Amazon has a surprising sale on Roland and Novation drum machines, among others. Here are some top picks.
The big surprise comes from some of my favorite Roland boxes, if you’ve been following CDM this year. Heck, I don’t have the TR-06 and kinda want one thanks to its trigger ins, so I may cause myself some temptation here.
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Roland’s TR-06 was arguably the company’s best little box this year. It has the sound of the 606, easy, but thanks to Roland going digital it still runs on batteries on the go. And they added all the modern niceties you’d want – USB in/out of both MIDI and audio, an updated sequencer with shuffle and substeps, plus five trigger outputs and one trigger input. That last bit makes it workable as a compact bridge with your other gear.
US$299 moves it into that must-have territory. I know plenty people who got one this year and have been really happy with it, too.
But then again, we just read this on the Amazon product reviews and – wow. I think I can quit writing about music tech, because I can’t top this.
“As far as other uses than a drum machine I didn’t really see the purpose of this machine. IMO its not suited for making much else than drum patterns (which it does well)”
Yeah, it’s useless as a drum machine other than being a drum machine, so probably don’t buy it and move on. I retract my recommendation.
The Roland TR-6S is the pint-sized version of the TR-8S – same engine, just in a shrunken form factor (not to be confused with MC-101, which is based on the MC-707). I love my 8S enough that I’d almost consider this as a second version to keep with me everywhere. US$349.
Otamatone Deluxe is US$63.59 in white which is about the best price I’ve seen on it outside Japan. This is the large-sized model, which is the easiest to play. I love my smaller one – the weirdly simple interface and oscillator with a formant filter that comes from physically squeezing its cheeks is irresistible. This model also gives you a proper audio jack and a big volume knob. Yeah, I want one. You think Eurorack is an addiction? Try cute Japanese eighth note characters.
It is honestly hard to decide between the Novation Circuit Tracks and Circuit Rhythm. They’re both great; they both have features that are nearly identical. So here, now it’s easy – Novation Circuit Rhythm, the sampler one, is $299, as opposed to $385-399 for the Tracks. Fine, that solves that.
Novation also gives you a lot of options on its Launchpad line. It seems Amazon has all the keyboards on sale, but I especially like the Novation Launchpad X for $169. That model is pretty perfect as far as balance – compact and light, but still with RGB pads and velocity sensitivity. It’s sort of the ideal grid when the Push is too complex or too heavy (or both). And I wrote a guide to hacking it – which is really easy, thanks to its simplicity:
Shure SM57B remains the best podcasting/voiceover mic out there, and it’s rarely, rarely on sale anywhere. Here it’s $359.
I’ve been using Roland’s video switchers and mixers for about 20 years now. The V-02HD for $350 is pretty compelling if you just want some simple audio/HDMI management. Sure, Blackmagic’s ATEM series can do more, but I’d seriously consider this one for the low price and physical controls (and switch to Blackmagic for its recording capabilities on the higher-end models as the upgrade – plus you might find a use for each, especially at these prices).
It’s just got that dead-simple design that always made us use Roland (originally Edirol when the company sold under that moniker) here and there.
Jeez, I should have set up a ‘gift’ account as I could use a couple of these.
If you just need to plug in some extra storage, there’s the SanDisk 512GB Extreme PRO USB stick, $84.99 for Cyber Monday. Now, I love this thing – even the 128GB model I got feels luxurious (check the prices on the others, too). 420 MB/second transfer means it behaves almost like an SSD. It has a retractable design so you protect the USB A port, but it feels way, way more rugged than other SanDisk stuff. The trick is, for maximum compatibility you’ll want to reformat to FAT32. Do that, and miracle of miracles, the thing works with CDJs. (The 512 I haven’t tried personally, but I think the same trick functions.) The advantage there is, you have one USB stick with all your music on it, for home listening or DJing, either way. (Mine is basically formatted to Rekordbox and then used with my players of choice on macOS, Windows, and Linux – uh, Vox, AIMP, and whatever I happen to be using at the moment, respectively.)
Here’s how to do it, from the source:
Formatting SanDisk USB flash drives in FAT32 format using third-party Windows applications
It’s even easier on the Mac; you just use the Drive Utility (it’s labeled MS-DOS FAT, but they mean FAT32 – don’t worry, you won’t accidentally wind up with FAT16):
Formatting on a Mac computer [SanDisk]
Trying to navigate even SanDisk’s product naming will give you a headache, let alone their competitors, but the ones I highlight here are verifiable as the most reliable options (YMMV).
It also works with NI’s Maschine+ standalone hardware, as I’ve verified with the engineers, along with the drive I mention below. And actually, the stick would have been the lifesaver purchase of the year, if I didn’t get –
SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD is now available at $119.99 – not technically a Cyber Monday deal, but a very competitive price. That’s the new-generation model with up to 1050 MB/s transfer speed. I’ve got one now as my mobile drive. They also work with devices like Maschine+ and other similar devices. That 1 TB model is the right price/performance sweet spot for me, because you can hold a couple of active projects, edit video and multitrack audio right off of it, and keep the bigger drives on your desk for archiving and backup.
Just be sure to buy a longer USB C-to-C cable, as the one included is way too short most of the time.
That’s what I’ve got. I’ll resist the temptation to link some trashy karaoke machines, but let us know your choices in comments.