Stems To Sets: Make Free Remix Deck Sets With Remix Contests

Remix Deck content in Traktor has been relatively standstill – with Native Instruments releasing limited artist sets every few months, there’s a pretty limited selection of new content for DJs to add to their Remix Deck collection. Today we look at a completely different way to build Traktor Remix Sets using an increasingly prevalent source of great content: remix contests. Read on to learn how to build your own and get a collection of eight free Remix Decks!

Free Remix Sets pack at the end of this article – if you’d like, click to skip straight to it! 


An official Remix Set from NI – this one costs $4.99 on Beatport

Traktor’s Remix Decks were a godsend for many users when the feature was added to the software in mid-2011. With the flexibility of re-structuring a track breakdown, plus the ability to be used as a one-shot clip launcher, it brought a whole new level of creative potential without hindering workflow routines.

With the addition of the feature, Native Instruments partnered with a handful of labels to release pre-made ‘Remix Sets’, a playable, ‘remix-able’ version of tracks. But the influx of Remix Sets from NI hasn’t been met with an equal grassroots creation of content from artists and producers.


Search ‘Remix Stems’ on Soundcloud and you’ll find a ton of artists with the individual elements of tracks on their pages ready to download. This is handy as a producer, but with Remix Decks, these stems are fantastic opportunity to build unique combinations of sounds. Another great source for remix stems is Beatport Play, a platform for big name artists to have their tracks remixed by undiscovered talent – or any of the major remix contest websites.

Related: Tons of remix contest sites + advice in this article

To build a great remix set, ideally you want stems that separately contain:

  • Drums/ Percussion Bass
  • Synth
  • FX/ Vocals

Open your audio editing program, (something as simple as Garageband will work perfectly) and drag the stems into a timeline. In this instance I’m making a remix set out of stems downloaded of Kesha’s “We R Who We R” (Don’t worry, if you’re as big a fan of Kesha as we are, you can just delete the vocal tracks now.)

Silence Creates Slices: Many stems have silence in some samples, this is beneficial when building the Remix Set, indicating breakdowns and builds which are able to be sliced and isolated easily as they’re framed by silence.

Basically you ‘slice’ the track up into sections with each row in the Remix Set a slice from a different part of the song. In theory, by triggering each row in sequence you’ll hear the entire track back as if you were normally playing it.

Group similar stems – you only have 4 concurrent tracks in Remix Decks!

Grouping Sounds: Now we’ll decide what sounds we want to group. There are only 4 active slots available (the vertical columns in Remix Decks) so choose wisely. You want maximum control over the track while keeping a level of simplicity. Remix Decks should be interesting to play, but easy to incorporate!

Grouping tailored to suit what elements you want more control over – for example:

  • FX grouped with percussion will make it possible to strip the drums right down to a simple kick
  • Leave FX and vocals on a single channel to use as one shot samples.

Exporting:  Isolate the tracks you want to group and start exporting slices – in the above case the export region is set to 8 bars (the yellow line above the tracks in Garageband). This is the only tedious part – going through and finding all the different possible elements you’ll want to bring over while remembering that your set is limited to four active slots.

Very important, MAKE SURE THE SLICES ARE EXPORTED UNCOMPRESSED. If the track is exported as an MP3, Traktor has difficulty decoding the file and won’t loop 100%. Even if your stems are originally an MP3 file, export as a WAV or AIFF for the best results.

This Remix Deck set of Alt-J’s Breezeblocks is grouped for performing new arrangement of the instrumentation

Building The Remix Set: Open up Traktor and change a deck to a ‘Remix Deck’. These decks default to 120 BPM, if we needed it faster or slower simply drag a loop or sample at the desired BPM into the deck and the Remix Deck’s BPM will automatically conform to the samples.

Then, decide how to perform a certain track – start asking yourself questions like:

  • Do I want to better re-arrange this track?
  • Do I want to use specific samples with another track and build a live mashup?
  • Should I one shot samples and really ‘play’ the track with a different creative style?

Work your way down through the song, eventually populating the Remix Deck with the entire song sliced into each row. It’s very useful to have some one shots at the bottom of your Remix Deck, so that when you get to the end of a track, you can have samples that trail out in the mix.

ProtipAvoid putting the acapella as a whole in the Remix Set, this can limit how flexible you can be when playing – especially if vocals are grouped with other sounds. Instead, use vocal snippets and background vocals as loops so that they compliment instead of forcing the song to go a certain way.


Instead of just an example or two, we’ve put together a whole collection of Remix Deck sets made exactly in this manner – by building them out from remix contest stems. Download them all here for free – and if you want more, let us know in the comments so we can start making this type of content a regular thing! Here’s the list of tracks in the download:

  • Falling In Love (Remix Set) – Strange Talk
  • Breezeblocks (Remix Set) – Alt-J
  • Eskimo Boy (Remix Set) – Strange Talk
  • Let’s Go – Calvin Harris
  • Ladi Dadi – Wynter Gordon
  • Alejandro – Lady Gaga
  • Less Is More – Bass Kleph

The tracks included in the zipped-up download are from remix contests – and are just for educational purposes only – downloading it here doesn’t constitute “owning the song” – you’ll need to purchase it yourself to have the rights to play it out.

We can only hope that artists will soon start releasing more content in project or stem form like Mad Zach’s Evil Lurks release, allowing DJs to mix in more interesting ways than just track to track.

Ash Blenkinsop is a controllerist and live performer from Darwin, Australia. 

alt-Jbass klephbuilding remix setscalvin harrisflumelady gagaremix contestsremix deck setsremix decksstrange talkTraktor Tipswynter gordon
Comments (33)
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  • Andrea Aiazzi

    you are actually amazing

  • Craig

    Having a little trouble with these free remix sets. I got them downloaded but when trying to move them to traktor it says its an unknown format. Any ideas?? Is this download just for Macs possibly??

  • shark

    Hey I am looking for belly dance drum loops please share thanks !!

  • matthaltom

    Just getting into remix decks more and started using this strategy. Thanks for the content and good to see how others do it. Would love to see more remix deck sets. This with the launchpad mapping for remix decks is awesome.

  • AC

    When I try to use the free remix decks included here, there is no audio playback. Is anyone else having the same problem?

  • Chris

    I’m getting a unkown format error message when I try to load the remix sets, am I doing something wrong?

  • DjTeknique

    Please do more remix deck sets there aren’t many good sources out there.

  • Robert Wulfman

    I’ve been doing this with free sample packs for a while now and will probably start making my own loops and one shots for them. DJ Tech Tools should have a section of the site where users can upload their own Remix Sets, like the midi maps page so that everyone can fully use the Remix Decks

  • jeff

    more more more! there is so little content out there, have resorted to making own since I started with the Remix decks, keep them coming!

  • BigBlackTeddyBear

    This entire summer I have been working on this exactly! Check out what I have done with Logic Pro 9, Massive, Absynth, MidiFighter Spectra, Hercules RMX Mixer, Novation 25Sl and Spark Drum Machine.

  • Jim

    I don’t get why more non-EDM musicians don’t at least release the vocal stems. Look at the Lana Del Rey song, if you put a good vocal track out there, someone will make it a hit eventually.

  • DK-sama

    This is partly the reason i download so many stems from Beatport remix competitions. If i like the song i can make a remix set out of them… or i could actually enter the competitions more frequently >_>

  • Jose

    Free Remix Deck Sets? YES!!!!

    I flash the MF3D to switch to the HID mode, and when it was all done, I found that I really didn’t had good or enough content to play.

    By all means this can be a regular thing here!!!

  • Dielekt

    Keep the free packs coming!

  • bidders

    more please…..awesome content

  • iRubens

    More Remix Deck sets from DJTechTools? Yeah! 😀 Just some days ago I’ve created a Remix Set with the latest MZ Pack and tried integrating it in my set…

  • Steven

    What is it that causes traktor to require uncompressed file types in remix decks? Anyone know?

  • Chaser720

    I have been wanting to start using the Remix Decks in Traktor but have had a really hard time getting started. This should be a good jumpstart. Thanks and I would love to see Zach’s sound packs get mapped into Remix Decks as well. I know there is a lot of behind the scenes going on in Ableton but maybe a simplified version.

    • Dan White

      Mentioned this in another comment, but MZ Soundpacks Vol 3 will be Remix Deck-ifyed

    • Adrian Dooga Martinez

      Hey, if you all want a structure for life, just rip every great bit from every track you’ll never use. Use the bits to supplement your best hits and most favorite tunes. Fried green tomato method. It makes the best of many tastes.

  • Josef

    More Remix Deck Sets would be really nice! I both use Ableton and Traktor (but not the Remix Decks), so I would be happy if you could offer both the Traktor file and the WAVs – like Mad Zach does it with his soundpacks. Keep up your good work!

    • Dan White

      Good news – a new Mad Zach compilation pack will be out in a few weeks that turns many of his soundpacks into Remix Decks!

      • Chaser720

        Wow. You posted this as I was asking for it. ha PERFECT

      • Joshua Gibson


  • thebigblaa

    more Remix Deck Sets – yes please!

  • type_omega

    been doing this a little with FL studios live mode thing. never get around to actually exporting to traktor though… but free pre built packs ? do you even have to ask if you should make more ? maybe even give them there own spot over on the forum side. i bet you could get the community making theses to as well and even a bunch of custom content.

    • type_omega

      do i smell a contest ? 😉

  • marquee mark

    Nice! Love the free packs and this is a pretty clutch tip.

    • rozling

      Seconded, packs were a nice surprise and the tip was both clutch and extremely fetch.