I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

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Jexus
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I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by Jexus » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:21 pm

So, having seen it 10 years ago for the first time as a high school student, the alleged epitome of synthesist's heaven, the back-then unattainable dream is now in my hands...

WOW. The biggest disappointment of my life. I don't know how to start, I've got so much to complain about. Let me start by saying that this synth sounds like a*s. I don't get it. All the hype and market statistics and everything. It's the worst, thinnest, and most soulless and dull and cold (in a bad way) sounding VA synth I've ever played. And it's boring. I would tolerate it if I paid half of the amount of the market value. But paying that much for a piece of s**t which:

- doesn't even have a decent LCD? I have to dive thu three-digit LED display
- doesn't have bank buttons? I have to scroll thru four hundred of slots one by one
- shares LFO2 with Arpeggiator? like it was too demanding to design a separate ARP section?
- doesn't allow setting negative filter envelope amounts, only positive?
- doesn't have a decent way of syncing the LFOs?
- and so on

Small comparisons:
- featurewise, Alesis Ion with its mod matrix, multimode filters and versality devours Nord Lead for breakfast
- distortion... so much better in Korg MS-2000
- no choice in FM algorithms, whereas eg. Yamaha AN1x has several of them
- no onboard effects, whereas eg. Yamaha AN1x has lots of them
- Novation Nova's multitimbrality / layering / performance architecture and the arpegiator are a genius' work compared to Nord Lead

Nord Lead is so limiting and frustrating. Its architecture makes me feel like a prisoner. I can't have what I want. Out of the modulation choices, which are not numerous already, I have to decide on one only! LFO1 can modulate EITHER Filter, OR Osc2, OR FM, OR PW, OR both Oscs. LFO2 has even less routings, and operates only in triangle waveshape! (and it doesn't work if you switch to ARP mode, great). And one Mod Env which affects only one destination.

All I can do with this set is a JUMP patch, some cliched basses and weak pads with tremolo and vibrato. The only area where I can force myself to appreciate and somewhat like this synth is the FM/Sync section, which allows me to make some crazy FX-sounds. But why should I bother even here. I've got the Oberheim OB-12 and Novation Nova that will do so much better, or the Alesis Ion that will tear this red piece of c**p apart.

Now check out this bit from the manual:
"LFO SYNC - Please note that this only makes the LFO restart at the specified note value. In between those restarts,
the LFO runs at the rate set with the RATE knob. Therefore, to “hard sync” the LFO to the tempo of
the song when triangle or sawtooth waves are used, set the LFO rate as close to the tempo in the sequencer
as possible. On the other hand, unusual Rate values can lead to interesting rhythmic effects."

Wow. What the f**k. Really? Thanks for this piece of s**t advice. I still want to sync my LFOs like in my MS2000 or Nova or Ion or whatever. It's so pathetic that I have to hook up an external MIDI sequencer feeding signals to the Nord's MIDI IN socket, yet the LFOs still behave erratic.

I was so excited to get 'the hardware version' of the DiscoDSP Discovery (a VST modelled upon the Nord Lead), because I managed to get some wicked things out of this plugin, but now I know it was only because the plugin had addons like Formant Filters and perfectly syncable LFOs, which the original hardware lacks.

OK I can understand that maybe the Swedes wanted to be cool and keep the synth simplistic, designing it to resemble the 'classics', but come on! It's 2008 and this model is still in production, which makes it PRIMITIVE rather than SIMPLISTIC. What's with all this hype and the long list of famous names using this synth? I guess it could be justified in 1995, because it was the first VA so everybody got excited... but a thousand euros for a dinosaur like that? That's the worst-spent money of my musical life, I feel bewildered. I feel stupid not having somehow foreseen this.

Or maybe that's the key ? It's expensive because it's still in production? All other boards are discontinued so the second-hand market has dragged their prices down... still I don't get the vastness of the Nord Lead's popularity. It just doesn't deserve it. It doesn't live up to today's standards.

Anything I'm missing here, guys ?

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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by Phollop Willing PA » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:38 pm

Sorry you're having a bad experience with the NL2. I can relate with some other gear I bought over the years.

I tried out a Nord a while back (perhaps 2 years ago) and my impression at the time was that it was overhyped and that my JP 8000 was a more versatile VA synth as well as the MS 2000R.

I too, thought the Nord sounded thin and tinny.

I did see Wilco use one (couldn't tell you which version), and they sounded good with it. It seemed to me that the sounds I heard from them, were not what I could get on JP 8000, but then I've yet to exploit the JP 8000 to the 'nth' degree.

There was this one cascade of notes in the Wilco set that reminded me of modular system.

Perhaps Wilco's Nord was modified with outboard filters and effects, rather than a straight patch...

How much was it?
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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by shaft9000 » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:47 pm

hmmmm.....give it two weeks and you'll love it, Jexus!

Um, well, OK probably no..... but that's why I don't dig on Nords outside the modular range. Whack architecture and interface.

I don't understand the 'thin sound' comment, though.
I mean, sure Nords aren't known for sounding particularly fat or analog-y, but s**t on me if the Nord Modular can't make some huge sounds. If the 2x can't give the MS a run for it's fat-money then maybe try a different Nord : yours has "thin-itis" or some bullshit.
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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by Phollop Willing PA » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:54 pm

shaft9000 wrote:
I don't understand the 'thin sound' comment, though.
I mean, sure Nords aren't known for sounding particularly fat or analog-y, but s**t on me if the Nord Modular can't make some huge sounds. If the 2x can't give the MS a run for it's fat-money then maybe try a different Nord : yours has "thin-itis" or some bullshit.
I don't have a Nord and I was demoing it in a store through headphones, so it might have been the 'phones to a certain degree plus these are impressions that are a couple of years old. I couldn't even tell you what model it was I tried.

Anyway, a good synthesist will adapt the tools to suit the end.
MOOGSig: Voyager/Theremin, ROLAND: JP8000/MC505/MC50/SH1000/Octapad1/RE 20, CASIO VLtone, KORG: Prophecy/MS2000R/Kaos Pad2/D3200/D888/SDD4000/M3, BOSS SP202/DR110, YAMAHA:CS40M/QX7/WX7/QY10/Reface DX, ARP Exp, MACBETH M5, FR ORB, SONNET, ALESIS SR18

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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by seamonkey » Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:56 pm

I feel your pain brother Jexus, I thought I it was me when I sold my Nord lead 3. I also can relate to words like, cold and thin, or sterile may even be a better word.
I am a huge fan of your youtube demonstrations, so, if you can't coax some stellar sounds out of it, I am really surprised.

Sorry this is such a bummer for you but hopefully venting in this forum will help. =D>
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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by nathanscribe » Sun Feb 22, 2009 6:07 pm

I'd rather have something I can tweak entirely on the panel over something with dozens of hideous menus I have to wade through.

I bought my 2x rack three years ago when I had no space and all my gear was in storage. I had this, a sampler, and an RY30. They RY30 has since gone, the sampler barely sees use, and once I got my gear back, the nord sat around unplayed... but I'm now rediscovering it. I like its simplicity. You can get some better sounds from it than you might think, but it takes knowing the unit a bit. I don't pretend to be some nord genius, far from it, but after a period when i left it alone for the reasons you describe, I'm thinking now that it's a useful tool within its range. The same accusations could be made (ie, lack of funcionality, limitations on control, etc) of many other synths that are perfectly good when you use them with imagination. I know from your demos you in no way lack imagination or the ability to use a synth, so I reckon if you give it time, you'll stop hating it and something will click into place.

Or you'll just hate it forever. I don't know. :-)

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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by Synthprophet » Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:45 pm

So you had to buy it to conclude that it didn't come with an LCD display? =D>
Look at a synth, try it and read about the specs on the internet before buying. At least that would be a good start.
What happened to your famous words "It's not what a synth can do, but what a man can do with a synth" or whatever that fancy quote was. Give it some time dude.
WHat is the whining about lack of patchbuttons? Compared to so many other synths, this one has 4 slots after all, which you can all layer. The LFO/ARP option is a weak point. I think so too, however it didn't make me enter a forum and start yelling like a small child. What you see is what you get, so Im surprised about most of your complainings.
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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by HH » Sun Feb 22, 2009 8:57 pm

Actually, i've had nl2 for a couple of years before and just couldn't get along with it, it was too "cold" for my style.
Sold it and got a juno instead, and will never sell that one :)

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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by Joey » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:01 pm

those are all the reasons i sold mine

missed it a bit, bought a nord rack 2, realized the mistake, sold that after a day

if you want to try something better from clavia, pick up a nord modular or lead 3, the modular goes without saying, and the lead 3 offers a lot more sound capability, as well as 4 operator fm
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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by Yoozer » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:29 pm

Jexus wrote: - doesn't even have a decent LCD? I have to dive thu three-digit LED display
Displays require more programming. There's a good reason they're skimped on, even if this sucks completely.
- no onboard effects, whereas eg. Yamaha AN1x has lots of them
The general argument against this is :

- dedicated outboard effect boxes are generally superior
- a synth which relies on effects may hide a weak basic character
- patches should sound good without effects and better with.
I was so excited to get 'the hardware version' of the DiscoDSP Discovery
As a Discovery owner I find that it doesn't sound like the NL. It sounds more refined while the Nord Micromodular I have is more raw.
Anything I'm missing here, guys ?
The Nord Modular classic. Everything you want - provided that you don't mind sacrificing polyphony. It even has a whole load of DX7 presets converted into PCH files.
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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by jp8080 » Sun Feb 22, 2009 9:32 pm

I played several Nord's in music shops and could never get anything too exciting from them. But year after year I hear how great they are. So I finally saw one cheap on ebay and bought it just so I could have it for a bit, really use it and then sell it again without losing any money.

I still have it - along with a 2x rack. And even now I'm not sure why. I've made hundreds of sounds I like (but not love) and a few I love very much. I bought the rack thinking I would sell the keyboard version. I've still not sold the keyboard version because I really like the whole experience of the keyboard better.

So why keep it? I don't know. It is one of those keyboards that initially by itself leaves me underwhelmed. Yet after loosing a few hours to it, I'm in love with it again.

I think for some people it may also be that it works well "in the mix". It's sound works nicely in the context of a whole track. I tend to judge keyboards on the sound they have alone - ie. massive jp80x0 supersaws, etc. or strong, sweet monosynth leads. The nord never initially gives me that joy. Yet I end up spending a lot of time with it.

I think you may also find that it does have a certain aggressive character at times which helps for some styles.

I own two of them (plus a modular v1 keyboard!) and it is still a mystery to me as to why I do not sell them.

The UI is actually very nice I think. An LCD would be nice I suppose but... don't really miss it. The four performance slots are very, very nice.

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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by clusterchord » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:22 pm

different strokes for different folks i guess..

Nord Lead 2X is my favorite VA. i love its cutting quality, rasor sharp envelopes, the UI. i find the setup inspiring, its great for simple sounds, that you always need in a mix. it got digital sheen but somehow its so musical. much more than other va offerings. what it does, it does good.

then again, i think having some analogs arround, allowed me to like the digital Nord character for exactly what it is, and not a poor substitute for <insert vintage analogue of choice>. i've used it on recordings even tho i dont own one yet. its unique character always found its place. ymmv.
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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by felis » Sun Feb 22, 2009 10:28 pm

I got rid of a NL2 and got an Alesis Ion instead. I've found the Ion to be twice the synth for half the price. (Both were purchased new when they came out).

To be fair, I really didn't have too much problem with the sound of the NL2, but I couldn't live with its limited programmng options.

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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by Big Gnome » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:11 am

I hear you, Jexus. Never been a Nord Lead fan either.
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Re: I just bought a NL2x. I'm sooooo disappointed...

Post by WhinyLittleRunt » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:06 am

This is like my experience with the A6 Andromeda. Was always told it was the s**t, and then I spent some time with it and felt like it was an overrated, over compressed VA.

I liked some of the sounds I coaxed out of the NL2x but I can barely remember as it was probably 8 years ago that I played one. I remember liking it better than the MS-2000 though.
I like vintage synths....

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