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Nord Stage vs. Electro + Lead?
Old 19th November 2009
Gear Addict
jsbeeth's Avatar

Nord Stage vs. Electro + Lead?

I have both the Nord Electro and Lead, but I'm considering trading them both in for a Stage model. Anyone have thoughts about this?

I'm generally a fan of the Electro, but the action bugs me, the dynamic range is limited, the black keys are louder than the white... and the acoustic piano tones suck!!! I'm hoping the Stage is better particularly in these areas, but is there anything else I should be keeping in mind when checking out the stage?

Old 19th November 2009
Gear Maniac
Oscar G. Hinde's Avatar

The stage is definately much better than the electro in these areas. Also, unless you have the electro 3 you'll get the mellotron emulation of the stage. Downside might be loosing the flexibility of having the lead as a separate synth. I'd think editing might be easyer on the lead than on the stage. I'd drop the electro, get a stage but keep the lead for an extremely cool two keyboard setup with great acoustic pianos, mellotrons and electromechanical instruments plus two very powerfull synths.
Old 19th November 2009
Well, that sounds like a lot of things wrong with the Electro... the black keys are louder than the white? Really?

Personally I am not a fan of the weighted keys on the Nord Stage. Kind of mushy and cheap feeling.

The Electro 3 can load programs from both the Nord Piano Library (for the Stage) and the Nord Sample Library (for the Wave). So as far as the piano sounds, you could get the exact same sounds with an Electro 3. (Presumably you have an Electro 1 or 2 or you'd already be familiar with the Stage piano library, for better or worse). No word on whether the black keys are louder than the white on the Electro 3... they might have accidentally left that off the bulleted feature list...

The Electro 3 has better organ modelling than the Stage. It has the same organ programs as the Nord C1 organ. The Stage organs are older, I think from the Electro 2. I played an Electro 3 in a store recently and I loved the feel of it... for organ and electric piano. The Nord Sample Library (for the Wave and the Electro 3) is fantastic. The Stage cannot load these samples.

I feel like they are due for an update to the Stage that would include the ability to load stuff from the Nord Sample Library, & the C1 or C2 organ models. Who knows how long it will be before they come out with that, though.
Old 19th November 2009
Originally Posted by Oscar G. Hinde View Post
Also, unless you have the electro 3 you'll get the mellotron emulation of the stage.
What mellotron emulation on the Stage? I've never heard of such a thing.

The Wave and the Electro 3 can both load mellotron samples via the Nord Sample Library, though.
Old 19th November 2009
Gear Addict
jsbeeth's Avatar

the black keys are louder than the white? Really?
Ha, yeah. What a bizarre quirk! It's somewhat subtle of course, but I swear it's true, and I've heard a few other people make the same complaint. I have an Electro 2 -- have you not noticed this on the 3? How does the action/feel of the 3 compare to the 2?
Old 20th November 2009
Originally Posted by jsbeeth View Post
I have an Electro 2 -- have you not noticed this on the 3? How does the action/feel of the 3 compare to the 2?
I don't own an Electro so I'm not familiar enough to say. From having briefly played the 2 and 3 (not at the same time) I couldn't tell any difference between the two keyboards' feel. The velocity problem with the black keys you've experienced might be software rather than hardware related so even if it's the same physical keyboard it doesn't mean that they would share that quirk.

You could try writing Nord customer support. They've always been pretty helpful to me. Maybe just ask them if the Electro 2 and Electro 3 use the exact same keyboard for starters.
Old 21st November 2009
Gear Head

Thought I'd give my two cents worth as a relatively new Stage EX owner.

Firstly, I reckon I'll second everything radiospace has said. Some great advice there.

To try to answer the OP's original question, if you're happy with the Lead and you can put up with the Electro-style semi-weighted waterfall action, then I'd say replace your Electro with an Electro 3 and keep the Lead.

If you just can't put up with the action, then your only options in the Nord range are the Stage series 76 or 88 key models. Moreover, if you need 88 keys, then the Stage 88s are your only option in the Nord range. It's for these two reasons that I purchased a Stage EX 88. Having said that, I don't think that the action of the Stage EX is particularly great (best I've played is still the Roland RD700GX). However, for a hammer-weighted board I think it's okay for playing Clav and organ (i.e. it seems to be an okay compromise board). Nevertheless, the semi-weighted waterfall actions are still, in my opinion, better for Clav and organ.

Reason I'd recommend the combination of Electro 3 and Lead over getting a Stage is that, as radiospace has said, the Electro 3 has access to the C1 organ model and the C1 rotary speaker model and has access to the Nord sample library (including Mellotron samples), none of which are features of the Stage or Stage EX. Moreover, the Electro 3 has a sweepable mid eq which is nice for dialing in electric piano sounds. The Electro 3 has access to nicer acoustic piano emulations than its predecessors.

Nevertheless, the Stage Ex does have features not found in the Electro 3. Unlike the Electro 3, the Stage EX has sympathetic string resonance for acoustic pianos and has a detuned, honky tonk piano feature (which is occasionally useful). It also has a delay effects unit. Finally, it is able to layer organ, piano and synth sounds. So if layering sounds is important to you and you want to stick with Nord, then you have to get a Stage.

In your case, I think you should spend a decent amount of time playing a Stage EX to work out whether you can tolerate the action and whether you like the acoustic piano sounds.

If you have any clarification questions, PM me.

Hope at least some of what I've written is useful.
Old 21st November 2009
Gear Addict
jsbeeth's Avatar

Most useful, indeed. Thanks guys!
Old 21st November 2009
Gear Head

Just to clarify again.

The Electro 3 and Stage EX have access to the same piano samples. It's just that the Stage EX (operating systems v5.xx and over) has sympathetic string resonance when using these samples. So it sounds a bit more rich and full, but that's not always desired for a live band setting.

Just to expand on the honky-tonk detuning function. The Stage EX lets you layer two acoustic pianos (i.e. one piano in Panel A and one in Panel B) and detune one relative to the other, thereby creating a honky tonk kind of sound. This is reasonably effective.

Due to the action and the 88 keys, the Stage EX is definitely better than the Electro 3 for playing acoustic piano, but the Nord acoustic pianos still just aren't everyone's (or even most people's) cup of tea. To state the obvious, I wouldn't buy a Nord purely for acoustic piano.

Overall, I'm happy with the Stage EX. My biggest gripes are the lack of access to Mellotron samples, lack of access to the newer C1 or C2 organ and rotary speaker models and lack of sweepable mid eq. I imagine they'll introduce all of these on the Stage 2, but who knows when that'll come out.


P.S. If you want a powerful synth and good vintage electromechanical instrument sounds, the Kurzweil PC3x is probably worth looking at. Kurzweil will be bringing out a lighter version (PC3 LE, I think). I'd definitely also try the Yamaha S90 XS.
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