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#22215 - 05/04/09 01:10 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Sound expectations
Sue Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 8
I am really a newbie here, so apologies in advance. I have had biab for a year on my laptop (that belongs to my school district) with windows xp and really like the idea of it. However, the sound quality is making me crazy. It sounds tinny to me. When I listen to recordings that people have made it sounds pretty good. So, is it my speakers, the sound card or something I don't know about? I googled biab songs and found people selling versions of songs I want to do (I am currently working on a version of "let's go to the hop"), but is that necessary for me to spend more money on songs? The verision of biab that I bought a year ago has LOTS of different styles.

I did call the help phone number awhile ago and the guy had me change something on my laptop-it was apparently only using the basic sound card that came with the laptop. But, even with this change, it still sounds kind of crummy to me.

Thanks,
Sue

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#22216 - 05/04/09 03:21 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Sue]
Jazzman Offline
Expert

Registered: 01/10/02
Posts: 1446
Loc: UK
Hi Sue.

You can improve things a lot

It is not BIAB as it has no sound source so it is a combination of the laptops soundcard and speakers

The small laptop speakers do not give you a quality audio sound

To keep the cost down install a soft synth like specifically VSC DXi (on some of the BIAB disc's) or Forte Coyote (also available from PG Music) for a better sound source plus some good external speakers like Bose - Soundblaster etc

Although the soft synth uses the soundcard to transport the sound the soft synth by-passes the in-built soundcard sounds

jazzman
_________________________
BIAB - RealBand - 2018
Windows 10 64

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#22217 - 05/04/09 07:21 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Jazzman]
John Conley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/28/03
Posts: 8333
Loc: London, Ontario, Canada
I'd try the Dxi synth (check the box in Opts -- Midi) and use a good set of headphones. I think that will give you an idea.

There is a dare to compare here on the pg website with various options availaibe to 'test drive'.

I re-iterate as was said above, the program has no sounds of it's own, unless you are using Realtracks. The midi is just music instructions to a midi intepreter, and those range in cost a lot.

A lot of websites have tunes available for free.

Others cost you a few more dollars. At the hop should be on the latest fake book I got backing tracks from Notes Norton, and I bought the book (mostly 60's stuff) from Amazon for $15, came the next day.

BTW, that book was $45 at the local music store.
_________________________
John Conley
Musica est vita

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#22218 - 05/05/09 03:53 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: John Conley]
Shastastan Offline
Expert

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 1252
Loc: CA
Sue. I have a little Roland cm-30 monitor cube. You can run a cable from your laptop to it and the sound is really improved. It's small enough to cart around and would work just fine in a classroom. We play in my daughter's class room and also retirement homes with it. You can use a mp3 player with it as well and/or a boombox.
_________________________
Cornet Curmudgeon

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#22219 - 05/05/09 11:31 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Shastastan]
Danny C. Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/18/04
Posts: 6444
Loc: South Louisiana
Sue,

Have you tried earphones with the laptop? At least this will get you away from those little speakers. And for what it is worth every recording now on my site has come from my laptop played right into a Boss 1180 recorder. Also I have used a few different laptops for live gigs (still use an old IBM Thinkpad) plugged right from earphone jack to PA and I am very satisfied with the sound. My bet is that it is just those tiny no range speakers on the computer.

Later,
_________________________
Danny C.
www.dannycampo.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Danny-Campo/379776252109306?skip_nax_wizard=true

The More You Drink The Better I Sound

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#22220 - 05/05/09 11:31 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Shastastan]
Gary Curran Offline
Veteran

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 10059
Loc: Poulsbo, Wa 98370
Hi Sue,
Welcome to our forums, and welcome to the exciting world of possibilities from Band In A Box. Do I sound like a commercial? Whoa! Long day.

There are a number of solutions, but mainly your best sound is going to come from your synthesizer. Ahhhh, and you're going 'But I don't have a synthesizer!' Ahhh, yes you do!

Synthesizers are simply devices that create sound, in something that we would consider musical. Many are hardware, some, and in increasing numbers, are software, and reside in your computer. A software program like the Coyote Forte or some other 'software synthesizer' and a good sound card will give you a solution.

Unfortunately, most laptops don't have good sound cards. Enough to let you hear the bleeps, bloops, and blops of your operating system, and even some mp3s or such, but not a very high quality. You can buy an external sound card, or even a sound card that will fit in the PCMCIA slot on the side of your computer, which is a marked improvement over what is in there.

However, the old adage, 'You get what you pay for' especially is true when it comes to making music. While the Coyote Forte isn't bad, it doesn't stand up to a good hardware synth. There are some fantastic software synths available, but you either have to pay a goodly amount of money for them, or they are dedicated to a particular instrument, like the Native Instruments B4, or they have a limited number of sounds, like the Native Instruments Bandstand, which may not even be available any more.

I always recommend a hardware synth first, and then if the budget or other requirements prevent that from happening, then I'll revert to a software synth.

My first recommendation is to figure out if you want just to play back sounds, or do you want to play along with them on a keyboard? You can purchase a relatively inexpensive, but good sounding keyboard from Yamaha.

The PSR-E413: http://keyboards-midi.musiciansfriend.com/product/Yamaha-PSRE413-61-KEY-PORTABLE-KEYBOARD?sku=706168

The PSR-S550B: http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PSRS550BK/

Now, the first one is <$300, and the second is >$700. There is a difference in the sound quality, and you may be thinking I'm nuts to say 'relatively inexpensive.' Just so you know that I'm not.

The Yamaha Tyros 3: http://www.music-tyros.com/en/audio/index.html
http://keyboards-midi.musiciansfriend.com/product/Yamaha-TYROS-3-ARRANGER-WORKSTATION?sku=241895

These are all 61 key 'home' keyboards, or at least 'Arranger' keyboards. My my, we have come a ways since those one finger chords of the 80's!

Now, even $4,000 is a bit out of my range, but you have choices. All of this is if you want a keyboard to play along with the song.

If you don't want a keyboard, there are synth 'modules', which are smaller, stand alone devices which you can plug in a USB cable, or USB to MIDI Adapter, and play there. There are some of those, too, and PG Music currently carries two of them. The current top favorite among those who have heard it, or tried it, is:

The Ketron SD2: http://www.pgmusic.com/ketronsd2.htm
You can hear demos of it here: http://www.ketronus.com/demos.php Scroll down and you can see that the SD2, 3, 4 and SD5 all use the same 'sound engine' so they should be the same. Play the SD2 Slow Swing demo with a good pair of headphones or speakers to hear what you can get for less than $400. Remember, all those sounds come out of that tiny little module.

You can also, for $100 less, get the Roland SD-20 Studio Canvas: http://www.pgmusic.com/sd20.htm

Finally, after all of that, if you buy a module, you will need a good pair of speakers, since they won't use the computer speakers. I don't recommend getting computer speakers, but there are various small systems that you could get that would suit the bill. You could even plug it into your home stereo system, if you have a Tape In or Aux in that you're not using. Depending on the stereo, of course, will decide what kind of sound you're going to get out of it. But, you can purchase dedicate studio monitors from $100 for a pair (blech) to several thousand dollars a piece (heart attack!) For serious music making, editing, recording and mixing, you're probably going to spend in the neighborhood of $300-$400 for a good starter system

You may be able to get by with something like these, for under $200
Edirol (the same company as Roland) http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/pro...Pair?sku=603678

I use the first generation of the Rokit RP5's, and am very happy with them.
http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/KRK-Rokit-Powered-5-Generation-2?sku=482825

Mackie has gotten into the 'low end' of the spectrum, but if these are anything like their other product, they'll be a great sound. Less than $400 for the pair.
http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Mackie-MR5-Active-Studio-Monitor?sku=603999

I hope that I haven't given you sticker shock, or scared you off. What I've given you is a range of choices to consider. Your Band In A Box songs can come alive, given the right sound source. But, without the sounds being of a better quality, the songs, no matter how well done, will sound like a three year old on a 'tink tink' piano. If you wish to step up to the Real Instruments of the latest Band In A Box, you're also going to need a better sound device (NOT a synth, a way to get the sound in and out of the computer!) and possibly a small mixer.

As I said earlier, you get what you pay for, and unfortunately, music isn't an inexpensive hobby.

Best to you, and we're here to help in any way that we can.

Regards,

Gary
_________________________
Music touches everyone, and everyone can touch music, if they wish.

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#22221 - 05/06/09 11:44 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Gary Curran]
Robh Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 4166
Loc: California
All the advise is good so far, but i feel we are shooting in the dark. What speakers are you talking about, what site are you getting BiaB songs from, and What venue are you wanting it to sound good for?
_________________________
Toshiba dual core Win 7 8 gig ram, BiaB, Realband, Studio one Professional, Melodyne, Gibson S-1, Carvin 980 Cobalt acoustic, Ovation legend 12 string, jazz bass clone, Fender Mustang III amp, Presonus Audiobox 1818VSL interface, TC Helicon voiceworks.

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#22222 - 05/06/09 12:06 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Robh]
Mac Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/29/00
Posts: 38502
Loc: Chesapeake, Virginia USA
I'm wondering if "Sue" is even still around...
_________________________
PGmusic FAQs, Tutorials and Updates! click here

You must be Audiominds.
www.audiominds.com

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#22223 - 05/06/09 02:23 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Mac]
Gary Curran Offline
Veteran

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 10059
Loc: Poulsbo, Wa 98370
She only posted her question three days ago, Mac. Or, am I too sleepy this morning to notice a pun?

Gary
_________________________
Music touches everyone, and everyone can touch music, if they wish.

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#22224 - 05/06/09 03:32 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Mac]
Danny C. Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/18/04
Posts: 6444
Loc: South Louisiana
Quote:

I'm wondering if "Sue" is even still around...




I don't think it was a pun, cause if it was, he would have said it might be "Run Around Sue". I just ducked!

Later,
_________________________
Danny C.
www.dannycampo.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Danny-Campo/379776252109306?skip_nax_wizard=true

The More You Drink The Better I Sound

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#22225 - 05/06/09 04:39 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Danny C.]
Shastastan Offline
Expert

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 1252
Loc: CA
Well, even if "Sue" isn't around, This infor was very educational and helpful to me. THANKS A HEAP!

Stan
_________________________
Cornet Curmudgeon

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#22226 - 05/12/09 01:31 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Shastastan]
Sue Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 8
Yep I'm still around. I'm kinda feeling like I was looking into the ocean and realized it was WAY deeper than I had thought. I've been very impressed (and I am picky)by the music I've heard different people's web pages and that has encouraged me to keep going with this!

So. I have purchased the "At the Hop" from Norton music (sorry, may have the name wrong). Put it on the laptop, good so far.

Now, for more questions.

1. The style: when I put this on a cd (in a very roundabout way) and listened to it, I thought that it didn't sound very 50's rock n roll. More like a jazz trio. Then I realized that I had been playing with style the other day and used the Jazz trio style. Is there a way to NOT use a style and if not (which I think is the case) how do you make it like the one I heard and bought?

2. I will need to cut and paste-is that kind of easy in biab? I am used to taking music, dumping it in garageband on my mac (biab is on my pc laptop) and messing with it there. Seems silly to make extra steps. And does it matter what I use to burn the cd that I will be making?

3. Can I record my playing the melody on my keyboard or little midi keyboard? Now, will I need to download (and buy) one of the "soft synth" that you talked about above to make it so I can record without time delays? (I spent a really nutty hour listening to all the samples-I had 3 favorites at the end-they all had something that made me crazy).

4. Is there somewhere that can help me figure out the hierarchy of soft synth, arrangers and everything else. I'm feeling overwhelmed.

5. To change key, do you just change all the chords, or is it possible to change the whole thing at once?

Thank you, thank you,

Sue (not runaround-although I do teach in 6 schools....)

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#22227 - 05/12/09 10:12 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Sue]
John Conley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/28/03
Posts: 8333
Loc: London, Ontario, Canada
Mr. Norton makes good arrangements but often uses his own styles.

The system was at first very jazz oriented, and has a default that says if the style is not found, load zzjazz as the style.

Below the song picker click on the styles button. Note that styles will have symbols beside them, and when you go to Rock, some will have an asterix beside them. The system is determining the beats per minute and type of style you should try. You can then audition numerous styles.

There is, on the main screen a small box that shows the key that the song is using. You can click on that, and it will drop down, and you can choose any key you want. It will then globally change all the keys to whatever you pick, but you can change this over and over.

I'd suggest working through the videos that can be viewed either with you software or online to get into the program a bit more, or to get your feet wet.

The school board here provided the software to many of the primary schools, and most have it sitting on the shelf for lack of training and the time to get the program working.

I constantly exhort PG music to address this issue with a closer tie to primary school music programs by providing specific songs and how to use the software in a school based setting. Hopefully..one day.
_________________________
John Conley
Musica est vita

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#22228 - 05/12/09 06:14 PM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Sue]
Gary Curran Offline
Veteran

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 10059
Loc: Poulsbo, Wa 98370
Quote:

Yep I'm still around. I'm kinda feeling like I was looking into the ocean and realized it was WAY deeper than I had thought. I've been very impressed (and I am picky)by the music I've heard different people's web pages and that has encouraged me to keep going with this!

So. I have purchased the "At the Hop" from Norton music (sorry, may have the name wrong). Put it on the laptop, good so far.

Now, for more questions.

1. The style: when I put this on a cd (in a very roundabout way) and listened to it, I thought that it didn't sound very 50's rock n roll. More like a jazz trio. Then I realized that I had been playing with style the other day and used the Jazz trio style. Is there a way to NOT use a style and if not (which I think is the case) how do you make it like the one I heard and bought?




As John said, Bob 'Notes' Norton sells primarily styles, and those styles can be loaded into the BIAB directory. He has very good instructions on how to do it. Once you select the song you want, you must select the style. Depending on what styles you've bought, or what version of BIAB that you've bought (Mega and Ultra Paks have all the styles available), you could have literally thousands of styles to choose from. Bob also offers some styles that are particular to a specific song, instead of being a generic style. Often, those are under the Hawksford styles he has.

Quote:

2. I will need to cut and paste-is that kind of easy in biab? I am used to taking music, dumping it in garageband on my mac (biab is on my pc laptop) and messing with it there. Seems silly to make extra steps. And does it matter what I use to burn the cd that I will be making?




You can export any BIAB file as a MIDI, or .mid file, which you should be able to open in Garageband. BIAB has an editor for the melody part. However, the backing tracks will differ each time you press Play, since they are generated new each time you play the song. That way, you don't get the same sound every time. Exporting to a sequencer is the only way to 'lock' the song in one form or another.

Quote:

3. Can I record my playing the melody on my keyboard or little midi keyboard? Now, will I need to download (and buy) one of the "soft synth" that you talked about above to make it so I can record without time delays? (I spent a really nutty hour listening to all the samples-I had 3 favorites at the end-they all had something that made me crazy).




Yes, you can play your MIDI keyboard into Band In A Box, and using 'ASIO' drivers for your sound card, can play the software synths in real time. These would be the DXi or VSTi software synths. However, this is also why I suggested the Ketron SD2, since the sound is much better than most of the inexpensive Soft Synths.

Quote:

4. Is there somewhere that can help me figure out the hierarchy of soft synth, arrangers and everything else. I'm feeling overwhelmed.




Not really. You find what you like best, for your purposes, and use that. Lot of trial and error. A lot of it depends on what you want to do, and what kind of music you want to make. Since you already have a keyboard, you can skip all the hardware synths with keyboards, and go to something like a module, or a software synth. That should save you quite a bit of time looking, at least for now. One of the biggest recommendations I can make, however, is that you find something that is General MIDI capable. Most of the Soft Synths you've listened to are. But, you can also get soft synths like the Garritan Personal Orchestra or Garritan Jazz and Big Band, which are not. However, those are still very useful and fabulous sounding software synths. If you try to play a standard SMF file, i.e. a midi file based on a General MIDI sound set, it's going to sound like...well, just wrong. It's a trade off on what you want, what you need, and how much you want to spend.

Quote:

5. To change key, do you just change all the chords, or is it possible to change the whole thing at once?




You can change the key from a drop down menu on the tool bar.

Quote:

Thank you, thank you,




You're welcome, you're welcome

Quote:

Sue (not runaround-although I do teach in 6 schools....)


_________________________
Music touches everyone, and everyone can touch music, if they wish.

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#22229 - 05/21/09 10:04 AM [Band-in-a-Box for Windows] Re: Sound expectations [Re: Gary Curran]
Sue Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 8
Thanks very much for your great advice-project finished! Now a class of 1st graders has their accompaniment to their song they wrote about water (to the tune "At the Hop"). Ah, the life of a music teacher.

I have a Yamaha psr 350 but I couldn't get my dell laptop to recognize it. So I took the biab file (as a midi file) over to garageband on my imac and recorded the melody line using it. I have a m-audio key rig 49 and my laptop recognizes it (wait, maybe that is only in Sibelius, which I also use). Anyway, any hints on how to get my laptop to recognize the psr 350 keyboard?

Sue

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Beginners Forum - Exporting to a .MID File

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