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FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Band In A Box or ???

Just Play
Contributing Member

Northwest USA

Apr 19th, 2012 09:43 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I'm not exactly a newb at recording, but close to it. I have played guitar in a variety of situations for over forty years to include many studio dates. For a variety of reasons I now just want to make my music at home and mostly on my own.

A few years ago I picked up a Boss BR1600CD with the idea it would provide me an easy to get along with Rhythm Section plus a ton of other features for my own compositions. It does all of that, but I find it too time consuming and cumbersome for my taste. I spend more time twirling knobs than making music. I know some of this comes with the home recording territory, but this approach is just not right for me.

I'm thinking of moving to a PC based system and that maybe something very simple close to PG Music's Band In A Box may be more what this old guy really wants. I want to create basic progressions and arrangements, play my own guitar parts, maybe some keys and sing on multiple tracks. It would be fun to add other instruments that I do not play and when finished burn CDs of my music for personal enjoyment only.

I do not have a specific budget for software, but based on the limited capability I envision my guess is software cost to be no more than a couple of hundred bucks. Beyond that it will be how far I want to go with hardware and interfaces.

So, let me have it. The good, the bad and the ugly of the simple PC recording programs. Please comment specifically on Band In A Box or similar systems. Thank you in advance for your comments and suggestions.



Frank Hudson

USA

Tone is stuck on my fingers
Apr 20th, 2012 03:57 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I use an older version of Band In A Box regularly. I recommend it often; but at least in the version I use, it also has shortcomings.

It makes it farily easy to create progessions based on chord changes you enter in. Depending on how many styles you opt for with the add-on packs you can change the feel of how the progessions are played (BIAB calls these feel presets "styles") and changing key and tempo are easy.

At least in the version I have (I think it's the 2004 version) even with a considerable number of the add in packs of the same vintage, there are not a lot of convincing "rock" styles. Many jazz flavors, some decent country, smooth jazz, and even fusion. Add on packs give you lots of present progressions to play with too (BIAB calls them, logically, "songs"), and you can easily modify them. At one point I downloaded a bunch of BIAB songs that gave me a good portion of the jazz Fake Book.

I'm not much of jazz player, but I enjoyed working through those songs quite a bit and I think I learned something too. You can easily watch the changes roll through in real time so you can hear and see while playing.

I've used it from time to time just as you are planning to, to create backing tracks to play over. It can do that, though again, there aren't a lot of sytles that sound like classic rock or modern rock or other current music. They may have added more current stuff with later versions of the add in packs.

Just Play
Contributing Member

Northwest USA

Apr 23rd, 2012 08:27 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thank you Mr. Hudson. Your reply has answered some of my concerns as well as giving more things to consider.

I think for me at this time some limitation as a trade off for quick simplicity is a good thing - as long as I'm not over limiting and painting myself too tight into a corner.

I have watched on-line video demos of BIAB and have spoken with others, and it sounds like one of the new 2012 bundle versions may be okay for me. I need to do a little more research before I jump in.

Thank you again for taking the time to reply.

kve

Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Apr 23rd, 2012 11:59 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I am a big fan of Band-in-box. I have found that the newer version (that includes the real tracks and real drums) gives me realistic and well produced bass and drums as well as other instruments that I don't play that well myself (piano, fiddles, banjos, mandolins ...).

I have included a soundclick link to most recent stuff where I show what BIAB played and what I did.

PG Music usually have big sales in late June/July and December -- those are the times to buy!

Get the ultraPlusPak when it goes on sale.

Kevin

P.S. ... and I have a ton of recordings at http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_music.cfm?bandID=620106

Kevin at Soundclick

fendrguitplayr
Contributing Member
*******

Greater Boston

Where suspense is never in short supply.
Apr 23rd, 2012 12:20 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

You keep sounding better, Kevin! Diggin' those harmonies and collabs.

Let me know when your next CD will be available. That last one is still getting regular playtime!

Just Play
Contributing Member

Northwest USA

Apr 24th, 2012 08:45 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Kve, thank you for detailing your experience with Band in A Box. I checked out several of your tunes and they all sound great. Nice work!.

The instrumentation all sounds very good. This may be the program solution I am looking for. I do have a few questions however -

I trust you played all of the guitars parts on each tune. Did you play any of the other instruments outside of the program?

Are the guitars (or other instruments played) recorded direct or live in the room? The sound is great.

Am I to understand all of these finished songs are created in Band In A Box only, or are you using other software (Pro Tools, Sonar, etc)?

I have read various comments about glitches or other software performance problems - have you had any significant issues?

Finally, what interface are you using?

Thank you again for taking the time to detail your experience with this program. I want to try and insure whatever I get this time around is right for me. The Boss product was not a good fit for what I want to do and how I wish to do it. I have lost too much time with that machine. I just want to get on with playing some music.





kve

Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Apr 24th, 2012 09:34 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

"I trust you played all of the guitars parts on each tune. Did you play any of the other instruments outside of the program?"

BIAB plays a lot of the guitars, too. For example on "A Little Bit of Loving" (http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11352211) BIAB plays bass, drums, harmonica, two acoustic guitars, banjo, piano and I just play the electric guitar and the little conga thing after the lead break. The timpani is an internet sample. On the "kevin emmrich" site, BIAB dominates the instrumentation - but on the FDP Jams site there are a lot of songs where I just use BIAB for drums (and bass). For instance here are two where BIAB just supplies the percussion: http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11507720 and http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11525854 . It's a mixed bag really.

"Are the guitars (or other instruments played) recorded direct or live in the room? The sound is great."

Acoustic guitars, banjos and vocals (by me) are all recorded with a mxl v63m condenser mic ($49 -- no shockmount, though) into TubeMP pre-amp ($29) into a tascam us-224 audio interface into sonar 8.5.3. My electric guitar parts are recorded using my G-DEC amp into the tascam into sonar.

"Am I to understand all of these finished songs are created in Band In A Box only, or are you using other software (Pro Tools, Sonar, etc)?"

I only use BIAB to send out the backing tracks to wav files and import them into sonar. BIAB has a companion DAW called realband which is quite capable, but I have and know Sonar better, so I didn't see any reason to switch. There are good reasons to use realband for track generation, but I just haven't gotten into it.

"I have read various comments about glitches or other software performance problems - have you had any significant issues?"

No issues here. I use BIAB simply to enter chords and get all the backing tracks. I do all of the editing and mixing with Sonar. Until recently I have only mixed with cheap headphones. Around Christmas time I got the ATH-M50 headphones and the m-audio BX5a monitors. Better, but not great -- but my room is untreated and I am too cheap to do anything about it.

There is a learning curve but it is not that hard. I have had BIAB since windows 95 but I never used it because the midi version sounded too cheesy. Of course, midi is not sound and if you have good software/hardware samples, MIDI can sound great. I got BIAB with real tracks and real drums for Christmas 2008 and I produced my entire 2009 February RPM CD with it. It can't be that hard if I can do it.

I hope this helps.

Kevin

P.S. If you listen to enough of my tunes you will notice that heat air handlers, hot water heater, dehumidifiers, upstairs TV and walking noises all make there way into my recordings. Sad but true.

(This message was last edited by kve at 02:30 PM, Apr 24th, 2012)

Just Play
Contributing Member

Northwest USA

Apr 24th, 2012 06:30 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It helps a great deal. Thank you very much.

I see the UltraPlus Pak includes RealBand. So as I understand it, with that package and along with some sort of interface, I should be all set. If I have that right, then we are just waiting for sale.

(This message was last edited by Just Play at 06:34 PM, Apr 24th, 2012)

kve

Crozet, VA

I'm "Branded"-- my stars are ripped away
Apr 25th, 2012 12:55 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If you don't already use a DAW, then you might as well learn RealBand. It has a lot of the track generation features that BIAB has, so some folks just use RealBand. There is a very good forum at PG Music populated by customers that love to help out.

One more comment on "problems". It's audio and it's windows -- you are bound to have some issues! But nothing that can't be overcome. Be ready to put it through its paces. You will have a 30-day money back guarantee.

Kevin

The BIAB forums

Just Play
Contributing Member

Northwest USA

Apr 25th, 2012 06:36 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Kevin, you are great. I way appreciate the information you have shared including your music, your tips and suggestions and the links.

I have decided to watch for the Ultra package to go on sale. I think I like the external hard disc option. Not sure yet.

While I'm waiting for the sale, I'm evealuating performance of my current PC vs a new unit and exploring USB interfaces. I like my existing powered Roland monitors and hope to use them. I also have a decent Altec system, but the Roland response is flatter/smoother.

Thank you again for your all of your help.

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

Hero, hero

you have done so well...
Apr 25th, 2012 07:18 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

For basic USB interface, if you don't need much in the way of tracks, the Roland units are bulletproof and solid.

I went through hell finding a small stereo capable unit that would run on 4 different machines properly.

The Roland Duo-capture finally won out from that - very transparent, decent sound, low latency, drivers rock solid on all the machines I've use it on.

I've got my other interfaces for when I'm not feeling well, but I needed something to let me record on the netbook and laptop - and the Roland was the only thing out of several I tried that worked well on a variety of Windows versions with different hardware.

Freddie is King

Tx

Apr 26th, 2012 08:36 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I just got band in a box a few weeks ago. I really like the real tracks. I have been making real tracks using the bass and drum parts and burning them onto a CD and importing them in to my BR-1600. This works good for practice. The BIAB does good country and jazz styles. Not that impressed with the blues styles though.

Next up is to try to get the MIDI to sound like real instruments. Anybody have any tips on this?

reverendrob
FDP Data Goon
Moderator

Hero, hero

you have done so well...
Apr 26th, 2012 01:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Midi: good samples + play crucial parts yourself, like the instrument would be played.

Get a keyboard or other input device, and just practice.

Add appropriate fills/changes/things a real player would do to alleviate boredom vs playing the same thing for 300 bars.

Adjust timing for same.

That plus good samples/synth engine should get you there.

FDP Forum / Home Recording Forum / Band In A Box or ???




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