Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals 2017


#1

I’ll keep updating this post with edits to save scrolling down. Some of these (eg Audio Damage) have finished, but others (eg GeoShred) are still to come:

  • GyroSynth free;

  • SampleTank and IAPs half price (I just got American Acoustic); also IK’s iGrand Piano and iLectric Piano, and the Syntronik full IAP is discounted to £54.99 or whatever that is in everyone else’s money;

  • all Crudebytes apps & IAPs (iSymphonic, Colossus Piano, &c.) half price; Oriental Strings now only $1.99, and if you have both that and iSymphonic you can then complete the Crudebyte Audio Apps bundle and add iCathedral Organ and CMP Grand Piano for a total of $0.51;

  • Korg apps half price (so e.g. Module $19.99);

  • up to half price off iMusicAlbum apps (including the mighty SynthScaper, $9.99 from $14.99)

  • a swathe of Michael Eskin’s folk-instrument apps down to $0.99 (but unfortunately not the MIDI versions, which remain at $4.99);

  • half to 2/3 off ZMors apps;

  • Embertone’s Sensual Sax and Jubal Flute half price;

  • various deals on all Sugar Bytes apps (including Unique for iPhone down from $4.99 to $0.99);

  • 40% off Quantiloop Pro;

  • Bram Bos’ Phasemaker, Troublemaker, and Ripplemaker $4.99 (from $8.99);

  • $2–3 off apeSoft apps (Mood now $6.99);

  • $2 off IceWorks synths (Laplace, Mersenne, &c.);

  • Amazing Noises apps up to 50% off;

  • Alexander Zolotov’s apps (including Virtual ANS) half price;

  • Audio Damage apps mostly have a couple of bucks off (Eos 2 is fantastic);

  • Cubasis, Auria, Beatmaker 3, Audulus 3, Modstep, Neo-Soul Keys Studio all half price;

  • Symphony Pro 40% off;

  • Zeeon and Sunrizer 30% off;

  • both synths called Scythe are on sale: the Burgerkone one is free, and the wavetable synth from Bitmask Studios (which I like a lot) is 2/3 off at $4.99;

  • $2–3 off Kymatica apps (including the magnificent AUM);

  • Audioshare $2.99 from $4.99;

  • Photophore $0.99 (a steal);

  • 76 Synthesiser $0.99;

  • Navichord $4.99 from $7.99;

  • Elastic Drums $3.99 from $8.99;

  • SeekBeats $6.99 from $11.99;

  • DM1 & DM2 below half price;

  • four outstanding sequencers: Fugue Machine and Chordflow are half price, Quantum is 40% off, and Xynthesizr is $3.99 from $6.99;

  • Bias FX 75% off;

  • TC-11 $9.99 from $24.99;

  • Klevgränd’s Brusfri and Wizibel are half price;

  • modest discounts ($2) on VirSyn apps;

  • Syntorial is $89.99 for the full version (normally $129.99) from Friday to Sunday (this is a really good deal – see next post for interminably more);

  • GeoShred and MorphWiz are 40% off on Monday, and Tachyon half price;

  • Tonestack is down to $1.99 (from $9.99) on Monday, and its excellent IAPs reduced by the same proportion;

– and Yonac’s new synth Kauldron is on an introductory 40% price of $3.99, which is very good value. Sort of a little sibling to Kaspar, less powerful but more instant-gratification programmable (the killer feature is a constrainable randomiser for preset parameters, which looks like a great lazy way to learn synth programming), and with a barely-credible 900+ presets.


#2

This may be worth a weekend heads-up: Syntorial’s latest customer circular teases a Black Friday sale, which isn’t on their website yet and from the sound of it won’t be till Friday actually comes. It’s likely to be very limited, but is a big deal because the regular price is $129.99 and sales are infrequent (the last was in October 2016) and short. I wouldn’t expect more than a 20-30% discount, so it’s not going to be an impulse buy even at the sale price - but if you might want it, this will be the time to buy. Everyone who does get it at a discount tends to say it would have been worth full price in hindsight, but the decision does depend on trying out the free version first.

For those who haven’t come across it, Syntorial is an interactive tutor in programming subtractive synthesis that works by teaching you to program sounds by ear on a generic modular synthesiser whose features are unlocked progressively as you master them. Bite-sized video lessons lead into interactive challenges, and each chapter ends with a guide to transferring the techniques learned to the controls on a synth of your choice. (I found Thor particularly good for this on iOS.) There are about 150 lessons, spanning over 4 hours of video, with 600 puzzles to solve and another 100 blue-sky challenges. The heart of the process is the “group challenges” at the end of each chapter, where you have to match patches using the whole cumulative repertoire of techniques mastered to that point. The final chapter comprises 25 of these, which is like unlocking a whole bonus level and will keep you going for days or even months.

Syntorial has an unusual purchase model under which the desktop & iPad full versions are included in a one-time purchase, which also includes the optional add-on lesson packs for an assortment of desktop soft synths. (One of these, Cakewalk’s excellent Z3ta+ 2, has a very good iOS port, so if you pick that up you get a free course in programming one of the best iOS synths.) The first five chapters (out of 33) are free, as is the full-featured built-in synth (which works well with the I1) and its presets, so you lose nothing by downloading and taking it for a spin. If you want to take advantage of the sale price, you may need to buy it from the website rather than as an IAP; this may have changed, but when I got it in the original iOS launch sale the IAP wasn’t discounted and you had to go to syntorial.com, buy at the sale price there, and then you got a code for the iOS IAP. You can set up your account with the free version so your progress is saved and you don’t have to redo the lessons you’ve already done.

The first four chapters can be blitzed through fairly quickly in one or two sittings, but it rapidly gets more challenging (and more rewarding) after that point, and you’ll know by the end of the free portion whether you want to continue. To help you decide, take a look at the table of contents and at the full synth, where you may want to go through some of the presets to get a sense of the kinds of sounds you’ll learn to sculpt. I found it took about a month to work through at an hour or two a day, and that it was a good idea to spend some time with it every day rather than losing momentum.

Do you need it? If you ever want to program a synth, it’s generally regarded as the motherlode; the alternatives (mostly YouTube videos and archived online articles like the Sound on Sound series) are much harder to work through without the magic ingredient of interactivity and feedback. If you’re happy playing off-the-shelf sounds (samples and built-in presets) and aren’t particularly interested in sculpting your own sounds, there’s plenty in the existing range of apps and effects to keep you nourished - though Syntorial does include comprehensive lessons in standard effects like chorus, reverb, phaser, and distortion along the way. And many synth players are happy just exploring on their own, twiddling knobs and poking at envelopes. But the quality, quantity, and cheapness of iOS synths is now so ridiculous that you may find it a worthwhile investment just to shorten the learning curve and parse the presets on what’s out there. This year alone has brought Zeeon (the new pack leader), Mood, SynthScaper, Scythe, Kaspar, Kauldron, PPG Infinite, Baervaag, Syndt, Phasemaker, Korg iMono/Poly and the extraordinary LayR to stand alongside existing classics Animoog, Model 15, Nave, DRC, Z3ta+, Addictive Pro, Mitosynth, Poseidon, Sunrizer, and the much-missed Alchemy, among many, many others. Tune the bottom two strings on I1 down an octave and the sounds you can make with this stuff will blow your ears off.

It won’t teach you additive, wavetable, granular, or vector synthesis (for those I like Sam McGuire & Nathan Van der Rest’s book The Musical Art of Synthesis), though subtractive synthesis is still the heart of it all, and a lot of the principles and specific skills are transferable. [Edit: Though also promised for Friday is a lesson pack for desktop wavetable synth Serum.] But if it sounds like something you might want to pursue, it may be worth having a look at the free version a few days in advance of the sale to see if it’s a plunge you’ll want to take.


Syntorial on sale
#3

I only realised today it’s not until the 24th! As a mostly-oblivious-to-Thanksgiving Brit, the amount of lead up to this makes it quite confusing. Considering we didn’t even have this at all til like five or six years ago (thanks Amazon!) it is ridiculous. But that explains why I hadn’t been tempted by many bargains so far at least. (err, except for a Kontrol and Komplete 11 bundle, heh)


#4

Yes, I think of it as a really late Guy Fawkes where we build bonfires of money and terrorise our pets with stupid explosive noises.


#5

(I’m rolling subsequent updates into the original post. Scroll back up to the top for any additional deals.)


#6

My big discovery out of that lot is Sensual Sax, currently still half price on $4.99. The killer feature for I1 use is the big master dial in the centre of the screen simply labelled SEX, which simultaneously turns up vibrato and increases reverb while adding a touch of delay. Tap the settings button at top left and map this to CC1, and you can control this master parameter with the I1 by enabling tilt in the I1 settings. The result is a fantastically expressive sax sound that responds beautifully to subtle changes in tilt.

I also bought and like the sister app Jubal Flute, but it doesn’t have an equivalent feature or as many individual parameters to play with. Both apps work fine on my iPad (except that I can’t get the sax one to load as an AUv3 in Cubasis), but on my iPod Touch with iOS 10.1.1 they don’t work as standalone apps; you need an AUv3 host like GarageBand or AUM, and even then in AUM the screen controls are clipped while in GB you can’t access them at all. Still perfectly playable, though.


#7

Native Instruments has 50% off a lot of stuff. I ended up snagging the KOMPLETE 11 upgrade for $200 (although I already owned KONTAKT 5 to get that deal).


#8

@Nick I just wanted to say thank you. I spent a few satisfying hours exploring all these.