Band in a Box

Do any of you have any experience using Band In a Box? I’m thinking about picking that up for some backing tracks. Just curious to hear about your experience(s) with it.

@holster I got BB years ago and I use it quite a bit, mainly to practice solos with a rhythm section but for writing too. That said I don’t necessarily recommend it because it depends on what you want it for.

BB lets you put in any chords you want over 4/4 or 3/4 or whatever at any tempo and then you can pick a style from what appears to be hundreds of styles but in reality a lot of them are useless and I burn a lot of time trying to find something useful. So then I can practice or export an audio or midi track(s) and record my efforts for critical listening, very useful that way IMHO.

So for writing you can try out chord progressions with the usual rhythm sections and a good style if you can find one. Some of the tracks do make it on to the final version ( they’re royalty free) but only after a lot of editing and using different instruments than what BB has.

So BB supplies a lot of extra stuff which is somewhat useless and confusing to me. They try and sell you ‘real tracks’ which sound OK I guess but if you’re into trying to get your own mixed sound they’re kind of useless, again IMHO. My PC version is pretty stable but my Mac version is kind of glitchy, YMMV.

Thank you so much! That’s all great info. I wasn’t planning to use it for recording or anything. I do some gigs with a buddy of mine and we were talking about prepping some bass and drum tracks for backing on some songs. I’m just trying to come up with a solution that makes creating those a relatively simple process without sounding cheesy
Thanks again @ingolee!

BB could work for that. You need a decent sound system of course (for bass and kick especially) and your playback computer has to be reliable. You should compare BB to Ableton Live though.
I’m not familiar with it but Ableton Live has a good reputation for this application.

I think you can try both of these on a free trial basis but I’m not sure.

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I’m going to give it a shot. I’ll definitely let you know how/if it works out!

I used Ableton Live Intro for the country band since we “ain’t got not fiddle or piano player” in the country band and it works great. I have no experience with BiaB.

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So I suspect you’re using IEM’s then? Click? Just curious

YEP! IEMs for all band members, Line 6 Helix for the two guitarists, Line 6 POD Go for me, Ableton runs click to our IEMs, and backing tracks (fiddle, piano, banjo, etc) to our ears and FOH. The only stage volume we have is the drummer. The places we play love that we’re not overly loud.


That’s a neat set-up @BigAlRocks ; can you run it down for us? Do you use the house PA with a sound guy? How do you set up the Ableton tracks?

We typically bring our own PA and sound person unless an establishment already has a PA, and then we just ask for two channels in their PA with a flat EQ and the faders set at unity. We use a Behringer X32 Rack for our mixer. Ableton runs on a Windows 10 Pro laptop and comes in to the mixer via USB. Each band member brings their own phone or tablet and controls their own IEM mixes. Sound person is only responsible for FOH. It took us some fiddling around (pun sort of intended) for everyone to get comfortable with their IEMs and controlling them individually but once we got that lined out, setup and teardown is relatively fast. Hope this helps. If you have more questions, let me know.

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Thanks for taking the time to explain. You mentioned using Line 6 pedals, are there any amps on stage or does it all go through the PA?

I’ve never used Ableton and I’m sure @holster is curious too, how do you program the back-up tracks? Does somebody push a button on the laptop to start the click track (and the rest of the backing tracks I guess)?

Yes! I’d love to hear how it’s being utilized in your case @BigAlRocks. I’ve had some prior experience using it as you described @ingolee, but it’s always cool to know what others are doing. I believe Ableton would be overkill for what I’m trying to do in this case, but if what I’m doing works out, I’ll certainly share the results etc. :slight_smile:

We don’t have any amps on stage, it all goes thru the PA.

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This is gonna be kind of long winded and erratic so forgive the squirreliness in my reply.

Since we’re “just” a cover band, we get our backing tracks from Their songs are $2.99 each. You find the song you want, purchase it, and then you can “mix” it the way you want. The way I’ve got ours set up: CLICK panned hard left & TRACKS panned hard right. Mute the instruments you don’t want (i.e. vocals, lead guitar, bass, drums, whatever instruments you already have live on stage) and adjust the volume level of the instruments you want to keep to suit your taste. When you’ve got it the way you want it, download your 320kbps MP3. (For the record, you can export each stem individually if you want more control over backing tracks when playing live but I’ve not done it that way, I’m going for ease of use.) For anyone thinking they should be full on WAV files, I agree but when you’re blending these tracks with a live band, no one in the audience will notice that they’re lossy.

When it’s time to do a show, we just open the appropriate Ableton show file, make sure the cursor is at the beginning of the track and hit the space bar and we’re off! If we have to stop at any point during the show, hitting the space bar will stop Ableton. My only caveat here is that you’ll have to click on the beginning of the next song before you start the show again or it’ll jump back to the beginning of your show. (We’ve had that disaster before.) There is a way to program Ableton so that you can use your arrow keys to move forward and backward to the next or previous song but I’ve not delved into that yet.

This video should give you a good idea how to setup Ableton. I can make a video showing how I set ours up if you all want but I don’t know when I’ll get around to it.

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That’s a great explanation @BigAlRocks , not squirrely at all! That setup sounds fairly easy for anyone who has DAW experience. I imagine there’d be a learning curve for playing along in a live situation but the advantages are well worth it I’d say. No more amps and monitors, that’s great.

Using that method makes me think Ableton would be much better than BB for performing cover tunes with backing tracks. If you were going to do originals or different than stock arrangements of covers BB might have an advantage though since you can easily enter your own chords and choose an automated style that hopefully fits. (Assuming your tunes haven’t made the karaoke list quite yet).

Do you have any videos of your band? I’d like to hear it.

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The only videos I’m aware of are cell phone vids people in the audience took and posted on their socials. We never did anything in the “official” sense. Someone in the band didn’t want to do that. LOL

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Dude! Thanks so much for sharing this!!!

This is exactly what we needed. I was planning to build these from scratch, so talk about a time saver!! I will be able to buy our entire catalog for less than BIAB would’ve cost me and hardly any time invested at all. I bought about 35 tunes the other day to get started with, and we are going to try a bunch of them out tonight for a little bar gig. I’m pumped!
Also, I totally should’ve asked you if you set up an affiliate link for them yet, so I could’ve used that when I bought them. If you haven’t done that yet @BigAlRocks, feel free to set that up and post it here so future readers might use it! At the very least, you’d have some credits you could use :slight_smile:
Thanks again for the suggestion. You rock!!

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Glad that information was helpful. I don’t have an affiliate link, that takes effort. LOL

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HAHAHA! :rofl:

I get that way also!

I’ll be interested to hear how that works out @holster , I’d like to recommend this setup to friends who are gigging.

Seems like the video thing is good for promotion, you have to show the management something to get the gig right?