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Our Guide to the Nord Sample Editor 3 Software
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Our Guide to the Nord Sample Editor 3 Software

Whilst Nord offer a free-to-download preset library of sampled instruments, one of the great, often overlooked, features of Nord Keyboards is the ability to create your own Sample Instruments to add to your keyboard. You can add a simple single sample for inclusion in your performance such as a brass stab, SFX hit, or loop, or a fully mapped sample of a hardware or software instrument.


It’s fair to say however that the previous Nord software that allowed you to do this was feature-laden but not user-friendly -  it’s actually the internal tool Nord built themselves to create their own samples in the first place. But now version 3 of the Nord Sample Editor is here. It’s completely re-written from the ground up, and it’s stunningly quick and easy. The software is currently compatible with the following Nord instruments:

• Stage 3 / 2 / 2EX
• Electro 6 / 5 / 4 / 3
• Piano 5 / 4 / 3 / 2
• Wave 2 / 1
• Grand

We’ve created two videos to show how quick the process of creating your own Sample Instrument is with Nord Sample Manager 3. And a third video to highlight some of the extra editing features. Read on below the videos for more detailed explanations.

Download the Sample Editor 3 software for Mac OS and Windows here and follow along!

Compatible with mono or stereo files in either .wav or .aif file format, you can simply drag and drop to load your samples into Sample Editor 3.0. Sample Editor has various tools to help you adjust levels, loop your files, add dynamics and set the range and pitch of each sample. Once you have edited your samples and named your project, you just press the Transfer and Save button and it will transfer your newly created Sample Instrument onto your Nord keyboard, ready for use or further manipulation using your keyboard's onboard controls.

Drag and Drop

Once you have recorded your samples, you can import them into Sample Editor in various ways. Drag the individual samples to specific notes and adjust the range that sample occupies by sliding the range markers either side of the sample. Or double-click on the range marker to make the range snap to the specific note the sample is on.

Drag all the samples onto the main Sample Editor screen and it will automatically map them to keys on the keyboard. Or, drag the folder containing your samples and the software will extract the files and map them onto notes for you. If you have previous samples that have the note info in their names, then Sample Editor can read that info and will map the samples to the correct notes too.

And, even after you have imported your samples, you can still reposition them onto new keys and adjust their range, if you need to.

Pitch Detection and automatic note mapping

A brilliant new feature of Sample Editor 3.0 is its ability to detect pitch and to assign samples to their correct notes automatically for you.

For example, if you are sampling a keyboard sound, just make a single recording of you playing every third note over the range of the instrument you wish to play. And leave a small gap between each note you play.

Bounce that audio file and then drag and drop it into Sample Editor 3.0.

Sample Editor 3,0 will detect the silence in your audio file and automatically split it into the separate notes. It will also detect the pitch of each sample and map it to the correct note in the software for you.

On top of that, it will fill in the gaps between your sampled notes so that they will play across the whole range of the keyboard (or the range you decide to set). The advantage of this is that you don't have to sample every note on an instrument in order to have it play across the whole range of your keyboard. This keeps the file sizes small so that it only takes up a tiny amount of space in your keyboard's memory and load time is very quick.

Press the Save and Transfer to Nord button and your new sample instrument will be copied onto your Nord keyboard, ready to use.

Editing Samples

Once your samples have been imported into Sample Editor 3.0, there are various tools to help you fine-tune your samples.

1) Audition Select a sample to edit and you can audition it at any time by pressing the Audition button, or the space bar on your computer.

2) Select All Pressing the Select All button allows you to apply any edits to all samples simultaneously.

3) Range The zone boundary of a sample can be adjusted by selecting it and dragging the left and right handles in the Zone Boundary bar above it. Alternatively, a double-click on the Zone Boundary bar will automatically snap the selected sample's range to that specific note only.

4) Unpitched If it is a 'one hit' sample and is not pitch-specific, then make sure Unpitched is checked. Then you can map that sample anywhere on your keyboard and it will play at its original pitch.

5) Levels can be adjusted on a per sample basis or Selecting All and choosing Normalise is a quick way to set the levels of all your samples to 0db. Very useful to even out notes or to balance samples obtained from different sources.

6) Looping Samples can be looped, either from beginning to end to create a drum loop (for example) or to enable a short sample to be sustained indefinitely. Tick the Looped box and then these functions become available. You can drag the Loop start across the waveform and also change the stop point too. Then, adjust the crossfade time and the crossfade point phase to help smooth out the loop.

Fade Ins and Fade Outs can also be added to help smooth out your samples.

7) Dynamics can easily be set by selecting a category that matches your sample instrument and then simply pressing the Dynamics button.  If “Dynamics” are enabled, appropriate settings for amplitude, filter velocity response and envelope shape, are applied to the sample instrument based on the chosen category. This makes your samples behave dynamically without the need to have lots of different velocity layers, thus keeping the process simple and the overall file size down to a minimum.

8) Manager allows you to quickly access the contents of your connected Nord keyboard if there is not enough space in its memory to add your new sample. From here, you can select and delete an existing sample to make room. Manager always shows you whether samples are used or not, so you can then choose to delete a sample instrument that will not have any impact on any of your Programs.

Alternatively, you could open the full version of Sound Manager where you can back up any sample instruments to your computer, before deleting them.

Save and Transfer to Nord

Once you are happy with how your samples sound, you can give your newly created Sample Instrument a name and then press the Save and Transfer to Nord button. This does what it says on the tin - it creates a .nsmp3 sample file and stores it on your computer (in the same place where your current Sample Editor Project is stored) and it also transfers it onto your Nord keyboard via the USB cable. Your new Sample Instrument will now appear in your keyboard, ready for use or further editing.

So, what is a .nsmp3 Sample Instrument?

The resultant file you have created is called a Sample Instrument file. It is in Nord's proprietary .nsmp3 format and is transferred into the Sample Memory of your keyboard.

This is not a Program file - it is the raw Sample File that you select within a Program on your Nord keyboard and then edit further, if required, until you have it sounding exactly as you want. Then, you save that edited Program on your keyboard and this creates the final Program file. Imagine that a Program is a recipe and the .nsmp3 file is one of the ingredients!

To learn more about the Nord Sample Editor 3, head over to Nord's Official Online Guide here

There are further tips and tricks for sample handling within your Nord keyboard which can be found in our Speedy Tutorials series. You can watch our entire series via our YouTube channel here!

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