Clavia Nord Lead 4
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Clavia Nord Lead 4

Nord Lead 4, Analog Modeling Synth from Clavia in the Nord Lead series.

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All user reviews for the Clavia Nord Lead 4

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Average Score:4.7( 4.7/5 based on 4 reviews )
 2 reviews50 %
 1 user review25 %
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Editorial review
  • 02/05/14Nord Lead 4 Review

    Nord Lead 4 Review - Life in Red

    Five years after launching Nord Wave, Clavia has once again updated its stage-synth range. What surprises does the Nord Lead 4 offer?

Users reviews
klair3110/09/2013

klair31's review"Fascinating synth"

Clavia Nord Lead 4
A synthesizer through and through. To get the features, visit Nord Keyboards' website. You'll also find an interesting comparison between this synth and the Nord Lead 2X:
http://www.nordkeyboards.com/main.asp?tm=Products&clpm=Nord_Lead_4

Polyphony?
20 voices, which might seem not enough in Performance mode according to some user comments. However, I never had any polyphony problem up to now.

UTILIZATION

Is it easy to make settings?
It can't be easier!! I could easily use the device from the 1st day without reading the product manual. I only had difficulties to understand the Mutator and Pattern functions (although the latter is self-explaining!) in the beginning. I took few minutes to check the manual and everything was OK!

All features are accessible from the front panel so the unit is easy to use. I also own a Nord Wave, thus learning how the Nord Lead 4 works was a breeze. Apropos let's speak about the Nord Wave + Nord Lead 4 combination: Both synths don't have the same philosophy and are very complementary. Are you looking for a synth providing all features required for live performance, variations included? The Nord Lead 4 is for you! On the other hand, I find the Nord Wave less funny but it also provides you with excellent sound quality.
The Nord Lead 4 includes 128 waveforms, which reminds the Nord Wave. Using one of them, I was able to reproduce the typical DX7 bell sound. By the way, there is also a FM mode that I didn't use a lot up to now (I already own two FM synths, the SY99 and DX7II).

Is the user's manual clear and comprehensive?
I checked the starting guide two or three times... It seems to be comprehensive.

Is it easy to edit sounds or effects?
Yes, no problem! As I already mentioned, you can access everything either directly or via Shift key. By chance I found out how to create a Performance by pushing two Part keys from the first use.
Effects are also fine but I regret that it is impossible to combine delay AND reverb :(


SOUNDS

Do the sound presets fit your music style?
Yes for sure, and they are excellent! Those days I'm playing a lot of "Italian disco" (I created performances in Moroder and Laser Dance style), indus and spatial tunes and I like the sounds.

Are they authentic?
I you're looking for authentic sound, forget it! This is a synthesizer, not a workstation including a ROM full-packed with piano, brass and strings presets... However, it is possible to get quite realistic flute, organ and violin sounds if you edit the available waveforms properly. But the result won't be 100% authentic because of the lack of natural feel like bow rubbing and string picking brought by physical modeling synthesis (check the Korg Z1, Yamaha VL1 or Triton + MOSS).

Are the effects effective and do they suit your application?
The provided effects are good but limited (see above). I like to create moving effects in real time with the Morphing wheel.
You also get Drive, Compressor, Talk (talkbox simulation), Crush (evocative of old video games on Atari!) and com filter (creates chorus-like effect).

Is the expressiveness good? (velocity and aftertouch sensitivity)?
The soft morphing (with the wheel) and hard morphing (Impulse Morph) are very interesting but the keyboard has no aftertouch... Generally I use it very few so I don't really miss this feature but it's a pity that the keyboard doesn't have it.
I use an expression pedal for soft morphing to keep my left hand free.
No problem with the velocity response.

Which sounds do you prefer / hate? ...
A difficult question since I like almost EVERYTHING in this synth! However, I don't really like the sharp sounds... and this also apply to the Nord Wave.
This being said, the sound range of the Nord Lead 4 is much wider than I originally thought! You get huge sound possibilities, from a fat bass line to a crystal-clear, icy sound over "aquatic" tones.


OVERALL OPINION

How long have you been using it?
For over three weeks. It's now the synth I mainly use with my pop/rock/electro band.

Which feature do you like the most / the least?
Pros:
- The high-quality SOUND I had the opportunity to try out different analog synths and I feel good with this Nord Lead.
- Of course the multiple Performance features! Split, morph, etc.
- Arpeggios and patterns that are very useful for my music style.
- Having the possibility to export/import sounds with the Nord Sound Manager is very convenient!
- Of course the overall design: If you're a sound synthesis newbie and want to create your own sound presets without hassle, the Nord Lead is famous for its fast and easy learning curve!
- The weight! A crucial feature when you're on tour. I've problems with my back, but carrying the Nord Lead 4 is as easy as carrying a snatchel :)

Cons:
- No vocoder. It's a pity that such a funny effect is not inculded. It would be great in Performance mode!
- Sometimes it's difficult to control the Impulse Morph while playing with the left hand. Doing the splits with fingers is required! It's only a matter of training :)
- Illuminated controls like on the Nord Lead 3 or Korg R3 would be welcome. Here the user interface is less self-explaining in edit mode... Illuminated controls would help to understand how the sound presets are build. But I mean I read somewhere that this technology is expensive...
- No aftertouch
- Sleepless nights spent playing with passion... But is this a real con? ;)

Did you try any of other models before buying this one?
I own many different synths (see my profile) but I had no light and comprehensive synth to make great performances. The only synth I had in this category is the R3 but it's limited.
Some years ago, I was already looking for this kind of synth and I decided to buy a Nord Lead 2X for its live performance features, and in spite of its limitations (no sync, no effects, etc.) and although I liked the Nord Wave sound more. The Nord Lead 4 doesn't have these limitations and is THE synth I've been waiting for for a long time. So I didn't hesitate and made me a nice gift with its slipcover included to the launch price.

How would you rate its value for money? Based on your experience, would you buy this product again? ...
This purchase is painful for the wallet (€1,800 with slipcover)... but it's worth the money!

And there is no doubt for me: Considering the features and quality of this synth, I would buy it again.
pico08/16/2013

pico's review"Almost flawless!"

Clavia Nord Lead 4
Modeling synthesizer with two oscillators per voice: analog+FM, Hard & Soft Sync, 4-part multi-timbral with effects, arpeggiator, LFO. Everything can be synced to the internal clock or to an external one via usb or midi.

Light 49-key keyboard without aftertouch.

396 programs + 99 Performances.

For more information and specific details visit NORD's website directly.

UTILIZATION

I haven't had the need to open the user's manual after one week of use. It is well designed and, except fro the Mutator mode (an automatic program generator that I haven't tested), I have perfectly mastered this synthesizer, which is a great tool to create one's own sound palette without the need to be an expert on synthesis.

I like particularly the Performance mode, a real blessing live thanks to its Impulse Morph mode that assigns seven modulations directly to three buttons that are easily accessible right next to the wheel and pitch. Very practical to manage with the left hand.

The feel is very nice and firm, even if I personally find the key return is not fast enough, which demands some practice if you want play a bit more technically and fast. I think an aftertouch would have been useful, given the modulation possibilities. In my view, the keyboard is the synth's only weak point. Nevertheless, we can connect a modulation pedal to which we can assign the volume or the wheel. This allows us to keep both hands on the keyboard while modulating the sound and, anyway, aftertouch is rather random and hard to master in practice. But it wouldn't have hurt to have it and be able to disable it as well, like on the minibrut. So, to cut it short: for the price I would've liked to have aftertouch too.

I love its build quality and lightness. It's compact while still remaining ergonomically impressive.

I noticed that the buttons are more flexible in their movements than before, while remaining firmly on their axis! I think their movement is very well adapted for fast playing with a synth, which is great.


The multi-timbral mode can be easily split in two parts, A&B on the left side and C&D on the right, the split point is obviously adjustable.

SOUNDS

Simply put, its sound is the best and most versatile that I have heard in terms of synthesizers. It sounds deep and very similar to an analog synth (which I know a bit about) with a modern touch and flexibility for modelling, I love it!

The nord lead 4 covers all domains without any particular weakness: deep lows, a sharp lead synth, pads and FX, everything is possible, and the sound is always pleasant to the ears, even when taking it to the extreme. It also has a round and warm side to it, a bit like an analog synth, but also a cold one with its FM mode and Sync, in addition to the modulations that are very easy to set up, it's child's play and a real pleasure to play with, you can simply concentrate on your creative side and technique.

OVERALL OPINION

For me, apart from the lack of aftertouch and the keyboard keys' sluggish return, it's almost flawless. It's simply the best nord lead ever.

The price is hefty but it really is enough for everything that has to do with synthesis, thanks to its richness of modulations and the great versatility of its oscillators and filters that cover almost all eras and genres. The quality of the modeling brings it very close to an analog synth, especially given the quality of its filters, which are perfect, in my opinion.

Live or in the studio, it can perform very well in both situations.

In short, if you have the money, go for it. You won't regret it.
Bertoto05/20/2014

Bertoto's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Little big synth"

Clavia Nord Lead 4
I do not believe that the characteristics are those of a good virtual analog to share this unfortunate lack of after touch and keyboard not very accurate and a bit slippery, so I did not have in mind a possible subsequent resale I spend at least the black keys with an abrasive to roughen a bit.

We regret of course the knobs to LED necklaces if ergonomic but do not dream too, for cost reasons they are unlikely to return one day.
At most, I hope one day will decide to offer North editing software that will allow you to view and tweak its settings quietly at home on computer which does not prevent to play without cluttering available. ( ah ..... G2)
Ease to implement the morphing by the wheel and the velocity is faithful to the North and ergonomics practices morph impulse buttons great.
The Mutator function I do not use it, I generally prefer to control where I want to go but it may be wrong

UTILIZATION

The general config is pretty intuitive but I'm one of the few priori to read manuals!
Press the copy button by turning a knob to observe a setting without changing it's hard to find by itself and yet convenient
Mde is well done and presents the basics of subtractive synthesis which is a good effort, beginners it still exists ....

SOUNDS

Sound, essential and it is well! And in many styles of music.

Do not settle for factory programs to consider as more samples of possibilities, the ideal is to do it yourself but its sound is a bit long and not so easy if you want it to sound pro (because yes it can sound downright pro)

So in the meantime, those who want reassurance about the ability of the Nord Lead 4 to make nice large and deep pads find their happiness with the bank performance Nick Jarl and James Wiltshire of the Freemasons.
This mode performance can group 4 slots programs can sound really big. The trick is to use a slot on both the reverb and delay on the two, thereby circumventing the inability to use the two at the same time in the same program.
Other effects which Talk1 and2 are not bad at first but a little light can not imagine that you will sound like Daft Punk. The Crush is really not up to par.
As often with North was a bit like cheated with the release of North A1 it has real nice effects actually used (and cheaper too!)
Personally I plug my pedals to compensate for these absences but the philosophy of North machines is more oriented all in one which is convenient to turn.
Question reaction velocity I do not know what to say definitively, it is not essential to this kind of instrument. there is a funny program Ake Danielson which mimics the DX7 Rhodes immitant it sounds really good, but on the condition type as deaf in his right hand! and if we change the velocity settings it no longer sounds, digging ....

All sounds are nice hot trend analog FM cold.

In general I prefer the beautiful lower register and upper register his grave a little "acid" medium.

My main regret is not having a keyboard track more progressive, I often have difficulties despite the 4 possible settings with the treble is too deaf or too bright.

I would also like to be able to adjust the width of the pulse wave gradually manually and not just by the LFO or the Wheel.

OVERALL OPINION

I use it for 6 months and discover more and more the great possibilities, I programmed some sounds which I am delighted, but it is easy for "fun", get something playable with the big sound demand still a lot of time and attention because in performence user can have up to 8 oscilloscope to manage.
I am not a specialist synths I had a modular analog Korg Juno, DX7 and a lot of synths. I also have the extra North Stage2 synth.

In summary a great little synth, a bit pricey though if we relativize with everything offered by the G2 there 10 years.
alcools03/17/2014

alcools's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)"Well designed, efficient and sounds!"

Clavia Nord Lead 4
There are already two reviews that I plussois overall, so I'll rather like giving my experience with this new Nord Lead.

On the characteristics, I put 7/10 because as often with North, simplicity is preferred to opportunities, which has good and bad sides of course.

Polyphony of 20 tracks seemed adequate on paper, but sometimes it lacks the final few channels using two sounds (or more) at the same time, if the active unison modes.

The effects are rather interesting but as said by others, a good chorus was not denial. Less metallic reverb too ...

I have also enjoyed being able to adjust the height of the first oscillator, but hey, I'm with ...

An incredible impasse anyway: No aftertouch! , I do not understand because even without talking about price, it's really a practical tool, and for me, something that brings a synth a real instrument (like when you touched a guitar string). Carnal pleasure and less so.

UTILIZATION

Like any North, nothing to say, everything is at hand, visible, and less than not knowing the synthesis, almost all without reading the manual (the latter used to understand the specifics of the original synth such as Morph or manipulation to edit all 4 slot synchronously).

A small reserve still on fairly regular use of the Shift key that requires 2 hands to remove the keyboard for some operations. I often say to the north, but it can block the Shift (Caps lock) would be useful to solve this problem ...

SOUNDS

The sounds are of course what you do but I must admit that this new Lead has a wider range than its predecessors. Already, various filters are more numerous than before, provide very interesting and varied colors, and for those who love the Moog filters, the copy made by the NL4 is quite convincing (this is not a Moog fooger but frankly, bravo anyway).

Bass are also much more in the spotlight on this 4th Nord Lead. In fact, we can finally make that low balls! In North (well, Clavia), there was only the G2 which allowed before sending in this register. Good, NL4 is not yet at my Tetra for big bass that spot, but it's not bad.

Otherwise, you can do everything with a can (sounds sharp, sweet, pads, leads, fx ...) as we do not try to do too complex sounds, because that is where the limitations of NL4 may interfere . Unlike a DSI Prophet 12 as I had just before the NL4, there is no real modulation matrix. Can modulate some thanks to some modulators stuff (read the doc or just the panel to understand, knowing that everything is sérégraphié front). It's not like a P12 which assigns a score of modulations and anything to anything, which can itself controlling anything! With NL4 was 2 LFO (or an arpeggiator and LFO) + an envelope modulator point. Well, not too serious, I have a Nord Modular G2X installed below so I console on when the need arises, but out of the P12, it's a bit frustrating sometimes.

OVERALL OPINION

I use it for 5 months now and I must say I really like this synth, after a rather negative priori period. I left the P12 which I liked a lot, but my back was struggling with her weight (I know, there's worse, but I have back problems for a long time). P12 had so intuitive and engaging interface, as well as enormous opportunities, I had trouble accepting that little red in my set, which had to seduce me that its weight and filters I had a lot appreciated by trying.

After 2 months, I think I had really passed. It is very versatile, and it really sounds. Sounds are well mix (quite recurrent in the North), and it has an amazing potato. It can be really sharp, surgical, or bludgeoned. To the extent, however (like big slick very thick), it is not the best, but G2 is here for. 7 Morph allow for surprising effects of passing in a millisecond of a nice sound to a roar unleashed. And its low weight allows it to take in my bed before going to sleep (yes, it's very sensual us) and vacation easily.

A very good synth then, and that can be a very good choice for those who want a machine that can almost do while staying in the area sounds too complex, intuitive, and easy to carry.

For my part, compared to my other machines (G2 and Tetra), it gives me the spontaneity of live modulation (at improv) that does not always allow the G2, and even less with the Tetra rarres orders façade. It also gives me the potato, sounds that may well fail or decide.