Clavia Nord Stage by Chromalord
The Nord 3 Compact is mixed bag, some great,some not so great.
I realize Nord still remains somewhat of a boutique company, in that they sell a limited amount of products, have a small production line, and hail from Sweden, where export tariffs are not as cheap as say southeast Asia. So I have to give them some leeway in terms of their costs, which tend to be on the pricey side.
Im not going into tech specs, they are already at their website.
Build quality is solid: All knobs, switches, faders, are very sturdy. There are two displays, and they are very bright and legible. The screen graphics are very utilitarian, no fancy images or screen savers.
As you know, Nord products are red, so its a taste thing. The unit is very light weight.
The processor is very fast, the boot-up time is excellent.
The pseudo- waterfall Key-bed action is sturdy enough to play hard piano/Rhodes style, yet agile enough to use as an organ, clavinet, or synth.
The Piano library is impressive, and unique. 2GB in size, they cover a lot of variations. The touch response, zoning, balance, ambience is all there. Piano's are also a "taste thing" but personally I am perfectly happy using their piano in any situation. I have Kronos, Roland RD2000, and Yamaha Montage, and IMO the Nord piano surpasses all of them.
The electric pianos are also excellent: very dynamic, dirty or clean, West coast or East-coast; they're all there.
The B-3 section is excellent as well, they have nailed a lot of the details in the percussion, chorusing and the Leslie modeler is superb. Drawbars make for a quick fix, and feel great and are very responsive.
The Synth section, although highly limited in its editing and modulation routings, has fantastic fidelity, they offer different approaches to waveforms, such as standard analog, to formant based, complex digital waves, etc. You have discrete control over both waveforms, as well as changing the voice architecture. This is NOT a whimpy sounding synth at all.
Navigation: The Nord 3 is fairly straight forward in terms of navigating the panel. Although the panel is busy, it doesn't feel cramped, and a few quirks aside, you will be layering, editing and saving in no time.
All of the FX sections are very good. I find nothing inherently wrong in the fidelity of them, my issue is they don't offer a lot parameter control, and you cant run for example, 2 different phasers or flangers at the same time.
There are a decent amount of utility sounds. The ones that stood out to me, were the percussive instruments and some of the ethnic plucked patches, a few decent electric basses, and pizzicatos.
Most of the utility samples for the most part range from fair to awful. Some of them are noisy, some have bad zoning issues, some are loop-released poorly, some are even out of tune. It felt like to me like sampling 101 issues from the 90s. Its as if they had a different team program the sampled patches and did so in a room that had poor mid-range monitoring. The best of the bad is the Clavinet, which have attack, looping and attack issues, as well as being a tad on the lackluster side. On level with the Clav, are the combo organs which lack oomph, however to this point you could start with one of their organs and ad the synthetic organ-type waves on top and achieve good results. Nearly all of the brass and strings have an obnoxious mid-range "horny" sound to them. I only heard one string patch I could possibly use as pad and a couple of the pizz' presets were useful. I couldn't get on board with any of the brass patches, and only the reed instruments were acceptable from the woodwinds, except for the saxophones which sounded like they were from a EMU Proteus. None of the guitar patches were very modern sounding or useful, and there are so MANY Mellotron and Chamberlin which I find better examples in Omnisphere. Perhaps my personal biggest disappointment was the 2 pipe organs which are no where near the fidelity of the ones in their C2, for this amount of $ I was expecting more. Overall, the utility patches, by comparison, are much better in a Korg Kronos, Yamaha Montage, or Roland Integra, all of which, BTW are cheaper. I would have also liked to see balanced outputs on a unit in this price bracket.
What the Nord 3 does well, it does VERY well. This is not a unit for everyone. If you are a weekend warrior doing rock or wedding gigs this will do nicely, unless you need strings. Its very polished in most aspects, and its lightweight yet sturdy build will appeal to many. The Nord is also at home in the studio, covering a lot of professional-level ground for sure, but many will deem the acreage to come up short.