Black Friday is a terrific chance to buy more than just a laptop or some headphones. A lot of music equipment is also discounted. The least expensive present idea isn’t necessarily purchasing a synthesizer or a guitar pedal. Therefore, now is a good time to act if you’re looking for something exceptional for a particular someone but want to make it as agreeable to your budget as possible. Here are a couple of our top online offers for music-making devices.
ASM Hydrasynth Explorer
The most synth you can buy for about $600, I claimed in my review of the Hydrasynth Explorer from last year. Since then, almost eleven months ago, nothing has changed. And right now, it’s $500 off. For that amount, you receive both the distinctive keyboard with polyphonic aftertouch and the same potent digital engine found inside the much more expensive standard Hydrasynth. Just a little bit smaller and with a busier interface. Although the remaining members of ASM’s Hydrasynth family are also on sale, the Explorer offers a nearly unbeatable value.
The latest entry in Elektron’s midrange groovebox series is a lot of things — an analog synth, a digital drum machine, and an absurdly powerful sequencer. But one thing the Syntakt is not is cheap. Sure, $999 isn’t crazy considering everything and the kitchen sink approach, but if you’ve been hesitant to commit that much to the purchase, now might be the time to take the plunge. The Syntax is down to $799 across several shops, including direct from Elektron. And while it’s focused on percussion, a recent firmware update added two new “machines” that focus on more melodic sounds.
If the Syntakt isn’t quite your cup of tea, but you’re still intrigued by Elektron’s unique workflow and sequencer, most of its higher-end instruments, like the Digitone and Octatrack are also 20% off this weekend.
Korg Minilogue XD
When the Minilogue XD launched for just $650 it staked a pretty convincing claim to the best bang-for-your-buck synth. A few years later, it’s no less impressive. But its price has crept upwards to $730, and competitors have started chipping away at a grip on the affordable and approachable end of the market. That makes its Black Friday drop to just $600 even harder to pass up. Korg is offering several discounts across its range, but the clear stand out is this 18-percent off on an incredibly versatile synth. It combines four voices of true analog polyphony with a digital synth engine and effects. Plus, the Logue SDK opens the instrument to third-party developers to build their digital oscillators and effect. (Sinevibes in particular makes some great ones.)
UA Volt audio interfaces
An audio interface is essential for basically any budding musician. And while the market is saturated with plenty of excellent, affordable options, the Universal Audio Volt 76 series stands out from the pack. They’re undeniably stylish, offer low noise and latency, and have large easy-to-use controls and vintage mode for additional warmth and character. But what sets the 76 apart, from even its cheaper Volt brethren is the all-analog modeling of its legendary 1176 compressor. Sure you could run a plugin that tries to do the same thing — and arguably the results would be more versatile since you can always remove it in the post if you want. But there’s something about the version built into the Volt 476, 276, and 176 that just has a touch more life.
While the entire Volt lineup (save the 476p) is on sale, and all are solid values, it’s the Volt 476 and 276 that should be at the top of your shopping list. Especially now that they’re marked down to $329 and $269, respectively.
Poly Effects Beebo
The Beebo is a fascinating pedal. Calling it a guitar pedal feels a bit dishonest. It’s a digital modular synth and effects system with a large touchscreen, that just so happens to be crammed in a guitar pedal format. It can do basic guitar stuff like chorus and overdrive. It can be an amp modeler. It can also be a synth or a MIDI controller. In short, it refuses to be pigeonholed as any one thing. One of my favorite tricks is loading random audio recordings on it to create custom wacky reverbs. And it’s constantly being updated with new features and bug fixes. (It received about 50 firmware updates in 2020 alone.)
Considering the power contained within the regular $449 seems reasonable. But, right now you can pickup up a blue Beebo from Perfect Circuit for 12 percent off. (Unfortunately, the bright pink colorway is still full price.) I’d move quickly if you’re considering it, however. The blue units are already listed as being out of stock, and the shop might not continue to take discounted backorders for long.
We haven’t covered Bastl Instruments much on AFKFree, but the company makes a range of strange and wonderful instruments. If you buy direct from the company right now they’re doing a 30-percent sale on everything they make from Eurorack modules to desktop synthesizers. I’m a particularly big fan of the company’s smaller and more affordable oddities like the Kastl (potentially the world’s smallest modular synth), Kastl Drum (similar concept, but for percussion), and the Microgranny (an ultra-lofi granular sampler). They’re pretty great stocking stuffers even at full price, but at 30 percent off with the code “welcome2bshop”, they’re a true steal.
Moog Sound Studio bundles
Seven percent off isn’t exactly huge, but it’s pretty rare to see Moog stuff get a markdown. So seeing their Sound Studio bundles discounted at all is worth noting. The Sound Studio bundles come with two or three of Moog’s semi-modular instruments, namely the Mother 32, DFAM, and Subharmonicon. They also come with a mixer, a bunch of patch cables, a stand, a card game, and other educational materials to get you started. These are not the cheapest way to introduce someone to synthesis, but one the more luxurious.
The two synth bundles are down to $1,299 from $1,399. But you get a slightly larger discount if you spring for all three, which will set you back $1,899, down from $2,099.
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