General Discussion of the Nord Stage (EX), Nord Stage 2 (EX), and Nord Stage 3 Synths, FAQ, Troubleshooting etc.

My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby kbmatson » 10 Jan 2019, 18:22

Well ... this has been very strange for me. I purchased my Stage 3 Compact in October. I have to admit I was not impressed at first. In fact, a few weeks into it, I was beginning to wonder if I had wasted my money. and all the "Nord Mythology" was just that ... a myth.

- Maybe it was the fact that my first unit had a defect and had to be replaced - which BTW, Sweetwater did very quickly and easily.
- Maybe it was all the complaints and problems I saw all over this forum about piano sounds, EPs, Organ, and OS problems.
- Maybe it was just the fact that the Nord sounded so different from anything else I had ever had ... just raw, dry, in your face, with little polish or processing.

In any case. I stuck with it ... started tweaking sounds.. did all the OS upgrades .. and just played it. I set up programs, downloaded samples, made some of my own samples, and started using layers, splits, morphs, etc. ...and then ... you know what? ... i started to think it wasn't so bad ... then I thought ... this pretty damn good ... then it grew on me and grew on me, and I started to fall in love ... and now, I take time to go play it every day even when not working with my band, and I have to say ... I REALLY love this keyboard!

For anyone new to Nord and a bit befuddled or disappointed by it ... here's my thoughts and advice. The Nord Stage 3, unlike any other keyboard I've ever had, is an acquired taste, and a slow developing love affair. After a while you realize it almost sounds "too real" - and doesn't have the shiny, gleaming, polished, and highly processed sounds that most keyboards do out of the box. You have to get to know it, and you MUST spend time tweaking or finding sounds to get what you want out of it!

After playing it for a few months now ... I go back to some of my other keyboards that I thought sounded "better" at first, and realize it was just an illusion. Now they sound so electronic, or over-processed, or cheesy compared to the Nord. I can close my eyes on the Nord, and think I'm really playing a Rhodes, or a B3, or an OBXa. The new EPs and filters have really kicked that up a notch and sound freakin' GREAT. I'm quite happy with the acoustic pianos. I've got my organ tweaked to where I'm just in love with it, and the synth ... despite the odd architecture, sounds fantastic and I've been able to get everything I've wanted out of it. The sampling ability is a HUGE bonus.

I counted and have owned over 50 keyboards since the 70's when I started this adventure. This includes acoustic pianos, Rhodes, Clavs, Farifisa, Vox, multiple Hammond-Leslie combos, and many, many synths from my first Minimoogs through DX7/5, D50, Jupiter 8, Memorymoog, Ensoniq, Motif XS8, Korg M3, and many others. As of the moment - I can say that this Nord Stage 3 Compact is my favorite out of all of that - especially for live performance. I feel so in control and frankly ... powerful ... with the Nord .. my bandmates are amazed and I get a lot of "man that thing can do anything" kind of comments as well as a few "holy shits" .

anyway - with all the negativity that has been up here ... and some of it justified with the OS problems ... I thought I'd post something really positive, and especially to encourage any new Nord owners that are struggling a bit to love their new instrument!
Last edited by kbmatson on 10 Jan 2019, 18:23, edited 1 time in total.

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My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3


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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby kbrkr » 10 Jan 2019, 22:43

I similarly agree with everything you mentioned. However, I will say the NS3C I have today is does not sound the same or operate the same as it did in October. Nord's consistent tweaking has made it sound optimal. Normally, I would not have been this patient (13 mos) with a board. I too was 2nd guessing myself and was going to go back to my Kronos 2. My Kronos still sounds so much better because of the effects, multi-samples, Combi's, etc. But The organs and the form factor and the ergonomics of the NS3C pretty much win out over the Kronos.
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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby 23skidoo » 10 Jan 2019, 22:58

Count me in to the "preferring Nord samples, effects, and overall sound" to everything else I've heard including Roland, Kurzweil, Korg (incl. Kronos), etc. That's why I dropped the money on a Stage instead of other workstations. I've never really loved the sound of Korgs, though, to be fair (even though I owned a Triton ProX back in the day, and the Kronos today isn't massively better in terms of sample quality, organ and piano realism - there's something plastiky about them, I find), and IMO the pro Yamahas sound the "next best" to Nords, but they still sound "rompled" and the Stages have so much more realism to my ears, not to mention the excellent workflows and immediacy of the Nord interface. The marriage of a real VA synth to the sampled pianos and emulated Organs is really fantastic and something that very few other synths do at all, let alone well, even today.

I can tell I'll probably pick up a Lead 4 at some point, to build on the ease and fun of the A1, but I've got way more than enough synths as it is right now (my Prophet is what I turn to for craziness, the A1 is for bread and butter and synth stacks, and the Stage is for those gorgeous keys and layers), but the Stage has become the centrepiece of the entire studio and my default MIDI controller too, thanks to the ease of integrating the extern section. Brilliant work for a "stage" piano, heh!
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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby kbmatson » 10 Jan 2019, 23:44

Just a quick thought on Korgs. I've owned a lot of Korg boards over the years. My first "real" synth was a Korg MS20 - late seventies. I've owned Poly 6, Poly 61, a Wave, and currently an M3. I've also got a CX3 Organ.

Despite several of these being very useful to me over the years - for example the Poly 61 was my first poly synth - I've always found Korg synths to sound thin to me. The MS20 was horribly so, and I didn't even know it until I got a Minimoog, and went "holy Crap" when I heard the difference! Now I never owned an M1, but loved the way they sounded in the music store, and I've never had a Triton or obviously, a Kronos. But I can tell you that the M3 i have sufferers the same problem - thin sounding. Maybe it's taste ... maybe it's just subjective. But I'm just not impressed with Korg synth sounds. I did love the CX3 however!

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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby Hervshahn » 11 Jan 2019, 00:15

@kbmatson:you’re perfectly mirroring my experience with my first Nord ever (NS3C) over the past 8 months, fully agree with what you’re writing. I just started selling my other stuff since the Nord pretty much covers all I need, have just added a NS2EX-88 to it a few months ago to the NS3C because of the action which I like more for acoustic pianos. I may just keep my Motif XF white anniversary edition out of sentimentality :) :roll:

Also agree with you on the Korgs, I had a M1 about 30 years ago and this one sounded great, but I never found another Korg after that which sounds were satisfying me, so I moved over to Roland and Yamaha before I finally arrived at the ultimate Nord Stage (for me)
Last edited by Hervshahn on 11 Jan 2019, 00:19, edited 3 times in total.
The best in music is not in the notes.

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Nord Stage 3 Compact
Nord Stage 2 EX 88
Yamaha Motif XF7 WH
Roland RD-800
Radial Key Largo
... Lots of accessories...

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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby Hobster » 11 Jan 2019, 00:57

Totally agree about the NS3C. I'm actually still on v1.36(!!) but even with this version I still LOVE this board!!
I was thinking of biting the bullet soon and trying v2.02, but I may give it another version increment because of the potential 'sound silencing' issue that some people here are talking about...

Definitely up there (and beyond) with the Mellotron M400, Rev 2 Prophet 5 & Kurzweil K2000 as the best keyboards I've ever owned.
The only other keys I've still got after all these years are that really old K2K and an even older Korg Wavestation EX!

I've owned a few Korgs over the years; Polysix (which, like my Rev 2 P5, was really nice'n'warm with its SSE chips and phenomenal in Unison mode - I'd mod'ed it so the detuning of the six oscillators could be varied more), CX3, M1, Trinity Rack, Triton Extreme and the Wavestation.
I agree with others that although Korg late-80's & 90's synths/workstations sounded really glossy and initially very impressive, once you used them regularly they ended up sounding too clean, thin & plastic; except for the Wavestation which although it doesn't have a resonant filter, does have a LOT of warmth & punch when necessary!

But the NS3C really is a King (not a Jack) of all trades and although I do use a GSi Gemini to augment its sounds when I'm feeling really fussy, I could (and do sometimes) gig with only the NS3C and not feel at all short-changed :)
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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby rva_jeremy » 11 Jan 2019, 22:45

This is very well said! I got my Stage 3 Compact a month ago, and at first I was really disappointed when I'd jam with my bands because it seemed like nothing would come up when I'd dial it up. I was coming from a Nord Lead 2 and a Nord Electro 2, both older keyboards that lacked all the features and were therefore more straightforward to use -- just go through the patches and pick the ones you like. It wasn't like that with the SC3.

For example, I'd try to get a clavinet with wah-wah and have too many choices, and when I'd pick one some other thing would interfere or it just wouldn't sound right. Now that I've spent some solo time playing with it *while reading the manual* (very important to have that manual handy, more than any keyboard I've ever owned) the interface is more and more intuitive, and I don't know how I lived with my Korg SV-1 for so long. As a software developer, I appreciate not just the interface design but the fact that the price is about more than just the hardware: it clearly represents a huge amount of research into what live performers actually need.

The synth features represent a fantastic middle ground between the full flexibility of say a Nord Lead and just using presets on a keyboard. I've struggled in the past to effectively leverage all the parameters of a synth, and moving from a JP-8080 to a Nord Lead 2 was a huge step up in live options. But now I really feel like I've hit the sweet spot, and I especially love the simplicity of mapping aftertouch to parameters. Mapping things is so dead simple, and it really helps you explore the experience of modifying the sounds in real time. And with the splits I can do, all my sounds are much easier to access than in the past when I relied on external controllers.

My advice to get started if you're brand new: go through your setlist and write a program for each song. This will help you consider actual performance scenarios where you'll find yourself starting to think, "I wonder if I could…". Then you go google it or look it up in the manual. Before you know it, you'll be researching every button or function that you normally would have been like "I don't care about that". The Nord Stage 3 Compact is by FAR the best music purchase I've ever made.
Last edited by rva_jeremy on 11 Jan 2019, 22:50, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby Hervshahn » 11 Jan 2019, 23:51

rva_jeremy wrote:As a software developer, I appreciate not just the interface design but the fact that the price is about more than just the hardware: it clearly represents a huge amount of research into what live performers actually need.


Very well said! :thumbup:
The best in music is not in the notes.

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Nord Stage 3 Compact
Nord Stage 2 EX 88
Yamaha Motif XF7 WH
Roland RD-800
Radial Key Largo
... Lots of accessories...

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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby cphollis » 12 Jan 2019, 02:27

I was reminded once again last night about just how awesome the NS3C can be.

One of my current projects is this trio act, and we're working up 3-4 sets of what could charitably be called cocktail music. I haven't done this stuff since university. Jeez, can they sing. Wish I could! My role is clear: provide the framework for these two vocalist folks to do their amazing thing. Also, plenty of room for me to stretch out as long as I don't get in the way of the vocals.

At rehearsal, we were running through some modestly powered (but super accurate) amplification. Everyone got lost in the rich, lush sounds that the Nord could easily produce, myself included. Not over-processed, but clean, accurate and organic. There was some hypnotic swaying going on. If something didn't fit well with the song, easily adjusted. How do you like the harpsichord layered with a pipe organ, with a bit of bass synth sweetener?

And the new EPs are, well, super-tasty compared to what we had before.

It was super fun for everyone. They all loved the way I could dial up completely different "feels" for the backing track, they could comment, and I could respond in a matter of seconds. One of the musos asked me "what are you playing? I've never seen anyone change their sound so quickly." I gave him a thumbnail of the Nord deal.

Let's not forget the magic of song mode, shall we? After I got done creating 60-70 interesting sounds (plus some of the stock presets), I got busy loading up song mode with the half-dozen set lists across four bands I have to deal with (maybe 300 songs total?), including last-minute re-orderings, additions, deletions.

Once I got every potential song in there, re-arranging into whatever the current sequence for the next gig doesn't take long at all. The "move" function is completely intuitive.

At the gig, play a song, advance to the next one. Want to something different for each part of a song? No problem. Use list view if you want to see what's coming up next. All with realtime control to tweak (but not rebuild) your sound as you go along.

For me, the icing on an otherwise fabulous cake. If I could only bring one board to a desert island, this would be the one. Oh yes, and a pair of RCF TT08-a speakers to make it sound fabulous ...
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Re: My Intensifying Love Affair With My Stage 3

Postby hernjov1 » 12 Jan 2019, 17:06

@ kbmatson, you took the words straight out of my mouth!! Lol This NS3C is the bomb! I've been playing keyboards all my life, and have had Roland's, Korgs, Yamaha's etc, and my Nord after fiddling with it a couple months is now blowing me away with real sounds!! Used to bring out three boards to get happening sounds for my band, and now this Nord gets me everything I need live by itself! 1998 was my last purchase with keyboards. I waited until last Sept to purchase a board that has authentic sounds, with on the fly knobs to tweak on live performance's! @ first the raw sounds weren't what I thought they should be, but there are reasons why this board has knobs!!! New Nord people start tweaking them sounds and watch the goose bumps begin!
Nord Stage 3 Compact, Roland A-70 Controller, Roland D-50, Korg NSR5 module, Roland A-7 Keyboard Guitar. Many accessories. Past boards. Juno 60, Roland 106, Korg Poly 6, Yamaha DX-7, Hammond B-3 with 122 Leslie...
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