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#13431 - 08/26/08 07:08 AM Played the Nord Stage yesterday.
FAEbGBD Offline

Registered: 03/20/01
Posts: 847
Loc: Nashvville TN
What a cool board. The thing I like about it most is a ton of buttons and knobs. That means no scrolling through menus! Pretty much everything you want to do is just a couple button pushes away. As a completely blind person, I found I was quickly able to learn how to change effects, edit effect parameters, play with synth filters, adjust the virtual drawbars, organ percussions and vibratoes, etc, and do it quickly. I just had someone show me where the buttons were, and I was good to go. In menu driven keyboards, not only do i need to know where the buttons are, but then how the menu is laid out so I know how to navigate around inside each of the menus. Not so on the Nord Stage. Well, then again I played it for 1.5 hours, so I am sure there are some things like that I'd have to learn, but I was able to do more editing with it than any other keyboard I own without a lot of menu descriptions.

The keyboard action is definitely weighted, but it seems to have a little less throw than a real piano. So you have the feel of a weighted keyboard mostly, but the keys just don't move as much, or so it felt. It definitely feels more like piano action than synth action, but it's sort of a compromise. Feels great on the rhodes and wurli patches for example. Doesn't work so good for organs; useable, but can't really do things like you would do on a Hammond. And of course the synth patches feel a little weird on this type of action. But it's definitely not the most authentic weighted action I've ever felt.

It would take me a while to get used to the joystick thinggy they use for pitch bend. My Roland xp-80 has a joystick type pitchbend/modulation all built into one. The Nord has the mod wheel, but the pitchbend is not a wheel. To me, it felt like one couldn't be very precise with it. I mean, bend it all the way up or all the way down, but don't try to do half bends and such. I might be wrong on this and it might work just dandy after a little time to get used to it, but it wasn't immediately comfortable for me.

Sounds: so subjective. What I will say is that the online demos you can find do a pretty good job of capturing what this sounds like. Although I must say I was able to get way better B3 sounds out of it than any demos I heard. There is just something about the attack of the notes though that isn't completely authentic. Maybe it has to do with the fact that on a real hammond, if you press the key down very slowly, you will find the different tones coming in at different times; which you can't really hear when you just play normally. Still, that means that each of the tones is not sounding exactly at the same time, even if it is just a matter of a couple milliseconds. But on the Nord, all the tones sound at once, which might explain why the attacks of the notes just didn't sound totally right on to me.

Rhodes and wurlis sounded more authentic on the Nord than any other keyboard I've ever played. Clav, I wouldn't know; never played the real thing. Annalog synth, not my thing, not that interested, no comment.

Acoustic pianos. Well personally I really like the pianos. They don't seem over eq'ed/processed. The release samples and sympathetic resonance are nice features. And to have some real upright samples rather than just tweaked grand samples was a bonus. However, I don't think the Nord can do half-pedaling, or repedaling. It might have just been the pedal they had plugged in. For a stage piano, I'd think that half pedaling and repedaling would be required these days. So that kind of bummed me a little. I'll have to ask some questions about that to make sure; the guy at the store didn't know for sure.

So there you have it. There might be something I left out. I spent about 1.5 hours on the thing, and overall really liked it for accessibility and overall sound quality. That many buttons and knobs can seem intimidating, but in my world, it actually made things much easier. Oh, and a final thought, I was really worried about the 40 voice polyphony on the piano patches. Synth and organ have unlimited polyphony from what I understand. But somehow, the 40 voice polyphony didn't seem to be a huge issue, and I did some huge chords with lots of sustained arpeggios. Of course, it was a bit noisy in the store so I might have missed something, but I tried to listen pretty closely to that.

OK, that's it, unless someone asks a question that I can comment on.


#13432 - 08/26/08 11:23 PM Re: Played the Nord Stage yesterday.
Nigel Offline

Registered: 06/01/98
Posts: 6483
Loc: Ventura CA USA
Thanks so much for the review Rory. That was very thorough and answered all the questions I had. I guess the only other question I have that you may not be able to answer was how heavy did it seem to transport around?

I'm guessing it uses the modeling technology that they use in the Nord Electro series. I have heard them used live and sounded great for Rhodes and Wurli emulations. Actually the B3 sounded pretty good from the audience point of view so the deficiences you mention may only be more noticeable to the performer.


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