Each Program on the Wave 2 can contain up to four Layers, labelled A B C and D. These can be played individually, combined together, or you can split the keyboard in up to four zones, one for each Layer. Each Layer can utilise any of the onboard Analogue, Wavetable, FM or Sample synth engines and the Effects sections are also independent per Layer, allowing you to create a phenomenal variety of sounds.
Rather than treat Layers as individual synthesisers, the Group function allows you to group 2, 3 or 4 Layers together to behave as one big synth. Grouping Layers allows them to share the same Filter, Envelopes, Arpeggiator, LFO and Effect-settings - perfect when creating complex multi-layered Programs that can be edited as one coherent sound. Any Grouped Layers and their associated functions are indicated by yellow LEDs.
The Wave 2 has a larger 61 note waterfall style keybed instead of the 49 key size of the original Wave. The keyboard can have up to three split points allowing you any combination of up to four zones, one for each Layer.
How to identify Split Points
The central section has a dedicated Split button with LED indicators above it to show whether it is engaged and how many Split Points are active. A line of LEDs above the keyboard shows the location of the split points themselves, so you can see exactly where they are. These LEDs can vary in colour between green, orange and red - see Split Widths, below.
The Wave 2 is a four part multitimbral instrument, meaning each Layer can transmit and receive on its own MIDI channel. This makes it ideal for creating Programs that combine internal sounds with external sounds, such as other sound modules/synths, Mainstage, soft synths etc. Or, if you are using the Wave 2 as a sound source with your DAW you can sequence each of the four Layers individually. The clever thing about MIDI settings on the Wave 2 is that they do not have to be Global - you can actually save different MIDI channel settings on a per-Program basis, allowing you to flip between totally different MIDI instrument Internal/External combinations just by changing Programs.
The Wave 2 also automatically syncs to any incoming MIDI Clock (see Master Clock section, below) so you can drive any of its Arpeggiators or time based effects, such as Delay or Autopan, from an external DAW, drum machine or sequencer.
All of this makes the Wave 2 an incredibly flexible MIDI keyboard.
So, we've established that a single Wave 2 Program can comprise of up to four different Layers which can be mapped across the keyboard and can have their own MIDI channel settings. But how are Programs handled on the Wave 2 ?
The Wave 2 has 400 Program locations:
These are divided into 16 Banks A-P
A Bank is subdivided into 5 Pages
A Page is subdivided into 5 Programs
Ie. B32 = Bank B Page 3 Program 2
There are various ways to select Programs:
Method 1: Hold the Shift button down and press the Bank buttons to jump between Banks, release Shift and use the same buttons to select a Page and then, simply turn the Value dial
Method 2: Use the Program buttons under the screen to select a Program within the current Bank and Page
Method 3: Select Via Number - in 'Num' mode you can use the Program Buttons to type in a Program location
Method 4: Search Alphabetically or via Category - very useful if you need to find a particular type of sound quickly.
All Nord Keyboards, including the Wave 2, allow you to freely rearrange Programs anywhere you want within the instrument's memory. There is no predefined allocation of Preset Banks and User Banks, as implemented in most other keyboards. This allows you to freely set your Program order however you like - for example you could arrange Programs to follow your setlist.
The Transient function allows you to add a percussive ‘spike’ to the start of your sounds to help them cut through a mix or to add an edge to any percussion sounds you are creating. It is easy to use.
Simply hold the Shift Button down whilst turning the Amp Env Attack dial clockwise and this will turn the function on, or anti-clockwise to turn it off. Once it has been turned on, its level is controlled by the Attack dial. 0 will be its maximum level and it decreases until you reach the 2 position where this would be the equivalent of the normal 0 position if Transient was not engaged.
The Arpeggiator works in the traditional way - allowing you to hold down notes and have them arpeggiate either up, down, up and down or round. The Tempo dial controls the speed of the arpeggiator and this can also be synced to incoming MIDI Clock from a DAW, drum machine etc (see Master Clock, below). A useful Keyboard Hold button means you don't have to hold notes down or use a sustain pedal, if you want your arpeggiators to run throughout your song.
Of course, Nord have taken the Arpeggiator a few steps further on the Wave 2 with the introduction of some new creative features called Pattern Mode, Poly Mode, Gate Mode and Zig Zag.
In Poly Mode - any notes you hold down are not arpeggiated. Instead, the notes are all played at the same time as chords. This means that you can hold chords down and have them re-triggered by the arpeggiator or rhythmically by Patterns and control the rate with the tempo dial.
Gate Mode doesn’t re-trigger notes either. Instead it mutes / unmutes the audio signal, almost like an Arpeggiator in reverse ! On it’s own, it gates the audio at regular intervals, like an LFO. But you can also use Patterns in the same way as above, to gate the sound rhythmically and create interesting and unusual effects.
When Gate Mode is enabled, the Range dial becomes the Envelope control for the depth of the Gate. A low value acts more like a light tremolo and a higher value gives more of a sharp on / off response.
Zig Zag Mode
This is a quick way to make your arpeggiators sound more interesting. With any arpeggiator that is running, hold Shift down and press the Zig Zag button to enable this function. Your arpeggiated notes will now jump two steps forward and then one step back to create an almost 'random' effect.
These are all great new features which takes the standard Arpeggiator to another level. And remember - the Wave 2 is four-part multitimbral so you can have different Patterns or Gated Patterns for each of the four Layers within one Program and have them all run together in perfect sync via Master Clock. Ideal for atmospheric sounds where you require lots of interesting movement or for old skool beat box rhythms.
The Reverb section now includes a new tiny Booth reverb and, at the other end of the scale - a new massive Cathedral reverb. Nord have also introduced a new Dark and Bright setting so you can change the characteristics of any chosen reverb. Another new feature is the Chorale effect which can be strapped across the reverb section for that old skool effect.
The Delay section has had the largest number of new additions. You now have the ability to insert filters or effects into your wet signal. These include a Low Pass, High Pass or Band Pass filter, ideal for cleaning up your repeats. Vibrato, Chorus or Ensemble effects can be inserted to your delays too. The Delay can also be flipped to behave like an old style analog delay, allowing you to create pitching effects by altering the tempo, just like a tape-based delay would.
This may not sound very exciting, but the EQ is a very useful tool for adding the finishing touches to your sound. By default, it acts as a 2 band hi and low shelf EQ with cut and boost, like on the original Wave, but it can now also be turned into a Parametric EQ. This is particularly helpful if you want to get rid of any unwanted artefacts in your sound, or boost a particular frequency.
As mentioned already, the Wave 2 has a number of features and functions that are time related, such as Arpeggiators, LFOs, Delays and effects. These all have their own tempo controls within their sections on the front panel.
However, the Wave 2 has a Master Clock which you can sync all of these functions to and use that to control the speed of everything within that Program.