Just though I'd pop in and let you all know that a new version, 12.01, of MMA is available. Get it while it's hot
I recently found a web-based version of band in a box at www.jam-buddy.com. It uses Java to run. For whatever reason I can't get it to play on my work desktop and laptop (both of which use XP) I think because of the company firewall. However, it works well on my Vista computer at home. It's free and while it's not the most sophisticated, it works well. It also has a bunch of pre-loaded changes for many standards and some rock tunes also. Check it out!
irealbook for ipad is fantastic. It cost me $10. They had to stop including the 1200 tunes from the various real books due to copyright issues, but you can still download them for free from their web site forum, and it loads to the ipad automatically. I just plug the ipad into my keyboard amp and I have a nice backing band. You can use the editor to add or modify tunes. You can change tempos, keys, etc. You can also create playlists - so for example I have created lists for each volume of the real book for the tunes I am shedding. Also, I often create a playlist for the tunes I'll be playing on a gig so I can give them a quick run down. They also sell additional style packs for just a few dollars.
Selmer Mark VI tenor, Yamaha 82zUL tenor, Yamaha YAS62 alto, Yamaha YSS475 soprano, Cannonball Vintage Reborn soprano, Yamaha WX5 wind synthesizer, various blues harps (Mississippi saxes), ocarina, didgeridoo
You can try Chord Pad actually a chord sequencer-it is very easy to create chord progressions in 300+ styles and have backing tracks in seconds:
I cannot disagree that some things are hard to find in BnBox 2013, but I have yet to find anything that does so many things so well. Far better to have it bloated and do more than what YOU need, then not do what you need.
There should be a 64 bit version coming out in the next few months which is likely to have a completely new interface. As for the sound quality it depends on what synth you use. If you use the Real Tracks -the sound quality is unbeatable. Far better than any synth because it's real musicians playing real instruments. Of course what you gain in quality and human sound comes with some compromises. You can no longer change the tempo from ultra slow to ultra fast, but you can still change it within a reasonable range. Also, although new Real Tracks styles are constantly made, there are not as many as the older MIDI styles. There are probably more Jazz Real Tracks than other musical styles than Worship, Country & Western etc. which is not a problem for me.
You can hear some samples of how good BnBox 2013 sounds by going to the link below. All of the accompaniment is from BnBox but the solo instruments are played live with a EWI windcontroller using samplemodeling saxes, french horns, trumpets, clarinets, tuba.
One thing that is an excellent learning tool in biab is the ability to trade 4s or 8s with a computer analysed and iterated version of solos from a number of pretty fine players in a number of genres.
The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
I purchased the Mix-craft software from Amazon. I have fooled around with it and it seems to be very easy to use. I created some nice background tracks to practice with. I also bought a CAD tabletop U1 microphone to record with. Plug and play USB plug-in. Everything was easy to set up and use on my HP with Windows 8. I even recorded my first tune (Georgia On My Mind). I really need a lot more practice. But, for a beginner using a brand new software package and microphone, it wasn't that bad......LOL