Synth Section Programmability
The Synth Section of the Stage 3 is quite clearly the most noticeable upgrade to the sound generating sections and will no doubt be the focus of a number of future articles. Based on the analogue modelling of the Lead A1, but with sample integration, the Synth Section not only sounds brilliant but provides incredibly fast, hands-on control. Thanks to Oscillator configurations (and the new OLED display) programming experimentation is positively encouraged! There's a little learning curve as the synth does so much in a relatively small space, but it's clearly a continuation of Nord's awareness that speed of programming is critical to the professional players likely to own them in that almost everything can be done directly from the front panel.
As part of the Stage 3's new Oscillator Section there is a category of oscillator called Super Wave (S-wave). They are specifically designed to sound super fat. And they do. We can't wait to let you hear them!
The Piano Section has its own 'Piano Filters'
Nord's Piano Library is unsurpassed in the' variety of piano samples available - the sheer characterfulness is breathtaking across it's Grand Pianos, Uprights and Electric Pianos. To further fine-tune those pianos, the Stage 3 now features new Piano Filters that can adapt the sonics of each piano from Soft to Brilliant. It allows the sound to be further tuned to your taste, with the Brilliant setting really allowing the Piano to cut through a busy mix.
Reverb is pre-Rotary
The Stage 3's Organ section as a whole is now based on the flagship C2D Organ modelling. And it sounds stunning. For players predominantly using the Stage 3 for organ sounds, the Stage 3 Compact now comes with Physical Drawbars (as well as the lighter action 'Waterfall' keybed). Its vintage-modelled Rotary Simulator has also been upgraded and, as an additional enhancement, any Reverb is pre-Rotary. This produces a really lovely result which Nord say has been a request of many organ players.
The Stage 3's keyboard can now be split into 4 Zones (rather than 3 on the Stage 2 / EX). Split points are still defined from a choice of set locations. Some have requested the ability to split at any point but Nord point to the huge benefit to a live musician of having the LED lights above the keybed which indicate where the split points are set - it means no more remembering or guessing where the keyboard may be split. The LEDs are visible on a dark stage too.
Split Point Crossover
Also newly added is a great feature allowing the ability to "cross-fade" at split points. This means that sounds can fade across the split points rather than be a hard split. In action this means there's not a jump between sounds but a smooth transition. There are a couple of curves to choose from, or of course can be turned off to act as a 'normal' hard split. It's brilliantly musical for certain applications - definitely something we encourage you to try once you get your hands on a Stage 3!
Whilst the Stage 3 doesn't use the Triple Sensor keybed of the Piano 3 (due to the fact that the Stage 3 has AfterTouch), Nord say the structural support for the keybed has been improved which results in a more solid feel at the bottom of the key-press with less mechanical noise overall. This is indeed true and is a nice improvement.