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

NS2 or NS3

Postby Marceys » 14 Jan 2020, 10:26


I have a question for you Nord users.
i am currently playing a Roland stage RD700NX in combination with a Kronos2 (61 keys) and i’am thinking of replacing the Roland with a Nord Stage 88 keys.

there are NS2 88 boards for arround 1900 euro’s and i can lay my hands on a NS3 88 for 30050,- euro’s.

my question is, is the NS3 such an upgrade that i should spent the extra 1000,-?

someone can advice me on this?

thanks in advance,


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NS2 or NS3


Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby RichardG » 14 Jan 2020, 12:34

Maybe this will help ?


It's from 2013 tho'...

Can't find a comparison with the NS3, which has it's own strengths. ... ison-chart

It all depends in the end what you want and expect from it, and what that is worth to you.
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Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby hoopyfrood » 14 Jan 2020, 14:22

Hi, I play both NS3 and Kronos - they complement each other well. As RichardG says, it really depends what you're looking for.

If you're primarily using the NS2 / NS3 for acoustic pianos (as in my opinion this is where they both outperform the Kronos), the NS3 is better as it has larger piano memory and the piano filters on NS3 give a wider palette of sounds. Depends how many different piano sounds you need.
For organs, some people prefer the NS2 - it took a long time and several software versions until people were happy with the NS3 organ sound. For a Hammond sound, NS2 and NS3 are both good and very accessible, Kronos CX3 can also sound good with K-Sounds Organimation - slightly thicker, but perhaps less authentic, and less direct control than NS2 / NS3.
The synth section on NS3 is generally more capable than NS2, but if you've got a Kronos, that's probably redundant!

One small detail I have found useful on NS3 is that if you are using tempo based LFOs / Arps etc., the NS3 can reset the tempo to your playing (similar to the Gate 1+Damper function on Kronos), which makes it much easier to stay in time with a drummer. NS2 can't do this. Also the Aux input on NS3 routes through the output, whereas NS2 just routes to the headphones. This means you can connect Kronos via the NS3 to the PA. I often do this if I have another instrument going through the Kronos audio inputs and using the effects.

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Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby GeeDeWee » 14 Jan 2020, 15:32

I once replaced my Roland RD-500 for a Stage 2 HA88. Never had any regrets, but it takes a learning curve getting to know the instrument (Nords in general). It's not a 'preset machine'. It's about tweaking to something yourself very quickly and easily. Once you get used to it, you'll probably never go back.
A year ago I replaced my Stage 2 for a Stage 3. The difference in sound is subtle. Some think it sounds better in general (including me). And of course it has the extra features and a larger piano and sample memory.

I would pay the extra € 1000 for a brand new Stage 3, but it's very personal. I suppose it also depends on how and how often you use your instruments.
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Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby harmonizer » 14 Jan 2020, 17:32

You wrote "... there are NS2 88 boards ..." but I am not sure if you are looking at "Stage 2" or a "Stage 2 EX".
There is a big difference in memory for the Piano Bank: 500MB vs 1GB.
More info on the difference between the "Stage 2" and "Stage 2 EX" can be found here: ... ison-chart

The above comparison chart does not include the info on the new firmware upgrade (for both models) which supports the v6 npno library.
Per the following link, it seems that even the "Stage 2" (which is older than the "Stage 2 EX")
has a firmware update available for it which allows using the V6 npno files,
which include the White Grand AP sound, and the newest EP sounds. This is a pretty important thing. ... te-history
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Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby analogika » 14 Jan 2020, 17:39

The Stage 3 as a machine sounds more "polished" to me — there's a high-end sheen that gives it a lovely shimmer that the Stage 2 doesn't have This applies to the synth and the pianos, as well as the organ. Thankfully, the organ has a horn/rotor balance adjustment to counteract it.

The synth in the Stage 3 is way more versatile. It also allows variable pitch bend settings (Stage 2 is fixed at +/-2).

Variable splits — you can set each split point to be immediate or a soft fade over about a fifth or an octave. This is huge for orchestral or brass or choir sounds, or even just having a piano/brass split that will allow you to go one note over without killing everything with the wrong sound on full blast.

(The combination of the above three points means that I finally have a usable brass and a really nice orchestral string sound — something I couldn't get out of the Stage 2 with four years of trying. Obviously, this is going to be less of a concern if you're decking it out with a Kronos — the orchestral multis in there are to die for.)

The large displays make programming and getting an overview of what's going on a lot easier.

Seamless transitions!(!!!) This one is huge. The sound/reverb/delay not immediately cutting off when you switch a sound is a massive improvement.

Piano filters are major. They are tuned to go from "this is a nice pop piano" to "this rock song really needs more bite in the piano" within three seconds. Very, very useful and done very well.

Stage 3 can do two different organ models simultaneously (Stage 2 is only B3/B3 or Farfisa/Farfisa).

Stage 3 comes with Church organ model.

Stage 3 allows two separate rotary inputs to the Leslie (e.g. Organ on Layer A, Piano on Layer B); Stage 2 only allows rotary effect on 1 instrument at a time.

Stage 3 has the reverb routed BEFORE the rotary, so if you have an organ and a synth on a single layer with reverb turned on, the organ will run through the reverb first and THEN into the rotary, while the synth runs into the reverb and to the output directly.
On the Stage 2, the reverb is always applied last. I prefer the Stage 3.

There's some other changes to MIDI routing for panels vs. engines when you use an external keyboard controller attached to the Nord, but those never affected me.

Also the addition of Song Mode on the Stage 3.

The Stage 2 had "Pending Load", which allowed you to search out a sound as you were playing and only actually switching to it when you hit enter. There is no equivalent on the Stage 3, though Song Mode lets you group sounds for easy switching, and you can set it so that you can use the number buttons to directly access a sound, so that six of one, half-dozen of the other, I guess.

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Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby anotherscott » 14 Jan 2020, 18:12

analogika wrote:The Stage 2 had "Pending Load", which allowed you to search out a sound as you were playing and only actually switching to it when you hit enter. There is no equivalent on the Stage 3, though Song Mode lets you group sounds for easy switching, and you can set it so that you can use the number buttons to directly access a sound, so that six of one, half-dozen of the other, I guess.

Number pad mode allows you to create sets of 25 sounds you can get to with two button presses. That replaces the "bank button" functionality of the NS2 which allowed you to create sets of 20 sounds you could get to with two buttons... better in having 25 rather than 20 at a time, but also worse because, with the old way, there were also always four sounds you could switch to with a *single* button press, and with the NS3 in number pad mode, that number drops to zero.

"Pending Load" was great for people who grabbed sounds on the fly rather than setting songs up in advance. To me, that and the loss of the LED rings around a number of controls and the more flexible MIDI and Output routing are the biggest losses in going from NS2 to NS3. I've seen people also mention the latch/gate functions, but I never used them on the NS2 so don't know what I'm missing. ;-)

I'm happy I made the switch to the NS3, though. Admittedly, part of that is because mine have been the 73-key SW versions, where I think the NS3 has the most to offer over the NS2 (it adds drawbars, a low E, and I think that action's response for piano has been improved). But even among the other models, I think there are big advantages in the OLED display and seamless sound transitions, among other nice improvements. I think the NS3 organ sounds better than the NS2 organ, too.
Last edited by anotherscott on 14 Jan 2020, 19:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby dmamfmgm » 14 Jan 2020, 19:41

I've been wondering if the number pad mode on the Nord Stage 3 was worth tinkering with. I hadn't really heard anyone talking about it, glad to hear someone has at least tried it out!
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Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby DanielD71 » 14 Jan 2020, 19:48

I prefer my NS2 because of the reverb after the organ and its midi capabilities. I have the ex version so I have more piano memory than the NS2.
On my NS3, I really like the seamless program changes. You need to know what you are looking for, what you will need your stage to do with your Kronos. For sure the NS3 is the better stage but do you really need it, or you could be ok with a stage 2.


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Re: NS2 or NS3

Postby LeftyBass68 » 14 Jan 2020, 23:09

I have both 2EX-88 and 3-88.Both are wonderful,main difference is sound overall,with the 3 getting the nod.
The 2EX won't hold as many XL piano files,but the White Grand XL sure sounds great on it.The newer EP's sound great on the 2-EX as well.
If you already have a Kronos then a 2EX with it's pianos and organs should get the job done as far as 'needs' go.
Many of us may 'want' a 3 but in reality if it's sound we need then the user interface and extra features of the 3 really aren't a 'must have'.
Many of us long time users of Nord Stage series didn't like the waiting time for the 2 to 3 sample conversion.....and have no trouble with '2' samples.

Of my Stage 3's I actually prefer the Compact(real time drawbars)...and enjoy playing pianos on the 2EX every bit as much as the 3.
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