Welcome to the world of multitracks. This blog is designed to help you understand the different software, hardware, and digital music sources that exist to serve this growing area. Multitracks are often referred to as virtual bands, because their primary purpose is usually to add instrumentation for live music performance. They can also be used for training and rehearsal, and many multitrack systems also support additional capabilities like lyric or chord display. Many software and hardware providers are innovating to help multitracks become a useful tool in the worship leader’s arsenal.
Software and systems to play audio to augment a live band comes in many varieties. It is somewhat like picking a mobile device, each one covers some set of functions, and research and experimenting to find the one(s) that do the job is usually necessary. There are three broad categories of software:
Audio/Video Players: Typically any software application used to play single audio files in mp3, ogg, m4a, or wav audio format. These capabilities are often combined with other functions such as lyric display, chord charts, etc. Also, video players that can also play accompanying audio fall into this category. This blog does not cover audio/video players in depth.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW): A software application that can be used for recording, mixing, and playback of audio stems. DAWs that support audio playback, such as Ableton Live and Logic Pro, are often used by professional bands. This blog does not cover DAWs in depth.
Multitrack Player: A software application designed to play Multitracks and to offer extra features for control of their playback, such as set lists, skipping or looping sections, click track, chord or lyric display, etc.
This blog focuses on multitrack players specifically, since this class of software is rapidly growing in popularity among all sizes of churches. On the sidebar to the right or below, you will find reviews of the major software providers that offer multitrack player software targeting the worship market, in no particular order. Each review page is updated as the provider releases new features. You will also find reviews of multitrack providers, and a few hardware providers. The intent of these reviews is so you can compare how each system might meet your needs. There is no shortage of marketing materials out there from multitrack providers. Here you can research and compare them all.
Cost: By far the largest cost in a multitrack system is the cost of the audio content. There are two aspects to cost – the cost to use content within a given software, and the ability for you to use content in other systems should you switch or grow out of the one you are using. Since track costs vary and often go on sale, we refer you to different content providers to get the latest costs.
Time: The time investment in a multitrack system is also very important. We have tried to talk about the onboarding and ongoing time required with the different systems, and this should also be a consideration. Technical ability is also important.
Platform: Apple, PC, and Android offerings are presented, and we have tried to describe the platforms supported for each software system. Also, support for controller hardware, such as MIDI foot pedals, is covered.