of this website is not solely hip hop beats for sale.

In this blog section, you will find an invaluable resource of information, ideas, and advice which will help your music career.

That said, I wanted to discuss an issue that a lot of artists ask me about. I will often get a question such as: “Is track separation important? Should I invest in the tracked-out files when I lease a beat?”

It is a great question, and the answer depends totally on your personal goals as an artist.

To begin, I’d like to first define what track separation is. Before getting into it, please understand that there are several terms for track separation, and every producer will call it something different. The following terms all pertain to track separation:

Trackouts
Tracked-Out WAVs or Tracked-Out Files
WAV Separation or Track Separation
Stem Files
Individual WAVs
Separated Tracks or Separated WAVs

All of the terms above all pertain to the same process. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to it as “track separation” for the remainder of this article.

What Is Track Separation?

Track separation is the process of exporting every single individual sound in a beat as its own separate file.

Let’s say I just finished a beat which was composed of piano, guitar, bass, a kick drum, a snare drum, an open hi-hat, a closed hi-hat, and orchestral strings.

When I track this beat out, each of the aforementioned instruments would be solo’d, separated, and exported into their own separate audio files.

The end result would be 8 different audio files, all of the same length, and each would include only one single instrument/sound.

You may be wondering why every track is exported as the same length.

This is done so that every track can be aligned at the “zero” mark in your recording software, and play at the proper time so that you do not have to manually align each track up when it is supposed to be played. It simply makes it much easier on you.

Why Is Track Separation Important?

So now that you know what track separation is, let’s talk a bit about its importance.

When you buy a beat without track separation, you receive one file: The WAV or MP3 file of the fully mixed beat.

Because it is only one single mixed file, you do not have the ability to change the volume, panning, or EQ of any single instrument in the beat.

Any modification that you make affects every single instrument in the same manner since it is all one mixed file.

For example, if you or your sound engineer needed to move the piano a bit to the left because it was clashing with your vocals, they would in effect be panning the entire beat to the left, since the piano is mixed in with all of the other instruments.

This would be a catastrophe for your mix, as the entire beat would be panned to the left.

If you have the tracked-out WAV files to the beat, you/your engineer have FULL and TOTAL control over EVERY sound in the beat.

So let’s say you have the track separation. You finish recording your vocals, but you find that the piano and guitar are clashing with your vocals. Your sound engineer decides that he/she wants to move the guitar to the left a bit, the piano to the right, and lower their volumes a little bit.

Your engineer has the ability to do this if he/she has the tracked-out WAV files to the beat. He can move any sound, EQ any sound, add effects on any sound….basically do whatever he/she needs to do to make your mix sound the best that it can.

Please remember that the reason that this is so important is that the entire mix of the beat changes once you add your vocals to it. And because your vocals are the most important part of the song, a lot of times the instruments in the beat need to be changed to compensate for your vocals once they are recorded.

Track separation gives you the full control needed to make your song sound the best that it can.

Should I Buy Track Separation When I Buy A Beat?

This leads us to the big question…should you purchase track separation when you lease beats?

The answer is something I’ve always told anyone who asks.

It depends.

If you are a serious artist who is looking for the absolute best sound out of your music, then track-separation is invaluable. If you really need your music to sound the best that it can, then you should absolutely purchase it.

However, if you are just releasing a mixtape, or just creating a song for fun and are not too serious, then you can definitely get away without purchasing the track separation.

You can still make a good sounding song without track separation (as long as the beat is mixed well), but you will never achieve the optimal sound without purchasing the track-ous.

 

I hope this helped you to clear up some of the confusion about track separation. Now that you have this knowledge, please check out my beats for sale here!

Comments

chris January 10th, 2015

What’s up? I’m an up and coming producer/beatmaker and I’ve always been curious if there is a limit to how many tracks you can have for a tracked out beat. For example, I’m a sample based producer and I chop all my samples at 1 bar length and then compose and arrange my own melody with my chops. So in my beats, I end of with around 12-20 separate tracks for one beat, not including vocals. Is this too overwhelming? If you have time to reply, please send to my email address. Thank you. Much appreciated.

henricci March 10th, 2015

What about an artist like me who writes according to the beat? Thereby making allowance for the vocals to fit in perfectly according to how the beat flows. (For example) if the beat would distort at certain parts, I write d song such that the vocals would be subtle or in a way to match perfectly with d flow of d beat. In short I write d perfect song to allign with d beat. And when u listen, u would think think the engineer had the trackouts for d mix. The beat dictates the flow of the vocals.

adamack March 23rd, 2015

The trackouts definitely are not mandatory, especially for artists such as yourself who like to structure your vocals around the beat. Or for artists just looking to make a mixtape or small budget project.

However, in order to achieve the most optimal mix, trackouts are used 99.9% of the time in professional recordings, such as mixes for industry songs. It is simply essential for the engineer to have control over every aspect of the beat. Even if the engineer just needs to turn the drums down 1db, or EQ a tiny notch from the bass, it is always worth having full control during your recording session.

So if you are planning to make an album that sounds as good as it possibly can, then trackouts are highly recommended. Even in your case, as you structure your vocals around the beat, it is still very important to have control over the beat mix.

Hiz-Panik March 30th, 2015

thank you for your detailed information it was very informative

Filip Novák July 6th, 2015

Hi, In the case of track separation, did you doing some limiting or compressing on separated tracks, or it is without it? Please explain what is in the package with separate files (mp3, wav, license?) in wav and what is the bitrate and kHz values. Thx, Filip

Filip Novák July 6th, 2015

Also please answer this, when you are giving out separated tracks, what is the standard? -6 -8?

DJ Eazy G August 6th, 2015

Thanks for this Article, Very informing.

Bluebonnet Bomber April 10th, 2016

Thank you very much!! Answered perfectly!!

kju July 20th, 2016

Do I leave the stems unmixed or mixed ??

dustin francis October 22nd, 2016

how do you import a tracked out beat

Branden Belser February 3rd, 2017

How to I used a track out in fl

Rolled Dux May 3rd, 2017

As a beatmaker/producer I have the same question as kju – Do I leave the stems unmixed or mixed? Thank you for your time.

adamack May 17th, 2017

Hello, thanks for your inquiry. Great question. My rules of thumb are generally:

1. If you have any compression, a limiter, EQ, tape saturation etc. on the Master Bus, be sure to bypass this all before bouncing your stems.
2. If you have reverb/delay on a channel that you want to keep in the stems, make sure these effects are on an auxiliary channel and export them separately. So if you have a synth with a reverb, export the dry synth as one stem and the reverb as another stem.
3. For compression, this can vary. If you have compression on an instrument that impacts the track in a specific, creative way, you can leave this on if you wish. However, if you are using compression more so as a limiter or in a non-creative manner, you should remove it before exporting.

Always remember, if you’re unsure whether or not to leave effects on before bouncing, you’d be better served to bypass them. You cannot “undo” effects once they are bounced, but you can always add them back as needed to the dry stems.

Hope this helps!

adamack May 17th, 2017

Thanks for your question!

This depends on the DAW you are using, but you can generally do this:

1. Create an Audio track in your DAW of choice
2. Select all of the WAV stems in the folder
3. Drag the stems into the audio track
4. Your DAW should ask if you want to create separate Audio tracks for each stem. Select “Yes” and it will import all of the files as separate tracks.

Hope this helps!

adamack May 17th, 2017

Hello:

I have not used FL for awhile, but I believe you simply:

1. Go to “File”
2. Choose “Export”, then pick “Wave File”
3. Choose the folder to export into
4. Make sure “Split Mixer Tracks” is selected in the popup window
5. Click Start

“Split Mixer Tracks” is a cool feature which automatically splits, exports and names each stem with a single click, as opposed to Soloing and exporting each stem manually.

Rolled Dux May 28th, 2017

Thanks for your help Adamack. I have another question. When I send beats out for mixing should I ask for the mixing engineer to also send the mixed stem files (in case anyone wants to buy the track-outs) or just leave the stems as They were exported before mixing as the sell-able track-outs. thanks Adamack

adamack May 29th, 2017

No problem Dux! If you plan to have a third-party engineer mix your beat, I would absolutely ask them to send you the tracked-out files from his session. The version of the stem files you send to your customers mainly depends on how much work the engineer does to your beat mix. If he/she is just doing some light mixing and mastering, then I would send the original dry stems to customers. However, if the engineer will be making creative decisions to your beat mix, and drastically affecting the outcome of the beat, it may be best to send his mixed stems to customers. Just remember to consider the guidelines in my previous response when talking to the engineer. As a refresher, just make sure he:

1. Bypasses everything from the master channel before exporting the stems
2. Puts any reverb/delay on a separate channel than the dry signal, and exports it as a separate track
3. Bypasses any heavy compression (or similar effects) that will limit the mixing options of any future engineer

With the tracked-out files from the engineer, you will be able to send any version of the beat to your customers should they request it.

Hope this helps, and keep in touch!

Paul July 3rd, 2017

This was very helpful, thank you!

adamack July 4th, 2017

No prob Paul, glad you found the article helpful!

Nico August 10th, 2017

Hey your article is extremely helpful! However I was wondering how can I import wav trackout into Logic Pro and into a separate file on my laptop that can be played wihtout having to have a software such as Fl and whatnot.

adamack August 28th, 2017

Thanks for reading!

To import the WAVs into Logic Pro, simply create one Audio track in your session, select all of the WAV files from your folder, and drag them into the single Audio track in Logic. It will then ask if you want to create new tracks for each WAV file, to which you will say Yes. If you would like to mix down the tracked out files, hit Control+B on your keyboard to bring up the Bounce dialog. Select your options (WAV, MP3, etc), and click Bounce to mix them down into one file. Hope this helps, please let me know if I answered your question okay!

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