Nord vs Nord

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Nelson Baboon
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Nord vs Nord

Post by Nelson Baboon »

I've looked at page after page on Gearslutz, but i'm curious here as to what people think.

PLEASE - i'm not interested in your opinions gleaned from listening to youtube videos, etc. Just first hand experience. Please......

I just picked up a nord lead 3 rack from a friend, and I'm surprised as to how much I like it. I've used Nords before - mostly the modulars, a brief fling with a 2x years ago, and I also had the original nord lead shortly after it came out. I have been trying to learn it with the torso t1 as its control victim, and have spent more time trying to figure out the t1 from horrible documentation, than i have really digging into the features on the nord. But I can tell by the surface level twiddling of the knobs, that i LIKE its sound. It has character, and really seems to be a willing partner of the t1.

enough background. I'm interested in picking up another nord to supplement it. I'd prefer a rack version, since I really don't have room for another keyboard.

all things being 'equal' or close to equal, I'd choose flexibility over sound. But then, a dramatic difference in sound quality makes up some ground....

these are my impressions from reading lots of opinions from various sources....in terms of synth capabilities, the '3' was kind of the apex (I'm excluding the modulars from this discussion. Not interested in going that route again for various reasons). But that's mostly just people ranting on gearslutz. I inferred that the functionality (not talking fx - talking synth functionality) increased from the 1 through the 3, and then they started adding fx and simplifying the synth features. I emphasize that this is just from opinions that I've read. And the other curve is the sound itself, where one opinion is that the 1 sounded the strongest, and then gradually weakened through the later models.

My current guess is that probably the 2x is my best bet, but there is the 2, and then the 1 which admittedly has a nostalgic pull on my baboon tail.

What do people here think?
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gentleclockdivider
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by gentleclockdivider »

Get a nord modular , it has the sound of the nord 2 and is the finest synth of the 20 th century .

Control it with the nord 3
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Nelson Baboon
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Nelson Baboon »

gentleclockdivider wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 7:05 pm Get a nord modular , it has the sound of the nord 2 and is the finest synth of the 20 th century .

Control it with the nord 3
thanks. i said that i wasn't interested in the modulars.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by gruebleengourd »

I had a nl1, still have a nl3... IMO the 3 is the most unique/interesting, it's also probably the most difficult to dial in sounds 'just right' NL2 / 2X really aren't that much different from the NL1. Compared the the nl3 they are less complex and generally sound 'good' in a VA prophet 5 kinda way. NL2 is pretty much the same as the NL1 with more voices, and the 2X is more high fi, but they are all pretty much the same synth. NL4 is the one that sounded best to me as far as "core sound", and it is more different from the other leads. If I had to get another nord lead that'd be the one. It has less morphing than the 3, but more pillowy pop to the sound compared to the nl3 sharp thin phasey lush vibe.

If you don't have a sampler&synthesis board, the nord wave 2 is cool, but I don't think there is a rack version.
Secret to all of the nord leads is to always program 4 layer patches.

my vote nord rack 4, but they are not easy to find.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Nelson Baboon »

gruebleengourd wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 7:24 pm I had a nl1, still have a nl3... IMO the 3 is the most unique/interesting, it's also probably the most difficult to dial in sounds 'just right' NL2 / 2X really aren't that much different from the NL1. Compared the the nl3 they are less complex and generally sound 'good' in a VA prophet 5 kinda way. NL2 is pretty much the same as the NL1 with more voices, and the 2X is more high fi, but they are all pretty much the same synth. NL4 is the one that sounded best to me as far as "core sound", and it is more different from the other leads. If I had to get another nord lead that'd be the one. It has less morphing than the 3, but more pillowy pop to the sound compared to the nl3 sharp thin phasey lush vibe.

If you don't have a sampler&synthesis board, the nord wave 2 is cool, but I don't think there is a rack version.
Secret to all of the nord leads is to always program 4 layer patches.

my vote nord rack 4, but they are not easy to find.
interesting about the 4. I read mostly bad things about it on gs, but I'm not ruling it out. The wave 2 sounded kind of simple in some ways? like only 1 lfo, etc. opinions i read of it is that the ui was really nice, and the sound was good, but it was limited for 'synth nerds'. Also, these are pretty pricey, and like you said - keyboard only.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by wuff_miggler »

^ the video of the bloke from Nord playing slide guitar on the Nord Wave is pretty amazing.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by dubonaire »

Nelson Baboon wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 7:32 pm
gruebleengourd wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 7:24 pm I had a nl1, still have a nl3... IMO the 3 is the most unique/interesting, it's also probably the most difficult to dial in sounds 'just right' NL2 / 2X really aren't that much different from the NL1. Compared the the nl3 they are less complex and generally sound 'good' in a VA prophet 5 kinda way. NL2 is pretty much the same as the NL1 with more voices, and the 2X is more high fi, but they are all pretty much the same synth. NL4 is the one that sounded best to me as far as "core sound", and it is more different from the other leads. If I had to get another nord lead that'd be the one. It has less morphing than the 3, but more pillowy pop to the sound compared to the nl3 sharp thin phasey lush vibe.

If you don't have a sampler&synthesis board, the nord wave 2 is cool, but I don't think there is a rack version.
Secret to all of the nord leads is to always program 4 layer patches.

my vote nord rack 4, but they are not easy to find.
interesting about the 4. I read mostly bad things about it on gs, but I'm not ruling it out. The wave 2 sounded kind of simple in some ways? like only 1 lfo, etc. opinions i read of it is that the ui was really nice, and the sound was good, but it was limited for 'synth nerds'. Also, these are pretty pricey, and like you said - keyboard only.
I had a Nord Lead 4 rack. I didn't like it. It's one of only two synths I've sold, the other being a Digitone. I bought the NL4 mainly because I wanted the drum mode stupidly not knowing they removed that feature on the NL4. Nord is such a frustrating company, it always seems to devolve its lineup. It has a nice interface but it really sounded very VA to me. I'm not an analog purist, but I felt it had an insipid quality compared to my other synths. That's probably just a personal taste thing but I think there are many more interesting synths around now.

By the way, no offence to the poster, but as to the suggestion to get a Nord Modular (which I see you are already not interested in), I see absolutely no point whatsoever in spending the current going price given it runs on dated hardware and abandoned software when you have VCV rack and Reaktor available.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by gruebleengourd »

dubonaire wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 7:59 pm I bought the NL4 mainly because I wanted the drum mode stupidly not knowing they removed that feature on the NL4. Nord is such a frustrating company, it always seems to devolve its lineup. It has a nice interface but it really sounded very VA to me.
I agree with all of the above. If the question is which other Nord, I say NL4, but If you would consider other brand of VA rack I'd recommend the Modor NF-1. The NL3 does some unique things and it's cool now and then, I feel like it is worth keeping, but it currently lives in my closet. The most similar synths to it that I have that are on rotation in the studio are the uWave XT, and the Modor.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Robscorch »

I made a huge mistake selling a Nord lead 2x... Honestly one of the best sounding va synths I've ever had in hindsight. I had a g1 modular miss the hell out of that too, but I never did quite understand the poly thing...

I will say that I want another 2x and when I have the opportunity I'm going to get my hands on one and not let it go this time
I've got some stuff for sale check it out here
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Blairio »

I bought a Nord A1 Lead a few months back. I was looking for something that I could quickly dial up and edit a range of different sounds, and the stripped back interface of the A1 and it's sound won me over. It is a deceptive instrument: you apparently have just one oscillator, but it includes a range of dual modes, to deliver FM, hard sync, detuning and combinations of different waveforms. There is only one LFO, but it is separate from the vibrato generator, and the single LFO can do one-shot, S&H and a bunch of other stuff. The filter has a number of emulations (303, Minimoog) but also regular 2 and 4 pole modes, and bandpass. The arpeggiator is pretty sophisticated, and the ability to sync pretty much anything to external clock is pretty cool. Then there is the polyphony - 24 notes, assignable across 4 slots. This means that effectively you have 4 completely independent six note polysynths ( each with completely independent modulation & delay & reverb FX), or you can split and layer 24 notes into some pretty amazing combinations.

What's more there is just enough spare real estate on top to the right of the controls to sit my new Micromonsta MK2. VA heaven.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by digitalganesha »

I've spent many years deeply invested in this exact subject and can give you my findings and conclusions; while being as objective as possible and free from arbitrary opinion, however personal preference is always a fundamental part in such things.

First - the "holy grail" of tips regarding the NL3 that is completely unmentioned in the manual and documentation, which addresses the inevitable ancient "thin, weak, not-as-ballsy" audio controversy that appears alongside of any mention of the NL3...
Most people using the NL3 mostly run audio out in mono, since the editable pan parameters are minimal. The third audio jack (OUT B) is the recommended and preferred jack for mono signal, however... internally, all the NL3's patches are setup for stereo output from the factory: and that is the problem. Running mono from OUT B without adjusting the internal settings will provide a signal that is not full frequency and often sound like it is phasing somewhat; hence the perceived lack of bass and solid low frequency foundation. To properly set the mono output, you must go to the 'SYNTH' system setting and down button to the AUDIO ROUTING page and change the active layer from S1 (Stereo 1) to M1 (Mono). Why this isn't clearly stated in the manual is beyond me.

The NL3 is an incredible and deeply capable digital DSP synth. Especially in performance mode, which is where I usually live on the NL3. It has it's own unique sound and Clavia correctly labeled it as "Advanced Subtractive Synthesizer" and not "Virtual Analog." However it is not 'king' of the Nords in regards to which is the best of the reds in the "sonic richness and audio quality" department. My comparisons, waveform investigating and extensive ear tests on both quality studio monitors and venue level PA systems determine that king to be the original Nord Wave. It sounds f*****g incredible in my very objective and experienced opinion.

The 2X is a good sounding synth, but it's the most mundane and typical "Nord" sounding of the bunch. It doesn't excite much. But its great at what it does. The earlier unrelated NL2, sans the X, however - is a totally different creature and sonically it is utterly awesome, proudly unique, abrasive, tonally complex and one meaty sounding digital synthesizer. The NL1 is similar but more limited.

The NL4 pisses me off. It might sound really trite of me, but the FX section ruins it for me. If the 4 had the FX section of the A1 - it would potentially be excellent in my mind. BTW - the A1 sounds REALLY good for what it's worth. The original Wave though still is the best sounding out of all to me. Ironically (as things with Nord often are) I feel the Wave 2 is not even in the same universe as the OG Wave. I find the Wave 2 to be quite awful honestly. Hope some of this is of use to you. Peace.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by wuff_miggler »

NL3 interface is fucking incredible.

i would really like one. i cant think of anything sicker than the ND2 or NL3 together.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by strettara »

The NL3 is indeed amazing. I regret selling mine, but it was a long time ago.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by 12eightyfive »

I've currently got a bunch of Nords.

When I got a bigger studio space, I was going to get the Nord Stage but decided that an Electro plus a Lead was the same price or cheaper and I didn't need all the splits or extra piano GB. I was going to get a Nord Lead 4 keys version, but I heard that those had weird transformer whines so I snapped up the Nord Lead 4 Rack and its a very cool synth (The wavetables! The mutation feature!). But I wanted the drum mode so I got a Lead 2 rack which has a really great basic sound. I was missing the keys though and the pitch bend so I got a Nord Lead 3 keys. This one is an odd one! The FM is really cool, it seems distinct from any other synths FM, but I don't understand it at all and it gets too extreme really quick. With patience, though, I get amazing sounds. The lit encoders, though! Why doesn't every synth have this feature???!?? Each Nord I've thought will replace the others, but they are so distinct and different. The racks sit under my desk and haven't made it onto a track yet, the Lead 3 sees the most use by far.

I also own a Nord G1, love the sound of it, but it's so frustrating building and managing presets - I haven't had any difficulty with the editor in Windows (knock on wood) but I'm sure any update now I'll be stuck with what's on the keyboard now. I use it as a vocoder or chaos machine most of the time, I second the above suggestion of pairing G1 with the NL 3 for others, but for you my vote would be the 2. I haven't tried the 2x for comparison, but I haven't been interested enough in the feature set to care (I never hit the voice count, don't care about the extra patch storage and am not sold on the 'improved' sound). The 2's are also really inexpensive now, there's a few keyboard versions on Reverb at the moment under a grand and a rack version for 640.

Had a Wave before and wasn't that into the synth engine, though I loved the samples (main reason for getting an Electro) but this was before I became familiar with building patches from scratch, I mainly remember the synth sound being kind of harsh but now I'm wondering if that was just the presets...

Wasn't wowed by the A1 when I tried it on its own or as the simplified version in the NS3 but I'd definitely give it a try again- seems like the bread and butter cousin to the 21 spice blend of the NL4.

Frustrating that unlike the ACCESS Virus series the Nord synths are so different and each new model feels like a step to the side rather than an improvement. I prefer the quirks of the NL interfaces and design though, over the Virus.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by carynrich »

Once in a while a great thread pops up on muffs, I’m learning so much from the discussion. And I’m appreciating the good dialogue, so thanks.

I got the original nord lead when it first came out in 95. I love how expressive and playable the controls are, especially the mod wheel and control stick. I didn’t like the thin sound though and haven’t followed nord since.

Glad to know that the versions that followed sound different, and this thread has peaked my interest. Hard to choose now with people weighing in on their fave.

One things for sure, can’t believe how expensive they are on the used market. Yikes!
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by digitalganesha »

One thing I always wondered regarding the NL3 (although this can technically apply to any of them) was whether changing/upgrading the DAC's with modern/better spec'd ones would have a beneficial effect if possible at all? Been really curious about this since changing out a couple opamps on my D50 and noticing the difference.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Nelson Baboon »

gruebleengourd wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 8:11 pm
dubonaire wrote: Thu Aug 05, 2021 7:59 pm I bought the NL4 mainly because I wanted the drum mode stupidly not knowing they removed that feature on the NL4. Nord is such a frustrating company, it always seems to devolve its lineup. It has a nice interface but it really sounded very VA to me.
I agree with all of the above. If the question is which other Nord, I say NL4, but If you would consider other brand of VA rack I'd recommend the Modor NF-1. The NL3 does some unique things and it's cool now and then, I feel like it is worth keeping, but it currently lives in my closet. The most similar synths to it that I have that are on rotation in the studio are the uWave XT, and the Modor.
i appreciate the recommendation, but this isn't a 'what synth should i buy' question. I wouldn't want to disparage the modor at all. The nf-1 is great. I'm looking for a nord.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Nelson Baboon »

interesting comments about the 2x vs the 2. There were a series of comparison clips that i found on GS, and i thought that the 2 sounded obviously better. But on the other hand, the person who made them allowed the 2 to be louder than the 2x, so I'm wary...plus in comparison videos you always have to rely on the person not being biased, and creating exactly the same patch (whatever that is with different synths)
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by gruebleengourd »

digitalganesha wrote: Fri Aug 06, 2021 7:50 am One thing I always wondered regarding the NL3 (although this can technically apply to any of them) was whether changing/upgrading the DAC's with modern/better spec'd ones would have a beneficial effect if possible at all? Been really curious about this since changing out a couple opamps on my D50 and noticing the difference.
I think it could make a difference. Switching a single opamp in the output circuit of even an analog synth can greatly impact the sound. The Akai AX80 is a good example in my experience (the big sound is due to distortion in the output, if you want to thin it out and reveal the warts, then by all means put something nicer in than a tl082). With a nord where the analog section is very minimal I could see part choice having a big impact on the sound. When I do use the nl3 I often run it through a sherman filterbank on mild setting and that does the trick rather well. Usually when I change opamps it is because the original is sounds hazy/ringy/to much mids (most every 80s synth with a njm4556 why yamaha???) and I change it to something similar with more detail and balanced warmth (almost always my preferred opa2227 / 2228). Maybe they tried to use an "overly detailed" opamp like the LM4562. It does kinda have that vibe, but I dunno never looked.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by slumberjack »

Using the 2X since about 10yrs. What I like is that I find sounds very fast and intuitive. With the P8 I need way more time to set up a nice patch.
It might sound a bit sterile but there is a harshness to be found when I play with FM, sync and/or ring mod. My bet is that the 2 is grittier.
OTOH you can say it is a very clean sounding synth easy to place in the mix.

1 & 2 are featuring a hidden mode where the knobs have different functions if I recall that correct. 2 and 2X got an extra filter mode which isn't metioned in the manual too.

Hope I wrote something useful for you.

Plus: A negative thing for me is the way it's potentiometers are working. They are set to jump. When switching from one slot to another, then turning the cut-off...meh that's why I think the 3 is the best out of them because the knobs are encoders.

Edited for typos
Last edited by slumberjack on Fri Aug 06, 2021 9:56 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Nelson Baboon
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Nelson Baboon »

well, all of the opinions about the nords are useful even if I don't think i'd agree with the person (not referring to your post). It gives me a sense of who likes which, and why.

and it really is funny how tastes changes. I didn't like the nords a few years ago, but i'm not hearing the things that i didn't like back then. I think that some of it is that (at least for my weird thought patterns and work flow) working with strange sequencers like the t1, and some other contexts, i really like the bright sound (doesn't really sound analog per se at all to me, but i don't care about that) and the easy, quick editing. And i messed last night with sending various controllers from another sequencer and that will work great.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by slumberjack »

The 2X has a broad list off CC functions when sequencing I'd check that back with the 1 and 2 in your case.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Red Electric Rainbow »

ive had every nord lead and still currently own the 2. i think they’re all great. i kept the 2 for nostalgic purposes but i also love it. the drum kits are great and have a bit of a one-up on the nord drum because of the 4 outputs. it also has a hidden synth (Pelles mode) inside of it. that all being said the new units have nice built in effects that sync to clock without issue and sound fantastic.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by GUM »

Have had the NL1, NL2, and NL2x (all rack versions) at various points in time, and the only one I regret selling is the 2x. Found the 4 extra voices to be extremely useful for my purposes, esp for the (very) few times I played out with it and was going full multitimbral and using all 4 outs. Def 'crisper' to the ears than the other two, if crisp is what you dig, and it layers extremely well with very little outboard EQ'ing needed to have it all gel.

I dunno if it was specific to my unit but, when playing a sequence, if I held down the shift button and quickly scrolled through the programs to the end it would kind of 'crash' the system and create a strange, buzzy, glitchy, broken patch that could still be edited. Got a lot of mileage out of that, sound wise, ended up with sounds somewhere between Fennesz and Autechre.

Still feel like it's the most versatile of all the VA's I've owned and often would make tracks with just the Nord, whereas with all the (non TI) Virus' I've owned, while still great, were too FULL sounding and required a tedious prodding / aural spanking in order to play nice with others.
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Re: Nord vs Nord

Post by Nelson Baboon »

It looks like i will probably work out a good deal on an original nord lead rack. I think that the 2 would be ideal choice, but some other factors way into this decision, if it comes to that. But if I can fit it somewhere, i'd love to have a 2 of some sort.
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