Take my synth, please! Grab this instrument, the sample playback plug-in SFZ+, free for Windows.

“Black Friday” has become a traditional date for talking discounts, but one price you can’t beat is free.

Cakewalk is giving away some of their older effects and synth plug-ins. These aren’t just hand-me-downs – Cakewalk forum members lamented that a couple of these didn’t receive greater development attention. They’re eminently usable on Windows systems now. Available free:

  • SFZ+: The real highlight here, rgc:audio’s excellent SoundFont sampler player, with built-in effects, various performance options, and an all-in-one interface
  • Square I: A very lovely analog subtractive synth
  • Audio FX 1: Multi-effects including compressor/gate, limiter, expander/gate, dynamics 
  • Audio FX 2: Guitar amp and tape simulation
  • Audio FX 3: A unique reverb / room emulation plug-in that allows you to design your own soundstage

Audio FX 1-2 have been easily supplanted by newer options from Cakewalk, but Audio FX 3 is fun to play with. And Square I and SFZ+ are both good bread-and-butter additions to your plug-in library. Note that the FX plug-ins are all DirectX plug-ins, not VST, but the two synths will work as VSTs – meaning they can also work on Linux, making them a nice choice for your netbook.

Holiday discounts

Cakewalk is also discounting software in their Holiday Guide – and offering savings on new, music-optimized PCs. Native Instruments is running a $99 sale on their synths, which is repeated here, but Cakewalk has some deals, too:


  • Rapture for $49 or $99: Easily on par with NI’s better instruments now on sale (like Massive), Rapture is a favorite electronic instrument, capable of some gorgeous sounds and with a friendly but deep envelope editing window. Current SONAR users get it for $49/€49/£34.50, and any registered Cakewalk customer for $99/€99/£82.50.
  • Kinetic 2 for ten bucks: Kinetic is actually a fun but overlooked little drum machine packed with Roland groove box samples, VST and ReWire support, and simple sampling. At $10, this is a nice stocking stuffer for yourself.
  • Beat Fetish for $20: Martin Atkins-produced beat soundware at a steep discount
  • Elite Packs for SONAR: Bundles featuring notation, reverb, sound restoration, guitars, and piano are now discounted for SONAR 8.5 users to US$/EUR 79-199.
  • And a new computer: Through Sunday, SONAR 8.5 users get a 20% coupon off of PCAudioLabs’ excellent, music production-optimized PCs. And yes, this sort of thing is a good thing to squeeze in before the end of the tax year as a writeoff, especially for freelancers and the self-employed.

For all the deals:

Cakewalk "Black Friday" Holiday Deals

By the way – for the record, “Black Friday” is not some sort of goth-tinged day in which retailers offer deals so cheap they horrify even themselves with bargains as black as the night. No, it’s a reference to the day on the retail calendar at which businesses traditionally broke even, with the holiday shopping season the time of year to actually turn a profit. So here’s to the move from red ink to black ink – something we’d all celebrate in this economy.