After YEARS of waiting, and PG Music saying it was coming…it is here. Band in a Box 2009 for Macintosh. I could hardly believe it myself. Yes, the languishing program that was 7 versions behind the Windows version (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2007.5, 2008, 2009) has been brought back to life. I wondered what happened to Dr. Frankenstein….seems he was hired to bring the Mac version of BinaB to life again.
I always thought it strange that PG Music made a HUGE effort to move Band in a Box to OS X with their version 12, but then promptly let it sit for years and years while the Windows version added more and more features. It was mentioned years ago they were planning on a new version but….nothing ever materialized. Well, no more. The 2009 version pretty much brings the Macintosh version up to the Windows version.
First off, the program is HUGE if you want to download it, you better have a high speed connection. A real FAST high speed connection. We are talking 20+ gigs of stuff to download if you purchased/upgraded the version with RealTracks (more on that in a minute). PG Music offers digital downloads in addition to physical media available on DVDs or an 80 gig hard drive (same price). As a previous owner of version 12 for the Mac, I opted for the “Everything PAK” and the 24 PAK upgrade that included some extra stuff. It was $184.
Ok, now……lets dive into the program, the features it has, what works, doesn’t work, and what is still missing in the Mac version that the Windows version has….
Let’s start with the new features. The biggest thing is the RealTracks. When PG Music announced this for the Windows version beginning in Band in a Box 2007 (just for the drums, or RealDrums), I thought it was a gimmick and a bad idea. But actually using it, it made a HUGE difference in the backgrounds the program generated. It made them “feel” better. Even with the lame ass Microsoft software synths. Heck, the RealDrums could have even made Sanjya from American Idol sound good ;-). PG Music took this concept, refined it, and expanded it. Now, in version 2009, there are several “RealTracks” in addition to the RealDrums. Guitars, Metal Guitars, Acoustic guitars, pianos, basses, saxophones. It is really a marvel to hear how well, generally, the program will create music even on the most strange chord progressions (or just random chords). The RealTracks are not perfect by any means, but when it works, it works very well. And if you don’t like it, you can switch to MIDI instruments or use your favorite Software Sampler/Synth.
Next big feature “Direct-to-Disk” Audio rendering. So, need to make a background and save it? Done. This renders your Band in a Box song to disks in a few seconds. It includes real tracks and real drum tracks. It won’t render any external software instruments (like if you are running Kontkat 2 player or something).
What is different from the PC version? Well, it is missing some things the windows version has. The ear trainer is MIA. I really liked that one. The PC version can render audio files (ie: Direct to disk) if you use external programs, like using Kontkat plugin. Not a huge deal, but I wish they could do put this in. A lot of sequencers, like Digital Performer, offer this. It’s not a deal breaker though. One thing that does kind of suck is that if you own BOTH the PC and the Mac version, you have to buy separate Real Tracks for both. So, if you have a PC laptop with Band in a Box on it, and a iMac at home, you can’t just buy ONE Real Track set to use on both. That kind of sucks. Also, the “licensing” agreement says you cannot use Band in a Box on more than ONE PC. Yeah, right. Even the lame-o’s in Minnesota (MakeMusic) let you use software on two computers.
Also, Band in a Box only runs on Intel Macs. Since Apple hasn’t made PowerPC based Macs in about 4 or 5 years, its not a big issue. The program can be really slow…..even on a Quad Core MacPro depending on how many Real Tracks you have enabled (and do I ever enable them!). PG Music also has updated the program 6 times so far since releasing it, including a free update to 2009.5 which fixed some little problems. The program also runs on Snow Leopard (10.6) according to reports.
Should you get this? YES! Go. Now. This is an incredible program that will provide you hours of fun while practicing any song, in just about any style, with tons of choruses…..