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Band-in-a-Box® 2018 for Mac® User's Guide

Chapter 1: Welcome to Band-in-a-Box!

Congratulations on your purchase of Band-in-a-Box for Mac, the favorite of musicians, students, and songwriters everywhere.  Get ready to have fun!

What is Band-in-a-Box?

Band-in-a-Box is an intelligent automatic accompaniment program for your multimedia computer.

You can hear and play along to many song ideas and go from “nothing” to “something” in a very short period of time with Band-in-a-Box as your “on demand” backup band.

Band-in-a-Box is so easy to use!

Just type in the chords for any song using standard chord symbols (like C, Fm7, or C13b9), choose the style you’d like, and Band-in-a-Box does the rest, automatically generating a complete professional-quality arrangement of piano, bass, drums, guitar, and strings or horns in a wide variety of popular styles plus optional live audio tracks with RealDrums and RealTracks.

RealTracks are audio instruments that replace the MIDI track with actual recordings of top studio Jazz/Rock/Country musicians!  These are not “samples” of single instrument hits; they are full recordings, lasting from 1 to 8 bars at a time, playing along in perfect sync with the other Band-in-a-Box tracks.  We have a huge library of RealTracks available, including lots of Jazz, Rock, Blues, Country, Folk, and Bluegrass styles.

Best of all, you use these instruments like regular styles.  Many of them offer a “simpler” option that plays a less busy or embellished arrangement.  We include “Direct Input” (clean signal) guitar RealTracks so you can generate files with a clean guitar, and then, using your DAW (e.g. GarageBand), you can add custom amp and F/X settings using the AmpliTube CS guitar amp and effects simulator that is included. 

By simply choosing a RealStyle, you will hear your new or existing songs played by real instruments, with a dramatic improvement in sound and musicality.  You can even have your old MIDI styles automatically replaced with the equivalent RealStyle (if installed).  Moreover, the number of RealTracks and RealStyles keeps growing. 

Many of the RealTracks have RealCharts; this allows you to see notation and correct guitar fretboard display, a great help for learning to play from the masters performing on the RealTracks.

You can view and edit the Band-in-a-Box tracks in notation with optional Jazz chords and symbols.  In the Lead Sheet window, you can see multiple instrumental tracks or view all four parts of a harmony.  Print out your finished creation with lyrics and chords or save it as a PDF file to publish on the web or to e-mail to a friend.

MIDI SuperTracks combine the editing options of MIDI with the human element of RealTracks.  Instead of MIDI styles based on chord patterns, the MIDI SuperTracks are based on actual playing by studio musicians.

RealDrums replace the MIDI Drum track with actual recordings of top studio Jazz/Rock/Country drummers!  Again, these are not “samples” of single drum hits; they are full recordings, lasting from 1 to 8 bars at a time, playing along in perfect sync with the other Band-in-a-Box tracks.  Hundreds of RealDrums styles are available, and EZ selection of “DrumGrooves” lets you choose different grooves within drum styles.

For added versatility, you can add your own or 3rd party loops to any Band-in-a-Box track or add your favorite MIDITrack from any MIDI style to any track of your current song.  The Mixer window allows you to quickly set volumes, panning, reverb, tone, and patches.  The Mixer floats on top of the current window, so you can place it wherever it is convenient to make quick and easy adjustments to your Band-in-a-Box track settings.  It features a unique “Combo” slider for making changes to all tracks at once.

The amazing Audio Chord Wizard automatically figures out the chords from any audio file and imports the chords and audio to Band-in-a-Box.  Just load in any audio file and you will instantly see the chords in Band-in-a-Box.  The Audio Wizard also figures out tempo, bar lines, key and fine-tuning from the audio file. 

With the Direct Render to Disk feature, you can save your files directly as audio files (AIFF, M4A, WAV), for use in other programs (GarageBand, Cubase, etc.), or in Internet formats.

And much more…

System Requirements

  • Mac® OS X 10.6 or later, Intel processor
  • Minimum 512 MB RAM
  • Screen Resolution: 1024x768 or higher
  • Hard Disk space: Minimum 2 GB for the main Band-in-a-Box program.  More space is required for RealTracks, depending on which package you buy... - RealTracks & RealDrums: ~100-400 MB per set
    - Pro RealCombos: ~15 GB
    - MegaPAK RealCombos: ~30 GB
    - UltraPAK when installed to internal hard drive: ~120 GB
    - Hard drive versions do not require any hard disk space when run directly from the external hard drive they are
      shipped on.  A USB port is required.
  • Optical drive for the MegaPAK or Pro version shipped on disc.


Band-in-a-Box is available on discs (DVD-ROM) and for Internet download.  Premium versions are optionally available pre-installed on an external hard drive.  The hard drive version includes installation files that can also be installed to the Mac® HD.

The Band-in-a-Box program installs by default to its own Band-in-a-Box folder inside the /Applications folder.  Unless there is an important reason to install it to a different location, we suggest that you accept the default location.

The /Band-in-a-Box folder has a clean look with only one application file - Band-in-a-Box.  The rest of the files are in subfolders.

The folders include the Drums folder for RealDrums files and the RealTracks folder for RealTracks files.  If any of these folders is moved or the files are installed in a custom location, the new location must be entered in the RealDrums Settings dialog or the RealTracks Settings dialog so that Band-in-a-Box knows where to find them.

The Preferences you set in the program are saved in the Preferences folder, and this folder also has a file named Intrface.BBM with all the program settings including MIDI and audio driver setup.  If this file is removed to the trash the program will open like a new installation the next time it runs.  It will prompt for all initial setup selections.  This is useful as a “global reset” if there are system settings that have been changed by accident.

Band-in-a-Box External USB Hard Drive

Band-in-a-Box, RealTracks, and RealDrums are pre-installed on the portable hard drive.  You have three basic choices for how to run Band-in-a-Box.

1. Run Band-in-a-Box directly from hard drive.

You can run Band-in-a-Box directly from this hard drive, and not copy anything to your computer’s internal hard drive.  (0 GB disk space required.)

To do this, first run the “Band-in-a-Box Setup” installer located on the root level of the hard drive.  This will install the PG Music fonts on your computer, necessary for viewing the Notation Window.  You don’t need to select the option to install BIAB to your internal hard drive.

You can use Band-in-a-Box simply by double-clicking on the Band-in-a-Box application in the /Applications/Band-in-a-Box folder on this hard drive.  You can make an alias for it (+L) or add it to the dock if you wish.

2. Install only the Band-in-a-Box program to your computer.

You can install Band-in-a-Box on your computer’s hard drive but leave the RealTracks and RealDrums on the USB hard drive.  (20 GB free disk space required.)

To do this, run the “Band-in-a-Box Setup” installer located on the root level of the hard drive, and select the option to install BIAB to your internal hard drive.  Band-in-a-Box will be installed to the /Applications/Band-in-a-Box folder.  Note that you will need to specify a custom location in the RealTracks and RealDrums Settings dialogs within Band-in-a-Box - that is, point to the “Drums” and “RealTracks” folders in the Band-in-a-Box folder on the USB drive.

This choice is useful because it allows you to keep a backup of the factory Band-in-a-Box program files on the USB drive, but save space on your Mac® hard drive by not copying the “real files.”

3. Install the full program with RealTracks and RealDrums to your computer.

You can install Band-in-a-Box, RealTracks, and RealDrums on your computer’s hard drive, and leave the USB hard drive entirely for backup.  (About 120 GB free disk space required.)

To do this, run the “Band-in-a-Box Setup” installer located on the root level of the hard drive, and select the option to install BIAB to your internal hard drive.  Band-in-a-Box will be installed to the /Applications/Band-in-a-Box folder, like option #2.

You’ll then need to copy the RealTracks and Drums folders manually from the USB drive.  They aren’t installed automatically.  Note that you only need to copy those two folders - Drums, and RealTracks - nothing else.  The Band-in-a-Box Setup installer will have taken care of all the other files.

Note that copying the RealDrums and RealTracks to your Mac® hard drive may take 2 hours or longer to complete, depending on how fast your computer is, and requires over 120 GB of free hard disk space.

Using the USB Hard Drive

When you plug the hard drive into a USB port, it should be mounted on your desktop automatically.  Before disconnecting the drive, make sure to “eject” it first.  To do this, either drag the icon to the trash, or click on it and press +E.

The hard drive may have a “Y” cable with two USB connectors on one end.  The large connector is the main data connector and needs to be plugged in.  The smaller connector is for extra power, in case a single USB port on your computer doesn’t supply enough power for the drive.  If you are having trouble with the drive, and you have another empty USB port, plug that second cable in.


Band-in-a-Box automatically sets up to default settings that use the built-in Mac® audio input and output, and the Apple® DLS Music Device as the General MIDI synthesizer.  For many users, these settings do not need to change.

For users with more elaborate setups and additional outboard audio or MIDI equipment, Band-in-a-Box offers the ability to customize both audio and MIDI settings through the Apple® Audio MIDI Setup dialog and through its own dialogs.

MIDI and Audio Setup

The MIDI and audio settings for playing your music in Band-in-a-Box are made in the Options menu. 

MIDI Settings

The first item in this menu is MIDI Settings, but they may not require any changes.  We suggest that you start with the default settings and see the MIDI Setup section if you find that changes to MIDI channels, patches, volume levels or effects levels are needed.

Apple Audio Devices and MIDI Studio Setup

The Options | CoreMIDI Audio MIDI Setup menu item opens the Apple® Audio Devices and MIDI Studio dialogs, which control the system settings for audio and MIDI.

There are two separate windows for Audio Devices and MIDI Studio.

  Each window has its own Apple Help topic, which opens by clicking on the [?] button.

MIDI Drivers

Band-in-a-Box automatically detects the MIDI drivers installed in your system.  The Options | ***Select MIDI Driver or Apple DLS Synth menu command opens the MIDI Drivers dialog, which lists the drivers that have been detected.

Selecting “Apple DLS Synth” plays your MIDI tracks through the high quality built-in Apple® DLS Music Device, or software synthesizer.  No special configuration should be necessary.

“MacOS X CoreMIDI” lets you configure a custom setup with other software synths or external MIDI devices. 

The MIDI Setup chapter gives detailed instructions for your MIDI setup.

Select Ports / Instruments

When MacOS X CoreMIDI has been selected in the MIDI Drivers dialog (Options | **Select MIDI Driver or Apple DLS Synth) the Select Ports/Instruments dialog opens for your assignments.



See the detailed instructions and the tutorial in the CoreMIDI and Apple DLS Synth chapter.

When CoreMIDI has been selected as the MIDI driver, the selections in the Options menu change to provide access to CoreMIDI features.

CoreMIDI Audio MIDI Setup launches the Apple® Audio MIDI Setup dialog.

***CoreMIDI (choose ports) opens the Select Ports/Instruments dialog.

***Select MIDI Driver or Apple DLS Synth returns to the MIDI Drivers dialog.

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