We’ve got the season of the virus lockdown to get through – stocking up on some music-making joy seems a very good idea. To try to cut through the noise, here are some of the most appealing deals in one place. This post will be updated continuously through the week.
And yeah, there’s actually too much out there. I’m sure your inbox looks like mine. So I’m going to be picky. But if I missed any of your favorite deals, do chime in with the ones that look good.
If I rave about stuff here, it’s because I use it – period. So excuse me being slightly more commercially minded than usual.
This needs music. Shopping music. But shopping music for proper nerds. So while I’m editing, I’ve had this beautiful mix from our friend Lars Hemmerling on (via the excellent unklar blog), so let’s share:
Arturia makes enough of a splash that I find lots of friends have already been passing it around. They don’t discount some odds and ends – they take 50% off their lead products. So that’s the enormous V Collection bundle, for one, which now includes full modulars, keys, a piano, and sort of every major synth.
FX Collection is my go-to these days, just in that it covers all the bases and it’s there no matter what host or OS I’m running. This was the stuff that was initially labeled the “[xxx] you’ll actually use” series. But I find the plate reverb and deep Intensity reverb, the FET-76 compressor, and that SEM filter alone make this one I keep handy. Oh, and don’t freak out about the interfaces; you can scale them down. But yeah, I kept Arturia’s stuff around for mixing the headphones-techno record I did for Wunderblock earlier this year, for instance.
There are a ton of synths out there these days, but it’s also really hard to beat Pigments at 99 bucks.
All their deals:
Huh, I heard something about Arturia having an interesting week, but then I blacked out or something.
SoundToys has a steep, steep discount on individual effects and their bundle. I actually really like the “Little…” series versions of stuff, too, a lot of which are US$39 again, if you’re looking for something specific. But the full Soundtoys 5 bundle gives you 21 essential effects all in one for $229 for Black Friday, which is about as much comprehensive effects as you can get all at once, if you want a full catalog of stuff with lots of analog flavor added in.
Reason Studios deals right now are really cheap and free for a ton of Rack Extensions. Look, this ecosystem right now is just terrific – with quite a lot of gems you can’t get anywhere else. Almost everything is on sale right now. It’s just about the nerdiest collection of stuff anywhere this Black Friday. Reason itself and upgrades are also 30% off, but the Rack Extensions may even upstage that. (D16’s Decimort and Devastator are on sale, for instance, as is the Fritz granular engine, and the McDSP stuff.) And you can subscribe, too…
Reason itself is an exceptional deal – just the ability to run that patchable, modular ecosystem inside another tool, let alone Reason as an environment itself. This is about the best time to upgrade or buy:
VCV Rack has 25% off all the official VCV modules. Rack is free, so this is the best way you can support the developer. Host lets you run plug-ins inside Rack itself (for some serious yo dawg plug-in-modular-inside-modular action). Sound Stage is an innovative spatial sound tool (shown). Spectra is precise and wonderful. And things like Console are essential.
Check it all here:
WAVES always has a steep Black Friday sale, and this year is no exception – but the best deal is, you again get one plug-in for free. This year it’s from the CLA series which has had some nice stuff (it’s short for Chris Lord-Alge, the mix engineer who worked with Bruce Springsteen and Chaka Kahn, among others). Sign up to be notified when the freebie goes live, Friday only.
It’s here! And – ah, a plate / slap combo (see above). Good idea. (Especially as – don’t know about you – but now I have tons of reverbs with insanely long tails and sparkles and whatnot, but fewer things with tight slaps, predelays, and short plates.)
Spitfire Audio has steep discounts on their fine-quality instruments, made with folks like the London Symphony Orchestra, Ólafur Arnalds, and Hans Zimmer. But if you can’t afford that, check out their wonderful bite-sized LABS series, which is totally free all the time.
Output has all their stuff on sale, including their bundles. Or get the beautiful Thermal distortion multi-engine at a low price.
Antares has a number of effects on sale at Plug-in Boutique, but I think the most interesting is Mic Mod EFX steeply discounted. It models a ton of classic mics, but unlike most other products, it will use mics you already own (like an SM57) as the source, rather than making you buy a new mic. That’s obviously unholy cheating, but this is Antares and … I’m okay with unholy cheating.
Native Instruments has a bunch of software at 50% off. Whoa. REAKTOR is a hundred bucks. If you don’t own it, that’s about as much rabbit hole as you can get for that price anywhere. Mysteria at half off goes from being sort of weird to being something you really probably want. The SUPER 8 polysynth is fifty bucks. See the full list:
d16, the boutique maker from Poland, makes just the best of everything retro and dirty. When you need a drum machine, a perfect kick, a grimy distortion, rich vintage phaser or distortion or flanger or bit crusher, d16 are the go-to. And at 50% off you can pick off what you need:
If you can’t afford anything, their Frontier adaptive limiter is also really special and it’s always free.
Cherry Audio have steeply discounted everything, meaning the Voltage Modular we love so much is fifty bucks with electro drums bundled in – and now is an affordable time to add more modules. Nucleus is free again. And their MG-1 recreation is free. Their 106 and 2600 are $25. And just – all of these are great deals from an independent synth maker:
More on the MG-1:
Applied Acoustics (AAS) has their full range of physically modeled instruments on sale. And that’s a small club. Having raved lately about Friction from Reason Studios and the (AAS-built) instruments in Ableton Live, plus the always-lovely Apple Sculpture, AAS are the really major playor in this category, and they shipped a bunch of updates lately – including, crucially, an all-new version of Chromaphone. You can get just that for $99 or spring for a bundle. That’s newer and more feature-rich than what you get in Live, so it’s worth a look if you like these kinds of sounds.
FL Studio All Plugins Edition. Well, holy wow – $399 for the all-everything FL bundle, with lifetime upgrades, and up to 82% off for upgraders. FL Studio has always been a beautiful toybox. This is the filled-up toybox. See their shop.
Ableton do not actually have any Black Friday deals that I know of. But no mind – Live 10 is on sale right now for 20% off anyway, which includes the Live 11 upgrade for free. If I were on Live 9 and feeling like I was ready for some new stuff, I’d go ahead and jump for that, as 10 + 11 combined deliver a whole bunch of workflow features that gel together. You can be cautious and learn them gradually by starting with 10, or dive feet-first into 11 via the beta. See the Live shop.
I am not going back to 10. I could spend this weekend again in Hybrid Reverb and Spectral Time.
Bitwig Studio are offering up to 100USD off their production software – and 3.3 just arrived, with a ton of new features:
Steinberg has one of the biggest sales on here – I saved something for you. 50% off Dorico and SpectraLayers, among others, plus App Store discounts on Cubasis which is arguably the most capable mobile DAW available. I’ve been torture testing various notation software, and I have to say Dorico is the one I’m coming back to in order to write scores again. SpectraLayers is one of the most compelling spectral editing tools out there, too.
Modartt just upgraded Pianoteq, their beautiful physically modeled piano plug-in, but if you waited just a little bit on that upgrade (or buying it new), it’s now 20% off. It’s really the most significant update from them in years, for a unique modeled piano that runs even on Linux and now has some gorgeous string resonance capabilities and… well, here:
K-Devices, makers of delays and texture-producers and futuristic sequencers and arps, are one of the most lovely left-field ways of getting your musical ideas flowing. And they have a huge sale on – 50-60% off their Max for Live stuff and VST/AAX/AU plug-ins.
Another favorite boutique, Puremagnetik are creators of sound packs, devices, and bundles in a league of their own. They’re something special – not just a generic soundware company, but a label for sounds with a point of view and personality – and music releases to go along with them. 50% off now, and highly recommended. [SAVE50 = coupon code.]
Also a unique idea – sell 100 years of access to their stuff, also at 50% off. (50% off the cost, not off the number of years.)
Again, if you need something free, I’ve talked about their efforts in open source and music releases:
Youlean Loudness Meter is a really nice visualization of the loudness of your tracks – with all the newer metrics that make it easier to see dynamic range more accurately, and to better predict what will happen to your sound when it’s streamed and broadcast and whatnot. It’s 38% off now, and there’s an always-free version too. I started using this one, in fact.
Audio Damage are simply one of the best independent software developers on Earth – every plug-in, every app. And you get 50% off at checkout right now. (See also a note on their site about M1 compatibility and Big Sur, both; they’re uniquely on top of these things). Again, if you’re broke, they even have a free section you shouldn’t miss.
Riemann Kollection have 50% off their fine-quality, techno-oriented sound content – plus an insane 26 GB collection of techno samples (yeah, for techno that’s 15387 samples at 24-bit) steeply discounted to half a grand. It’s like the lowest cost you could possibly get on a ghost producer.
ROLI have discounts throughout their score, but the best deals there are probably picking up still more MPE-compatible synths you can get your (up to ten) fingers on. Cyper2 and Strobe2 are both half off, Equator2 is on sale, so if you feel like you need more MPE stuff to actually play, this is a good start (in addition to that Sensel / Audio Damage bundle).
SunVox and Virtual ANS are both 50% off – which is totally incredible, as they cost near nothing to begin with. It’s clearly the cash-strapped Black Friday sale, and there’s absolutely nothing that really competes with either one (unless you have an actual ANS at your disposable).
Speaking of deals…
KORG apps and software are 50% off. So if you were waiting to splurge on those excellent iPad apps, in particular, now’s your time.
Surreal Machines have 25-75% off their excellent software. That includes a whopping 75% off their Diffuse reverb delay, and Modnetic Tape Delay, Multi Reverb and Modulation Fx, which makes those both stupidly cheap. Even with software like Live 11 adding new time-based effects, none of it really does quite what these do. Plus if you have no money at all, check their wonderful (always) free transient shaper.
Some quite nice stuff happening in dynamic processing, too (as noted in comments, I also stumbled on these thanks to the sales – have to try them):
Newcomers oeksound have deep, precise tools purpose-built to do things that require some knowhow with existing tools – the resonance-killing soothe2 and transient-taming spiff.
Speaking of relative newcomers – it’s likewise hard to say you need another mastering compressor at this point. But then you notice the ways in which Unisum combines some of the best features of different hardware and software plugs in a single interface. It’s 40% off through the weekend. I also have never tried this one, but it looks compelling; I love the UX.
And yes, many other developers are on sale, too, like FabFilter, or through resellers.
Wavesfactory also have a bunch of unique, musician-friendly tools with some damn fine-looking UIs – plug-ins and Kontakt libraries. Everything is 50% off, and they also have a bunch of freebies (both of the plugs and Kontakt stuff):
Our own MeeBlip line now ships free to the USA and Canada with any order above $79 – on top of our already ultra-affordable synths and MIDI interfaces. So add a geode to your life with its gritty analog filter and hands-on controls, and don’t forget a special Black Friday cubit go bundled with MIDI cables so you can connect other new toys you pick up this weekend!
Focusrite / Novation have a huge hardware sale on. That means it’s a really uncommonly great time to pick up a Launchpad, for instance – including the velocity-sensitive Launchpad X and standalone-capable Launchpad Pro MK3, both of which added Logic Pro support on top of Ableton Live support (and tons of other stuff). And you can use them with Pure Data, as I’ve written about.
Their Scarlet interfaces are on sale, too, but at the high end I’m impressed that their 16-channel Dante interface is steeply discounted. It’s all here:
IK Multimedia have steep discounts on hardware and software, but I think maybe most interesting is the steeply discounted UNO Synth and UNO Drum – $/€119.99 and $/€169.99, respectively, which is an insanely affordable deal on two cute but capable instruments!
They make a bunch of stuff, and it’s up to 70% off:
Erica Synths have 30% off their Drum Series modules from Friday. But just as interesting, they’re launching an all-new B-stock store – not just for Black Friday, but for all time – with 50% off hardware from demo systems and returns. That’s huge, as it makes their stuff newly affordable to us. And you hard it on CDM first:
For more modules (via comments), note that Vult is 10% off with code BLACKVULT.
Sensel and their multi-touch, MPE-capable Morph have been regularly appearing on these digital pages. They have a multi-pronged deal this week. Morph bundles are $50 off – so you can get the Morph and your favorite overlay for around 200 bucks. Save even more on a bundle with the Buchla-inspired Madrona Labs Aalto plugin, SonicLAB’s Fundamental synth, or Audio Damage’s Quanta, Continua, and Phosphor.
PCAudioLabs, the custom PC builder (laptop and desktop) for music, audio, and audiovisual pros, has a ton of deals – discounts and even free audio interfaces. Worth checking here (North America):
Europe, XMG have 150EUR off their flagship DJ/live music-friendly laptop for Black Friday. The key here – no to bloat, yes to low-latency audio performance. And yes, this answers the question a lot of our European readers have asked about custom machines built for audio performance on this side of the ocean – XMG are here in Berlin:
I suspect a lot of Bandcamp labels will wait for next Friday for discounts, as that’s the last “Bandcamp Friday” of 2020 (and maybe ever – we’ll find out). But here are a some very nice Bandcamp deals, and if you have more, let us know:
We’ve covered the superb quality Detroit techno of one DJ T-1000, aka Alan Oldham. His Bandcamp is 30% off now with discount code “blackfriday”:
I’m a great fan of Lobster Theremin, the leftfield label out of London. They’ve got 20% off everything with code “LOBSTER20” on Bandcamp and discounts ranging up to 50% on their record store (for vinyl):
Northern Parallels is a fine purveyor of independent hypnotic goods. 30% off with BLACKFRIDAY code – but that lets some days, it seems, as they have a compilation coming up on December 4. Perennial favorites FBK and Dustin Zahn are on there, nice new one from Gabriella Vergilov, and more.
It is not a music product – well, unless you had a really good booking agent who put you on first class. But British Airways are selling off all their First Class accessories and china. Part of me is tempted to deliver hot towels to myself while working and grounded. (That’s not a referrer link, but if someone wants to give me a plate, uh, sure!)
Also Fanatical, the game store, have steep discounts that go even beyond the sale on Steam currently if you’re a gamer – check out via this link for a 5% discount. I wound up picking up a couple of games but mainly stocked up on some reading to learn how to code in Unreal Engine better, so don’t be surprised if my next performance or album winds up being in Unreal. And… maybe an RPG. But I’m a bad coder, so let’s wait.