Our Guide to the Nord Sample Editor 4 Software
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Our Guide to the Nord Sample Editor 4 Software

Many Nord owners are aware of Nord’s free-to-download preset library of sampled instruments. But one of the extra great features of Nord Keyboards is the ability to create your own Sample Instruments and add them to your keyboard as well. 

Anything, from 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, ideal for condensing a collection of different instruments into one giggable keyboard. 

Sample Editor is the free Nord software that allows you to do all this and the current v4 is compatible with the following Nord instruments: 
• Stage 4 / 3 / 2 / 2EX 
• Electro 6 / 5 / 4 / 3 
• Piano 5 / 4 / 3 / 2 
• Wave 2 / 1 
• Grand 

You can download the Sample Editor 4 software for Mac OS and Windows  here 

Nord Sample Editor 4 Tutorial

Sample Editor 4 now allows you to record directly into the software, streamlining the process of getting samples onto your keyboard even further. Or, if you already have samples recorded, you can simply drag and drop them onto the Sample Editor 4 screen to load them into the software. Sample Editor 4 then 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. 

To get you started, we have created an in-depth guide to the Sample Editor 4 software which shows you how to sample different sound sources, how to edit and loop them and how to transfer them onto your Nord keyboard. Check out the tutorial here: 

Key Features of Sample Editor 4 

Direct Recording 

Simply select your audio interface inputs and outputs in the Sample Editor 4 Configuration window, adjust your levels and you are good to go. You can record multiple takes of each note, if you want to, and then select the best versions afterwards to create the perfect Sample Instrument Project.

Threshold Function 

Use the new Threshold function to set a level, hit the record button and the software will wait until your first sound exceeds the Threshold level before it starts recording. 

Pitch Detection and Automatic Note Mapping

A brilliant feature of Sample Editor 4 is its ability to detect pitch. Sample Editor 4 will recognise the pitch of your sound source as you record and will automatically assign your sounds to the correct notes so you don’t have to do any note mapping. It will also detect the silence between the notes you record and automatically split them up into individual samples.  

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 for the resultant sample file to 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. 

Drag and Drop  

If you already have samples on your computer, you can import them into Sample Editor too and there are various ways to do this.  

Drag a sample to a specific note and adjust the range that sample occupies by sliding the Zone Boundary 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 4 screen and it will automatically map them to keys on the keyboard.  

Or, drag the folder containing your samples onto the Sample Editor 4 window 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 4 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, simply by dragging them to the correct location or changing the Root Key setting for each sample in the main window. 

Editing Samples

Once you have your samples recorded/imported into Sample Editor 4, there are various tools to help you fine-tune them. 

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

2) Select AllPressing 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 that sample will play at the same pitch across its entire Range. 

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 0 dB. Very useful to even out notes or to balance samples that originated 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. The Snap to Phase function ensures there are no nasty clicks at the loop point and the crossfade time is adjustable to help smooth out the loop point further.  

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

8) 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. 

9) 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 .nsmp sample file and stores it on your computer (in the same place where your current Sample Editor 4 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 .nsmp Sample Instrument? 

The resultant file you have created is called a Sample Instrument file. It is in Nord's proprietary .nsmp 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, using your keyboard's front panel controls 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 .nsmp file is one of the ingredients!  

There are further resources for using Sample Editor creatively in our Sample Editor 4 Applications series which can be viewed here: 

Nord Sample Editor 4 Applications Series Playlist

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This new blog is presented by the team at Sound Technology Ltd, a leading distributor of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the UK and ROI.