Nord Piano 4 review: Better Than Piano 3 and Stage 3?
The Nord Piano 4 is the latest entry in Nord’s Piano series. The latest Nord digital piano builds off of its predecessor, the Nord Piano 3— as well as the Nord Stage 3 and Electro 6–and lends itself perfectly to the stage and studio.
And so in this article, we’re going to examine the Nord Piano 3 and help you determine if this beautiful red instrument is worth your money. And to better help you, we’ve created the interactive guide below, which allows you to compare the Nord Piano 4 to other pianos made by Nord (as well as other manufacturers too).
|Roland RD-88||PHA-4 Standard action, ZEN-Core sound engine|
|Nord Stage 3||OLED Display|
|Casio PX5S||Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II Keyboard|
|Nord Piano 5||Polyphony: 120 Notes (piano section), 46 Notes (sample synth section)|
|Yamaha YC88||128 Notes (AWM2/Organ), 128 Notes (FM)|
Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Vibe, Pan, Tremolo and more
|Casio PX-560||5.3” Color Display|
Hammer Action for the Nord Piano 4
The Nord Piano 4’s keyboard uses the Virtual Hammer Action Technology that was introduced with the Piano 3. This feature simulates the movements of the hammers inside of a grand piano, which makes for an extremely realistic playing experience when combined with the Triple Sensor keybed. This digital piano handles dynamics really well and responds to the user’s touch much like an acoustic piano would.
The Nord Piano 4 has dedicated knobs for essential functions like transposing, creating split points, and layering. These knobs make it easy to access all of the functions that keyboardists need throughout a performance.
Below, please take a brief moment to view some of the best-selling pianos on sale online, and see how well they stack up to the Nord Piano 4 as we progress further in this review.
|1) Casio PX-770|
|2) Yamaha YDP-145|
|3) Roland RP-102|
|4) Yamaha YDP-165|
|5) Casio PX-870|
The Piano 4’s features include seamless transitions between programs without the digital piano’s sounds cutting out (a feature taken from the Nord Stage 3) and the ability to create crossfades between split points. These crossfades eliminate awkward sound jumps between the two split sounds; now, for example, if players are using a bass and piano sound together, the two voices will sound together over a few keys before the player crosses into the next sound.
This feature is great for stage musicians who need to switch between sounds seamlessly and fluidly. Additionally, the Piano 4 includes 7 split points that are indicated with LED lights.
The Nord Triple Pedal comes with the Piano 4. This pedal has soft and sostenuto pedals, a dynamic sustain pedal, and Nord’s Pedal Noise feature that imitates the sounds of lifting and releasing the damper on an acoustic piano.
The Piano section has been expanded on the Piano 4, and this section now includes creative filters that accentuate softness, boost the mid range, or emphasize high-end brilliance.
With 120-voice polyphony, the Piano 4’s Piano section leaves plenty of room for creativity and frees players to experiment with intricate chords and multiple effects. The Piano section features the latest grands, uprights, digital pianos, and electric pianos from the Nord Piano Library.
These sounds were handpicked by Nord for their unique character, but players are free to replace these sounds with others from the ever-expanding Nord Piano Library.
The Sample Synth section offers extended voice polyphony and an expanded 512MB memory for the Nord Sample Library 3.0. While the Sample Synth section comes preloaded with incredible sounds like the Mellotron and Chamberlin, players can download sounds directly from the Sample Library to customize their Piano 4’s sound library.
All sounds can be replaced, downloaded, and organized with the Nord Sound Manager. The Sample Synth section also has designated controls for decay/release, attack and dynamics like filter and velocity.
The Nord Piano 4’s Effect section boasts effects that can be assigned to any sounds from either the Piano or Sample Synth sections.
The effects include:
The Nord Piano 4 is undoubtedly an incredible, premium instrument, so it comes with a pretty high price tag. This digital piano retails for about $2,999, which is likely more than some beginner and intermediate keyboardists are willing to pay. Advanced players and stage musicians are more likely to see the price as reasonable and are more likely to be willing to pay nearly three grand for a keyboard.
Features like the split point crossfades and access to the Nord Sample Library 3.0 are only available from Nord and are certainly not available at a lower price point. Indeed, digital pianos below this price point typically only offer one split point and they are rarely indicated with LED lights.
This digital piano is a highly sophisticated instrument. It offers more than enough onboard sounds and effects for players to create an almost infinite number of soundscapes; even better, lifetime access to Nord’s sound libraries allows players to pick the sounds that they want to keep and to remove the sounds that they want to replace.
The only drawback to the Nord Piano 4 is its price. This digital piano is likely worth roughly $2,999 or even more for advanced players, but the price is simply unreasonable for those who are just starting to play the piano and for those who are on a budget.
Nord Piano 4 vs Nord Stage 3
The Nord Piano 4’s closest competitor is the Nord Stage 3. The Nord Stage 3 is a synthesizer and Nord offers 73,76, and 88 key models of this instrument. The Nord Stage 3 88 is the most similar to the Nord Piano 4 because they both use a fully weighted Hammer Action keyboard whereas the other two models do not.
The Nord Stage 3’s Piano section rivals that of the Nord Piano 4. The Stage 3 comes loaded with a wide selection of grand pianos, uprights, digital pianos, electric pianos, clavinets, and harpsichords. Stage 3 buyers have the option of buying the Nord Triple Pedal with this synthesizer, which allows them to add realistic damper lifting and releasing sounds to their playing.
While the Stage 3 comes with amazing onboard sounds, owners of this synth can always add additional sounds from the Nord Piano Library. All of the sounds included in this library can be downloaded for free by Nord owners, and the library is constantly expanding.
The Piano section on the Nord Stage 3 has 120-voice polyphony like the Nord Piano 4 and includes the same creative filters.
The Organ section features Nord’s award-winning C2D Organ simulations of B3 Tonewheel, Vintage Transistor, and Principal Pipe organs. The B3 Tonewheel boasts four tonewheel settings. The Organ section also features realistic simulations of classic 1960s Transistor Organs and two new Pipe Organ sounds.
Because the Stage 3 is a synthesizer whereas the Piano 4 is a digital piano, the Stage 3 Synth section is much more expansive than that of the Piano 4. The Stage 3’s Synth section uses the Nord Lead A1 Synth Engine. This engine uses Smart Oscillator Configurations to deliver stunning sounds with minimal programming.
The Synth section uses both Single (like pitch and shape modes) and Dual (FM, Ring Mod, Detune, Sync, Waveform, Bell, and Noise Mix modes) oscillator setups. The Synth section also gives players 3 Unison modes that can be used without reducing voice polyphony.
The Synth section comes preloaded with samples from the Nord Sample Library 3.0. Like with the Piano 4, Stage 3 owners can download samples from the library to their keyboard, and they can tweak samples within the Lead A1 Synth Engine and create their own samples, too.
There are 6 Filter types within the Synth section and a “synchronizable” arpeggiator and LFO (low-frequency oscillator).
The Effect section boasts a wide range of customizable effects that are modeled after classic stomp boxes.
The Stage 3’s effects include:
The effects are controlled by easily accessible knobs. There are 2 Effect knobs, a Amp Simulator/EQ/Filter knob, a Delay knob, a Compressor knob, and a Reverb knob. These effects can be applied to any sounds within the Stage 3 to create “tweakable,” dynamic performances.
The Extern section makes it easy for players to control MIDI-connected instruments from the Nord Stage 3. Splits, layers, and other effects are applied to these external instruments as if they are a part of the Stage 3. All settings can be saved as a Program so that players’ setups can be accessed easily in a live-performance setting.
How Do the Prices Compare?
The Nord Stage 3 88 retails for roughly $4,499, a noticeable jump from the Piano 4’s about $2,999. For most digital pianists, the Nord Piano 4 should be perfectly adequate. The Piano 4 has the same amount of polyphony in the Piano section as the Stage 3 and has the same split and layer capabilities.
Players who do not intend to do synth-heavy performances and do not typically customize their playing with lots of effects will be extremely content with the Piano 4. For those who love experimenting with multiple effects and who need a powerful synth engine for their performances, the Stage 3 might be the way to go. Also, the Piano 4 clearly wins out over the Stage 3 on price despite being considerably more expensive than other digital pianos.
Nord Piano 4 vs Kawai MP11SE
The Kawai MP11SE is pretty comparable in price to the Nord Piano 4. This Kawai digital piano retails for about $2,799, which is just about $200 less than the Nord Piano 4.
The keys on the MP11SE are made entirely of real wood just like on an acoustic piano. Combined with the Grand Feel weighted hammer action, these wooden keys make for an astoundingly realistic playing experience and lend themselves to expressive, dynamic playing.
This digital piano features a large backlit LCD display, four assignable control knobs, and an easy to use panel interface. Pitch and mod wheels make it easy to tweak sounds quickly.
The MP11SE has 40 onboard sounds, including three grand pianos, vintage electric pianos, concert pianos, jazz pianos, strings, and pads. Sounds are split up into three sections: the Piano Section, E-Piano Section, and the Sub Section.
The Sub Section contains all of the non-piano sounds, like synths, strings, and pads. The MP11SE’s 6 reverbs and 129 effects make it easy for players to customize this digital piano’s onboard sounds. All of the effects and reverbs are “tweakable,” which makes for a truly customizable playing experience.
The MP11SE has four modes: full keyboard, upper split, lower split, and zone (adjustable split point/zone range).Also, players can layer up to three sounds together. With 256-note polyphony, owners of this digital piano can layer sounds and add multiple effects without worrying about latency or note dropout.
This digital piano is capable of controlling four other MIDI instruments at a time. These instruments can be switched on and off independently with the push of a button.
The MP11SE is a quite nice, slightly cheaper alternative to the Nord Piano 4. Its wooden keys make the playing experience a bit more similar to that of an acoustic piano, but a keyboard’s key action is what really matters. Both the Nord Piano 4 and the Kawai MP11SE have weighted hammer action keys, so the decision of whether to go with wooden keys or not truly comes down to personal preference.
Both the Nord Piano 4 and the Kawai MP11SE feature meticulously crafted sound engines and beautiful onboard voices, but the Nord Piano 4 allows players to fully customize their keyboard’s sound offerings through the use of the Nord Piano Library and the Nord Sample Library 3.0. Thus, the Nord Piano 4 wins out over the Kawai MP11SE.
Nord Piano 4 vs Yamaha CP4
The Yamaha CP4 comes loaded with 45 Yamaha Premium Grand Piano voices, 47 vintage electric piano voices, and 341 other voices including basses, strings, pads, organs, and synths.
The CP4’s keyboard is made with Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Wooden Key Action; the white keys are made of real wood and are topped with synthetic ivory, which leads to an incredibly realistic playing experience.
This digital piano has a simple, intuitive interface that makes it easy for players to start playing right away and access all of the sounds and effects they need quickly. The CP4 includes 62 Virtual Circuit Modeling effects, Reverb, Chorus, Master 5 band EQ, and Compressor.
This instrument has 128-note polyphony, which leaves room for players to layer effects as they play.
Players can easily create splits and layers on the Yamaha CP4 and can control these splits and layers and their volume levels easily with sliders. The CP4 also offers a full array of controller features, like pitch and mod wheels. These features make it easy to use this digital piano as a MIDI controller.
The Yamaha CP4 retails for roughly $2,699, which makes it the most affordable of the digital pianos featured in this review. However, the price is still quite steep for someone’s first digital piano. The CP4 would work best for an intermediate player who is ready to start performing or for an advanced player who is looking to add another keyboard to their collection.
While the CP4 is a powerful, well-crafted instrument, the Nord Piano 4 gives players more room for creative freedom. The Piano 4 includes more effects and the customizable sound library makes it easy for owners of this digital piano to truly make the instrument their own.
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