10 Things To Buy On Black Friday To Improve Your Music Production
[UPDATED – 23rd November 2020] – Black Friday is here again.
The biggest sale of the year is when musicians and producers get to buy the music gears, software, education, and stuff at discounted rates.
In fact, aim to buy useful stuff that will help you produce better music. If you think about it, it’s wise to spend now – and then hold off purchases for the next few months.
Here is a list of 10 things you can buy as a music producer during this year’s Black Friday sale. Just remember not to fall into the GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) but to get only the gears you need and continue making great music!
1 – Native Instruments (50% off over 190 products)
Native Instruments drops the biggest discount during Black Friday. This year, they are joining in with their Cyber Season sale, where you’ll get up to 50% discount across their large 190 products, from software to expansions.
Sure, the sounds, samples, and synthesizers that Native Instruments offer can be ‘mainstream’ to many. But at the asking price, you can’t go wrong having the Native Instruments collection in the list of your studio tools. A no-brainer for aspiring music producers.
This year, the sale includes some of NI’s latest releases, including:
- Arkhis – Cinematic atmospheres and underscores for orchestral music pieces.
- Massive X – Redesigned from the previous successful synth, Massive.
- Kontakt 6 – Industry-standard sampler.
- Pharlight – Vocal-based granular instrument, great for electronic-based music.
No sale for Komplete or bundles though, this year.
Check out the list of instruments on sale here: Native Instruments Cyber Season Sale 2020
2 – Buy plugins at Plugin Boutique
You can never have enough plugins as a music producer. From different synths, instruments, and effects – they all make up your creative palette.
That said, this is the best time to explore different plugins.
Plugin Boutique is known to drop huge discounts (up to 95%) off during Black Friday, and this year – there are plenty of useful plugins up for grabs.
An interesting offer this year is that you’ll get a free plugin of your choice (Quadravox, Drumazon, Animate, or Reason Rack Lite) with any purchase you make on Plugin Boutique.
Some of the best Black Friday deals at Plugin Boutique:
- Izotope Holiday Bundle ($49 instead of
$894) – A no-brainer deal, that gets you the best Izotope plugins like RX Elements, Iris 2, Nectar, Ozone elements, and more.
- Heavocity Black Friday – Up to 75% discounts on VST instruments such as the AEON Collection, DM-307, and effects like Punish.
- Arturia V Collection ($249 instead of
$499) – Huge range of soft synths that will keep you busy for a while.
See all deals at Plugin Boutique here: Plugin Boutique Black Friday deals
3 – Get Your Favourite Waves Plugins
There’s a reason why you see top music producers having at least a few Waves plugins in their studio arsenal.
And with Waves, you get more savings as you buy more plugins. Our advice? Get what you really need and focus on your music.
This Black Friday, apart from the 60% deal of plugins, Waves is giving out a free CLA (Chris Lord-Alge) plugin Echosphere.
Some of Waves best plugins bundles to look out for:
- Abbey Road Collection
- CLA Classic Compressors
- Kramer Tape – Lots of use for this Tape plugin.
- Vocal Rider – Essential for vocal production.
4 – Stock up Your Collection of Loops & Samples
Loops and samples add up to your creative process in music production. Again, something you can’t live without in the studio.
There’s a lot of songs today that either uses loops and samples, so don’t worry about using them in your arrangement.
If you need some fresh sounds or creative ideas to spice up your tracks, here are some great Black Friday deals for music loops and samples:
- Loopmasters Sales – Up to 60% on music loops, samples, and music production courses on Black Friday.
- LoopCloud – 3 months for only USD3 (free Loopmasters Bass Master Plugin). What a deal!
- Nomadic Sound – Free acoustic guitar samples. (Not exactly a deal, but it’s free!)
- Bvker Mega Bundle ($20 instead of
$160) – 3.91GB of serum presets, wavetables, drum shots, loops, tuned 808s suitable for Trap, Hip Hop, Lo-Fi or Synthwave.
- AudioPlugins – Up to 90% off for plugins and instruments by makers like Soundiron and Sample Logic on Black Friday.
5 – Go For A New Microphone
Getting good studio microphones is a good investment. Why? Take good care of them and they’ll last you a lifetime.
This is why it makes sense to avoid buying budget studio microphones, and instead save up to buy a better microphone.
If you’ve been wanting to experiment with new microphones in your studio, now is the best time to consider buying some and giving your studio a new breath.
Some studio-worthy microphones to consider:
- Rode NT1 Kit – One of the best microphones you can buy as a beginner-intermediate music producer. Records great sounding voice overs and vocals.
- Shure SM57 – Never go wrong with getting a few more SM57 for your studio. Extremely versatile dynamic microphone. Just be careful of buying fake ones.
- Lewitt LCT 540 – Clean, super quiet, and larger than life sounding microphone when paired with great mic pre-amp.
- SE Electronics SE7 Pair – Great for percussions, guitar and string instruments. A must-have for serious recording work.
- Shure SM57
6 – Upgrade Your Studio’s Computer
Here’s a rule I’ve come to learn as a creative person and music producer for some years:
Get the fastest computer you can afford.
A slow computer inevitably will slow your work process (and sometimes even kill creativity). So get the best you can afford and one that will last longer – so you can focus on the real work of making music.
If you’ve been looking to upgrade your computer, now is the best time to make that decision.
You can read my previous post on choosing a computer for music production, and generally here are some guidelines:
- Buy the fastest processor you can afford. The CPU is like a brain that does all the processing and you’ll need a fast processor if you use lots of VST plugins, effects and have many tracks.
- These days, an SSD drive is a must, whether internal or external. Especially important if you use sample-heavy instruments.
- Minimum of 16GB RAM, please. The more VSTs and samplers you load in your DAW, the more RAM you’ll use.
- Graphics cards are not as important for audio-based work. Some DAWs like Cubase are capable of offloading some plugin processing to the GPU.
What if I produce on Logic Pro and am looking for the new M1 Arm-Based Macs?
The latest Apple M1 MacBook and Mac Mini are out and early reviews have shown lots of promise. However, I would advise holding off purchasing a Macbook Pro at this time.
While benchmark speeds on the new M1 processor are impressive, one of the concerns is the maximum of 8GB memory on the unit. There are many signs that point the M1 Arm-based Apple Silicon Macs are not powerful enough for pro audio and music production.
Wait it out for the next generation.
Some places to shop for music production computers:
- Amazon – For some of the best Black Friday deals on consumer-ready laptops.
- PCAudioLabs – Custom-built pro audio desktops and mobile workstations.
- Scan Computers – If you’re based in the UK and looking for specially made music production laptops.
7 – Invest in a Microphone Pre-Amp
Microphone pre-amplifiers tend to be underappreciated by many young music producers since most audio interfaces these days come with in-built pre-amps.
Truth to be, a mic pre-amp plays an important role in that final sound you get in your production. There are many types of mic pre-amps available, and buying one is more art than science because you’ll get ten different answers if you were to ask 10 veteran audio engineers on choosing a mic pre-amp.
That said, some things to consider before buying a mic pre-amplifier:
- How many channels of pre-amplification do you need? Do you do solo recordings or mostly multitrack?
- A mic pre-amp is another link in your audio chain. How would it fit your current setup?
- Do you just need a mic gain or are you looking for a certain preamplification sound characteristic?
Some microphone pre-amplifiers to consider this Black Friday:
- sE Electronics DM1 Dynamite Active Inline Preamp – Class A circuit and FET microphone pre-amp, great as a signal booster for low input gain like the Shure SM7B.
- Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC100 – Consider it as your first step-up from digital-sounding recordings. Entry-level tube pre-amp below $60.
- Rupert Neve Designs 511 500 Series Mic Pre – Clean-sounding mic preamp that goes well for drums, vocals, guitars and more.
- Universal Audio 4-710D 4-Channel Mic Preamp ($2,199) – For the pros who want great-sounding A/D conversion.
8 – Get a Second Pair of Studio Monitors
Think you’re all set with one pair of studio monitors? While that satisfies most home-studio owners, many experts advise having two sets of studio monitors: your main near-field monitors, and another set of smaller speakers.
With a dual set-up, this will let you switch between different speakers to emulate different listening scenarios. Keep in mind that most listeners would be listening on cheap home speakers, their computer speakers, or earphones.
Great picks to check the balance of your mix:
- Avantone Active MixCube – They sound nothing like your main near-fields. But essential for emulating how your listeners will be listening to your music.
- Behringer C50A – Let’s you listen to how your mix would sound like in mono. Great for checking the balance of your mixes.
The Avantone Active Mixcubes
Or some recommended headphones for secondary monitoring:
- Sony MDR-V6 – Costs just over $100 and gives you a different listening perspective on your mix.
- Beyerdynamic DT-770 – Entry-level studio headphones that sound bigger than its price tag.
- Audio Technica ATH-M40x – Balanced studio monitor headphones for tracking and mixing.
9 – Improve Your Skillsets (With Masterclass)
One of the best things you can do for yourself during Black Friday, is to upskill yourself.
That’s right, instead of spending on more gear, improve your skillsets so you can do more.
Get a subscription with Masterclass and learn from the insights and thought-process of veterans in the industry, such as Hans Zimmer, Herbie Hancock, Armin van Burren, and Danny Elfman.
Check out Masterclass holiday deal: 2 memberships for the price of 1
10 – Maximize Your Productivity With a Better Chair
With the looming COVID-19 pandemic, you are going to be spending more time than ever in the studio (or home studio).
What’s one best-kept secret to becoming more productive? Comfort.
A proper chair in the studio isn’t a nice to have anymore, it’s a must-have. To me, a proper studio chair is one of the best investments you can make for your studio and will help you go through long hours in the studio.
What makes a good chair for a recording studio?
Find an office chair that has good lumbar support for your back. I tend to avoid buying leather chairs as they can build up heat and quickly get uncomfortable to sit in despite the premium feel.
I recommend going for chairs with mesh back and seat for more comfort.
Check out some chair deals on Amazon: Black Friday office chair deals on Amazon
Bonus #11 – Try A Different Type of MIDI Controller
A way to extend your creativity in the studio is to make music following a different workflow.
With music gears now on discount, give yourself a good excuse to buy a different type of MIDI controller.
What I mean is – if you have always used a MIDI keyboard controller to program music, perhaps try a MIDI pad controller. This would force you to make music differently from your usual process, enabling you to program music in ways you’ve not done before.
Who knows, a good musical idea might come from just doing that.
Some MIDI keyboard controllers for grabs during Black Friday:
- Novation Launchkey 49 – Simple, feature-full, and yet affordable with a decent touch on the keys.
- Arturia KeyLab MkII – A little expensive, but will appeal to hardware/analog enthusiasts who love to physically control their DAW and synths.
- Roli Seaboard – Gives you a new way of making music. Never hurts to have one in the studio to expand on your creativity.
And some great MIDI pad controllers:
- Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 – It’s like an instrument itself. The latest model brings in an integrated audio interface with super playable pads.
- Ableton Push 2 – Integrates perfectly with Ableton. A must-have if you produce and perform on Ableton.
- Novation Launchpad Pro Mk3 – Imagine being able to launch clips on Ableton, access mixers, devices, transport, quantize and more, without having to use your mouse.
I hope this list will help you make smarter purchases during the upcoming Black Friday sale.
Remember to only invest in things that are necessary, ideally those that will help you produce better music.
Last Year’s (2019) Black Friday Must-Haves in a Nutshell
- Native Instruments Deal
- Get a new PC/laptop for music production.
- Buy new effect plugins and samples at Loopmasters/PluginBoutique.
- Enhance your music production skills with Udemy.
- Upgrade your studio monitors.
- Buy a mini MIDI controller to travel with.
- Enhance your recordings with a new microphone.
- Invest in a microphone pre-amp.
- Get a proper chair for the studio.
- Buy a gym membership