Why Stem Deck Waveforms Don’t Show In Traktor

It’s been a full week of Stem-related news, starting with the launch of Stem Decks + Traktor 2.9 on Monday and our launch of a Midi Fighter Twister mapping yesterday. One of the biggest questions people have asked has been “Why can’t I see the individual Stems in Traktor?” so we decided we would reach out directly to Native Instruments and find out. Learn more about how waveforms, GPUs, and CPUs all play into the state of Stem Deck displays.


Apparently, in order to process the individual Stem Deck files, Native Instruments is drawing independent Stem waveforms for each deck. What that means is that there are now four waveforms being processed on the fly for a single deck – which could end up being 16 waveforms at once if all four decks are in Stem Deck mode.

According to Native Instruments, this becomes a big issue for your computer’s processor – meaning it’s best farmed out to your graphics processor – but Traktor’s interface is all rendered on the CPU. Here’s what they write:

Graphic rendering of the individual Stem tracks is currently only possible on the displays of the TRAKTOR KONTROL S8 / D2 controllers since those graphics are rendered via the computer’s GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). However, unlike the TRAKTOR KONTROL S8 / D2, the TRAKTOR GUI is not rendered on the GPU. Instead, it is rendered on the computer’s CPU. Rendering four waveforms per Stem Deck increases the CPU load drastically and leads to performance issues (audio crackling, distorsions, unresponsive software interface).

Native Instruments is currently testing ways to either reduce the CPU usage of the waveform drawing or utilize the GPU, thus allowing the display and interaction with Stems in the TRAKTOR software.

So even though you can control and MIDI map any DJ controller to individual Stems, you can’t see the heads up display of what’s happening.


What Native Instruments hasn’t taken into account in their response is another temporary workaround to allow MIDI controllers to display some visual feedback from a Stem Deck. It’s possible to MIDI-map the VU meters in Traktor from any Deck (Track Decks, Remix Deck slots, and Stem Deck slots) to your LEDs on your DJ controller.

In the DJTT MIDI mapping for the Twister and Stem Decks, we’ve done exactly that to give some sense of “what’s playing” and it works very well! Learn how to map VU meters yourself in this tutorial:

kontrol D2kontrol s8midi fighter twisterstem decksTraktor Tips
Comments (49)
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  • champ

    Can I use STEMS on my Denon MC3000 controller? I purchased 3 STEMS songs from TRAXSOURCE to try it with, but don’t know how to use Stems on my controller. – thanks!!!

    • Thorsten Hindermann

      In Traktor Pro 2 you can define with MIDI commands the control of STEMS files in Traktor.

  • Charles WK

    I think the “real” reason for not being able to see stems in the traktor software individually is simply this – hardware sales.
    If we look at the past for instance when remix decks first came out, coincidentally when the f1 arrived- you couldn’t map all the features until at least a couple months and a major software update later (post f1 sales increases).
    Honestly I can see this is better for them on the business front (after all they are trying to make money); however some of us (me) just don’t buy there official statement for why not now…
    Just open up four remix decks in traktor and fill them with full songs…
    That’s 16 full size waveforms running at the same time…
    Why my computer not crash?

  • Juju Juknow Babiiface

    I have 2 NI F1 & I play off Numark 4trak. Well it still play off my NI F1s?

    • Dan White

      Stems will play on ANY controller – but yes, F1s will automatically give you basic visual feedback on the pads.

  • jasonmd2020

    Ya know what? I remember mixing various synths and drum machines on analog mixers back in the day. No wave forms to look at. Do we really need to see four waveforms? I don’t have any official NI gear and I’m using an Arturia Beatstep for Stems control. Pads light up for muted & effected tracks, all the visual notification I need.

  • Yousef Sultan Farrah

    So just buy the d2

  • Thorsten Hindermann

    On a Mac they have the ability to render graphic via GPU with the OpenCL framework included in OS A.

  • DJ Erik Thoresen

    I was initially frustrated by the lack of visual stems in the software. Had to get my F1 out of hiding. Now trying it with hardware, I do like it more. This has to grow. I can’t really believe that having all the wave forms is too technically difficult for NI. Something’s not right.
    This is something we all wanted, EQ’ing the bass out or trying to get acapellas out of tracks. Im excited for this, but I need more. I’d need way too much hardware to get this working the way I want right now.

  • Richard Bagshaw

    ive been hammering my new s8 and 2.9 and stems decks and had NO TROUBLE playback smooth, no dropouts and cystal clear audio and i dont see whay ppl are whinging about NI supporting thier own hardware with the new features first… if you add an F1 into the mix, you see visual feedback for the stems as vu meters on the pads, pretty cool, yes it would be nice to see the stems on the sw windows also, it will come im sure, if not looks like a pair of D2’s will be on the shopping list… well done NI on another next level product.. @NI_News

  • Autrelle Holland

    LOL but 4 Remix decks, Ableton, and four windows open in Chrome from bootlegging music and checking your Facebook, and attached USB devices. 😉

    Just saying, I’m not buying that tech answer, hook line and sinker. I stress tested 2.9 live last night at my weekly, 5 hours straight, first time playing live on it. Start up was noticeably lagging, overall performance was good, but I experienced some funky audio drops/glitches, and some weird MIDI disconnects also. I rolled back to 2.8 as soon as I got home. And that was with just two track decks, and my usual kit, Z2 + X1MK2, and my hard drive attached through the Z2. So without even using the Stems feature or tracks, it’s got some performance bugs to work out. At home, I did run the promo stems provided on my F1. Everything worked as described except for the FX.

  • killmedj

    My F1 was showing visual feedback for the individual tracks in the remix deck. I thought it was pretty rad!

    • Richard Bagshaw

      sweet add on, really took me by surprise when the pads started flashing away

    • Dan White

      Yep – but that’s really just a fancy HID mapping of our VU meter solution – not quite the same as a real display of what you need to see. Cool for now, though!

  • Ben W

    You all are talking about the limitations of Traktor and how it needs to be rewritten but no one has mentioned that the newest version is 2.9! Guess what comes next? 3.0, complete rework of the program. I’m sure these limitations are temporary.

    • Nic Boileau

      or 2.10, 2.11, 2.12… don’t hold your breath!

  • Oddie O'Phyle

    I’d like to see NI use GPU rendering on the track deck to add waveform to the CDJ NXS line screen.

  • Admiralty

    At least Traktor isn’t the terrible resource hog that Serato is.

    • buxxxxxx

      plus traktor works with all midi controllers instead of just a few like Serato

  • DJ Yagga™

    STEMS are nothing more than a new marketing ploy by @NI_News to push their #D2 #S8 products – #futureofdjing my a$$

    • ShiftFunction

      Yeah, an open source format just pushes their own products. Smh

    • Dan White

      I think you’re onto something, but it’s not that it’s a marketing *ploy* – it’s that at the end of the day, Native Instruments is a *hardware* company. Their revenue (in the DJ part of their company, at least) is likely made up primarily of hardware sales – so anything they do on the software side should fuel that engine.

      Pioneer does the same thing. Serato doesn’t have to because they’ve (hilariously enough) become the most hardware agnostic in the last year.

  • w00t

    This is where Traktor really shows its age. It’s 2015 NI, use the fucking GPU.

  • Victo

    It’s a pretty nice decision, because of all “DJ’s” that not have a powerfull computer.
    I tried the last Traktor on a “old” work computer, (Core 2 Duo and 2Go RAM…), and it’s working like a charm.

    • Marco Hooghuis

      If they let Traktor use the GPU you’d probably still be able to see stems AND use the Core 2 Duo.

  • David De Garie-Lamanque

    at this point Traktor just turns me off. it seems like a program like The One would have been much better suited for this, as the interface, and basically your performance lay-out is completely modular. i just wish they would add pitch-shifting per deck, and the option of two more FX units in Serato. then Traktor would be toast… 😉

  • J.Espinal

    NI just needs to rewrite all of Traktor from scratch. It seems like they keep adding in features to a codebase that’s outdated, thus resulting in the DJ software version of bloatware.

    The fact that they released this Stem crap before giving us dynamic beatgrids to track BPM changes within a song (something that is WAY more practical than Stems) is mind boggling to me. Serato DJ and Rekordbox are really eating Traktor’s lunch at the moment, IMO.

    • Marco Hooghuis

      You have no idea what bloatware means.
      NI simply needs to let Traktor use the GPU, that’s all. Yes, they should’ve done it before as it makes things more efficient. But this is where we are at the moment.
      I agree on the dynamic beatgrids though, it’s a huge drawback for Traktor.

    • w00t

      Rewriting from scratch is something that will NEVER happen. I’ve never ever seen a software company do that, that’s something that would take ages to accomplish and is a huge risk to the company, so we better get used to what we have or switch to something else..

      • Der Langhaarige

        Virtual DJ 8 was completely re-written from scratch. (And yes, it caused many complaints about the time till it was released.)

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      Ummm… look under the hood. You are comparing two 32 bit applications to a 64 bit one. Outdated is being limited to 2Gb of system RAM and 1 processor core due to your dj software when your laptop has at least 8Gb and 4 cores. Rekordbox is nowhere near a full DJ software program, Pioneer can’t even give Windows users 64 bit application drivers. Traktor and Cross are leading the way when you factor in the system resources you have access to.

    • Mark Dek

      I’m with the others on the subject of NI bashing (love the Stems, kudoos that they went and released while knowing the possible drawback).
      Also with Marco & J. Espinal on the dynamic gridding (I’d call it warping), but I’m starting to doubt sincerely whether this will ever happen. I play a lot of music that I have to warop in Ableton, as I draw as much from the past as from the present, but NI seems pretty much focussed on specific genre’s: House, Techno and dubstep. It starts to feel like this is a specific choice they’re specialising in, much like Serato seems to be specialising in scratch DJ genre’s (funk, Hip hop, Bass).

    • ShiftFunction

      That’s probably what they’re already working on. This is version 2.9. 3.0 will likely be a different animal entirely. Like the step up from Traktor S4 to 2.0

  • Matthew Wegner

    So the answer is they’re already doing GPU rendering for their hardware but haven’t bothered to implement it elsewhere to support non-NI devices. As someone who actually *makes* those other devices, I think DJTT should push them harder on this :/

    And as someone who uses DJTT hardware in my setup, it would be nice to see that pressure applied!

    • here_comes_the_sheik

      What is so bad about supporting your own hardware first and then adding other stuff. That’s called prioritizing and simple business. The update is free. Of course you’ve got to pay the bills first and then care about 3rd party controllers and the many many millions of crack software users.

      • Matthew Wegner

        I think it’s the wrong priority.

        Stems is a new format. NI is pushing hard for *everyone* to adopt it: Producers, music stores, and other hardware/software packages. Read how they’re positioning it on: http://www.stems-music.com/

        If they want to people to make/release more Stems, it *is* in their best interest to provide the best possible Stems support in their flagship software…

  • mellonhead

    all that hoopla over stems decks and they don’t even work? yes i call not being able to display waveforms without audio dropouts not working. wish they would just integrate sequencing or something, instead of these obtuse features no one is asking for

    • Richard Bagshaw

      dont even work, ive been hammering them that last 2 days, they work a treat #stems #kick ass, i had 4 x stem decks running, flicking layers on and off, fx and loops and it wasnt even bothing the cpu load

  • Lu Ynoji

    for the few times i’ve used traktor i did notice it’s really heavy on the cpu( i have a kickass laptop, so no issues what so ever, but in comparison with Live etc)

    also major differences depending on what view you are in ( makes sense)
    but totally agree on the post by Coolout, if they import the stem idea.. then make sure your software can handle it, not just the fancy hardware..

  • coolout

    So why can’t they have the software toggle between Stem waveforms? or just have the Stems overview look like one row of the remix decks? Probably because NI wants to sell as much new hardware as possible before making it easy to use other controllers.

    • Jacob Stadtfeld

      Because toggling would still require rendering of four waveforms, or even re-rendering every time you switch, depending on how they write the program.

      And it’s already easy to use with other controllers; are you bemoaning the fact that it doesn’t work on the multitudes of other controllers with built in screens?