Band-in-a-Box® for Macintosh: No Sound / MIDI Driver Setup

This tutorial covers the following topics:

Last updated:  Wednesday, 07 November 2018

Basic Setup

Band-in-a-Box® uses a mixture of both audio and MIDI. Audio refers to RealTracks and RealDrums, which don't require a MIDI synth to play - you will hear the "Real" instrument tracks even if you don't have a MIDI driver properly set up (provided your speaker volume is turned up). Band-in-a-Box® songs may have only MIDI, some MIDI and some RealTracks/Drums, or ALL RealTracks/Drums. To identify if your song is using MIDI or RealTracks, look at the track names in the instrument panel at the top of the main Band-in-a-Box® screen - Bass, Piano, Drums, Strings, Melody, Soloist. If a track name is black it is a MIDI track, if it is green it is a RealTracks or RealDrums track. If it is red then the track is currently muted. You can mute/un-mute/solo any track by control-clicking on it and choosing the appropriate menu item.

The easiest way to set up MIDI, is to use the Mac's built-in sounds (Apple DLS Synth). This requires very little setup - simply go to MIDI | Select MIDI Driver... and select "Apple DLS Synth".

Make sure that the volume is turned up and not muted. You can check this by going to the Apple menu | System Preferences | Sound, and adjusting the Output Volume. Alternatively, you might have a volume/speaker control at the top of your screen in the menu bar, next to the clock.

Setting up CoreMIDI

This information is for people with more elaborate MIDI setups, such as external synthesizers etc. While it is not terribly complicated, it does require a little setup. CoreMIDI is the OSX standard MIDI driver method.

First, check your MIDI Driver Setup. In Band-in-a-Box®, go to the MIDI menu and click on **Select MIDI Driver or Apple DLS Synth. You can choose either Apple DLS Synth or CoreMIDI as your MIDI Driver. You would choose Apple DLS Synth if you want to use the Mac's built-in DLS Music Device, as explained above - this is an Audio Unit software synth with properties very similar to Quicktime Instruments. You would choose CoreMIDI if you want to...

  • Use one or more external MIDI synthesizers as your sound source (to play the music) - for example, a sound module connected to your computer via a USB MIDI interface.
  • Play into Band-in-a-Box® from an external MIDI controller keyboard.
  • "Pipe" the Band-in-a-Box® MIDI into another software application on your computer.

Note that there is some further information in the Band-in-a-Box® manual - click the [MIDI Drivers Help] button to open this part of the manual. Here are the basic steps:

  • Open the CoreAudio MIDI Setup. This could be opened manually from the /Applications/Utilites folder, but can also be opened from within Band-in-a-Box®, by going to MIDI | CoreMIDI Audio MIDI Setup. Note: This menu item may only be visible if you have CoreMIDI selected as your driver - if you don't see it, go to MIDI | Select MIDI Driver... and select CoreMIDI. You don't need to set up the ports right away, we'll do that a little later.
  • Look at the MIDI Devices section of the Audio MIDI Setup. If you are connecting to an external synthesizer, keyboard, or sound module, you should see a picture of your MIDI interface, provided you have it connected to your computer. If you do not see that, first quickly check to make that the picture isn't hidden behind one of the other icons as sometimes happens (just move them around a bit). But if you still don't see it, you will probably need to install the drivers manually. Drivers would have most likely come on a disc with your interface, but you also should be able to download drivers from the manufacturer's website. In fact it is usually best to download the latest drivers that the manufacturer has available, as the ones on disc will often be outdated.
  • Click on [Add Device] for each external synthesizer you wish to connect to the interface. Then, connect MIDI cables between the picture of your synth and the picture of the MIDI interface by clicking on the little arrows below the picture and dragging. The idea is to draw what your physical setup looks like. If you have a keyboard that you will be playing into Band-in-a-Box®, connect the OUT arrow on the keyboard device to the IN arrow on the interface. If you have a sound module that you want to use as your sound generator, connect the OUT arrow on the interface to the IN arrow on the sound module device. If you have a simple MIDI interface with a single port, you'll just see one "in" and one "out" arrow. If you had a multi-port interface you would see multiple in's and out's. You can add as many external devices as you need, if you have more than one synth. Double-click on the external device to give it a name and set some of it's properties (this step is usually not critical).
  • In Band-in-a-Box®, when you select CoreMIDI as your driver and press OK, the 'Select Ports/Instruments' dialog will open. You can also access this dialog by going the MIDI menu and selecting **CoreMIDI (Choose ports). Beside 'MIDI IN', select the MIDI interface port that you will be receiving MIDI on. Beside Bass, Drums, Guitar, etc..., select the MIDI interface port that you will be transmitting MIDI information on. You can choose a different port for each Band-in-a-Box® track to be sent to. This is useful if you have a multi-port interface and you want to send different tracks to different modules. However, most likely you just have one synthesizer that you will be using to play all of the tracks. In this case, select your MIDI interface output port beside Bass and click on [Set all ports to this]. If you want to play into Band-in-a-Box® from your external synth, but use the internal Mac synth as your sound generator, select QT Instruments for the Bass track, and then click [Set all ports to this].
  • You should also make sure your MIDI cables are connected correctly between your synthesizer and interface. MIDI cables are generally labelled IN and OUT. Make sure that MIDI OUT on the synth is connected to MIDI IN on interface, and MIDI OUT on the interface is connected to MIDI IN on the synth.

Inter-application communication

One other use of CoreMIDI as mentioned previously, is to pipe Band-in-a-Box® (MIDI data, not audio) to another MIDI application on your computer. This means that Band-in-a-Box® will send the MIDI data to another program, rather than directly to a MIDI interface or the Apple DLS synth. The program receiving the data can then be used to control what the sound generator is. For example, you might use a third party program as an Audio Unit or VST plugin host.

To do this, you can use either the IAC (Inter-Application Communication) bus built into OSX, or the BIAB Virtual ports. Either can be used to accomplish the same thing (the BIAB Virtual ports were particularly useful when OSX didn't have the IAC capability built-in). Here are the basic steps:

  • To use the IAC bus, you first need to enable the IAC driver. To do this, go to MIDI | CoreMIDI Audio MIDI Setup once again, and look for the picture of the IAC Driver. Double-click on it to open the IAC Driver Properties, and make sure that the "Device is online". Also, make sure there is at least one port added.
  • You can now exit the CoreMIDI Setup window. You should quit and restart Band-in-a-Box® if you had to enable the driver - otherwise it may not be recognized.
  • Open the CoreMIDI (choose ports) dialog. You should be able to select any of the IAC ports. Try to avoid selecting the same IAC port for MIDI IN, as this may cause problems.
  • Your next task is to setup the other (third party) application. The settings are often found in a Preferences | MIDI window. Set the same IAC port you selected in Band-in-a-Box® for each of the tracks (bass, piano etc.) as your MIDI input in the third party application.
  • Note that it may make a difference which program you open first - if you are having trouble, try alternately opening Band-in-a-Box® or the other application first.
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