Illustration (CC) Dani Armengol, who just became my hero.

Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Who need them? The entire month of December seems to be on sale when it comes to music tech.

Christmas (and Hanukkah, for that matter) are nearly here. Whether it’s economic pressure or just some aggressive holiday pricing, there are some big deals out there that could make excellent gifts – or might just give you a nice list for shopping for yourself before or after the holidays. (Yes, it’s true: most of what readers suggested in our “gift guide” for the CDM Winter 08 special wasn’t really all that practical. But it does make a nice list of things you love.)

Here’s some of what’s on our radar screen:

Big Ticket Items Get a Break

People do enjoy getting these boxes. Birthday present (CC) Henry Faber.

$999 Tenori-On. In the US, at least, the Yamaha Tenori-On – the Lite Brite-style instrument tablet from innovator Toshio Iwai – gets a $200 discount. Based on reader feedback, that hardly moves it into impulse buy territory, but if you’ve been on the fence, your timing is right. Yamaha has also rolled out some very practical accessories (like a case and “survival kit” with stand), so if you know someone who owns one of these, accessories could make a nice last-minute gift.

And for the rest of us, there’s the US$20 t-shirt. You could mod that with LEDs and sensors and just let people play your chest. See the US store (curious to hear reports from The Rest of the World):

Tenori-On Store US

Moog bundles, Little Phatty break: The Moog Little Phatty is now available in Stage II Edition. (mmm, black!) It seems to have a slight street price break, down below US$1300 from a $1395 list. And to further sweeten the deal, the Moogs are presently bundled with a CP-251 control processor for feeding some analog control into your new synth. (See the video above. Really, an excuse to post this video is worth it.) In very much not a Recession Special, Moog also re-introduced the Taurus Bass Pedals.

Or, more fitting my budget at the moment, you can just get DVDs, books, and tasty apparel. Or perhaps a tattoo gift certificate; I hear the Moog fans love those.

Komplete, More Komplete – Komplete + Kore: For a limited time, AudioMIDI have bundled Kore 2 – Native Instruments’ software and controller – with the Komplete pack (basically everything NI makes on the producer/instrument side). US$895 for the total, which is what you’d normally pay for Komplete alone. You don’t need much justification here as Kore 2 doesn’t add any cost, but to me, having the physical controller and the ability to easily navigate all the NI sounds makes Komplete more manageable. (And we’re big fans of using Reaktor inside Kore, because you can easily assign controls to all your custom Reaktor creations.)

I just stumbled across AudioMIDI’s deal; we’ve heard other folks find bundles like this in stores. So it could be worth shopping around in your neck of the woods.

Cakewalk Holiday Bundles: Cakewalk is bundling extras with their software, including video tutorials and a download of pyro Audio Creator, an audio recording, editing, CD burning utility (which can itself make a nice software stocking stuffer for your Windows-using friends at $40). You can get a pretty full-blown version of their SONAR DAW for about US$299 (even though that looks more like the upgrade pricing of Pro Tools), and I see they also offer the E-MU Proteus Pack for lovers of the old E-MU racks.

Bundle pricing is different in different parts of the world, so if you’re interested in this offer, best to check your local store:

Applied Acoustics Modeling Collection: AAS is having a sale on their lovely psychically-modeled products, so Tassman (modular environment) + Lounge Lizard (the electric piano) + Ultra Analog + String Studio (the terrific modeled string instrument) + Strum Acoustic = US$349. Check out the Modeling Collection in their store. Ableton users got treated to a couple of these instruments in Ableton-styled remakes, but if you haven’t bought those yet or don’t exclusively use Ableton or want the whole suite, this is worth a look.

Native Instruments sale: Native is offering upgrades 50% off, software bundles (including a free synth with their Audio Kontrol 1 audio interface), and other holiday deals through 12/31.

Bargain Buys

Steinway? Never heard of ‘em. The Steinway piano, photo (CC) madabandon.

Gary Garritan has a bunch of his sampled instruments on sale for US$99.99: Personal Orchestra, Jazz Big Band, and Marching Band. The sale ends 12/21, so you’ll want to get on this quick. The nice thing about these instrument packs is that they’re fairly well-focused and lightweight, so you don’t need a massive hard drive and sample-playing machine to get them running. They’re ideal, for instance, if you’re working on a score and want a quick rendition. Garritan also has the lighter “Basic Edition” of the Steinway-authorized Virtual Concert Grand. It’s 1.3GB uncompressed, so you can download it, making a perfect last-minute gift for someone (or yourself). I’ve just grabbed it myself and hope to have a review for you next week. You don’t get all the multisamples, it’s 16-bit only, and you only get the classic audience view, but I ima
gine this is how a lot of people use their sampled piano a lot of the time anyway. It only officially comes out Wednesday, but that gives you time for a Christmas Eve install.

Garritan Order Page [includes Christmas special]

Steinway Comparison Chart

As always, the Garritan community has done a free Christmas album:

And perhaps there’s a deal on a real Steinway somewhere, too, though that doesn’t quite fit into our budget category.

Costco Meg-bundle with Snowball Mic: Costco (the US-based discount club) is generally not a place to go buy music tech gear. But they have a pretty terrific deal running right now, if you can find it. Blue Microphones’ Snowball USB mic, a convention basic dual-capsule condenser with 16-bit digital converter, is bundled with some other extras. You get Koss UR40 headphones, and Mackie’s underrated music editing workstation Tracktion 3. Given that the mic and Tracktion usually sell for $100 or more on their own, US$99 for the three is quite nice.

Snowball Mic Bundle

It’s hard to beat this as a $100 gift for newcomers you know. The Snowball isn’t the best condenser mic around by any stretch, and lacks fully-adjustable gain, but it’s a nice little mic to toss in a backpack and plug in via USB.

[Update] Fantastic Image-Line sale: Whoops, meant to mention this and didn’t in the first draft of the story! Image-Line’s software always makes a fantastic discount buy (which is why it topped our software list in the CDM Holiday Guide). But it’s an even better deal now, thanks to discounts and a free time-manipulation effect. Adrian Anders writes in comments:

Maximus & Morphine – $99 each

Every order of $99 or more comes with their new upgrade to WaveTraveler, one of those plugs in FLStudio that made Mac-heads question their loyalty. It hasn’t been announced but there’s a good chance an OS X version is in the works 😀

More deals to follow.

Image-Line Sale

Peak Pro 6 Sale

The Mac-only audio editor has gotten some major upgrades to its playlist, RAM-based editing, new DSP goodies, dither modeling, another UI upgrade, and additional delivery and dynamics processing. Correction: only the upgrade pricing gets you as low as US$99. But there is a DDP export extension and free mastering plug-in with Peak Pro 6, an upgrade sale, plus other discounts:

Peak Pro 6 sale

Of course, that still leaves the “everyday low price” of Wave Editor from Audiofile Engineering at US$79, which has earned big fans like CDM contributor and game sound designer W. Brent Latta. Wave Editor has added some delivery options of its own, meaning you could easily choose either one. That makes two terrific choices on the Mac, which had traditionally been a bit behind on straight-up audio editors when compared to Windows’ Sound Forge and Audition.

Cash Back on Live

Ableton has a Holiday Special with up to $150 cash back on Live 7, Live LE, and Ableton Suite. There are some other promotions on, so well worth checking.

No promotional fees were collected in the making of this article. I do accept candy canes from readers if you happen to run into me. 

Deals by You

I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface here. Seen any great deals / discounts yourself? Picked up anything you want to share?

If you haven’t yet, do check out all we stuck in our Holiday Guide:

On Demand: CDM Winter 2008, with Gift Guide, Bending and Slicing Tutorials, More