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Our Guide to the Nord Piano 5 Series
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Our Guide to the Nord Piano 5 Series

The Nord Piano range has always been aimed at the piano player who just requires a simple stage piano to play and operate. 

The Piano 5 is the latest incarnation of the Piano range and now there are two sizes available - the traditional 88-note and also a 73-note version. The Piano 5 88 and Piano 5 73 share identical specifications, both using Nord’s Virtual Hammer Action fully-weighted keybed – the difference is purely the number of notes, making the 73 a more portable or space-efficient option.  


The Piano 5 features extraordinary piano samples provided by the now 28 different characterful acoustic and electric pianos from the acclaimed Nord Piano Library. It is also compatible with the Nord Sample Library for additional categories of sounds, and you can also create and add your own sample sounds.


Under the hood, Nord have also made some big changes with the Piano 5 so let’s dive in.
















Two in One

The biggest change is the fact that Nord have, essentially, doubled the Nord Piano. It now has two Piano engines and two Sample/Synth engines. Therefore, you can play four sounds at once now, if you want to. Each section has a Layer A and B button, allowing you to have different sounds assigned to each, relevant to their section, and to control those sounds independently of each other too. This is very similar to how the Panel buttons on the Stage keyboards work.


Therefore, you could have a Program that has an acoustic grand on Layer A of the Piano section and a DX piano on Layer B of the Piano section. The Layer buttons allow you to flip between the two sounds, or to apply different settings to each sound. Press both Layer buttons together and then the two piano sounds will be layered together. This process works exactly the same way in the Sample/Synth section. Combine this with the Piano section and you can now play four sounds at the same time - two Piano sounds and two Sample/Synth sounds, all in one Program.


Of course, with the doubling up of the functionality, the memory size has been doubled too - 2Gb for the Piano section and 1Gb for the Sample/Synth section. Don’t be tempted to do a straight comparison of sample storage though – Nord's own incredible lossless compression algorithm means super-efficient yet super high-quality samples.

The Sounds

The Piano 5 naturally takes its Piano samples from the Nord Piano Library. Inside the Piano 5 you’ll find 9 different acoustic grands, 9 acoustic uprights, and 10 electric pianos. These are not slight variations of each other, each is an individually sampled instrument with its own individual character and sound. We highly recommend you check out our Nord Piano Library blog to hear some of these sounds in action. These Piano Samples can also be freely swapped out or updated at any time to suit your requirements using Nord's Sound Manager software.


The Piano section of the Piano 5 is where you would select your Piano sounds and edit them to suit your requirements. The Piano section has lots of controls to help you shape your Piano sounds. Some of these may seem subtle, but it is sometimes those small details that make all the difference when creating sounds, especially where Pianos are concerned.


Three different velocity curves allow you to decide how the piano will respond to your playing style. This is useful when jumping between acoustic, electric or digital pianos where their dynamic characteristics require a different touch in order to be played authentically.


Three Filter types, Soft, Mid and Bright can be selected which will change the Timbre/Tone of your pianos sounds. Ideal in a live situation where you need to quickly make an EQ change to compensate for the venue/stage acoustics. The Timbre function also includes the Dyno 1 and Dyno 2 EQ settings which work exclusively on the Electric Piano sounds to give them the classic ‘LA’ bell type sound.


Equally, the Acoustic pianos have their own exclusive settings - String Resonance and Soft Release.  


String Resonance is the sympathetic vibration of the strings within the shell of the piano which can be heard when the dampers are lifted whilst playing. This String Resonance is a big part of the acoustic character of a piano sound and, on some of the larger pianos, can even sound like reverb sometimes.


Soft Release is a subtle feature but beneficial to piano players who require a slightly smoother release to the notes for certain pieces of music they are playing.


Other useful features are the ability to turn the Sustain Pedal and Volume Pedal on or off per Layer and Section which comes into its own when you are combining sounds together in Splits or Layers and only want particular elements of your overall sound to be controlled by the pedals.


Detune allows you to detune one Piano Layer against the other and sounds great when combining a couple of the Uprights to get that classic ‘honky-tonk’ sound.


And, all of these settings are independent per Layer, so you could combine two Pianos together and have totally different settings on Layer A to those on Layer B.


Nord Piano 5: How to use the Piano Controls

Nord Piano 5: How to Select Piano Samples

Nord Piano 5: Piano Sample Sizes 

Sample Synth Section

Like its predecessors (from the Piano 2 onwards) the Piano 5 is also compatible with the Nord Sample Library and the Sample/Synth section comes loaded with a vast selection of great new sounds, ready to split or layer with your pianos. These are divided into Categories to make it easy to find the type of instrument you are after.

Brass, Wind, Choirs, Strings (a selection taken from the Symphobia and Swing! libraries by ProjectSAM), brand new Pad and synth sounds created using some of the other classic Nord instruments such as the Wave 2, Synths, Bass, Plucked Instruments and Tuned Percussion. 

These are just some examples of the sounds contained in the Piano 5, with new sample instruments readily available for downloading to the keyboard for free at any time. And, thanks to Nord’s recent Sample Editor 3 software you can also easily sample other instruments yourself and use them to create your own Programs, should you wish to.


Nord Piano 5: How to Select Samples 

Sample Editor: Creating Mapped Instruments

New additions in the Sample/Synth section

Further functionality has been added in the Piano 5’s Sample/Synth section to provide even more control over the samples you are playing.  

 

A new Vibrato effect has been added which has its own dedicated button. The effect has its own menu where you can adjust the Rate and Amount to suit your requirements. It also has three Delay settings which allow you to choose how long it takes for the Vibrato effect to come in on whatever sound you are playing.

 

Unison is a synth feature which is commonly used to thicken up sounds by combining multiple copies of the source sample together which are slightly detuned and panned. This function works great on pad sounds or lead synth sounds. There are three settings to choose from and, again, it has its own dedicated button.

 

New Dynamic Soft and Bright filters allow you to change the timbre of your sound with velocity. Soft setting rolls off the top frequencies to produce a more mellow sound. Bright enhances those top frequencies to help a sound stand out. This could be used to create the effect of a filter opening up on a synth sound, depending on how hard yo play a note, for example.  

 

The Envelope controls are used to shape the way the sound behaves when you play it. The Attack dial controls how quickly or slowly the sound starts when you play it. The Decay, Sustain, Release Dial has three areas that effect the sound. The Decay area controls how quickly the note fades away whilst you hold the note down. This Decay time gets slower as you approach the 12 o’clock position which is labelled ‘Sustain’. At this point the sound will hold forever until the note is released. The Release area then dictates how long the sound lasts after you release the note. Close to 12 0’clock will give you a very short release, ideal for staccato playing. As you turn the dial clockwise, the release time increase to give you a much longer ‘tail’ to your sound. This is great for smoothing out chord changes on string or pad sounds which are not being controlled by the sustain pedal.

 

As with the Piano section - you also have the ability to turn the Sustain and Volume Pedal on or off per Layer. This can help when layering a string part with a piano part where you would want the sustain pedal to control the piano but not to ‘muddy up’ your string sound. Or you may want to use a Volume Pedal to fade in a string part under a piano sound, or maybe just to add a slight swell as a crescendo without effecting the piano.

 

And, like the Piano section, all of these settings are independent per Layer so you can have different settings for each sound on each Layer ie. creating a double bass/ string split Program would require completely different settings for each part. This is easily achievable as the two parts would be on separate Layers (A and B) with their own individual settings, all saved within a single Program, ready for instant recall.

Nord Piano 5: Sample Synth Controls

How do these new extra Layers work?

As previously mentioned, the Layer buttons for each section allow you to choose which combinations of the four available sounds you want to hear. If you want to layer sounds, then you just make sure that the relevant Layer A and B buttons in each section are active. Each layer has its own Volume Control which enables you to easily adjust the balance between the different sounds you are combining.

If you wish to Split the keyboard and assign different layers to different Zones, then the Piano 5 has a single split point which is adjustable and this splits the keybed into two Zones - the Lo Zone and the UP Zone.

Simply turn the Split Function on in either the Piano Section and/or the Synth Section and continually press the button to assign that Layer to the Lo Zone or the Up Zone. Use the Layer buttons to flip between Layers A and B in each section and assign those Layers to your required zones too. In this way, you could have a Program that has a Grand Piano and a String sample assigned to the Up Zone and a Electric Piano and Double Bass sound assigned to the Lo Zone, as an example.

Each Layer of each Section also has its own octave controls, so you can easily select your preferred range for each sound, if you need to compensate for which zone you have assigned it to.


Effects

At the right hand side of the Piano 5 are the Effects sections. These have their own dedicated buttons for switching them on or off and for assigning them to any of the active Layers in the current Program.  


The Mod 1 and Mod 2 Effects sections have their own types of effects which you select using the relevant button. At the top of each section is a dial that allows you to adjust the rate or amount of the currently selected effect. The Mod 1 effects can also be controlled using a connected pedal. Tremolo and Phaser are particularly good effects to add to electric piano sounds.


The Amp Section simulates the effect of putting the keyboard through an amp, similar to how keyboard players used to have to do, in order to hear their instruments over the rest of the band. This led to a distinctive, and sometimes overdriven sound so it is always worth experimenting with this section to give your electric piano sounds a slight ‘bite’ or a real distorted ‘growl’ when you play.


The EQ section is the live player’s friend. Wherever you play, the venue and the stage acoustics can effect your sounds. Having the ability to reshape your sounds quickly using dedicated controls on the front panel is incredibly useful. Unlike the other effects sections, the EQ section can be assigned to all four Layers simultaneously so you can EQ all the elements of a single Program, all at once.

The Delay section is used to create your echoes or repeats of notes. The feedback control dictates how many repeats there are and the Dry/Wet dial controls how loud the repeats are, in relation to the original sound. Hold the Tempo button down and turn the main Value dial by the screen and you can change the speed of your repeats. Or, simply tap the button four times along with any music source to match the bpm. The Delay section of the Piano 5 now also has the ‘Ping Pong’ effect added which makes your echoes jump left and right in the stereo field.


The Reverb section is Global and all the Layers within a Program will run through it, which is why it does not have a Source button. Reverb is the acoustics of a space and can greatly enhance any sounds on the Piano 5. Anything from small rooms to huge halls. The Dry/Wet dial allows you to adjust the balance between your original ‘dry’ sound and the reverb ‘wet’ sound. 


The Reverb section of the Piano 5 has seen some changes too, with the new Booth and Cathedral sizes added, as well as the new Chorale effect, taken from the Wave 2. The Chorale effect creates a modulated version of any of the selected reverb sizes and is reminiscent of some of those old vintage synths.


Effects Assignments

To assign an Effect to a Layer - hold the Shift button down and press the Source button to flip between the four options - Piano Panel A and /or Panel B or Synth Panel A and/or Panel B. The green LEDs light up to give you a visual indication of which of the active Layers within the current Program are routed to which effects.  Alternatively, a ‘double-tap’ of the button allows you to quickly toggle between the active Layer options too.


The Mod 1, Mod 2 and Amp effects can be assigned to either Piano Panel A and/or Panel B or Synth Panel A and/or Panel B. But the Delay and EQ effects can be assigned to all four sections simultaneously. All assignments are easily identifiable by the green LEDs. The Reverb is global and all sections run through it. That is why it has no Source button or Source LEDs.

All the great Nord Piano features are still included

On top of all these new functions, the Piano 5 still incorporates all the features of its predecessors which are specifically aimed at piano players:


The Triple sensor keybed with Virtual Hammer Action technology to reproduce all of the feel and dynamic range of a real acoustic piano.


The Triple Pedal is supplied as standard which gives you the traditional Sustain, Soft and Sostenuto functions as well as dynamic control over the pedal noise and pedal down string resonance incorporated in the Piano samples.


Seamless transition allows you to change between Programs without the sound cutting out. 


MIDI over USB as well as the traditional MIDI ports. 


Compatibility with the Nord Piano Monitors


AVAILABILITY

The Nord Piano 5 is scheduled for shipping in Spring 2021 with pricing to be announced. Nord Piano 5 is handmade in Sweden by Clavia DMI AB.

Nord is distributed in the UK/ROI by Sound Technology Ltd. For more information please call 01462 480000 or visit www.soundtech.co.uk/nord.

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