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Nord Stage 3 HP76?


cnegrad
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Hi all,

 

Hope you"re all doing well in this time of quarantine. (Losing family and friends to Covid-19 is painful and surreal and I hope you don"t have to experience it.)

 

I"ve got some gear questions for you:

 

I"m considering my next keyboard to be a Nord Stage 3 HP76 to replace my decades old Motif. Vendors are currently offering installment plans with no interest for 3-4 years, depending on the vendor. My specific questions are:

 

1. Any regrets about this board; any weaknesses I should be aware of?

2.Does the Leslie simulation gradually speed up/slow down like a real Leslie, or is it just fast/slow?

3. I notice that Nord sells a triple pedal, similar to that of a piano. Can the 2 non-sustain pedals be assigned to other functions? Can one of those be assigned to Leslie speed up-slow down?

4. The acoustic piano sounds seem to be a drastic improvement over those in my old Motif. Can I assume that they are WAY more playable/expressive than the Motif?

5. How are the various Rhodes sounds?

6. Anything else about it I should know?

 

Thanks in advance, and stay well!!

 

Cnegrad (Mark)

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I have the Stage 3 88. No real weaknesses, it"s a live player"s all-in-one keyboard for my needs. Leslie does ramp up/down and it has 3 acceleration settings, rotor speed choices, as well as other choices like rotor/drum balance, Leslie mic distance, as well as tonewheel models. There is a jack on the back for ext rotor speed switching, but I can"t speak specifically to the triple pedal as I do not have one. The Hammond/Leslie are as good as I"ve ever heard in a multi purpose board. I think the piano and EP sounds are very usable and there are multiple choices available. But I cannot compare directly to Motif.

 

I"m happy with it and have no regrets with my purchase. Money well spent for me.

I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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I upgraded from a Motif XS to the Nord Stage 3 compact. The most recent pions samples, White piano I think is really good. Far far better than the motif pianos. EPs and B3 are much much better too. Where the Motif is still better is winds, strings, and drums. I actually loaded a sampled set of Motif drums onto the Nord since I couldn"t find much else. I wanted hand claps and claves for some live tunes.

 

I don"t find acoustic pianos on the Compact to be super playable. EPS no problem. I tried to midi in the Motif XS8 for a weighted controller and could not get velocity curves to match up well. Eventually I may get a weighted controller with customizable velocity curves to get a good match.

 

I read some negative remarks on the weighted 76 Keybed. I went with the Compact so no first hand experience.

 

Good luck!

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One of Nord's weak points has always been splits and layers. The Stage 3 is the most advanced in this regard but has fixed split points rather user definable. You can fade sounds across the split points which helps somewhat. It has better layering capabilities than previously available but still has some limitations. I wanted to layer two Sample section sounds in the right hand and have a split for left-hand Bass. Couldn't do it because you can only use two Sample section sounds at a time and the Bass sounds are also in the Sample section. I have the Stage 3 Compact which is the least expensive model but is the only one with physical drawbars. Beyond that it has plenty of hands-on controls so you can do a lot of tweaking on-the-fly.
C3/122, M102A, Vox V301H, Farfisa Compact, Gibson G101, GEM P, RMI 300A, Piano Bass, Pianet , Prophet 5 rev. 2, Pro-One, Matrix 12, OB8, Korg MS20, Jupiter 6, Juno 60, PX-5S, Nord Stage 3 Compact
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I probably can't be too helpful, but I did own an Electro 6 for most of a year, owned the original Motif and now own a Modx7. Ironically I only sold the Electro in order to fund a Stage Compact, but the lack of gigs combined with possible imminent job loss means that is out the window.

 

I think the pianos are way more realistic than my old Motif, not so big a difference when comparing Nord to Modx. They are "different" but I wouldn't say one is night and day better. Caveats, my live needs mean I don't get too critical on these things, and also the action of the Modx7 is awful for piano (not that the Electro 6 was great). To really do a test I'd want to play both from a weighted action, which I didn't do.

 

I love the Nord build quality. The Motif also was nice but it was clumsier to move if that was an issue, due to the way the chassis was shaped. I almost dropped mine a few times. The electro 6 was stupid light yet made of metal and wood, and very compact. I haven't seen the one you are eyeing.

 

I really like the Nord organ sounds, the leslie in particular is FAR--REALLY FAR--better than my old Motif and still quite a bit better than the Modx. Turn on the fast leslie of the original Motif at your own (and your listener's) peril. That thing literally sounded like a siren. I believe you can tweak the ramp up/down times on the Nords but I haven't felt the need. Sounds fantastic to me and the entire band agreed.

 

Rhodes, I am no expert but I think Yamaha has always had a decent one in their Motifs. The big advantage the Nord has is the real-time effects right there on the front...want a bit more overdrive, run it suddenly through a rotary amp, or switch on a phaser etc. You don't have to program any of that into the patches. I was using the "nefertiri" (sp?) rhodes on my Electro and thought it sounded very organic and expressive.

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wanted to layer two Sample section sounds in the right hand and have a split for left-hand Bass. Couldn't do it because you can only use two Sample section sounds at a time and the Bass sounds are also in the Sample section.

Right, though a possible workaround is using a Rhodes sound for the bass (a la Ray Manzarek), or using the EXT function to grab a bass sounds from an iPhone, for example.

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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I also have gigged Stage 2s for years.

 

The Nords are a jack of all trades, master of none. They have great build quality and physical packaging. The piano library sometimes gives players fits but sound great if you are in the audience. Organ is decent, synth is decent if you don't mind the primitive sample playback engine.

 

I respect mine a great deal but don't really love it. Wish the player connection was better, #$%^ it.

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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I second much of the sentiment in this thread. I've had the Compact for a few months now, had the chance to gig it and program it a bit but am still learning it.

 

It's a board that will make you super happy overall, with little idiosyncratic disappointments sprinkled throughout. If you're upgrading from an original Motif, I'm pretty sure you'll be pleased as punch. It's a serious board.

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+1 on Moe's post. Nord APs sound better monitored in stereo, and the difference vs mono is bigger than you would expect. I don't lack finger-to-ear connection with my Nord APs monitoring on (fairly basic) IEMs - in stereo. The clavs are a little disappointing.

 

Building on Scott's point, I've made "compromise workarounds" for having only two sample sections by repurposing organ (Hammond, Vox or Farfisa models) through effects as synthesizers, or EP to stand in for bells, chimes, vibes etc. (My take on "Rock With You's" hollow square-wave synth solo is Hammond with all drawbars in, and just 2nd perc sounding)

 

The big caveat with the 76HP is the keybed. It's Fatar's infamous TP100, which I couldn't get on with. But of course very subjective, as Kenheeter pointed out. Consider (for similar money) a compact and slab piano underneath for a 2-tier rig - the superb Dan Walker (@mynameisdanno on this forum) puts this at the heart of his rig.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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I would either get a Compact 73 size with waterfall keys or the full size 88 with the TP-40 Hammer Action. I think they misssed the mark dropping the TP-40 hammer action in a 76 key size after the Nord Stage 2 and moving to TP-100 for the Stage 2 EX and Stage 3. It's lighter but it is not an action I can play with personally.

 

Acoustic piano sounds are good on the Nord in that they have some nice character. I really like Nord's uprights.

 

Rhodes sounds are not that great in my opinion on the Nord, but certainly usable. There are much better options but again, Nord is usable and makes up for its mediocrity in tones with some nice effects and easy tweaking on the fly. Nord's Wurly and Clav are not very convincing to me. They really could use a new library set for the electromechanical non-organ instruments overall.

 

I did not buy a Nord Stage 3 76. The one thing I would add is that in every category from the action, to the sound, to the flexibility and how I could set up to my liking, the Kurzweil Forte 7 wins hands down in every category except that Nord has a better Leslie simulation and a better organ tone than the Kurzweil KB3 which needs a Vent. However, advantages to the Nord organ also must be weighed against the misery of playing organ on the TP-100 keybed of Nord's 76 key design which is awful for organ.

 

In summary - if you're going to spend the $$$ for a new Stage 3 76-HP I would take a serious look at a Kurzweil Forte 7 in the same overall price range. Plus if you are coming from a Motif, the Kurzweil has a sequencer which the Nord does not and Kurzweil now has FM synthesis if you want more of a DX7 sound set. It took me a lot more setup work and time than a Nord Stage which is more out-of-the-box and tweak, but it overcomes the limitations of what I did not like about the Stage 3 76 in that size.

Yamaha U1 Upright, Roland Fantom 8, Yamaha YC88, Nord Stage 3C, Nord Wave 2, Viscount Legend Live, Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 Mk2, Arturia V Collection 8, Komplete 13 Ultimate

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I'm a longstanding fan of Nord products dating way back to the '90s and have been through all of the Stage models, including the various keyboard actions.

 

I did have the NS2 EX HP76 and grew accustomed to this action over time, though it was my least favorite of the three actions. Its main benefit is heavier piano style action in a surprisingly lightweight package.

 

The HA88 is a wonderful weighted action and is probably my favorite. I grew tired of lugging it to gigs and still have a NS2 HA88 in my music room that I really enjoy playing.

 

I shifted to the Compact version around the time of NS2 EX and I actually have two NS3 Compacts and I've grown to really enjoy these boards. The waterfall action is perfect for organ and synths and does have a bit of heavier springs that will work ok for piano once you acclimate to it.

 

There are some epic threads on the topic in the Nord User Forum where we've bantered about the keyboard actions...I can try to dig one up if that is helpful.

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I currently have a Stage 3 Compact and love it. If it got stolen, I'd buy another. I use a weighted controller below it, with the "B" panel assigned to weighted keys duties, and the "A" panel to unweighted parts with both configurations stored as a single patch.

 

What doesn't get talked about often (but I've found incredibly useful) is Song Mode. You start by dialing up all your favorite sounds as patches, then arrange them into set lists using Song Mode. A single song can reference up to five separate patches: soulful intro, verse, chorus, bridge, solo -- for example. And then do the same for hundreds of songs. I think I might have 7-8 complete setlists in it at any given time. I also code the starting key into the name of the song, as different bands play the same song in different keys.

 

1. Weaknesses. Some people complain about fixed split points, it doesn't bother me. Vibrato using aftertouch only produces a fixed vibrato. Other forms of initiating vibrato (wheel, delay, etc.) can be adjusted. The APs sound like @ss through mediocre amplification, but sound glorious through good gear. Some people don't like bright red. Somewhat weak on horns and similar but adequate enough. No sequencer.

 

2. The Leslie emulation is pretty durn good, so good in fact that my Vent II stays home. Switching between slow/fast happens in a second or two, and isn't adjustable I believe.

 

3. The triple pedal can only be used for its piano functions and can't be re-assigned. I have also found them unable to tolerate beer being spilled nearby. But if you grew up on a three-pedal piano like I did, it's nice to have. Just don't take it to bar gigs.

 

4. Piano sounds? I can't comment on the Motif, but -- yeah -- I love most of the piano library Nord supplies. Bring good amplification. They record like a dream. There's also a nice selection of classic digital pianos which are pretty useful. Piano sample memory will be your limiting factor, so stick with M and L size samples. I'd steer clear of the 76 HP action -- it was frustrating for me -- so go for either the 88 or a separate weighted controller. My bottom controller is actually a Nord Piano 4 that I use for acoustic gigs, and it has a pleasing action.

 

5. EPs are pretty good as well, and lately they've added dynamic filtering as a panel switch to get that classic Dyno sound.

 

6. Anything else you should know? It will change the way you approach voicing songs for the better. You will find yourself adjusting stuff on the fly without even thinking about it. The morph function kicks @ss. You can spend way too much time futzing with its powerful synth. It cured my GAS for better keyboards since I bought it. None of my Nords has ever given me grief. It will likely keep its resale value better than most.

 

I hope this helps!

Life is too short to be playing bad music.

 

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The one thing I would add is that in every category from the action, to the sound, to the flexibility and how I could set up to my liking, the Kurzweil Forte 7 wins hands down in every category except that Nord has a better Leslie simulation and a better organ tone

...In summary - if you're going to spend the $$$ for a new Stage 3 76-HP I would take a serious look at a Kurzweil Forte 7 in the same overall price range.

Both are great boards, but organ isn't the only advantage the Nord has over the Kurz.

 

Very significantly, the Nord is only 27.5 lbs, the Kurz is 41.4. (If you're willing to carry around that kind of weight, you could also look at the NS3-88, which is another way to get a better action than the one in the NS3-76.)

 

The Nord also gives you consistent and ever-present access to all the drawbar controls, over a dozen synth parameters, over a dozen effects parameters, etc.. With the Forte you have a far fewer number of simultaneously available controls, the 9 sliders needs to be repurposed for different functions. And so you'll often need to define them to do what you want, instead of just reaching for an ever-present, logically placed, properly labeled control that automatically and instantly does what you need. (Though there is one complication to be aware of there, in that when playing a sound that combines two panels, you need to be cognizant of which panel you're altering.)

 

Of course, The Kurzweil has many advantages of its own. You mentioned the sequencer. It also has more space for custom samples and they are not limited to a single velocity layer. You can split/layer up to 16 internal sounds any way you want to (except for only one KB3 organ sound at a time), compared to 6 sounds max with numerous restrictions. It supports 16 MIDI zones instead of 2. It functions as a 16-channel MIDI sound source instead of 2. It has better sounding orchestral samples (strings/brass/etc.). I think its EPs are better, too. You can get into much deeper editing than you can on the Nord. It really is, as you say, a much more flexible board overall. But that gets down to their overall philosophies... Nord makes it very easy to do the things most people most often want to do, but other things are often impossible. Kurz generally takes more effort, but ultimately can let you do almost anything you can imagine. I things sound assembly/tweaking is quicker and more fun on the Nord, but people who want fewer limitations and have more of a programmer's mindset can take the Kurz further.

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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