Band-in-a-Box® vs. PowerTracks Pro Audio

The Peanuts or the Raisins? Band-in-a-Box® vs. PowerTracks Pro Audio

Last updated:  Tuesday, 13 October 2015

PG Music produces compositional software for musicians of diverse musical interests, backgrounds and levels of ability.

Determining which software package is going to best accommodate your needs can be difficult. In order to take some of the guesswork out of your decision, let's examine the key differences between the two most popular 'PG Music-making' programs - Band-in-a-Box® and PowerTracks Pro Audio.

Band-in-a-Box® has grown substantially in scope since it was first released some 15 years ago. However, the underlying goal of the program has always remained the same - to make computer music simple. The latest version of Band-in-a-Box® is one of the most straightforward, easy to use compositional programs currently on the market. Enter the chords to the song you are working on, select one of the built-in musical 'styles,' and press play. Voilà. The program automatically generates the accompaniment to your song with a wide assortment of MIDI instruments - drums, bass, piano, guitar, strings... the works.

Because Band-in-a-Box® is quick and painless (with it you can create music in a matter of minutes, literally) it is extremely useful for testing a variety of compositional ideas in a timely fashion. Try different styles; try different harmonies; let the computer generate a solo. Experiments of this sort only require a few seconds to run, and who knows? You might like the results so much that you incorporate them into the final version of your song. Band-in-a-Box® is also well-suited to practicing and to performing. Use it during a jamming session if one of your band members fails to appear. Sing and play your own parts overtop of the program, or mute one of the backup tracks if you want to play that part yourself. Watch the notes to a song appear on the built-in keyboard screen or guitar fret board screen if you're confused about fingering.

Whatever your musical history and slant, if you're looking for a professional music software package that's powerful, flexible and fun, Band-in-a-Box® is for you.

PowerTracks Pro Audio, by comparison, is a fully-featured MIDI and digital audio sequencer and multitracker. Unlike Band-in-a-Box®, you do not create music in PowerTracks by typing in the chords to a song. Rather, you 'layer' tracks of MIDI and digital audio, each of which must be recorded from scratch. This takes longer, but in exchange you have much more control over the nuances of your music. (Band-in-a-Box® does not allow you to edit the individual events of the accompaniment tracks. This is because the program generates the accompaniment for you, and it is different every time you play your song.)

PowerTracks also comes loaded with a host of effects to help you put the subtle, finishing touches on your work. Use a bit of reverb to create a 'spacious' feel; add some chorus and distortion to enhance the 'grind' of your guitar tracks; fiddle with the compressor to give your drums that extra 'punch.' PowerTracks (and patience) are all you need to infuse your songs with a refined, 'studio' feel.

The Peanuts, or the Raisins? Do you want a program that will help you with composing your music, or with mastering it? Band-in-a-Box® is the perfect starting point for a song - the canvas where you can try your ideas - and PowerTracks is ideal for polishing.

Of course, this doesn't need to be an either / or decision. In fact Band-in-a-Box® and PowerTracks compliment each other extremely well. Once you've put the framework of a song together in Band-in-a-Box® you can, with the click of a button, convert it to a General MIDI file. This file can, in turn, be imported into PowerTracks where you can edit it in greater depth. If you're serious about using your computer as an end-to-end music production studio, you'll likely find both programs indispensable. PowerTracks is the perfect MIDI / Digital Audio companion to Band-in-a-Box®.

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