AI Stem separation refers to splitting a finished mixed song, a single mp3 file for instance, into its individual instrumental and vocal elements. A typical pop or rock mix will contain separate tracks for drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals, and more all blended into a stereo recording. Audio stem separation tries to extract each of these elements into distinct audio stems.
In the past, this could only be done with access to the original multitrack tapes or files. But AI software such as Moises, Lalal and Vocal Remover can now isolate stems from ordinary stereo mixes with increasing accuracy. While some artifacts are audible, the overall quality enables some exciting new learning possibilities.
Benefits for Music Education: Here are a few key benefits these AI separation tools offer music students and teachers:
- Isolate and mute instrumental or vocal parts from songs for ear training. This develops listening skills and helps students hone in on elements like a vocal melody, guitar part or bassline. I also like to then slow down these individual parts to really get inside the song and learn nuances that may have not been audible when in a full mix.
- Remix stems to create new arrangements and mixes of existing songs for budding producers and DJs.
- Extract drum tracks for drum pupils. Loop sections to practice a steady tempo.
- Analyse mixing and effects processing on individual stems, eg compression or reverb on vocals.
Further info about software and apps:
Moises includes AI Audio Separation, pitch and time shifting and chord and key identifying. Available via a iOS or Android app or website. The free option allows for 5 tracks per month, with a 5 minute time-cap.
Vocal Remover is a free browser-based program that allows you to isolate vocals from any song as well as split the song into individual instrument stems. Also includes other tools such as editing, pitch and time shifting, BPM tap and key identifier.
Lalal.ai is a browser-based AI stem separator which can split the file into vocals, instuments, drums and also remove the vocals. It allows for 3 songs but beyond that you need to subscribe to a paid plan.
Izotope RX is the serious industry-standard (with a price tag to match, although a basic version is available) swiss army knife tool for any kind of audio restoration or repair and includes a sophisticated AI separation module in its arsenal of tools.