Band-in-a-Box® 2020 for Windows® User's Guide
You can open an audio file by clicking the [Open] toolbar button and selecting Open Audio (wav, wma, mp3, wmv, cda) from the pulldown menu.
Audio files can also be opened from the File menu with the command Open Special | Open Audio (WAV, WMA, MP3, WMV, CDA). Open an MP3/WAV/WMA or audio CD track, and play back at 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8 speed. This is great for transcribing or analyzing audio.
If you load in an audio song (WAV file, MP3), when the song plays you can:
- Change the tempo of the audio to slow/speed up the song.
- Press Ctrl+[-] for half speed, Ctrl+[=] for full speed.
- Highlight an area in the Audio Edit window and press [Loop Selected Area]. This will loop the audio.
- Use the Audio | Set Audio Master (Base) Tempo menu item to ensure that tempo stretches are based on correct master tempo.
These features are useful as an aid for transcription.
If MySong.MGU is loaded, and a same named audio file (MySong.WMA, MySong.MP3, MySong.WAV, etc.) is present, Band-in-a-Box will open the audio file to the Audio track.
This allows third parties to make audio files with chords in them, by making a MySong.MGU and MySong.MP3 pair of files, which will load into Band-in-a-Box yet will have the audio compressed to take up little disk space. For example, make a teaching set of trombone files for Band-in-a-Box, with audio trombone track, and Band-in-a-Box file with chords, all fitting in a small file size.
If you have an audio file that wasn’t recorded at a fixed tempo, you can change so that the tempos in the audio are all at the same. We call this an “equalization” of the tempos.
Open the Audio Edit Window, press the [Marker Mode] button, and select Audio Chord Wizard.
Set bar lines for the whole audio, and press the [Equalize Tempos] button.
Tip: Press the video button on the Audio Edit window toolbar to see how you can set bar lines
The Audio track includes only your live recording or the imported audio file, whereas the rendered audio file includes everything in the file: MIDI parts plus the Audio track.
Most types of audio files can be opened directly in Band-in-a-Box, but you may want to import an audio file into your Band-in-a-Box song. A Mono or Stereo audio file can be imported to the Audio track, optionally merging or replacing any existing Audio track. Most popular types of audio files are supported, including WAV, WMA, MP3, WMV, and CD audio.
Choose the menu item File | Import | Import Audio (WAV, WMA, MP3, WMV) or Audio | Import Audio (WAV, WMA, MP3, WMV…). You then choose an audio file to import. The Import Audio File dialog is then displayed, which allows selection of the point to insert the audio file, and whether to merge or overwrite existing audio in the range.
If the audio file contains Acid Loop or Apple® Loop information, the dialog shows an option to set the audio base tempo of the current song to the tempo of the audio file.
Using the Half-Speed Audio feature to help you transcribe a piece of music
Once you open the audio file, open the Audio Edit Window window and you can see the audio data on the track.
Choose “Half-speed tempo” (Ctrl+minus (-) hot key). Ctrl+equals (=) returns to normal tempo. (Use the Edit | Tempo menu for slower speeds like 1/4, 1/8.)
Highlight the range that you want to hear, and then press [Loop Selected Area].
You can then move around the window to play different sections as you transcribe the recording.
The Audio Offset feature allows you to synchronize any point of the audio file with bar 1 of the Band-in-a-Box song – usually to sync the audio file with the rest of the song.
Let’s say you have a home recording of a live performance of one of your songs, saved as a WAV file (or MP3/WMA). File | Open Special | Open Audio will load the song into Band-in-a-Box.
Now open the Audio Edit window, right-click where you would like to be considered bar 1 and select Mark this point as Bar 1 of the song from the menu.
Then, as the song is playing, use the tap tempo feature (the minus key, pressed 4 times in tempo) to set the tempo of the piece.
Your audio file will then start playing at bar 1 of the Band-in-a-Box song in sync with the audio starting at the place you have marked as bar 1, and the bars will be in sync (approximately in sync, they will drift as the tempo of your live performance varies.) You can put tempo changes on certain bars to keep it perfectly in sync if you want to.
Before you begin recording, you need to set the Recording Properties.
This tells your sound card (and Band-in-a-Box) what sources you would record from. You may be recording from a microphone or a line-in plug into your sound card. In that case, you need to have those items selected in the recording properties panel for your sound card.
Most sound cards are capable of recording from the following sources:
Microphone – plugged in to the sound card to record vocals or live instruments.
Line-In – from the Line-Out of a mixer or keyboard, or a guitar direct box.
CD-ROM player – to record the audio from an audio CD.
“What You Hear” or “Stereo Mix” is used if “rendering” the whole Band-in-a-Box song to Audio. This is an important point to understand when using audio in Band-in-a-Box: the soundcard should be capable of recording the outgoing MIDI that is being sent from your soundcard out to the speakers. When recording an audio track (vocals etc.), you’d almost never want to record the outgoing MIDI as well or it would get mixed in with the audio track. However, when rendering your whole composition to a single .WAV file to distribute on a CD or the Internet you always want to record the outgoing MIDI.
When you press the [Set Recording Properties] button, you will see the Sound settings for your computer. This is where you select your recording source.
The panel displayed here is for a typical Windows® 7 computer with an add-on sound card. Different makes and models may not look exactly like the example, but the basic layout and operation is the same. From this panel, you select the items you want to record. Let’s take the example of recording live with a microphone.
- We select the microphone as the recording device.
- In the [Properties], we can set the microphone level and other properties such as the sample rate and bit depth.
- Then, we test the level of the recording input for the microphone with the aid of the built-in VU meters in Band-in-a-Box.
These show the Record and Playback levels for audio, allowing adjustment of microphone and speaker levels.
The VU Meters will open automatically when the Record Audio dialog opens.
The VU Meters will close or stay open when the dialog is exited depending on the “Leave VU Meters open” setting in the Record Audio dialog.
The VU Meters show the average strength of the signal, with a dB scale, and a clip indicator. Clipping indicates that the signal has overloaded and will sound distorted (clipped).
The green area represents normal levels, while red indicates an overload.
Press the [Record Audio] button to start recording audio. The Record Audio dialog will open. This dialog displays the mono/stereo status of the recording.
If you want to change to/from stereo (to/from mono), press the [Audio Options] button in this dialog. The mono/stereo track status is also indicated on the Title bar at the top of the main screen.
Set the start point for the recording.
You can record from the Start of the song, somewhere in the middle, or punch in by choosing a bar and chorus # to start recording.
Also Record MIDI? If you also want to record MIDI at the same time, choose either “Also Record MIDI to Melody” or “Also Record MIDI to Soloist” option.
Punch-In Recording Punch-in audio recording allows you to punch-in record or overdub a section of audio. You can select a section to punch-in by highlighting it in the Audio Edit window. You can also hear the existing audio part when you are overdubbing. This is automatic.
Overdub underlying Audio If you have previously recorded audio on the track, and want to overdub (to add a harmony for example), then you should select the Overdub underlying Audio. It is not essential to select it at this point, since you will get another chance at the end of the recording. Note that the Audio track will not play during record, so you’d have to sing the harmony without hearing the original audio part.
Press [Record]. Audio recording begins. If you have set the “Show VU Meter while recording” option, then the VU Meter will open and display during recording so you can monitor the VU meters.
If you are happy with your recording, you should choose [OK -Keep Take] and the audio will be added to the Audio track.
You can listen to the results by pressing [Play].
If you are not happy with the results, you can choose Edit | Undo Keep Audio Take and you will be back to where you were prior to the recording. You can also choose the option to [Take Again], which reopens the Recording dialog.
If you’ve recorded only 1 chorus of the song, you can choose the option to copy that first chorus of audio to the whole song. This will fill up the whole song with the audio by repeating it as many times as necessary. Then you’d just need to record the ending of the song.
At the end of recording, you receive an option to overdub with the underlying audio. This means that both recordings will be merged together to form a new file, with both recordings preserved.
There is also an option to “Retain audio past last recorded.” This allows you to “punch out” and preserve the rest of a previously recorded take.
You can play the Audio file that you’ve recorded by pressing [PLAY].
The size of the audio file will be displayed at the top of the screen. In this example, there is a 5.6 MB .WAV file associated with the file, and that’s 1 minute and 4 seconds of audio.
Once the song is saved, the wave file will be called with the same name as the song. If you ever need to work with the .WAV file in another program, you can just directly edit the wave file. If you do this, make sure the .WAV stays a 44K mono .WAV file.
You can easily convert the Audio track from stereo to mono, or vice versa, with the Audio | Edit Audio | Convert Channels (mono/stereo) menu command. When you convert the channel, you can choose the percentage of each channel.
Your Melody or Soloist track with lyrics can be rendered to a vocal audio track by sending it to the 3rd party vocal synthesizer Sinsy.
To access this feature, you should first enter melodies and lyrics to the Melody or Soloist track. If no Lyrics are present, you can still generate a vocal synth using the syllable of your choice (la la la etc.).
You can launch the Vocal Synth generation by one of the followings.
- Press the [Big Lyrics] button on the main screen toolbar and select either of the Vocal Synth menu items.
- Press the [Vocal Synth] button on the Notation window toolbar and select either of the Vocal Synth menu items.
- Go to menu Edit | Lyrics | Vocal Synth.
With the manual mode, Band-in-a-Box creates a Sound.XML file, which you need to upload to the Sinsy server. When the Sinsy has generated an audio file with a vocal synth, import it to Band-in-a-Box.
Normally, you would use the auto mode, which does this process automatically for you. When you choose an auto mode, the Generate Synthetic Vocal dialog will open.
Language: The choice is English or Japanese. Select English unless your lyrics are entered in Japanese.
Vocalist: Choose one of the female or male vocalists. If the language is set to English, you can only select an English singer.
Gender Parameters: You can adjust the gender of the voice in a range from -0.8 to +0.8. Higher values are more masculine. The default is 0.55.
Vibrato Intensity: This controls the amount of vibrato in the voice. The range is from 0 to 2. The default is 1.
Pitch Shifting: This setting will shift pitch in semitones. The range is from -24 to +24. A setting of -12 would be down one octave. The default is 0.
For Melody notes with no lyrics use: If the track does not include lyrics, you can enter a syllable (.e.g. la) to use for notes with no lyrics. (Note: If you select a Japanese vocalist, you need to enter a Japanese syllable.)
When you press [OK], your song will be sent automatically to the Sinsy server and will be rendered to a vocal synth. This may take a few minutes. When the vocal synth has been generated, the Import Audio File dialog opens. Press [OK] to import it to the Audio track.
In the Audio Edit window, you can edit audio data using Copy, Cut, and Paste. Launch the Audio Edit window with the toolbar button, by the Audio | Audio Edit Window menu item, or by pressing the Ctrl+Shift+A keys.
The window displays stereo WAV files as 2 separate tracks.
The numbered scale at the top of the window indicates bars and beats, with a full height vertical division for each bar and a short vertical line for each beat or quarter note. Bars with part markers also include the A or B part marker letter with the bar number (1a, 9b).
Note the decibel (dB) scale down the right side of the window.
To select a region of the Audio Edit window, you can Shift+click on the end point to easily select a large area.
- Click on the starting bar.
- Shift-click on the ending bar.
This button zooms out horizontally to display a larger area of the audio. Zoom focus will be on audio cursor. You can also zoom with the mouse wheel, which focuses on the mouse cursor.
This button zooms in horizontally to display a smaller area of the audio. Zoom focus will be on audio cursor. You can also zoom with the mouse wheel, which focuses on the mouse cursor.
This button zooms out as far as possible, showing the entire audio track.
This button zooms down to the finest level possible, and at these levels you will see interpolation between the sample points. This is bandlimited interpolation which represents the waveform as it will be heard in reality once converted from digital to analog.
These buttons change the height of the waveform display. [+] increases the height of the waveform display, [-] decreases the height of the display.
This setting allows you to select audio by snapping to a 16th note (or a triplet in Swing styles). A section of the wave file can be selected by clicking and dragging the mouse over an area of the wave file. To expand or reduce the selection, hold down the Shift key while clicking on the desired new boundary.
This button plays the selected area, and then stops. The other instruments are all muted; you just hear the audio.
This button selects the whole track, useful for applying one of the built-in audio plug-ins.
This button lets you access various editing features. They will apply to the highlighted region of audio, but if no region is highlighted, then they will apply to the entire track.
Silence - This will silence the audio.
Amplify - This will increase or decrease the volume of the audio by a chosen number of decibels. A positive value will make the audio louder, or a negative value will make the audio quieter.
Normalize - This will increase or decrease the volume of the audio in order to make the loudest point match the chosen decibel level. For example, if you choose -6 decibels and the loudest point in your audio is -8 decibels, then the audio will be increased by +2 decibels.
Fade In - This will gradually change the volume of the audio. The audio will begin silent, and then gradually increase to full volume at the end. You can change the type of amplification curve in the Audio Edit Settings dialog.
Fade Out - This will gradually change the volume of the audio. The audio will begin at full volume, and then gradually decrease to silence at the end. You can change the type of amplification curve in the Audio Edit Settings dialog.
Paste (Mix) - This will mix the audio from the clipboard with the existing audio instead of overwriting it. You will be given the option to set the percentage of the existing audio to keep and the pasted audio to mix in.
Paste (Insert) - This will insert the audio from the clipboard to the current location, instead of overwriting the existing audio. The audio to the right of the insertion point will be shifted to make room for the new audio.
Delete - This will delete the selected region of audio.
Insert Silence - This will insert silence at the cursor. The duration of the silence inserted will be equal to the duration of the selected region.
Convert Channels - If the audio is stereo, this will convert it to mono. If it’s mono, this will convert it to stereo. You will be given the option to set the percentage of the left and right channels to include.
Transpose - This will transpose the audio by a specified number of cents.
Harmonize - This will add harmonies to the audio.
Transcribe - This will transcribe the audio to the Melody or Soloist track as MIDI data.
Fix Tuning - This will automatically correct the tuning according to the key of your song. For example, in the key of C, if a C# is detected then it will be transposed down to C or up to D depending on which one is closer.
Settings - This allows you to customize the appearance of the window.
You can change the quality setting of interpolation or turn it off completely (quality vs. drawing speed). There is also an automatic feature to “auto cross-fade regions.” When a region of audio is being modified or replaced, the beginning and ending of the region will be cross-faded with the existing audio to make a smooth transition.
This button allows you to change the Marker Mode. When you select the Audio Chord Wizard or UserTracks mode, the markers will be visible and editable.
Each marker mode displays editable markers for various purposes. The Audio Chord Wizard mode shows bar line markers for making a tempo map, and the User Track mode shows bar/beat markers for defining rules in your UserTrack.
The following buttons will appear if you select the Audio Chord Wizard marker mode.
In this mode, the first task is to locate bar lines in the audio so that the Audio Chord Wizard can detect chords accurately and the audio will play in sync with the Band-in-a-Box song.
You can add bar lines with the [Add Bar Line] button or with the L key on your keyboard. A bar line will be placed at the audio edit cursor or at the playback cursor if the song is currently playing.
When you start entering bar lines, the program automatically sets the tempo of the song to the tempo of the first bar of the audio.
Once the tempo of the first bar is set, the program automatically moves the location of the first bar of audio over so that the visual space of the count-in bars is visible.
After you've added the bar lines, IF you adjust the first or second bar and the tempo of the first bar changes accordingly, the program automatically changes the tempo of the song to match.
The [Add/Delete Bar Lines] button menu has options to add bar lines based on your song structure or tempo. You can delete all of the existing bar lines or only the ones within the highlighted region.
If “Auto Marking” is enabled, then Band-in-a-Box will automatically add and arrange bar lines based on the bar lines you have added manually. The “auto” bar lines will show in light blue, and the “user” bar lines will show in purple. You can change these colors in the Audio Edit Settings dialog if you want.
If “Auto Analysis” is enabled, then Band-in-a-Box will re-analyze the chords in the audio whenever you add or move a bar line, or when you edit the audio data. Keep this setting disabled if you prefer to set all bar lines first (i.e. establishing tempo), and then analyze the chords when you are done.
Bar lines can be moved with the mouse. Just click and drag the thumb control at the bottom. If you move an “auto” bar line, it will become a “user” bar line.
You can also right-click on the thumb control to get a context menu with options to switch a marker type (“user” or “auto”), delete the bar line, or set the time signature for the bar. The menu also shows you the tempo of the bar, based on the time signature of the bar and the position of the next bar line.
Use the [Analyze] button to analyze the chords in the audio. The chords detected in the audio will be written into the Chord Sheet. You don’t need to do this if you have “Auto Analysis” enabled, but you might want to if you have erased or made changes to the chords in the Chord Sheet.
When you add or move bar lines, Band-in-a-Box will automatically make a tempo map, so your song is in sync with the Audio track.
Any changes you make in the Audio Chord Wizard mode are undo-able. This was previously not possible with the standalone Audio Chord Wizard.
When you open the Chord Sheet, you will see the Audio Chord Wizard has entered the chords and the tempo map.
If “MIDI to Soloist Tracks” is checked, the wizard will send the transcribed MIDI notes to the Soloist track for further analysis by the user (via Piano Roll or Notation window). Note that this is a “snapshot” view every 8th note of the pitches present, not an attempt at polyphonic transcription.
This will remove tempo changes by stretching regions of audio so that the tempos are all equal.
When you perform various editing tasks from the Audio | Edit Audio menu, the Choose Range dialog will automatically use the region that is selected in the Audio Edit window.
The changes you make to the Audio track are non-destructive and only become permanent if you save the file.
If you have a song file called MySong.MGU, the Audio track is stored in a MySong.WAV file. If you are editing the audio, the edits are now made to a temporary WAV file called TEMPMAIN.WAV, and not to MySong.WAV. If you save the song, the changes get written to the MySong.WAV audio file, but if you don’t save, the original file is preserved.
The audio harmonies include following features.
- Harmonizing the audio with up to 4 voices.
- Correcting out-of-tune notes.
- Transcribing the audio to notation.
First, open an audio file (WAV/WMA/MP3/M4A) or a Band-in-a-Box song file with audio. Then, go to the menu Audio or Harmony, and select Audio Harmonies, Pitch Tracking, Fix Tuning (Audio Edit).
This will open the Audio Edit window and the Audio Harmony dialog.
Choose one of the 4 harmonizing modes.
1) The “Chords” mode will harmonize the audio based on the chords in your song. Choose a type of harmony from the “Harmony type” option. Choose either the intelligent mode, which allows you to select the number of voices and other options, or one of the harmony presets. Then, set the volume and the stereo balance of each voice in the harmony.
2) The “Melody track” mode will add voices to the audio, based on melodies in the Melody track. You can choose the number of voices (up to 4 voices), and the volume and the stereo balance of each voice.
3) The “Soloist track” mode will add voices to the audio, based on melodies in the Soloist track. You can choose the number of voices (up to 4 voices), and the volume and the stereo balance of each voice.
4) The “Fix Tuning” mode will analyze the Audio track and corrects out-of-tune notes in the selected region according to the key of your song. Normally, you do not want to keep out-of-tune notes after the fix tuning is done, but you can mix the original voice with the fixed one by moving the volume slider for “Original Melody” to the right.
You can use the “Transcribe original audio to Melody track” option to transcribe the original audio to MIDI on the Melody track.
If “Transcribe harmony voices to Soloist track” is enabled, the harmony voices generated will be transcribed to MIDI on the Soloist track.
This feature analyzes the Audio track and corrects out-of-tune notes in the selected region according to the key of your song. For example, in the key of C, if a C# is detected, then it will be transposed down to C or up to D depending on which one is closer. To use this feature, press the [Edit] button in the Audio Edit window and select Fix Tuning from the menu.
This will transcribe the selected region of audio to the Melody or Soloist track as MIDI data.
To access this feature, press the [Edit] button in the Audio Edit window and select Transcribe from the menu. You can then select the destination track.
When you have recorded audio, you’d likely want to apply some type of effect to the audio. The usual one is reverb. Choose the audio plug-in that you want from the Audio | Plugin menu. For reverb, choose the Reverb option. You will then see a plug-in with its own settings, specific to the type of plug-in.
Inside the plug-in, you can preview the plug-in effect, and if you like it you can then proceed with processing the entire .WAV file. You can undo the effects of any plug-in by choosing Edit | Undo.
You can apply your favorite DirectX or VST plug-in to the digital audio track. To process a WAV track with a DirectX or VST plug-in, choose Audio | Plugin | DirectX Audio plugins.
Real time DirectX or VST Audio Plug-ins
You can process the Audio track in real-time using DirectX or VST Audio plug-ins. This is useful to “non-destructively” apply EQ, Echo, Reverb, Dynamics, and other effects to the Audio track.
The advantage of real time processing is that you can set effects today, and if you decide you don’t like the effects tomorrow, the settings can be easily changed, since the real time effects did not permanently affect your audio file on the hard disk.
To use real time DirectX or VST audio plug-ins, open the Band-in-a-Box Audio Settings dialog with the [Preferences] [Audio] buttons.
Check “Use Realtime VST/DX Audio Plugins” to enable this feature.
DX/VST audio plug-ins are not enabled by default, in case an older/slower computer might have trouble with DirectX. If your computer misbehaves with DX/VST audio plug-ins, simply make sure this option is unchecked.
DirectX or VST audio plug-ins and DXi/VSTi synthesizer plug-ins can have playback latency (the delay between when a note is played, and when a note is heard).
Adjust “Audio Latency in mS” to fine-tune for your computer. If you have a fast computer and excellent sound card, the audio latency can be adjusted rather low. However, if you hear audio dropouts, you can set the latency as high as 2000 milliseconds.
Playback timing is equally good with long or short latency. But with longer-than-necessary latency, you have to wait awhile before hearing playback begin, and there is a noticeable delay if you adjust DX plug-in settings during playback.
To edit DX plug-ins, click the [Edit Plugin Settings…] button.
The Edit radio buttons let you choose which of the four in-line effects to edit.
In the above picture, four DX plug-ins are applied to the Audio track. First, PG Dynamics to balance input levels, PG Ten Band EQ for tone polishing, PG Reverb to add ambiance, and PG Peak Limit to boost and level the amplitude.
The [Load Group] and [Save Group] buttons let you load and save the effects settings for the currently selected track.
The [Load Preset] and [Save Preset] buttons let you save and load presets for the current effect (such as PG Reverb).
The [Delete Preset] button lets you remove a preset from the list of already saved presets.
The [Options] button brings up DX/VST Options (useful utility functions you may occasionally need).
The [Edit DX Exclusion List] button lets you edit the list of plug-ins to include or exclude in the DirectX editor. This is useful if you have plug-ins installed, which are not compatible with Band-in-a-Box. If you edit the exclusion list, you will see a dialog with the left side displaying the included plug-ins and the right side displaying the excluded plug-ins.
The [<] button lets you move a plug-in from the excluded list to the included list. The [>] button lets you move a plug-in from the included to the excluded list.
The [Scan for New Plugins] button will re-scan for newly installed plug-ins. Use this option if you have installed a new plug-in since starting Band-in-a-Box.
The [Register a New Plugin] button can register a plug-in with Windows®, so that audio applications such as Band-in-a-Box or PowerTracks can use the plug-in. Most DX plug-in installers register themselves, but this option is useful if you have a plug-in that doesn’t automatically register itself.
The [Un-Register a Plugin] button removes a plug-in from Windows® so it will no longer be available. Many DX plug-ins have uninstallers that automatically unregister, but this option is useful to remove plug-ins that do not have uninstallers. This function does not delete a plug-in from your hard drive. It only removes it from the Windows® registry so that it can’t be used.
The [Run DirectX Diagnostic Tool] button runs the Microsoft Direct X Diagnostic Tool. This is a Microsoft program, which checks for problems with DirectX.
[Remove VST Plugin (from list)…] opens a separate list where you can remove VST or VSTi plug-ins.
VST and DX effects can also be applied to individual RealTracks. The control of effects plug-ins can be managed from the Mixer, on the [Plugins] tab.
If you have a Band-in-a-Box song that has an audio track as well, and want to export that song to a sequencer like PowerTracks Pro Audio, follow these steps:
- For a song called MySong.MGU, the associated .WAV file (audio track) will be called MySong.wav.
- You should make a MIDI file (by pressing the .MID button). Save the .MID in the same folder as the song. Then your sequencer can read the entire file by doing the following inside your sequencer:
- Open the MIDI file.
- Import the .WAV file track into the sequence.
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