Founded by Hans Nordelius in 1983, the Swedish-based company has since designed, developed, and manufactured professional-use keyboards at various functionality and price points. Primarily, their keyboards are music composing devices, with powerful sound engines and a dedicated panel of knobs, faders, and switches to control and manipulate sound. Their main products are virtual analogue synthesizers like the Nord Wave 2, virtual electromechanical pianos like the Nord Electro 6 and stage pianos like the Nord Grand. Apart from these unconventional instruments, they also make organs like the Nord C2D, piano monitors, drum synthesiser, and a MIDI pedal board. Many, if not all, of these instruments, are used by internationally acclaimed artists, both in studios and on stage owing to their versatility, audio quality, and durability.
The first Nord keyboard released was the Nord Lead in 1995, becoming one of the very few virtual analogue synths. This trend picked up, and Nord became a common name in the synth market. The second generation Lead 2 was in high demand thanks to its refined 16 polyphony notes, a refined keybed, and a slightly improved sound engine. For a long time, the Lead 2 remained in the play, only to be replaced by the Nord Lead 2x (with faster processing times and an upgraded 20 polyphony voices). Currently, the Nord Lead 4 is in play with its advanced layering and synchronisation possibilities, new filter types and on-board effects, and a suite of synth features like the Impulse Morph Velocity, Mod Wheel Morph, and Crush, Drive, Comb filter, Talk, Compressor, Reverb/delay effects (to name a few). Following the success of the Lead 2, Nord went on to produce the Nord Modular, which was a modular synthesiser, offering an almost unlimited variation of synth architectures, with the facility to simulate, in addition to subtractive synthesis, additive, FM, and, in the second generation of the series, physical modelling synthesis methods, and a number of other sound generation and processing techniques. Next came the Nord Electro (in 2001) which was Nord’s answer to the electric piano and organs. The board uses audio samples to generate sound, but the organs are modelled using digital simulation. The current model is the Nord Electro 6 with three independent sound sections, a new streamlined user interface, and an OLED display among other additions.
The first Nord Stage was produced in 2005 combining the organ and piano functions of the Electro with some of the synth functionality of the Lead, while adding other piano functionality and a version with 88 weighted keys. This versatile instrument was arguably the most coveted keyboard when it came out then, and to an extent, even at present. Because it combined all of Nord’s best designs and workflow, the Nord Stage was the optimal equipment for live performances and live recording sessions. Currently, the Nord Stage 3 is their flagship device with a dedicated effects section, synth manipulation tools, an OLED screen, and three weighted keyboard actions among other features. The Nord Wave, Nord Drum, and Nord C1 Organ came in quick succession, each adding value to a growing list of quality synthesisers. By 2010, they launched the Nord Piano with 19 different piano and harpsichord sounds and a simple control panel in the centre to control transpose and velocity curves, effects, EQ, MIDI, and other programmable features. It was Nord’s subjectively least complicated device till date. The current version, Nord Piano 4, still carries most of their well-designed keyboard with the addition of a triple-sensor keybed for advanced expression, a refined hammer-action keybed, and an expanded polyphony. Most of Nord’s products are DAW compatible and can be used on and off stage.
Fun Fact: While the keyboards are called Nord, Claviya is the parent company that has manufactured them since its debut.