The good news: there’s a new Nord, it looks nice enough, and it’s likely to make Clavia fans very happy.
The bad news: some of us will have to go on dreaming of a follow-up to the innovative Nord Modular. Instead of that, this is a Nord Lead 4.
Despite sharing a name with previous Nords, Clavia says this is an all-new synth. The focus appears to be “performance features” – making layering and sync easier – and focusing on providing more choices in effects and filters.
First, the specs:
- 4-part multi-timbral – not so interesting in itself, but there are four independent outputs here.
- 2-oscillator virtual analog synth, including FM, hard/soft synth, “true voice” unison. (I hate fake voice unison. Okay, yes, there are some tricks some synths use there.)
- Performance controls: “Morph,” “Variation.”
- Sync: master and external MIDI clock will sync LFO, arpeggiator, and delay.
- Wavetable synthesis with “Formant Wavetables.
- Various filter choices: 12/24 dB Low-pass, High-pass, Band-pass filters, transistor and diode ladder filter simulations.
- LFO/Arpeggiators – two of them – plus a Mod Env section for modulation.
- Crush, Talk and Distortion, Reverb, Delay effects
- 2x-oversampled sound engine.
And you get USB MIDI and 49 velocity-sensitive keys.
The real advantage of going digital here is being able to do more of this sort of layering and easy sync, and while some folks prefer the analog keyboards, having wavetable synthesis does open up more timbral options. (That’s why it was a selling point in the first place.)
Also nice: these sonic variations, which can make use of all the new effects and timbral options, are assignable, so unlike too many “live-friendly” synths these days, this is not an “idiot knob” that just manipulates a preset. It really does appear to be something you can set up for custom sound design for live performance.
There’s also a tabletop/rack version, something too many synth builders ignore these days.
Just expect the “handmade Swedish” quality to cost you: suggested street is € 1649 for the rack, € 1849 for the full keyboard.
That said, it’s already looking like the Lead 4 will be the leading high-end keyboard synth later this week at Musikmesse.
And here’s what it sounds like: