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Nord Pianos..... I confess Nord Piano 88?


ewall08530

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Well, I've got to confess. Ever since I've been playing my new Electro 3 I've come to like the new Nord piano's very much.

I don't even use mono mode and they sound great thru my K-10 and I just heard someone else play it while I was getting a drink at a party. The PA was an EV powered 15cab... don't know the model but it got my attention, big time.

 

Anyway, it's got me thinking about getting the Nord Piano 88. It would pair well with the Electro 3 which I would use for organ,strings,light synth....

 

I know there's a few on here that have bought and are still using/ gigging with it. I'd appreciate some thoughts from current owners and even former owners.

 

I apoligize in advance... I did try the search function but I really didn't find what I was looking for :-)

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it's got me thinking about getting the Nord Piano 88. It would pair well with the Electro 3 which I would use for organ,strings,light synth...)

 

Here's what I would do instead...

 

Sell the E3, and get a Nord Stage 2 (gives you everything the E3 has and more), and get an inexpensive 88 like a Casio CDP-100.

 

Compare price, functionality, and schlep factor.

 

Price:

 

Nord Piano = $2,700

 

The 73-key NS2 + the CDP-100 would come to about $4,000. I don't know which E3 you have or its condition, but it's likely you could get in the neighborhood of $1,300 for it. Total net cost should be around $2,700.

 

Portability:

 

Nord PIano + E3, about 55 pounds, with the heaviest board being about 40

NS2+CDP100: about 45 pounds, with the heaviest board being about 24

 

Functionality:

 

There are some possible advantages to the Nord PIano route... one that comes to mind is that it comes with the triple pedal (extra cost on the NS2, and I'm not positive it functions when driving the piano from an external board, maybe someone else can chime in on that). You also might just like the way a pair of red boards looks!

 

There are many more advantages to the NS2 route, though... you get all the sounds of the NE3 and the NP, plus you get full VA synth with knobs, splits and layers, MIDI controller functions for other devices, aftertouch, pitch and mod controls, more sample memory. (To give you a little more perspective on the splits and layers... if you had the E3 and the NP, you'd have two boards that could each play one Nord sound at a time. If you got the NS2 and the CDP, you could set it up so that you have two boards that could each play up to 3 Nord sounds at a time. As a bonus, the CDP happens to have a nice EP sound of its own.)

 

Apart from that, while I consider the actions roughly equivalent, you might have a preference for the feel of one or the other. If you don't like the CDP, you could also look at boards like the Yamaha P95, Korg SP170, or Casio PX3, each with different feeling actions, and some with their own additional benefits, and still be in the same general price and weight range (though the PX3 begins to get the price up a bit more).

 

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Scott,

YOu've given me something to think about. I see some of the advantages that you point out. I already own a Roland RD 300GX which I was planning on keeping because I sometimes do gigs playing left hand bass.

So it might work fine as the bottom board (Casio) in your plan.

I take it the NS 2 (73) comes in waterfall action..? I'll look because I don't want to play organ on weighted keys.

 

Thanks!

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I can think of another possible issue. In my experiencing, driving a keyboard from another can often give you an entirely different experience in feel, sound and response compared with playing it from the keybed it was originally matched with by the manufacturer.

 

For the rest, I'd say your choice comes down to a) how much sonic flexibility and range you need and b) how much you consider yourself primarily a pianist.

 

The Nord triple pedal unit really does enhance the NP88's illusion of being sat at an "organic" instrument. The keybed, while below the curve somewhat compared to Yamaha and Roland's current top offerings, is still vastly superior to any Casio I've played. It also feels a lot different to the NS2 weighted keybed, by the way, although it's essentially the same mechanism tweaked differently. The NS2 feels much lighter and less pianistic.

 

The NP88 works for me because I primarily work as a solo pianist. In a band situation, I just slam a Hammond atop and with the NP88's EPs and Clavs, I've got all I need for most jobs.

 

As for schlepping, I bought the Nord because I no longer wanted to dance 25kg stage pianos in and out of venues on my own. The Nord slashed 8kg off that figure and the difference is night and day. There's a tipping point where keyboard weight begins to be problematic for solo load-in and set-up and my guess is that for most of us, it's probably around the 20kg mark.

 

There are still lighter 88s than the Nord, of course, but none, IMO, which feel as well constructed and professional, or sound as good.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Nord Piano + Electro is a nice combo and provides options: the NP is great on its own for solo piano gigs; the Electro on its own for a quick rehearsal; and together you're covered for most of the basics, with appropriate piano/organ actions between the two.

 

I gigged for some time with an NP /NE2 combo and really enjoyed it. I'm out of commission due to a wrist injury, but when I'm able to resume, I'll opt for a lighter alternative to the NP for most gigs - maybe the E3 HP or Casio PX-3. As light and as portable as the NP is for a hammer action 88, and as convenient as its form factor and its case with rollers makes transporting it, it's still a schlep (compared to 23/24lb alternatives). And of course setup/teardown is required between studio and gig if it's your main piano board.

 

But - I would not be interested in the E3 HP or PX-3 as my main digital piano. For studio/home use, I love the NP.

 

An ideal setup in my opinion:

 

NP - studio use + solo piano gigs (or for any gig when you really need a great action 88)

 

E3 HP / PX3 - gigging piano board

 

Clonewheel (E2/3, SK-1, NS Compact if you can swing it) - gigging organ/ top board

 

Keep the NP in your studio except when you want to take it out for exposed piano playing. A light, easily carried alternative piano (E3 HP/Casio) for gigging that doesn't constantly need unpacked/setup for studio use. And an appropriate action organ/synth top board.

 

A couple other observations: I love the NP's triple pedal, but never gigged with it - unnecessary for the playing I was doing. Agree with Aidan in that I find the NP's action superior to the Casio, and I prefer it to the NS. The NP is a beautifully-designed, wonderful sounding stage 88 - terrific instrument.

 

Those are thoughts more on my own situation than reflections on your particular needs, but maybe you'll find something useful in there.

 

Carter

U1 | NP | NS3 | NE3 HP | K10
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You already have a Roland RD300GX?

 

That is one of my favorite digital pianos out there. I love the Rhodes ( 001) and Wurli ( 004) in that thing. One reason why is that ALL the notes sound good thru all 88 keys. Another reason is because the EP's don't bark too quickly, ala Yamaha Motif.

 

The Acoustic ( Superior Grand ) is another one that I really like. The better speakers and phones I use it with , the better it sounds. I wouldn't mess with a Casio if you already have a 300 GX. It's also one of my favorite controllers.

 

My two main boards are the RD 300GX and the Numa. I got a steal on the Roland, so I don't have much more than 2 grand into both of them.

 

The only piano out there that would make me give up the 300GX might be the Yamaha CP5, but not by much. I had a chance to get one on this list a few weeks ago and decided to stick with the Roland.

 

I really think that the 300GX EP's are unique and very useful. The 300GX Wurli is also a real sleeper that most people are not aware of. It doesn't honk quite as much as a Nord ( not putting down Nord, which I like ) but since I need the lower bass notes to sound stable, I am tending to go with the 300GX for my need for Wurlie sounds.

 

My approach has not been to look for better or newer boards, but more for the right speaker/ amp combination which in most cases are NOT powered P.A. speakers for acoustic digital pianos.

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I say grab the NS2 88 and you're done.

 

But then we're back in the old "do I want to play organs/lead synths etc on a weighted action" debate, Eric!

 

FWIW, I think Carter's remarks are right on the money. I mostly play solo piano gigs, so I really do need 88 keys and a great action to stretch out. There's only one keyboard to get in and out so the NP88 isn't too much trouble in those settings.

 

In band situations, where I also have to worry about loading in/setting up PA, mixers, mic stand, cabling etc, it's here where two reasonably weighty boards suddenly somehow become bigger, bulkier and heavier, especially at the end of the evening.

 

If I had the money, storage space and enough band gigs to justify it, I think I'd almost be certainly eyeing up a NE3HP/SK1 combo for band work, or even the Nord on its own might serve. But right now, none of those boxes are being ticked.

 

I also agree with the breakdown/setup issue back home in the studio. One way to ameliorate that somewhat is to buy another stand specifically for gigging, as I've just done.

 

In my studio, the Kurzweil generally sits on the upper tier of the NP88's stand so there's been a massive disassembly issue each time I've gone out on a piano gig. Fixed.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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I take it the NS 2 (73) comes in waterfall action..?

Right... the 73 is their waterfall action, their 76 and 88 are the full weighted actions.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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...breakdown/setup issue back home in the studio. One way to ameliorate that somewhat is to buy another stand specifically for gigging...

 

Yes. K&M18950B /18952B for home, K&M18880/18881B for gigs.

 

Studio teardown for most gigs then just means packing up the top board.

U1 | NP | NS3 | NE3 HP | K10
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I got a chance to hear the Nord Stage EX 88 today at a Guitar Center. They also had a Yamaha C50, a Motif XF 88, and Roland RD 300 and 700 NX's so I had a chance to compare.

 

There was one thing I really liked liked about the Nord. It seems to have a basic warm tonality (a plus!) AND doesn't break into the high harmonics the harder you strike a key like *several* of the others.

 

But ... there was one thing that struck me as odd. There was a certain "phasieness" in it that I couldn't get rid of. It could be totally because of my own ignorance, but I couldn't seem lose this character. I was demoing through phones incidently.

 

I checked out the Nord Rhodes a bit more as I am not all that familiar with it. It does have a unique voice among the digitals in many respects, but I need those bass notes not to break up or bark so much for the style I play. But it has loads of Rhodes -like character.

 

The Wurli of course.... is pretty much the standard for digital emulation. What can I say that hasn't been said , right?

 

I am going to be keeping an eye on these a bit more than previously, as I was asking about them ( Nord 88's) a few weeks ago. I like the weight of the 88 piano and from my understanding they are coming out with new models/ samples (??) all the time.

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It it was the EX version of the Stage you tried, and not the NS2, then the probability is it had none of the three most recent Nord pianos loaded on it (Grand Lady D, Grand Imperial, Bright Grand).

 

The characteristic you mention was certainly a feature of the earlier Steinway and Yamaha samples that were on the original Stage and the EX version, and in fact drove me away from Nord when I briefly had an original Stage 76, but I don't hear any such problems in the three samples I've mentioned.

 

I'm not sure whether the NS2 ships with the Bosie on board but it will certainly have the new Steinway. I suggest you give these a try. All three samples, but particularly the Bosie and the new Yamaha, are night and day compared with the original Nord pianos, especially when the "long release" feature is added into the equation.

 

As for the Rhodes, there are now five different samples to choose from and again the most recent (Bright Tines, Sparkletop) are probably the more impressive and again not likely to have been on the board you demo'd.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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I like it a lot, Dana, although the top end needs taming with EQ, that's for sure! But it has the evenness of the Grand Lady D sample but is more responsive, and has the "openness" of the Bosie but without the slight "doinkiness" in the midrange. Excellent for band work, definitely, and sums to mono sweetly.

 

It's (obviously) not as mellow as the Yammie Studio Grand 2 sound, but it has a far stronger top end.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Thank you Aidan for clearing that up. I think that there is probably lot more to the Nord pianos than what I heard on the Stage EX at Guitar Center. And no, I don't think that I am hearing the new samples that you mentioned

 

I am more interested in the 88 Piano that is out than the Stage - I don't need organs ot synths. I may not have actually seen one yet except briefly at NAMM.

 

I do think that the ability to load samples would be a huge advantage - particularly if they are getting better samples, and a variety of Rhodes samples as you mention.

 

 

 

 

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The advantage of the NP88 over the Stage is that it has a far more piano-like action. Although the NS2 76/88 uses the same keybed, it's been tweaked to play lighter, presumably as a compromise for playing synth and organ sounds. Like you, I already have a clonewheel on top, and I don't need synth or rompler sounds. I use the five "Live" slots on the NP for grand piano, upright, Rhodes, Wurli and Clav. Keeps things very simple.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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I have a question about polifony: the nord site states that the polifony for the piano sounds is 40-60. Is it noticable if you play passages with a lot of sustain? 40 sounds like an awfuly small number, considering other top stage pianos usually offer 128 polifony. I have a 10 year old yamaha p120, and it has 64 polifony.

 

Also, does it cut through, or does it get burried in the mix? Pianos sure do sound nice on recordings/headphones, but is it the same when you go through PA?

Is NP sensitive to choice of amplification, or can it tolerate various amplification options and still sound good? I'm asking because I don't carry my own amplification on gigs, I usually rely on house PA's/monitors which are almost always supplied.

 

 

Oh, and can you use expression pedal to control the wah? Effects can be only rate controlled, there's no amount control?

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Pale, the Bright Grand in particular cuts through really well in a band mix. I think all digital pianos are quite sensitive to choice of amplification but the Nord is probably more tolerant than some, I'd say. There's no input for an expression pedal, therefore only auto-wah on clavs etc unfortunately. There are usually three "amount" settings on most effects but only the rate can be finely controlled.

 

As to the polyphony, we've had this conversation in the Piano World forums several times. The concensus seems to be that most manufacturers quote polyphony on a stereo sample, so 128 actually = 64, whereas Nord quote mono, so probably around 80-note. However, I've never noticed any note stealing and I often play quite densely (in both senses of the word!)

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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The concensus seems to be that most manufacturers quote polyphony on a stereo sample, so 128 actually = 64, whereas Nord quote mono, so probably around 80-note.

I think you have that backwards. Most manufacturers quote polyphony on a mono sample, so a spec of 128 is actually 64 notes, since each stereo note uses two samples. Nord probably quotes stereo so its 40 spec minimum is probably a true 40 notes. If they were quoting mono polyphony, than 40-60 stereo samples would reduce to a max of 20-30 simultaneous notes. And I don't see any way to get to 80. Or am I misunderstanding something here?

 

It is interesting that they quote a range of 40-60. It probably has something to do with the fact that some voices are indeed stereo while others are mono (I assume they are... as the original sources of clavinet, rhodes, and wurli are, themselves, mono instruments), and the fact that some sounds involve triggering multiple sample simultaneously (i.e. for string resonance, pedal-down, etc.). So I think they are really talking about "how many notes you can play and hold before a drop out" as opposed to what other companies do which is "how many sounds the instrument can generate simultaneously." So then again, Nord would be a true "40 to 60" notes and a competitor's 128 would be 128 notes with straight mono sounds, but 64 notes in stereo, and possibly less than 64 notes if the stereo sample is accompanied by the kinds of other simultaneous sounds I referred to.

 

It is a difficult thing to compare from specs alone, as so many things can come into play, including note stealing algorithms. I played a particular dense "test" passage on a Yamaha NP-30 (32-note polyphony) and could not hear anything drop out; I played the same thing on a MOX (64-note polyphony) and did hear a drop (using the default main piano sounds on each). It wasn't a disaster, it wasn't the kind of passage I'm likely to play in actual performance (it was designed specifically to try to invoke an audible note drop), and I could probably have selected a different sound to get more polyphony (i.e. a mono sound or some otherwise less resource-intensive patch)... but I just thought it was interesting that the 32-note board handled it better. So I would not assume that any particular 128-note board will necessarily always be better at this than some other 64 (or whatever), as in this case, Yamaha's own 32 did a better job at a particular passage than another Yamaha 64!

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Effects can be only rate controlled, there's no amount control?

Most effects have a continuously variable rate control, and three selectable depths for amount.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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3 levels of effect amounts will have to do I guess. Too bad about the expression pedal, I would like to have the pedal wah. Good to hear about no known polifony issues, I was afraid of the number 40.
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