Overview

In this tutorial we describe three methods you can use to render your Band-in-a-Box songs to wave. We also explain how you can convert the rendered wave file to a Windows Media Audio (.WMA) file or other compressed audio file format such as MP3, and how to burn songs to an audio CD that you can play in any CD player.

This is normally a straight forward process. The reason that we have included a lot of detail in this tutorial is because you have a few different options to render your songs to wave, and it is one of our most common technical support questions...

Click here if you would prefer less detail and want a quick and easy method.

Any Band-in-a-Box song can be easily converted to a wave file. A wave (.wav) file is an uncompressed audio file. The process of converting your Band-in-a-Box song to a wave file is referred to as "rendering". There are several reasons why you might want to render your song to wave. You may want to convert it to a compressed audio file format such as MP3 or WMA (more on this later), or you may want want to import the file into other wave editing software to work on it further. One popular reason to render songs to wave is to create an audio CD, since MIDI files and Band-in-a-Box songs cannot be used by themselves to burn a CD.

The first thing you should do is verify that you have the latest update patch installed for your version of Band-in-a-Box. You can find out what your exact version is by going to the Help menu and selecting About Band-in-a-Box. Download and install the latest update if you need to.

There are three different methods that you can use to render your songs to wave.

  1. You can record the Band-in-a-Box song in real time. This method...
    • Is possible with any version of Band-in-a-Box later than version 8.
    • Requires you to set your sound card's recording properties correctly.
    • Takes a relatively long time (as long as your song is).
    • Allows you to use any MIDI device, including an external synthesizer or sound module, as your sound source for the wave file.
    • Will automatically merge in an audio track (ex. vocals) if you have recorded one with your song.
    • Allows you to convert the rendered wave file into a .WMA or .MP3 file, or use the wave file to burn an audio CD.
  2. You can "Direct Render" the song to wave using a DXi synth. This method...
    • Is possible with Band-in-a-Box 2004 or higher.
    • Does not require you to set up any recording properties.
    • Is very fast, usually completing in seconds.
    • Requires that you have a DXi synth installed on your computer and selected for playback. The Roland VSC-DXi is an example of a DXi synth that you can use.
    • Requires you to use the DXi synth as your sound source for the wave file.
    • Will automatically merge in an audio track (ex. vocals) if you have recorded one with your song.
    • Allows you to convert the rendered wave file into a .WMA or .MP3 file, or use the wave file to burn an audio CD.
  3. You can "Direct Render" the song to wave using the Roland VSC-3 (OLDER STAND-ALONE VSC VERSION). This method...
    • Is rarely used anymore because the DXi-Direct Render is better.
    • Is possible with Band-in-a-Box 11 to 2009.
    • Does not require you to set up any recording properties.
    • Is quite fast - the conversion is usually completed in around 20 seconds or so.
    • Requires you to have the Roland VSC-3 (stand-alone version) installed on your computer. The VSC-3 is compatible with Windows XP and earlier operating systems.
    • Requires an extra step to merge in an audio tracks (ex. vocals or RealTracks).
    • Requires you to use the Roland VSC-3 as your sound source for the wave file.
    • Allows you to convert the rendered wave file into a .WMA file or burn an audio CD.

Rendering to WAV by recording your Band-in-a-Box songs in real-time

This process is similar to normal audio recording, except that you aren't recording from an input source of a microphone or line in (except if you are using an external synth or module as your sound source). Instead, you are recording the output of the MIDI as it goes out your sound card to your speakers.

  1. Before starting, check to see what you are using as your MIDI Output Driver by going to Opt. | MIDI Driver Setup. This affects what recording input you will be selecting in the next step. Note that if you are using a DXi synth, you would use the DXi-Direct Render method of rendering to wave.
  2. Open the 'Render to Audio File' dialog by pressing the [.WAV] button on the main toolbar, or by selecting 'Render MIDI to Stereo WAV File' from the Audio menu. If you want a recorded audio track to be merged with the rendered wave file, make sure that "Merge in Audio Track" is selected.
  3. Click on the [Set Recording Properties] button. This should open the Record Control panel of your Windows sound card mixer. **It is important that you select the correct recording input here, or else nothing will be recorded and you will end up with a silent wave file. This is the most common mistake made.** Exactly what you see in your Record Control panel will depend on what type of sound card you have. Based on what you are using as your MIDI device, select one of the following:
    • If you are using your sound card's "built-in" synth as your MIDI driver, select MIDI. If you don't see MIDI, look for one of the following: Synth, Synthesizer, FM Synth, Stereo Mix, Stereo Out, Wave-Out, What you hear,or Mixed Output. If you do not see any of those, go to the Options | Properties. At the bottom where it says "Show the Following Volume Controls" make sure one of the items mentioned above is selected, then click OK. You should now see it on the Record Control panel.
    • If you are using a software synthesizer such as the Roland VSC or Microsoft GS Wavetable as your MIDI output driver, select WAV. If you don't see WAV, look for one of the other items listed above.
    • If you are using an external MIDI synthesizer or sound module as your MIDI device, you will need to use audio cables to connect it to the line-in of your sound card. Then, in the Record Control, select Line-in.
  4. Press the [Re-Render to WAV File] button. A dialog will pop up indicating that the rendering is proceeding. You can STOP this at any time, and if you stop it early you'll be able to listen to the portion of the file rendered. To convert your entire song to wave though, you'll need to let your song play all the way through. When the render is finished, a message will pop up indicating the name and size of the saved file.

    By default, the rendered file will have the same file name as your song followed by the word "_Render", and it will be saved in the same folder as your Band-in-a-Box song. If your Band-in-a-Box song is called "My First Song", the rendered wave file will be called "My First Song_Render.wav" The rendered wave files are named like this so you can easily identify them. You can choose a different name for the file before rendering by clicking on the [Choose] button at the top of the dialog. You can also rename the file afterwards, but don't call it "My First Song.wav" since that would be the name of the audio track wave file associated with your song.
  5. Press the [Test WAV] button located directly to the right of the [Re-Render to WAV file] button. This uses Windows Media Player (MPLAYER.EXE) to play the wave file, which allows you to ensure that the MIDI was recorded, the volume levels are correct, and that the volume of the audio track (if any) is in balance with the MIDI track. If you find that the rendered wave file is too quiet or is distorted, adjust the level in the Record Control window and re-render the wave file. If the audio track Volume isn't in balance with the MIDI tracks, adjust the relative level of the audio track using the "Adjust Audio Track Volume by..." setting and re-render the wave file. For example, a setting of 6 dB would make the audio track twice as loud.

You will now have rendered a stereo 44K wave file with the name "xxx_Render.wav", where xxx is the file name of your song. This file can be read directly into other programs, converted to a compressed audio format, or used to burn an audio CD.

Note: If pressing the [Test WAV] button does not launch Windows Media Player, you can either test the wave file by playing it with any other media player (outside of Band-in-a-Box), or correct the problem by downloading and installing the latest version of Windows Media Player from Microsoft's website.

Direct rendering to wave using a DXi synth

Direct-to-disk Rendering is convenient because it does not involve recording your song in real time. Instead, this process converts your entire song to wave very quickly using the high quality sounds of the VSC (usually within seconds, depending on the length of your song and speed of your computer).

If you are using a DXi synth for playback, this is most likely the best way to convert your song to wave. The advantages of using this method are that it uses the high quality sounds of your preferred DXi synth (including the VSC-DXi), automatically merges in any RealTracks or audio track you have recorded, requires fewer steps, and usually takes only a few seconds.

Note: To be able to do this, you must have a DXi synth installed on your computer - this could be the VSC-DXi that is bundled with Band-in-a-Box, or any number of other third party DXi synths. You also need to have 'Use Dxi Synth' selected in the Opt. | MIDI Driver Setup dialog, and have your DXi synth selected in the DirectX Window ([DXi Synth Settings] button).

  1. Open the 'Render to Audio File' dialog by pressing the [.WAV] button in the main Band-in-a-Box toolbar, or by selecting 'Render MIDI to Stereo WAV File' from the Audio menu. If you want a recorded audio track to be merged with the rendered wave file, make sure that "Merge in Audio Track" is selected.
  2. Press the [DXi-Direct Render (save WAV file)] button. Rendering will proceed, and the main Band-in-a-Box title bar at the top of your screen will indicate the progress. When the rendering is finished, a message will pop up indicating the name and size of the saved file.

    By default, the rendered file will have the same file name as your song followed by the word "_Render", and it will be saved in the same folder as your Band-in-a-Box song. If your Band-in-a-Box song is called "My First Song", the rendered wave file will be called "My First Song_Render.wav" The rendered wave files are named like this so you can easily identify them. You can choose a different name for the file before rendering by clicking on the [Choose] button at the top of the dialog. You can also rename the file afterwards, but don't call it "My First Song.wav" since that would be the name of the audio track wave file associated with your song.
  3. Press the [Test WAV] button directly to the right of the [DXi - Direct Render(save WAV file)] button. This will allow you to play your WAV file with Windows Media player to make sure that the conversion to wave was successful. If the audio track or RealTracks Volume isn't in balance with the MIDI tracks, adjust the relative level of the audio track using the "Adjust Audio Track Volume by..." setting and re-render the wave file. For example, a setting of 6 dB would make the audio track twice as loud.

You have now rendered a wave file with the name "xxx_Render.wav", where xxx is the file name of your Band-in-a-Box song. This file can be read directly into other programs, converted to Windows Media Audio format, or used to burn an audio CD.

Note: If pressing the [Test WAV] button does not launch Windows Media Player, you can either test the wave file by playing it with any other media player (outside of Band-in-a-Box), or correct the problem by downloading and installing the latest version of Windows Media Player from Microsoft's website.

Direct rendering your song to wave using the VSC3 (older stand-alone VSC version)

This method is rarely used anymore, because the DXi-Direct Render is easier and better. In addition, the VSC-DXi is recommended over the stand-alone VSC version for a number of different reasons.

To use Direct Rendering with the Roland VSC, make sure you have installed the Roland VSC-3, included with Band-in-a-Box. If the Roland VSC is installed on your computer, you'll see it listed as one of your output drivers in Opt. | MIDI Driver Setup. The VSC3 is not installed be default with newer Band-in-a-Box versions, however the setup files are included in the \bb\vsc folder if you really want to install it. It will work on Windows XP and earlier operating systems.

  1. Open the 'Render to Audio File' dialog by pressing the [.WAV] button in the main Band-in-a-Box toolbar, or by selecting 'Render MIDI to Stereo WAV File' from the Audio menu.
  2. Press the [Render (Save WAV) w/Roland VSC3...] button. This will launch the main VSC panel. If the Player window is not showing, press the [Player] button.
  3. Press the [Audio Conv] button. This will open the File - Save dialog. You need to choose a location and file name for your rendered wave file. By default, the rendered file will have the same file name as your song, followed by "_VSC3". If your Band-in-a-Box song is called "My First Song", the rendered wave file will be called "My First Song_VSC3.wav" The Rendered WAV files are named like this so you can easily identify them. You can also choose the File Format for the rendered wave file to be saved as; 44/16 is CD quality and is probably a good choice. Once you have done this, press [Save]. Rendering will proceed and you will see a progress bar advancing across the screen. When it's finished, you can close the VSC window.
  4. If you had recorded an audio track with your song (for example, a vocal track), you can now merge in this track by pressing the [Merge Aud.] button. You will need to select the rendered wave file from the File - Open dialog. This is the file that you saved in step 3 - ie. My First Song_VSC.wav. You will be asked to type in an offset in ms. You can normally accept the default here, although you may need to adjust this if you find that the audio track is out of sync with the Band-in-a-Box accompaniment tracks in the rendered wave file. If you need to adjust this, you will need to render your wave file again. If the audio track Volume isn't in balance with the MIDI tracks, you will need to adjust the relative level of the audio track using the "Adjust Audio Track Volume by..." setting and re-render the wave file. For example, a setting of 6 dB would make the audio track twice as loud.
  5. You should now test the wave file. Press the [Test WAV] button to the right of the [Render (Save WAV) w/Roland VSC...] button, and locate the rendered wave file (ie. My First Song_VSC3.WAV). This will allow you to play your WAV file with Windows Media Player to make sure that the conversion to wave was successful.

You have now rendered wave file with the name "xxx_VSC3.wav", where xxx is the file name of your song. This file can be read directly into other programs, converted to a Windows Media Audio format, or used to burn an audio CD.

Note: If pressing the [Test WAV] button does not launch Windows Media Player, you can either test the wave file by playing it with any other media player (outside of Band-in-a-Box), or correct the problem by downloading and installing the latest version of Windows Media Player from Microsoft's website.

Converting the rendered wave file into a Windows Media Audio (.wma) file or other compressed audio file format such as .mp3

  • If you want to convert the wave file to Windows Media Format (WMA), press the [Save in Windows Media Format] button. Recent versions of Band-in-a-Box set up the exact wma format automatically and there is nothing further you need to do. Some earlier versions of Band-in-a-Box will launch the 'Convert to WMA' window. From this window, you can choose the type of compression you would like by selecting it from the 'Quality' pull-down menu. Once you have done this, press the [Encode WAV to WMA] button. The .WMA file will be saved in the same location as your rendered wave file, and with the same name, except it will have the .WMA file extension. For example, "My First Song_Render.WMA"
  • If you want to convert the wave file to a different compressed audio file format such as MP3, press the [Save in other Audio Format] button. Band-in-a-Box will launch the Windows Audio Compression Manager applet (ACM Drivers). This is the same Windows dialog that launches from the Sound Recorder - File | Properties | Convert option. From this dialog, you can choose the type of compression that is appropriate (from the available drivers). You can save your settings as named presets by using the "Save As" button. For example, if you choose Microsoft ADPCM as the compression method, and choose 44K, you'll get a 4:1 compression and a bit rate of 43K / second. You can save this as a preset called "MS ADPCM44K" or whatever name you like. If you would like to save your rendered file as an MP3 file, you would choose "MPEG Layer-3" from the 'Format' pull-down menu. Once you have done this, press the [OK] button. The compressed audio file will be saved in the same location as your song and rendered wave file, and with the same name followed by the word "compressed" - for example,"My First Song_Render Compressed"

    Note 1: If you used the Direct Render with Roland VSC3 (stand-alone version) method to render your song, you will not be able to use the 'Save in other Audio format' feature.

    Note 2: If you get a "Driver cannot do requested conversion" error when trying to encode an MP3 file, this suggests that your computer does not have an ACM (Audio Compression Manager) compatible MP3 codec installed. Band-in-a-Box uses the Windows Audio Compression Manager functions to compress files. The types of files and bitrates that Band-in-a-Box can encode depends on the codecs you have installed on your computer. On Windows XP, you can check to see if you have an MP3 codec by going to Control Panel | Sounds and Audio Devices | Hardware | Audio Codecs (Properties) | Properties. On Windows Vista/7, try going to Help | About | Technical Support Information in Windows Media Player. Look to see if there is an "MPEG Layer-3" codec listed there. Also (on Windows XP), select it, click on Properties, and check to see that it isn't a "decode-only" codec. If you don't see an MP3 codec there, or if it is a decode-only codec, PowerTracks won't be able to encode MP3s.

    To solve the problem: Due to licensing restrictions and patents on MP3 technology, we can't include MP3 codecs with our software. There are a couple possible solutions - (1) The latest version of Windows Media Player includes an ACM-compatible MP3 codec, l3codecp.acm, which you should find in your Windows\System32 directory, and it can encode MP3's at high bitrates. This codec may or may not be enabled on your computer though. Or, (2) Search online for an MP3 codec that you can download and install. Or, (3) Save your file as a stereo wave file and do the conversion from wave to MP3 in a third party program.

Using the rendered wave file to burn a CD

If you want to burn an audio CD, decide if you want to include only the one song on your CD, or if you want more than one song on the CD. If you want more than one song on your CD, render each of the songs to wave files. As you do this, take note of the names of the files, and where they are being saved.

Your computer needs to have a CD burner (most modern computers do), and you need to have a recordable CD (CD-R). You will also need to have a CD burning application installed on your computer. Most likely, your computer or CD burner came with one. There are a variety of third party CD burning applications available. We also include a simple CD burning application with Band-in-a-Box (Versions 10 or higher) called MINIBurn. You can use this application if you want to do all of your work without leaving Band-in-a-Box. However, if your CD drive isn't recognized by MINIBurn, or if you want to use some more advanced features not avaible in MINIBurn, you will need to use your third party CD burning software. Make sure it is set to create an audio CD, and consult the documentation for that software for further help.

  1. Assuming that you want to use MINIBurn... Once you have all of the songs that you want included on your CD rendered to wave files, Press the [Burn to CD] button in the 'Render to Audio File' dialog. This is the button on the right hand side of the dialog. There is also a [Burn to Audio CD...] button that you could press (this button automatically adds the most recently rendered wave file to your burn list), but for the purposes of this tutorial, use the [Burn to CD] button. This will launch the MINIBurn application that is included with Band-in-a-Box, assuming that your computer has a compatible CD-R drive installed.
  2. Go to the File menu, and select Add Track (or press the [ADD] button in older versions of MINIBurn). Locate one of your rendered wave files and press Open. This will add the wave file to your "burn list". You can continue to add additional wave files to your burn list in this way.
  3. You will need to have a blank CD-R in your drive before proceeding. After choosing your preferred settings in the MINIBurn window (check the MINIBurn help for a detailed explanation of these), click on the [Burn CD + Finalize] button. The end result will be a CD that you should be able to play in any CD player. We recommend that you don't use the [Burn CD - no finalize] feature (if you want to burn one song at a time), as this isn't compatible with some newer CD drives and may create a corrupt CD.

Note: If MINIBurn reports that your CD burner is not compatible, or you get an error message indicating that there is a problem burning the CD, you may need to use a third party CD Burning application as discussed above. One other possibility is that permissions on Windows Vista or 7 prevented the MINIBurn program from running properly. Try: Right-clicking the file MINIBurn.exe (in your bb folder) and selecting 'Run As Admin'. Also, try right-clicking on MINIBurn.exe and selecting Properties | Compatibility -- WinXP compatibility mode.

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