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Elements vs Stems

In the past, foley (outside of foley recording studios) and sound design projects comprised of editors dragging audio Stems into their projects and manually cutting them into Elements before syncing the sounds to picture. But with Audio Design Desk’s patented Sonic Intelligence, ADD automatically separates stems and elements into separate Sub Categories as well as cuts Stems into several Elements and applies Sync Markers allowing users to quickly and efficiently add sound to picture.

To better understand the difference, let’s use a recording of Footsteps as an example. The file below was recorded using the same type of shoe on the same type of surface. Multiple steps were recorded in the same take to provide variance in the sound of the steps to sound more realistic when using them as foley.


This recorded audio file is what we call a Stem. A series of several related sounds that make up one larger audio file.

The individual sounds within the Stem are called Elements.



By default, ADD sound packs include both the Stems and the individual Elements. You can Import your own stems and have ADD chop them up into elements using either the Region Editor or the Import Window.


Turn Stems to Elements

If you find a stem that you like but are struggling to find the pre-cut corresponding Elements, here are a few ways outside of the Importer and Region Editor to turn a Stem into Elements.

In the picture below there’s a stem on the timeline that needs to be cut into elements. You can see there are several Sync Markers placed on the stem attached to the individual elements. If you look closely, you can also see vertical perforated lines on either side of the individual elements. These are Element Markers.


By pressing (⌘D) you will be able to separate this stem into individual elements based on the position of the Element Markers. 


To better see the position of the Element Markers, or to adjust the position of the markers, you can “Double-Click” the audio stem to open up the Region Editor.


The Element Markers are the colorful brackets placed just above the waveform preview. You can move these to your liking and save the new location of the Element Markers for future use. For more information see, Region Editor.

If you want to use the elements within a stem as a custom trigger, you can drag a stem down on to an empty trigger.



By default, ADD will ask if you would like to chop the stem up into elements and only place the elements on the trigger.



You can change this feature from Ask to Never or Always in the Triggers Pane of the General Tab in Preferences.