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Our guide to the Nord Drum 3P drum and percussion synthesizer
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Our guide to the Nord Drum 3P drum and percussion synthesizer

The Nord Drum 3P is a different kind of drum module - different from the more familiar pads and modules from brands such as Alesis, Roland and Yamaha because the Nord Drum 3P is 100% a drum synthesizer. It uses no samples as its sound base - every sound is generated in realtime with Nord's stunning analogue modelling sound engine. That means whilst it doesn't replicate real drums like a sample-based machine, it does provide unbelievably dynamic, inspirational and infinitely controllable drum / percussion sounds. 

This blog features a main video showcasing the features and audio examples, and a series of specific tutorial videos we call Speedy Tutorials.  We also have a brilliant video of the Nord Drum 3P in the hands of Gavin Harrison!


Like we said in the intro, the Drum 3P is not intended to replicate a real kit – it's designed to create unique and extraordinarily dynamic percussion-like sounds. This comes from Nord’s incredible analogue modelling synth engine, featuring a multitude of parameters that are fully editable to react organically to your playing, coupled with a lightning-fast response time from its pads. (This speed also makes it an incredible pad-to-MIDI converter).

It's also incredibly compact - weighing less than 2kg, it measures just 11.78" tall  x 11.2" wide and just 1.9" deep.  As you can see it features six integrated super responsive pads, plus it has an external kick input.


Let's get straight to the video! This video is intended to highlight the Nord Drum 3P’s main features, together with a number of audio and parameter editing examples. Enjoy!

More on the Sound Generation

The sound generation itself comprises of three sections - Tone, Noise and Click.

Tone has a choice of four synthesis modes: Resonant synthesis, Subtractive synthesis, Frequency Modulation and Ring Modulation. Noise can be added to add texture to theTone - dark gritty textures, or smooth hiss. Finally different types of Clicks can be added to emphasise the attack of a sound. You'll hear all these in the video below.

To create the incredible organic feel of each sound, each can be adjusted using Dynamic Filters and Dynamic Decay depending on the velocity of the trigger, whilst the Bend control is a powerful velocity-controlled pitch envelope, to recreate the sound of tablas or 80s toms!

In terms of effects, each individual sound features Drive, EQ and Ring Modulation, plus Master effects Reverb and Delay. Independent levels per channel can be sent to the master effects.

MIDI In and Out

The Drum 3P features both MIDI in and out. Everything you play on the multi-pads and via the kick input are automatically output via MIDI, making it a super-compact and lightning fast pad to MIDI converter.  Likewise the Drum 3P responds to incoming MIDI note and CC data for when connected to a DAW or any other MIDI controller.

Our Drum 3P Speedy Tutorial video series are quick instructional guides on specific features and functions. Check them out below.

How to Navigate the Front Panel

There are loads of features packed into the Drum 3P. This tutorial provides an overview of the front panel and shows how to quickly access all of its functions.

How to Create and Store a Drum Sound

This is an overview of how to create a drum sound on the Drum 3P and how to store it.

How to Change Pad Layouts

A great feature of the Drum 3P is the ability to quickly change the Pad layout to suit your requirements.

How to Edit the Three Drum Elements

A Drum Sound on the Drum 3P is made up of three elements - Noise, Click and Tone. This Speedy Tutorial shows you how to quickly edit and combine these elements together to create your own uniques drum sounds.

How to Use EQ and Distortion

EQ and Distortion are useful tools that you can use to help create your own unique sounds on the Drum 3P. This Speedy Tutorial shows how they work.

How to Access the Drum Banks

This Speedy Tutorial covers the memory of the Drum 3P and shows how to access it and where to store your individual drum sounds and your kits.

How to set up MIDI Communication

The Drum 3P can be used, via MIDI, to trigger external devices, such as samplers or keyboards etc. It can also be used as a sound source when hooked up to a drum machine, sequencer, Nord's own Nord Beat iOS app or DAW.

How to Use Reverb and Delay

Reverb and Delay are more effects that you can use to enhance your drum sounds. This Speedy Tutorial shows you how to adjust their parameters and set their overall levels to suit your requirements.

How to Select and Copy Drum Sounds

It is quick and easy to select Drum Sounds on the Drum 3P, either to edit or  to copy from one pad to another, or even copy between Kits to customise your own drum combinations.

Gavin Harrison Plays the Nord Drum 3P

And that's all very well, but how does it sound in the hands of award-winning British drummer Gavin Harrison?! Gavin has been a fan of the Nord Drum series since it was introduced, precisely because of its ability to complement a real kit with organic and dynamic sounds. Take a look and listen to this video below!

Gavin recently told us, "Funnily enough during the first lock-down I started to really get creative with the Nord Drum 3P. I absolutely love it and I used it a lot on the Deluxe Edition of the most recent Pineapple Thief album. For one of the extras discs I took a load of the songs and re-imagined them using a LOT of the 3P and my real marimba (no real drums at all)."

Nord Drum 3P Reviews

You'll find plenty of Nord Drum 3P reviews online but here are a couple of our favourites! Follow the links to read them in full.

“With the integration of drum pads, the Nord Drum 3P is a fantastic consolidation of all that has gone before. It balances perfectly between creating unique, almost other-wordly sounds on the one hand and remaining infinitely usable on the other … You’ll find yourself putting on a pair of headphones and vanishing into the world of the Nord Drum for hours!”
Sound On Sound
“Perhaps the 3P's biggest strength lies in the sound - it oozes so much character. It also beats the competition in its flexibility; its rugged compact chassis makes it more than suitable for integration with any live set-up and it's also perfectly at home in the studio with its relatively deep percussive sound design, onboard effects and easy workflow. Crafting your own sounds from scratch beats samples and presets any day.”
Music Radar

Download Artist Sound Banks

And finally, Nord have also made three Artist sound banks available for free download. Drum 3P packs from William Davis (a bank focussing on Gospel, HipHop and RnB), Albin Westerlind (a bank inspired by the sounds of the 80s) , and Axel Fagerberg (focussing on special effects and creative soundscapes). So if you're looking for some extra inspiration download them and give them a try!

Both its lightning response and its sheer sonic quality make the Nord Drum 3P a truly inspirational piece of kit - either to augment a real kit, or as a studio production tool. Try to get your hands / sticks on one if you can!

Find the Nord Drum 3P in UK dealers:

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