Ye West’s Stem Player Review

The $200 MP3 device Contains some interesting features, but contains some glaring flaws


Aidan Henry , Staffer

Popular rap artist Ye West has recently announced that his highly anticipated studio album “Donda 2” will not be released on streaming platforms. Rather it will be introduced on his new device, the Stem Player.

Given its high price tag of $200 (plus an additional $10 shipping fee), it’s not hard to understand why many Ye and music fans alike are hesitant to buy the product.

I had personally been considering purchasing the device since its initial release in August of 2021, however, I had never committed to doing so. Upon viewing West’s constant promotions for the device, I became curious and decided to purchase one for myself.

I immediately received a tracking number and received the package in just three business days.

Upon opening the brown case that it is delivered in; you will find the Stem player as well as a USB-C charging cable. This cable also gives you exclusive access to download songs to the stem player via the stem player website. West has recently added music that is downloadable from the site (including songs from Donda 2), however, any song by any artist can be added through a link or file.

The stem player itself is a small circular-shaped device with several buttons on it. It has a power button, sound control buttons, and two buttons designated to change songs. It also has a USB-C port as well as a headphone jack.

The stem player allows users to add effects and mix their favorite songs. Users are able to isolate songs into four stems (Vocals, drums, bass, and instrumentals), by sliding a finger across the lit-up panels on the face of the stem player.

Effects are achieved by holding down the top button and sliding a finger across the panels just as before.

I was admittedly surprised at how well the product worked. I was able to easily download songs to the device and mix them however I wanted. It allowed me to listen to music in a way that was never possible through more traditional sources such as Spotify, Apple Music, radio, etc.

Although the stem player has some impressive aspects, there are several flaws. Switching between songs becomes very inconvenient. If there is a certain song that you are searching for, you will have to continuously press the “next song” button until you find it. Additionally, there is no way to identify the current song that is playing. This fact becomes more frustrating when listening to songs from “Donda 2” because they are not released on any other platform and identifying the names of the songs becomes more difficult.

My main issue with the stem player however is the sound quality of songs that you import via a link or file. Parts of other stems may bleed into the one you are isolating, which makes the sound quality drop significantly. For example, when isolating vocals, a distant drum or bass sound may be noticeable. Of course, prior to Donda, no song had ever been made for the Stem player. It is understandable that not every song will sound as clear as the ones featured on the website, but it is something to consider.

The Stem player in its current form feels like the beginning of something new in the world of music. It is by no means perfect yet, but it is a fairly new piece of technology. As of now, it is unclear whether newer models will ever be developed or if additional artists will be able to feature their music on the device. 

I would not recommend the stem player to anyone who is not a big fan of Ye West or has a clear vision of how they will use the device. An average music fan should not overspend on this product, especially if their only intention is to listen to “Donda 2”.