Nord's classical Virtual Analog Synth Nord LEAD 1/2/2x/3/4/A1 and Nord Rack versions

Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby ianpatrickroe » 18 Jan 2021, 02:15

Hello,

Really sorry if this is a rookie awful question, but I am about to purchase my first ever hardware (after just using VST's in Ableton up until now - so I'm totally new to the hardware game) and I am debating either the Lead 4 or the A1.

Which one I choose - well that is another matter (and a whole load more YouTube demo videos to watch), right now, I just need to know, am I all set up with the correct audio interface?

I have a Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen (https://focusrite.com/en/usb-audio-inte ... rlett-solo)

Notice how it only has a single XLR input, and a single 1/4 inch input - will this be a feasible interface for either the Nord Lead 4/A1? Or do I need to make sure I have a L/R input?
Also, after reading around, I am concerned the back of this interface is too basic, as I DEFINITELY want to be able to apply midi IN and OUT capabilities and I have seen people plugging stuff from the Midi IN on these devices into their audio interface.

Simple question is, can I use this Nord product with such a basic interface or do I need to face facts - I have to upgrade to a better interface? If the latter, any recommendations?

I will need the most simplest, dummy proof responses I'm afraid. I'm not good with techy jargon at the moment. Pretend you are talking to a dumb ass and I will understand lol
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Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen


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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby 23skidoo » 18 Jan 2021, 04:11

The solo won't do stereo tracking, so in my personal opinion, no, that's not a suitable interface for tracking a stereo synth. MIDI can be done via USB on either synth, unless you want to interface them to other gear that is DIN only, but if you're using that with your computer only then USB is sufficient. The main reason I'd update your interface is for stereo recording, which requires at least two channels (left and right). On the other hand, Focusrite's 3rd gen interfaces are just fine, so if cost is an issue for you and you like the Focusrite software in general, there's nothing wrong with their interfaces from a technical standpoint. Can you do better? Sure. Do you need to? Definitely not at this stage. They're what I call "good enough, move on". Upgrade them when you have a solid reason - e.g. you know you need more channels, you know you want integrated DSP, you have a measurable and provable latency problem that something else definitively fixes, etc. You don't have these problems, you just need a stereo interface, so depending on your money, a 2i2 or a 4i4 would be great choices. If you can afford the 4i4 you can do some cool tricks like using all four outputs of your Nord on separate tracks which speeds up session work, but it's not a big deal if you can only afford a 2i2. If you expect to play live and want to use your interface as a mixer for a couple synths in the future, though, buy the interface with more channels if you can swing it.

There's no one right answer and a lot depends on your money situation, your goals, your future plans, and how you work in the studio, but at minimum I'd have a 2i2 (I actually started doing all my synths and recording with a Scarlett interface back in the day), and as I mentioned, a 4i4 will let you use the fullest potential of your Nord when you're ready to take advantage of it.

Another option might be to get a mixer with a built-in USB if you expect to add more gear fairly quickly. The Tascam 12 seems to be a popular budget choice, but here there are lots of choices, details, and I can't really make a solid recommendation for you.
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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby baekgaard » 18 Jan 2021, 09:00

You probably have good reasons for not doing so, but have you considered the Wave 2 as a possible alternative 3rd board in comparison with the Lead 4 and A1?

Sent from my phone in brevity
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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby ianpatrickroe » 19 Jan 2021, 23:14

23skidoo wrote:The solo won't do stereo tracking, so in my personal opinion, no, that's not a suitable interface for tracking a stereo synth.


Couldn't have asked for a more perfect response. Thank you ever so much - I think I will sell my single Channel Scarlett and get a bigger one. I've heard the same thing regarding technical spec - I think I'll stick with the focusrite range until big producing begins to happen but right now, I'm happy with this brand.

Thanks again
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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby ianpatrickroe » 19 Jan 2021, 23:16

baekgaard wrote:You probably have good reasons for not doing so, but have you considered the Wave 2 as a possible alternative 3rd board in comparison with the Lead 4 and A1?


Ah, I didn't even know this existed but yes, i think i would rather have the separate interface because I don't really know how long I will even have the Nord for - since I am in the early stages of music production I am trying to 'find my sound' - pretty sure the Nord is going to smash it for me after weeks of research and demo's, but you never know, and if I sell it I would like to not have the faff of finding another interface when I'm also hunting for another synth.

Appreciate the recommendation though. Good to know this exists - this is a winner for live performance.
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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby CountFosco » 20 Jan 2021, 09:17

In my home studio, I use the Behringer UMC404HD interface. It's extremely good value for a 4x4. I have my hardware keyboards going to a submixer with stereo outs, and those outs go to 2 of the UMC's ins (3&4). I have Ableton set up to always use those two channels as a stereo pair, and the other two channels as separate mono inputs. Then I always have the two mono channels available to add vocals, guitar, violin, whatever without messing around with any connections. For me this works well. When the usual suspects come to say "But Behringer...", block your ears, it's fine. Your initial setup can skip the submixer, as you'll only have one keyboard, but if you go this way you'll future proof your studio for the next several iterations (which are inevitable!)

About your choice of keyboard, that's an interesting one, and will depend on the sounds you're mostly using. I use a mixture of electro-mech and synth sounds, weighted more towards the synth end. The Electro is essential for EPs, APs, organs, and I usually prefer to play those sounds live than use VSTs. But for synths, I find it works out roughly 50-50 between using VSTs or hardware. The A1 more than covers everything I need for that, and regarding surface controls and program management it's an enjoyable and flexible synth to play live.
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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby ianpatrickroe » 20 Jan 2021, 16:58

CountFosco wrote:About your choice of keyboard, that's an interesting one, and will depend on the sounds you're mostly using. I use a mixture of electro-mech and synth sounds, weighted more towards the synth end. The Electro is essential for EPs, APs, organs, and I usually prefer to play those sounds live than use VSTs. But for synths, I find it works out roughly 50-50 between using VSTs or hardware. The A1 more than covers everything I need for that, and regarding surface controls and program management it's an enjoyable and flexible synth to play live.


Hi thank you for your response. Noted on the Behringer.
Keyboard wise, I really want the A1 but one of the things it sells itself on is a 'warmer' closer to analogue sound. Unfortunately, 'warmth' isn't what I am looking for, I want something with punchy, grimy, sometimes metallic synth sounds, and if someone could tell the A1 has capabilities of also being 'less warm when you want it' then I feel this is the ultimate synth as I can then have the best of both worlds, but to this day, no one has ever said that, so it seems it's either the Lead 4 if I want to mainly have 'less warm' sounds.
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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby 23skidoo » 20 Jan 2021, 18:10

I own the A1. I use it for everything from SFX to bells to digeridoo-style growls to brass to woodwind-like stuff to CS-80 warmth to Arp 2600-style R2D2 stuff. It is definitely a limited synth in many ways, but I find that makes it faster to get close to the sound you want and just play, rather than spend days in sound design. My A1 is a studio workhorse for general sound design because of this. It's got a great sound, and you can totally make it less warm when you want it - its FM and waveforms make metallic a total breeze. A lot of the bells and atonal elements on this album were done on the A1 (in fact the majority of synth sounds come from it): https://alattia.bandcamp.com

For an only synth, it's a tough choice between the A1 and the 4. I think they're really two totally different instruments. The A1 is a brilliant first hardware synth, but not an "only" synth, if that makes any sense. But since you have VSTs for really special complex stuff, I think you'll love the immediacy of it in a hardware sense - it's the distilled essence of an immediate workflow and does that brilliantly. The keyboard doesn't suck, for a fast unweighted lead keyboard either and I love the pitch stick for jamming. My NL3 gets most of the raw lead duties these days, but the A1 is still a bread-and-butter all-rounder and always fun to play.
Last edited by 23skidoo on 20 Jan 2021, 18:11, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby ianpatrickroe » 20 Jan 2021, 20:21

23skidoo wrote:For an only synth, it's a tough choice between the A1 and the 4. .


Very insightful. I'm actually looking to create sounds like this...https://soundcloud.com/nadaninadienunca

I got it touch with this guy and asked him what his hardware was and he mentioned is was actually 80% done on the Nord Rack 2 (so an older system) - so doing my research, I looked into the Nord and realised that the later models had some added features (modulation / effects) which appealed to me. It's the extremely raw, crunchy (honestly, really UNWARM) vibes in this song I want to create. And When ever I look at demo's of the A1, all I am hearing (and maybe because they want to demo the reason it's GOOD and what it's known for) is this Sub 37 style warmth and whilst that's lovely, I just don't think the song would have the same spine chilling 'crunch' with that sort of vibe. So I guess, if the A1 can tone down the warmth, fantastic, sounds like it would do the job nicely, giving me the option of warmth when I want it...

But if not... this will make me struggle to find the dirty gritty sounds I want to create. What are your thoughts? Such a struggle, the hardware decision.
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Re: Nord Lead 4 / A1 with Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Postby 23skidoo » 21 Jan 2021, 01:40

Well the 4 is basically a Lead 2 with some more stuff bolted on so if that's for sure what makes the sound you want I think you've got your answer right there!
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