I make it no secret that a lot of the backing tracks you will find here are made with Band In A Box. BIAB can however be temperamental sometimes. Sounds dropping out, silly breaks, weird chord voicings, crazy endings, instruments totally out of balance making drastic mixer adjustments necessary etc, etc…
One of the things that bothers me most of all is the sometimes too busy arrangements and also the lack of sonic space and balance in the tracks that come out of Band In A Box (BIAB).
BIAB is an accompaniment software, but one would doubt it sometimes.
When you make a track consisting of drums, bass and piano, which is a classic backing setting, there should be some space leftfor your soloing , both sonically and comping-wise, but BIAB does not always leave enough space to fit that third or fourth instrument (you) in.
So, yesterday I made a backing track for the tune Sunny (Bobby Hebb) in a special version geared to guitarists, for chord practicing or playing in a trio setting, and for pianists, so they can play doing their own left hand comping.
Once the tracks finished I decided to make a chord (comping) video lesson using this track. Guess what…I couldn’t fit the guitar in.
When the guitar was “loud enough” it clashed with the double bass, together they became just a mumbling and rumbling mess. I had to cut the crap out of the lows in the guitar track to make it a bit distinguishable.
Even the double bass and drums without the guitar added where impossible to balance.
More messing around with BIAB made it very clear this cannot be fixed in Band In A Box itself. The bass and drum tracks fight constantly for the same sonic space.
When the bass is turned up to make it intelligible, it is simply too loud.
Probable cause: not enough attack and clarity (highs) and way too much muddy/ boomy lows/ mid-lows.
Problems in the drum track: an afterbeat side tom covers the bass frequencies and overall too much low low frequency garbage.
This calls for drastic measures:
- Exporting the drum and bass tracks as separate stems.
- Do this for every tempo version.
- Import the stems in Logic ProX (I could also have used Cubase 8 pro but I work more in Logic a.t.m. Just a question of habit I guess).
- Equalize and compress the cr*p out of the tracks and make a mix in Logic.
- Find the offending frequencies (and cut them) and find the frequencies that add definition (and boost these without overdoing). Add reverb with Space designer (using sends).
- Check on different monitoring systems and headphones and readjust, making a good compromise.
- Automate the reverb so it’s not active on the count-in. This is another thing BIAB cannot do, for some tracks this is essential, especially if there is a pick-up bar in the theme.
- Export (bounce in Logic) to final mix.
- Make mp3 versions.
- Re-Upload to Shop to replace the former versions of the track.
- Mail customers that a track they bought is updated.
- And finally: use the corrected track myself to make my video lesson.
Anyway, you can expect an updated version of the Sunny bass and drums edition soon (give it a day or two, depending on workload).