A brief guide to using backing tracks on stage

What format to use

Backing tracks generally come in two flavours - Midi and Audio.

Midi is a way of sending musical data between electronic devices; information about what notes to play, how long, how loud, and what instrument to use, etc. However midi does not send any sound at all and relies on the final link in the chain (usually a keyboard or "sound-module") to produce the actual music that's heard.

Audio is simply a recording played back. This could be a recording of a midi performance, real instruments and voices, or a combination of both.

Both have pros and cons...

Midi is flexible - it's possible to change to any key or arrangement of the song without affecting the sound quality. But the final sound depends on the device used. The same Midi-file that sounds weak on, say, a regular computer sound-card, will sound better when played using a dedicated "sound-module".

Audio is much more reliable - an mp3, for example, will sound the same whether on a computer or a portable mp3-player. However the key/arrangement/ending is fixed.

Experience has shown us to use the advantages of both - create tracks using midi and audio, but for the performance (where reliablity is everything) use audio.

Playing tracks during the performance

Let's assume you chosen audio and that you've gone "digital".
To talk to us about "analogue cassette to digital" audio restoration Contact us
The options open to you are...

  • CD
  • Minidisc or MD
  • MP3
  • DAT
Accessibility - anyone with a computer can burn a CD. Almost all venues already have the facility to play CD CDs don't last for ever. The disc itself is "naked". Without careful handling they can get scratched which leads to (performance killing) skips
Bullet-proof reliability. Also tracks can be programmed to play in a specific order as required Recording is done in realtime so making new discs and duplicating tracks is very time-consuming. Blank discs are getting hard to find
Unbeatable portability. Reliable - depending on what is used to play them. Moving tracks around couldn't be easier Computers have been known to crash once in a while. Portable mp3 players make you look like you're texting on-stage
"Better than CD" quality. Reasonably reliable Like all tape-based systems, track order is fixed. Along with MD, it's no longer supported by major manufacturers

We can supply tracks in the format of your choice (except DAT).


For more info, or free advice