1st of January, 2014... Just crossgraded to the 2014 EverythingPack.
It is very difficult to analyse in depth such a all-in-one "composing-improvising-recording-editing-arranging-mastering-broadcasting" tool! And with an incredible quality.
Awesome! For jazz composers I don't know what it can't do.
It can be a very complex environment if one want to use it in-depth, but yet pretty much simple and very useful at only $130 for beginners and even amateurs and students. But beware, it needs a real investment in time to learn all its unnumbered features provided... even in the basic edition! But it's not time lost, believe it.
Don't think that it is an automated composition tool that will do everything for you! It suggests you many phrases and many ideas starting with the chord progression you submit to it... but that... it is only the beginning of your work! It still remains many things to do yourself to reach the final musical work. Even if all the work will be done in Band-In-A-Box (with the instruments provided or/and with your own instruments and VSTi's as synths and effects)... YOU remain the only composer! Especially if you want to create a little "chef d'oeuvre".
A must have!
But beware : it is really a mess to use!!! The GUI of the version 2014 has been a little improved compared to the previous versions... but it remains an insane labyrinth ! Even the help which is supposed to bring you a support is itself an incredible mess .
Since the beginning of 2013 I now compose all my works with it when they are jazz oriented, with its provided instruments (at Christmas 2012 I bought the MegaPack at only 130 euros which provided plethora of instruments and MIDI phrases to inspire the ideas, and now crossgraded to the EverythingPack for almost the same price) and with my own instruments (many flutes and a guitar) and VST's (Z3TA+, Korg Legacy Collection, FM8, and so on). But for all my other compositions which are not jazz oriented (all that is in classic or romantic styles, or new age, progressive rock, instrumental space rock, etc.) are now made by still another tool : RapidComposer. Even Sibelius First that I used for years to compose is now less and less used... since I can do absolutely everything without never leaving BIAB in jazz !!! (and without never leaving RapidComposer in the other styles)
And with the 2014 edition it begins to get a more rational user interface... at last! It was about time...
EDIT (31 march, 2014) : I gave 10 to BIAB 2014 at the beginning of the year. But after 3 full months I now decrease the note to 8 (which remains very good) because BIAB is by far the best for jazz composers... but these two points which are now suppressed are due to the fact that after these three months I see that BIAB remains really a tool which is not made at all for the other composition styles and therefore these composers need another tool for their other styles. PG Music doesn't listen at all to the musicians which ask with insistence for years for a total remake-up of the GUI and doesn't listen at all neither the musicians which ask for less jazz and a lot of more other styles. It is really tedious that all the compositions even when selecting other styles are always keeping in background an obvious jazz color.
The only person empowered to update a product description in KVR is the developer himself.
And yes, you're right... this product description of Band-In-A-Box is totally out-of-date. BIAB 2013 has many new improvements and new functions, and BIAB 2014 much more. Another good news is that the user interface begins to get simpler and easier... At last.
Anyway, BIAB (especially the MegaPack) is one of my three prefered tools for the step of the composition (with Sibelius 7 First... and Toontrack EZKeys for its awesome chordwheel absolutely unique which justify by itself the purchase how complete and how handy and practical it is, one of a kind, piece of jewelry!)
I am glad that I finally found a review on BIAB 2014 after browsing many sites. The biggest issue on the previous version BIAB 2013 seemed to be the non-intuitive UI screen, according to Amazon.com's reviews. And BlackWinny's phrase "the user interface begins to get simpler" makes me just nervous. It sounds like the UI of BIAB 2014 is better than before, but it hasn't reached the acceptable level yet. The biggest reason I consider buying BIAB 2014 is to cut my time to make all the tracks. I don't need something that "needs a real investment in time to learn" as BlackWinny wrote. So, how easy is BIAB 2014?
How easy is BIAB 2014? Nearly the same as BIAB 2013. There has been some improvements in the GUI, yes... but there are tons and tons and still tons to do to really have something which could be called "quite easy". We are still very far from that,and I doubt that it will be one day...
And know that you may consider BIAB if you are resolutely turned towards the jazz styles. It is almost 90% of the styles generated by BIAB ! And 90% of the RealTracks and SuperTracks provided with BIAB 2014 remains directly oriented jazz. Even the other styles (blues, classic, country, new age, rock, pop, ballads, etc.) are still very very very colored by the jazz rules in the results. Jazz is omnipresent in BIAB even in background in the other styles which are said to be different than jazz .
I really like BIAB... but it is BECAUSE I really like jazz and the jazz rules of compositions. For people who are not so attracted by the jazz, I don't recommend at all BIAB ! And also for people who have no time to loose in a labyrinthic help supposed to bring a support for a labyrinthic GUI and for people who are not feeling like spending a crazy (and sometimes insane) time in tries and tries and tries, for them also I don't recommend BIAB ! Even the reflection you must do to find your way back in the badly automatically affected channels is sometimes a mess as long as you are not totally immersed in this product.
Myself I've been using BIAB for years, and I still use BIAB... but ONLY, ONLY, ONLY when I want to compose pure jazz sheets or deeply colored jazz sheets. For that, yes it is by far the best tool. But I don't compose only in jazz style, by far... my preferred styles being essentially progressive rock, instrumental space rock, new age, and cool ballads (and far-eastern music but it is another story). So even if I really like BIAB for my jazz sheets... my two most used tools are Sibelius for the traditional notation and first and foremost it is now an amazing composition editor that I have discovered at the beginning of this year (just after my review of BIAB here above) and which is becoming practically my ONLY tool now : RapidComposer. It has born two years ago, is at its version 2.55 and still suffers of some minor bugs (and I'm very active as one of the beta testers here at its KVR forums) but it is an incredible tool with features absolutely awesome to compose in ALL the styles ! And the developer is very active here on his KVR forums to discuss with his users every day, to share ideas with them, to resolve the bugs as soon as they are discovered... and to continue to add always new and new and new features, some of them being absolutely incredible (and not even implemented in BIAB !) It is really the tool that I have always been dreaming .
Even musicians who love jazz and who play and compose jazz are very often stopped by this incredible GUI of BIAB (2014 like all the previous ones) which is a mess as never seen elsewhere...
You compose ONLY for jazz AND you are ok to spend a huge time of investment to understand a very hard tool made at 90% for jazz? (the other styles being purely anecdotal) Ok, so don't hesitate: go to BIAB, it is by far the best! But you must know that you'll need to contend with a GUI which is a huge mess even in its 2014 version.
You compose in all the styles you could imagine, and want a tool having a huge number of features (nearly as many as in BIAB !) and even diverse generators to help you to create a good mockup but that after you can transform and retouch as you want? So go to Sibelius (not the First, but the full version) or Finale if you compose in the traditional notation... or go without any hesitation to RapidComposer if you compose in piano-roll notation.
Nota : in BIAB many of the mockups you'll make with the generators are not retouchable as deeply as you want since the patterns of RealTracks are not retouchable at all... and one thing that you discover only after you have paid and begun to use is that the RealTracks are imposed by the generators in more than 75% of the cases and it is easy to understand why: it is them which justify the price of BIAB !!.
Thanks for descriptions of BIAB 2014's user interface usage. I didn't expect the product was still that difficult to use. But it's funny, your demoting descriptions of BIAB 2014 made me want to use the product, and I think I will buy one sometime soon to try the bad UI myself. When I encounter or bog down in a series of UI problems, I may come back here to get help. Thanks, man.
There is a link which is really missing in this page. The link to download the updates. The BIAB website is very confuse (like the software itself!). To download the updates, it is this link (to keep carefully in your favorites!):