Percussa micro super signal processor

Nord-Electro-5-Angled

Year after year, a lot of what the music instruments industry does is iterative – evolutionary, not revolutionary. But for the day-in, day-out operation of a lot of gigging musicians, some of the less-thrilling announcements are the ones that simply make life better.

That means, for example, Clavia’s announcement of a new Nord Electro 5 keyboard matters. The number of stage musicians who rely on the signature red keyboards from Sweden is simply stunning. Nord aren’t cheap, but their attention to detail has earned them a lot of impassioned enthusiasts.

I actually had the pleasure of visiting Clavia when I was in Stockholm last year, hosted by the city. These things really are built by hand in the middle of the city, in a tiny assembly line tucked away in an unassuming residential block. Now, that wouldn’t ordinarily make any difference, except that the keyboards’ success I think is owing to some careful design and construction and a lot of listening to customers. (The Scandinavian wood is just icing on the cake.) This isn’t an enormous business, but it represents what modern electronic instrument building is about – it’s making highly tailored tools for a small but dedicated clientele.

Now, the Nord Electro 5 series doesn’t really have any banner features; it’s just the old Electro, but better. In fact, you might have some trouble working out what’s new from the press materials, so let me help. A lot of this borrows from Nord’s combo organ and piano – but that could mean the Electro is the Clavia axe you really want:

Nord-Electro-5-HP-Top

It’s a better piano. 1GB of sample memory with sympathetic string resonance, first seen on the Nord Piano, have made it to the Electro. Making a stage piano sound right is sort of voodoo; there’s something special about those Nord samples that people really love for gigging, so this matters.

It’s a better, bassier organ. Here, the Electro borrows from the Nord C2D Combo Organ. You get a new Principal Pipe Organ, and a B3 Tone Wheel Bass.

It has more samples. The dedicated Sample Synth section has a library of sounds including some licensed officially from Mellotron and Chamberlin. This is no computer – think 256 MB – but it’s still in a special league for dedicated keyboards.

It finally has stereo effects. Everything is in stereo, you get control pedal access to effects, there’s a new Stereo Tub overdrive, and you can use Delay and Reverb separately.

It’s gone OLED. You get a brighter, clearer OLED display.

It’s more capable in live situations. Layer or split Organ/Piano, Piano/Sample Synth, or Sample Synth/Organ into separate sound slots. And – in a feature every single live keyboard and live-oriented software ought to have, you can make Set Lists of programs so you’re not lost dialing through presets between songs.

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There are three models. The 5D 61 and 5D 73 sport drawbars, and semi-weighted “waterfall” keyboards preferred by electric piano and organ players. That also keeps their weight at 8 kg or less.

The Electro 5 HP 73 is for piano players, with a 73-note hammer action piano. And it weighs a tidy11 kg. It’d be high on my list for serious dedicated keyboards, alongside entries like the Kurzweil or Kawaii – but more portable. (Why so many hammer action keyboards insist on a full 88 keys, when you don’t need that many keys to actually play music, I don’t know. Acoustic pianos depend on sympathetic resonance from the bigger strings for their sound, so at least they have an excuse.)

Press announcement:
http://www.nordkeyboards.com/about-us/press/nord-electro-5