Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

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Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby mitya33 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:51 pm

Continuing my my stream-of-consciousness series of posts about whether to buy the Nord Stage 3, I wonder if I might ask if anyone has any thoughts on the price of this unit. I thought I'd decided on it, based on my time playing it and the great help on this forum, but a doubt remains.

It's listed at a bonkers £3.5K, though in my local store it's price-matched at £2.8K.

I find it hard to see why this unit is so expensive, but I am totally ready to accept my ignorance here.

If I compare it, say, to something like the Yamaha Montage (yes it's a completely different piece of kit but stick with me), or the Korg Kronos, I find that these two rivals do basically everything the Stage can and a LOT more. They have equally good piano tone (debatable, I know, but they're all superb) and the touch is comparable across all of them.

So given that you give up so much other stuff with the Nord vs. the other two, how can they be in the same price bracket? (The Kronos is the exact same price, while the Montage is a few hundred more).

Sure, you get the cool red look. But that's obviously not a priority. It's all lighter (a LOT lighter vs. the Montage) and therefore more giggable. The Stage is awesome for organs with those drawbars etc and I've seen it said it's unsurpassed for organ sounds, but organs aren't my interest area at all. All about pianos and synths. The main thing I can see you get is the tactile potential - no menu diving, but real-time sound creation and modification via all those dials and hands-on controls.

But wait, the Montage (less so the Kronos) has that stuff too - superknob, other knobs, ribbon (?), yada yada.

So can anyone far more knowledgable than I tell me why the Stage is a reasonable purchase at the price it is?

I'll choose something... one day. Continued thanks for all the help.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby madtheory » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:57 pm

So get the Kronos. You don't HAVE to use everything on it. You can totally figure it out, it's way easier than proper computer stuff.

Here's what I think. It's an educated guess.

On the Nord, the pitch and mod controllers (which are lovely, did I say that already lol) are a lot more expensive to make than the regular ones on the others. The pots seem to be of higher quality too, as is the metal case. Hardware is the expensive part of a synth, compared to the software (these are all computers running software on a DSP, or probably a generic microprocessor these days I don't know, I haven't opened one up they're not old enough yet!). All of these manufacturers have been peddling pretty much the same "software" for over ten years now (that's not a complaint, just an observation) while improving speed/ memory etc.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby tim gueguen » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:03 am

The "brain" of the Kronos is apparently an Intel Atom D510/D525 1.6 gHz dual core CPU on the original Kronos, and an Atom D2500 1.87 ghz dual core CPU on the Kronos 2, both versions running a heavily modded version of Linux.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby Ashe37 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:06 am

tim gueguen wrote:The "brain" of the Kronos is apparently an Intel Atom D510/D525 1.6 gHz dual core CPU on the original Kronos, and an Atom D2500 1.87 ghz dual core CPU on the Kronos 2, both versions running a heavily modded version of Linux.


well, that's not the 'brain' that's the... vocal cords. the Brain is a ARM CPU. Literally the synth/sampling/etc engine is all that runs on the Atom board.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby meatballfulton » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:46 pm

mitya33 wrote:If I compare it, say, to something like the Yamaha Montage (yes it's a completely different piece of kit but stick with me), or the Korg Kronos, I find that these two rivals do basically everything the Stage can and a LOT more.


Actually they do not do the same thing at all. The Stage is designed to do piano and organ sounds with some synth noises on the side. The Kronos and Montage are synthesizers that happen to have good piano and organ sounds.

For example, the Montage does not support drawbar control of organ sounds...Kronos and Stage do. Stage has direct control of organ features like rotary speaker controls, percussion, etc. and the other two do not.

Stage has a much simplified user interface. You can do things with buttons and knobs that would send you deep into menus with the other two.

A Kronos takes two minutes to power on. I don't know about Montage, but it's predecessor the Motif XF took 45 seconds to power on. I suspect a Stage powers up much faster which if you are performing live can be critical.

If you need a workstation, buy a Kronos. If you need a powerful live performance synthesizer that also can be used as a piano, buy a Montage. If you need a piano, buy a Stage.

BTW, price out professional grade electronic pianos from Korg and Yamaha...they also cost more than the Kronos and Montage.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby mitya33 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 1:38 pm

Thanks, meatballfulton, that's a very helpful summary.

Given that organs are of zero interest to me (I'd be getting it because of its piano, build quality, synth, hands-on nature, cool looks), I wonder if the Stage is too hard to justify at this price.

As you say, it has a strong emphasis on organs and the controls thereof. A large part of the price is going to directly attributable to that stuff and, if I'm not in it for that, perhaps it's a bad move.

It's just so nice, though!

(Continues ad infinitum aeternum...)
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby meatballfulton » Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:32 pm

I know lots of guys who bought a Stage (or an Electro) for use as a piano. I never met anybody who bought one to use as a synthesizer. If you don't need organs and need a real synth, get a Montage or Kronos.

My other advice: don't ever buy something because it costs less than what you want. Just wait until you can afford what you want.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby mitya33 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:43 pm

Agreed. I'm definitely not here to skimp on price. If I was, I wouldn't be considering the very expensive Stage.

Not saying I'd buy it as a synth; first priority is piano, and therefore key action, but I also want to get into making electronic music. Hence something like the Stage, with its synth module, is attractive.

Obviously the Montage et al is infinitely more in terms of synth capability, but like I say, piano is priority and in that regard I assume the Stage wins out.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby madtheory » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:09 pm

For piano (sound and action), Montage and Kronos are equal to the Nord.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby mitya33 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:19 am

I spent a good chunk of yesterday doing real nerdy research into key action.

The Kronos does indeed seem to have a great action (I mean, according to the specs.) It's Korg's RH3 action, which they say is the SAME one they use on their higher-end electric pianos. Which means the Kronos is definitely something a trained pianist could get along with just fine.

I couldn't find specs for the Montage key action (as in, which of Yamaha's action codes (http://faq.yamaha.com/us/en/article/mus ... 0/330/6575) it uses, e.g. GH, GH3 etc). If it's the same as the MODX, though, that uses GHS, which the Yamaha blurb says is great for the "aspiring pianist", which put me off.

The FA-08 uses the Ivory Feel-G, which, while many have said it feels like a heavier action than most competing boards in the same space, is not the same action they use on their higher end electric pianos. Obviously all of these instruments are aimed not just at pianists but also organists (well, at least in the case of the Nord) and keyboard players, so it's understandable if the key action is a compromise and not wholly pianist-focused.

As for the Nord, they use the Fatar keybeds but it appears difficult to establish exactly which one, on the Stage 3 (on other Nord models, it's known.) So it's hard to judge.

Again, all of this is just what I learned from the specs and theory - obviously no substitute to just going down the shop and trying them out. But sometimes one feels better with a little theory to back up what one actually experiences. Which I suppose could lead to a sort of placebo-effect hammer action :D
Last edited by mitya33 on Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby meatballfulton » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:36 pm

Montage has a different, better keybed than MODX.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby madtheory » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:26 pm

Ya, try them out. I've had a good play on the Nord Stage, and I've never really liked Fatar weighted action, but the Stage is nice although IMO it's a bit OTT and not really like a brand new grand piano. Here's the extent of my experience on top class keyboard action: it's closer to a worn out Steinway D than a brand new Kawai concert grand(we had to "suffer" a worn out Steinway for our exams in college, prof told us to f off when we complained. The concert grand was in the concert hall and we kinda had to sneak in to play that one, totes worth it). Whereas the Kronos really does feel like that, and so does the Roland. I haven't tried the Yamaha. This is why I'd rather retrofit the Nord mod and pitch controllers to my aged but loved Akai MX-1000, than but a Nord keyboard.
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby mitya33 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 10:58 am

Interesting! I find myself wondering how I've emerged from a lifetime of piano playing without any seeming knowledge of keybed and action types. I really never gave it much thought until recently. You seem to have paid attention from the beginning, in contrast :-)

Perhaps I had some intuitive understanding; at college we had to practice on clapped-out upright pianos which sounded like they were from the set of a western movie. Things improved a little at uni where there were far more baby grands on offer.

Thing is, since uni, I've personally only ever owned an electric piano (Yamaha 200) so, while I think that's fairly decent (though it too is rather battered these days - the keys make more noise than the speakers), it's still no where like an accoustic feel.

Everything points to Kronos. When you said the Roland, did you mean the FA-08 I referenced, or another model of theirs?
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Re: Nord Stage 3 - too pricey?

Postby madtheory » Fri Sep 21, 2018 9:54 pm

I obsessed over action to make up for my lack of practice LOL. I don't remember the model of Roland, but I do remember it was their "super natural" keybed- which is in the FA-08 as well I think? It's a very common stage piano.
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