I had a great time on Black Friday. Although culturally it means nothing to us in the UK, if you’re a halfway decent bargain hunter you definitely can snag some excellent deals. It’s a great way to bolster your gear and plugin libraries, so it pays to save a little ready for Black Friday.
In the article below, I’m sharing my thoughts about some of my highlight purchases this Black Friday season. The idea is to let fellow music producers know how saving up and picking your purchases wisely can get you some cool new gear for less cash.
Amphion One15 Studio Monitors, Cables, And Amp100 Power Amp
Normal Price: £2879.00
Black Friday Price: £2520.00
Very often even if items aren’t in the Black Friday sales, doesn’t mean you can’t get a discount. Stores are planning on making lots of sales over the period, so it’s possible to negotiate a great deal on practically anything. This was the case with my new Amphion monitors, which were the result of some excellent customer service and a bit of bartering on my part.
Amphions are incredible studio monitors made in Finland. Each monitor is handmade to high specifications. They sound fantastic with an extremely clear midrange. Aesthetically they are gorgeous looking, much nicer in real life than in any photographs of them. One15s are passive monitors, which means that they require a separate amplifier to run them. The company also makes the Amp100 amplifier, which I purchased alongside the monitors and cables.
I can’t stress enough how much difference investing in your studio monitors can make. The difference in my work even in the short time I’ve had them is phenomenal. Their clear midrange means I can focus on the part of the frequency spectrum where the human voice sits and often is interfered with by guitars and synths. The stereo image created by the Amphions is also incredible. They were a big purchase, but that discount is a huge help.
Nail The Mix Enhanced 1 Year Subscription
Normal Price: £300
Black Friday Price: £225
Music production can be expensive, but I firmly believe in spending your money in the right places. You may have the greatest collection of orchestral strings libraries on earth, but if you’re monitoring through bad speakers, everything you hear will be wrong. Monitors, the audio interface, and acoustic treatment rank very highly for me, but so does education. For that reason, I was thrilled to get a huge discount on a year’s subscription to Nail The Mix.
If you’ve not heard of it, Nail The Mix is a subscription service provided by Unstoppable Recording Machine, an audio education company ran by Eyal Levi (producer and guitarist), Joey Sturgis (producer and plugin developer), and Joel Wanasek (producer and guitarist). As well as access to a library of incredibly detailed instructional videos, every month you also get access to the raw stems from a real album session (usually from the Metal world, but Country and Rock artists also appear). You then have a month to mix and submit the track, to be critiqued by your peers and entered into a monthly mix poll. After the poll, the original mix engineer will show you how they mixed it, in a live internet stream, complete with Q+A. Let me put that another way. You get to watch a real mix engineer mix a real track and ask them questions, live.
I’ve found no other way of getting hands-on learning experience of mixing, and I love metal, so for me, this is a no-brainer.
Normal Price: £130
Black Friday Price: £86
Every now and then a plugin comes along that just changes your mixing workflow. For me, Soothe was the most recent example of such a utility. The plugin automatically hunts out resonances and allows you to smooth them out, in multiple bands. For vocals, it’s almost like cheating. Before owning Soothe, I would use multiple instances of dynamic EQs to tame annoying frequencies, especially on a moving target like vocals. Soothe does this automatically, over many more frequencies than I could conceivably control, and using far fewer CPU resources than, for instance, ten dynamic EQ plugins in a row.
Sonivox Filmscore Companion
Normal Price: £125
Black Friday Price: £28
A huge saving on a bundle of orchestral libraries previously reviewed here on BPB by Bryan Lake.
Although I love the way they sound, there is no real function to place the (very large) sample libraries onto an external drive, which is a big deal for me. I contacted Sonivox about this having failed to find a solution online, and at the time of writing have not received a response. This is a shame, as the libraries are very good, but I cannot justify having half of my MacBook taken up with a single set of plugins.
Sonivox Silk Road Percussion
Normal Price: £11.50
Black Friday Price: £2.80
For £2.80, you have to take a punt. This heavily discounted VST plugin is a cool collection of middle eastern Percussion sounds. I use a lot of scales that have an eastern feel, so I might throw a couple of these samples in for effect. Again, for such little money, it has to be worth a try, right?
JST Transify and Tominator
Normal Price: £49 each
Black Friday Price: £10 each
JST is the plugin company launched by Joey Sturgis who I’ve already mentioned once in this article. I have previously reviewed his Soar delay and Gain Reduction Deluxe compressor, which are both excellent.
Transify is a multiband transient designer, and Tominator is a drum-bleed plugin. Now, I already have plugins that cover these bases but have had my eye on the JST versions for a while, suspecting they may be better than the current plugins I use. This purchase was an excellent example of spending money in the right place. It’s easy to go down the path of spending a fortune on the latest and greatest compressor, for example, whereas the truth is, you might not be dialing in your compression correctly in the first place. The issue is your knowledge and not the gear, so to speak.
So although I did want to try Transify and Tominator, I had them on my Black Friday watch list, and I made do with what I had until they came up at a great price. For the record, they are both great and better than what I was previously using. By contrast, I really wanted U-He Diva, but it didn’t come up on sale for Black Friday. I have lots of soft synths, and although it would’ve been nice to get Diva, I passed because it’s not an essential for my personal workflow. It’s through this method, and saving, that I was able to get a set of great monitors, which affect everything I hear.
Getting Ready For Christmas!
Well, that’s it! I spent a lot of money, but I saved in advance and by buying at the right time and investing in gear that gives the most bang for your buck, you can avoid frivolous purchases and get the most out of your discounts.
The next big sale is the post-Christmas January sale. I want to hear what’s going to be on your watch lists, and if any of you guys got any great Black Friday deals, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!