So - Nord Lead A1?

Nord's classical Virtual Analog Synth Nord LEAD 1/2/2x/3/4/A1 and Nord Rack versions
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maxpiano
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by maxpiano »

DJKeys wrote: 30 May 2024, 19:53 Hmm, I guess my form of reference was wrong. I was referring to this thread:

https://gearspace.com/board/electronic- ... ate+keybed

which says:

Clavia

Nord Electro x (ohne HP): Fatar TP/8O
Nord Electro 3 HP: Fatar TP/100
Nord Electro 4 HP: Fatar TP/100LR

Nordlead 1,2(x),4, A1 (49): Fatar TP/7BA
Nordlead 3 (49): Fatar TP/9S, gewichtet
NordWave (49): Fatar TP/9S, ungewichtet
Nord Modular G2 (37): Fatar TP/9S

It shows the NL4 and A1 with the same Fatar TP/7BA which is least expensive keybed from Fatar.

Guess it is mistaken. I had a Nord Wave and it was indeed far superior to the A1 keybed.

-dj
Right and in fact compared to the A1 the NW has the (much better) TP9s, like the NL3
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by catosim »

Exept for the keybed, the A1 is a really nice sounding synth.
I own one that I hardly use, since I fiddle around with my NS3 and NS4 all the time.
Still I can’t get myself to sell it, ‘cause everytime I play on it, I just enjoy the sonic charchter and the functionality.
Gear: Nord Stage 4, Nord Stage 3, Nord Lead A1, Ensoniq TS12, Roland D50, Roland D05, Roland Jupiter X, Hammond A100, Hammond M100, Yamaha GT2, Yamaha Motif 6, Virus B, Virus Snow
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by Elias »

I owned a Lead A1 back in 2020-21. Sold it because I just did not need a separate synth to my Stage 3.

What I miss about the A1:
- Velocity Morph. This was a huge deal for me. Most notably morphing envelope times is crucial for organically behaving programs.
- Vast timbral palette. With a reasonable amount of effort there's not many timbres you could not get out of this synth, with all the layers and oscillator configurations.
- The pitch bend. The Nord Pitch Stick design is far superior to anything I've seen from a competitor. Rolands come close, but those still have a distictive 0 point, while the Nord pitch stick has none. Most importanly you can tickle the stick to get natural pitch fluctuations.
(and I know I have the same PB stick on my Stage 3)

What I don't miss:
- The keybed. It just feels cheap and flimsy. Next to no resistance, with an over all clacky feel. If the rack version wasn't hard to get hold of, I would probably own one.

What I don't mind:
- The age. I'd say the functionality is up-to-date enough. Sure an OLED display with the same info as Nords newer instruments would be nice. But NSM absolutely helps if needed. Of course any piece of digital hardware will wear and corrode and break at some point, but that's just the risk with buying any second hand gear. That's why the price is lower.
- Lack of aftertouch. I just don't use it that much anyway.
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by 23skidoo »

Elias wrote: 31 May 2024, 21:50 I owned a Lead A1 back in 2020-21. Sold it because I just did not need a separate synth to my Stage 3.
I'm in 100% agreement to everything you posted here, including the bit about the A1R rackmount version. I've seriously considered one a few times just to have the A1 engine back in the studio.
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by Rusty Mike »

Really appreciate everyone’s perspective. I’ve been listening to a lot of the review and demo videos trying to determine if this fits my use case, which I wasn’t completely clear about before.

In my studio, I don’t have a hands-on, knobby synth to create sounds with. I’m mostly interested in creating some expressive lead patches, and using pads or synth brass-type sounds to fill in rhythmically on my recordings. Not looking to dive super deep, as I don’t have the time nor inclination, so stuff like a Hydrasynth is not where I’m looking.

I own Arturia V Collection 9, Native Instruments Komplete 14 Ultimate and the GForce SEM VST. A lot of what I heard in the A1 demos sounds like they’re covered in the software synths I have now, mostly specifically in the pads and brass areas.

I haven’t really heard a lot of content supporting strong, analog types of leads in the A1 so far. This is really the part of the Take 5 that has caught my ear. Definitely pros and cons for both instruments:

- A1 has much more polyphony than the 5 voices on the Sequential
- Take 5 has after touch which helps with playing expressive lead solos. A1 has none, though I’m not sure this is a deal breaker
- Nord Sound Manager vs. an inferior third party editor/librarian
- At current new selling prices, the A1 is 25% more expensive than the Take 5. Is it 25% better?
- Take 5 has a more compact form that fits into my studio with less fuss, but it’s also 5 fewer keys - will that matter for studio work?
- Take 5 has a beautiful lush analog sound; I’ve yet to hear the A1 do something similar in the demos

Given the disappearance of brick & mortar music stores in the US, it’s going to be hard to actually mess with these things in person. Luckily I’m not in a rush to make a choice.

Again, I do sincerely appreciate the conversation and feedback!
Mike from Central NJ, USA
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by tetra »

I imagine you have already considered and discarded the idea of a desktop/rack module … but if not, maybe the Novation Peak would be worth looking/listening at/to. I haven’t owned or even ever played a Nord Lead A1, so I don’t have any kind of good answer to your original question. I do have an NS3 that I love, and the very first synth that I coveted for years (but never got) was a Nord Lead 3. You mention the Take 5; I have a couple Sequential synths (Prophet 6 and Trigon 6) so I have an appreciation for that sound and thus maybe understand a little of what you might be interested in.

A little over 3 years ago, I purchased a Novation Peak after much consideration and based on discussions in the Sequential user forum. At first I did not “fall in love” with it, but over time I have become quite enamored of it. It has digital oscillators and analog filters. I think the sound is pretty wonderful, and it has very nice sounding on-board effects. It has 8 voices and is fun to tweak/program without much menu diving. If mine quit, I would certainly replace it with another Peak or perhaps a Summit, which is kind of a Peak X 2 with a keyboard.

In full disclosure, there are a a few things about it that don’t make me happy about the Peak.
- It requires a Novation account in order to use a computer to update it or backup patches, etc. To the best of my knowledge, there is not any standalone software that works with it aside from their own must-be-internetted to use software. In that sense, it feels a little bit like owning a software plugin rather than a hardware synth. To be clear, it works absolutely fine on its own and I only ever connect my laptop if I buy a set of patches or want to back up changes I have made. Just … meh on the registration stuff.
- The patch change knob is (for me) really easy to confuse with the menu knob (left vs right of the screen). If I accidentally twist the patch change knob while programming a patch … then I want to say bad words. Just one tiny click and all changes gone. The bulk of the settings are right in the open with knobs and sliders and such, so it is easy to get back, but it is annoying.
- That same patch change knob is apparently the only way to changes patches. So if you want to get from patch A000 to patch D127, it takes a lot of spinning. For people in the Nord world where there are several brilliant ways to navigate to different locations, it is kind of painful.
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by Rusty Mike »

I haven’t ruled anything out, actually. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

I had not considered the Peak. I like the idea of possibly a desktop that takes up less space. More interested in the knobby part, and I can play it easily from my Arturia KeyLab 60 mkII.

Don’t think creating a Novation account is a big deal - I’m ok with it. I hear what you’re saying about the patch change and menu knobs being easily confused. Possibly something to get used to. This is studio use only so spinning a few dials won’t bother me much.

Can you tell me if filter is smooth like a Sequential or more harsh like the Kong MS-20? Are the oscillators non-aliasing? I see that it’s multi mode, and I’ll have to watch a few videos, but your impressions are certainly appreciated.

The Modal Cobalt 8 also caught my eye, and I’m less concerned now that Modal has a new owner. It seems to sound pretty good as well.

Thanks again for pointing this out. I’ll add it to my list.
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by tetra »

I can only really compare to the synths I have (not Korg), but my subjective opinion is that the Peak falls into the “creamy smooth” filter side of things. I do not notice any aliasing at all, but maybe my ears are not good enough. For fun, I just now created an init patch on the Prophet 6 and the Peak and played some notes/chords and did filter sweeps with resonance at different points. I’m sure that probably 10 out of every 10 people would draw different conclusions, but to my ear they were more similar than different.

That little exercise reminded me of a couple more things that are quite fantastic on the Peak. Its build construction is extremely solid, and the knobs have a very satisfying and smooth feel with good resistance - especially the filter, which is a fat/big knob that is fun to twist. And the ability to switch between a 12 and 24 Db filter makes a noticeable (and really good) change to the sound.
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Re: So - Nord Lead A1?

Post by Rusty Mike »

tetra wrote: 09 Jun 2024, 15:45 I can only really compare to the synths I have (not Korg), but my subjective opinion is that the Peak falls into the “creamy smooth” filter side of things. I do not notice any aliasing at all, but maybe my ears are not good enough. For fun, I just now created an init patch on the Prophet 6 and the Peak and played some notes/chords and did filter sweeps with resonance at different points. I’m sure that probably 10 out of every 10 people would draw different conclusions, but to my ear they were more similar than different.

That little exercise reminded me of a couple more things that are quite fantastic on the Peak. Its build construction is extremely solid, and the knobs have a very satisfying and smooth feel with good resistance - especially the filter, which is a fat/big knob that is fun to twist. And the ability to switch between a 12 and 24 Db filter makes a noticeable (and really good) change to the sound.
Appreciate you digging a bit deeper. Creamy smooth is what I’m looking for.

The Peak’s oscillators are very high resolution, and do not suffer from aliasing, at least according to the research I’ve done so far. I’m sure your ears are fine.

. . . The research continues.
Mike from Central NJ, USA
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Current Nords: Piano 5 73, Electro 6D 73
Ownership History: Electro 2, Electro 3-73 SW, Electro 3HP, Electro 4D, Stage 2EX 76HP
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