Band in a box - worth it or alternatives?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by rainbownorth, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. Hi guys,

    Wasn't sure if this was the right place to post or not, feel free to shift me along if it isn't.

    I've been looking into BIAB for a few weeks to see whether it's a worthwhile purchase, I'm looking to set up a practice/composition area with a decent audio interface. Essentially I'm looking for something that can train me for rhythm in a variety of styles, do a little basic composition, and play along with covers as needed. I realise I probably wont get something that can do all of the above in one package.

    From all the feedback I've seen, BIAB is a great program, feedback seems to be generally positive. It is however insanely expensive. And from what I've heard of the newest versions, the core starter pack seems to be missing a lot of stuff.

    So, is it worth selling a kidney for? Or is there a cheaper or free alternative that will tick my boxes? I've been using Guitar Pro for covers, and a metronome for rhythm, but Guitar Pro jams on me all the time, and it would be nice to get an integrated package.

    Any feedback is appreciated.

  2. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Worth every penny...I should definitely add it to the 'expensive-but-worth-it' thread.
    It'll take you awhile to get the best use out of it, but if you do, I promise, it'll make you a better player, composer, musician, improvisor, whatever.

    FWIW, I've been using it for something like 15 years or something crazy and I still buy the upgrade packs every couple years, just to help keep the company in business...
    DocFuzzB3 likes this.
  3. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Realtracks, and RealMidi are fantastic
  4. Ok, so am I going to be missing out if I only buy the core package? It seems like there's a lot of realtracks and drum tracks and whatnot missing, and I dont think I will ever have the sort of money to update from the core version.
  5. synaesthesia


    Apr 13, 2004
    Wow. I haven't used BIAB since '98. It was useful as a teaching tool back then when i was teaching a bit, but the BIAB solos were new then and just out, and they were annoying as it was GM midi based.

    How things have changed. I'm impressed enough to buy it right away and use it to sketch arrangements and such. I can imagine many possibilities. Wow.
  6. Warning: apple mac fan here.

    Checked out i Real B?

    For Mac users or ipad guys it's pretty cool.

    Here's a link to the forum: where I got all the
    songs, and the product site:

    Here's a link to a Damian Erskine lessons and videos on youtube, this is how I found out about ireal b.

    Once you have your interface set up, you should be able to do all the practice tasks you mentioned.

    Garageband is a great program to get started with recording.

    I just downloaded the iRealB program for about $20, and then imported the 1700 or so tracks for free.

    You can turn the midi bass, drums, piano up and down or off, change styles, keys, tempos. Paired up with a real book, (for the melodies) this can do some powerful stuff.

    I would have liked to have the melodies, but hey, it's a start. You can set up measure and changes to repeat, start anywhere in the tune, it's sober and ready to play anytime..

    I make a copy of the tune and tape it to one side of my monitor, while irealB cranks through the chords on the other side. I love the shaded area that moves though the measures in time, so when I get lost messing with melodic stuff, I get right back to where I'm supposed to be. Very cool, and for a measly $20.
  7. david_aa


    Feb 9, 2010
    Madrid - Spain
    I use iRealb in my smartphone (Android). I don't miss BiaB.

    Great and affordable tool! :)
  8. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    While I won't pretend it can do what BIAB can do, I use
    ChordPulse. For 24.95, it's a very useful, simple to learn tool.

    BIAB's interface has gotten out of control over the years, IMHO.
  9. That sounds pretty sweet, but I have a desktop not a Mac. And I'm pretty keen to stay away from using my smartphone during practice.
  10. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Yes, you'll be missing out without realtracks, but BIAB comes with some high quality drum kits in Sampletank. Or if you already have a sampler you can use it.

    You get a 30 day money back guarantee. You'll have to front the money, but you an try realtracks and if they don't work out you can get your money back. Easy.

    And BTW - BIAB is not a DAW. And a DAW is not BIAB. There are plug in alternatives but not nearly as complete as BIAB.And BTW - BIAB is not a DAW. And a DAW is not BIAB. There are plug in alternatives but not nearly as complete as BIAB.

    Here's an example of BIAB with a DAW, Cakewalk in this case. Reaper, and many other DAW work the same

    iRealB is very good, very affordable, sounds great, and with IOS you can play along with it using Amplitube. iRealb does not have as many styles, nor as many instruments to play along, but it is very good all around and super easy to use. And tons of contributions in the forums. If you've got iOS or an Android I highly recommend it. Take it with you everywhere.
  11. Ok, so I had a look at the core package of BIAB. Yeah I'd miss out on most of the realtracks, but there's still a lot of MIDI loops and whatnot. It could be made to work. And realistically, a lot of the other realtracks are for country waltzes, slow pop, and generally genres that I wont play a whole lot of. To be honest, at this point that's the biggest turn off. I like to play reggae, soul and funk, metal, and generally stuff off the beaten track, where BIAB seems to stick to middle of the track American mainstream, and not a lot else. I know you can only fit so much into one package, but still.

    And as far as the smartphone thing goes, I get how it works, and yeah I do have an iphone I could practice with, but from past experiences it's not all it cracked up to be, and practicing anything works a lot better with your phone turned well and truly off. Which is a shame, because irealb looks awesome, its just a shame it's not available for windows.
  12. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Put the phone in airplane mode.
    If you're distracted with a phone, you'll be distracted with a computer. So don't put your music computer on the internet. :)

    I agree, on the realtracks, you can't use them all and dont need them all. You can mix them. For example, the drums can do a funk beat, and you can mix in a violin doing gypsy for part of the song. You don't need realtracks, but they play very real. Midi is still very viable with today's VSTi's. It's not going anywhere.
  13. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    iRealB is good on a portable device like an iPad or something. It's good for having a portable band and its good for pulling up a chord chart in hurry.

    BIAB is useful in studying individual bass parts, piano voicings, solo transcriptions, horn line harmonies, etc...great learning tools, but maybe you don't need that?

    Definitely just get the bare bones pack first. You can decide whether you need that extra stuff once you get going with it for a couple years.

  14. Yeah ok you got me there, I didn't really think of that, but you're right.

    Looking at it, I probably will go for BIAB, simply because I want what I'm playing coming through on the same device through a DAW. There's nothing more frustrating than wires going everywhere and listening to two devices at once. If I had a mac, I'd take the cheaper route and go for irealb. But BIAB looks like the best of not very many options for a windows user.
  15. That'd be useful.

    Hell yes I do! I gotta long road to travel before I'm happy with where I'm at with my musical knowledge.
  16. Cycho


    Nov 30, 2010
    A friend and I use iRealB on iPad for practicing, performing, and sharing music (he plays guitar). Highly recommended. We can email songs to each other at practice before the first note is played! In a different band they use BIAB for arranging and printing music. I never used BIAB but that band seems to like it. I use Sibelius for composing. It's not that intuitive to me but I can use it.
  17. Yeah, I can see irealb is awesome, I just dont wanna shell out for an ipad. In saying that, it's gonna be expensive enough to shell out for BIAB.
  18. Kubicki440


    Feb 6, 2011

    I love this program as well.


    I was going to buy BIAB before I picked up a used Ipad earlier this year.
  19. And I could almost do so for the same price as BIAB. So has anyone tried both who could give me pros and cons?
  20. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    I have them both. iRealb will work fine on an older ipod - which you can get real cheap.
    You mentioned "Composition",
    BIAB is better for this.
    You get more styles, including rock
    You can drag tracks from BIAB to another DAW (like Reaper) and compose some fine arrangements.
    You may not need either, It's amazing what people can do just with regular plugins and a good DAW

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