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Nord Lead A1
Old 13th April 2016 | Show parent
  #481
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REwire's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by rids ➡️
Dang, I've put off getting a Nord for a while and have been listening to more A1 demos online and yeah, this synth is good. I can't decide if I want the A1 or NL4. I've also been considering the original NL1 with raw abrasive sound I like it produces. But the A1 also seems to be able to do abrasive weirdness too. And maybe moreso than the NL1. Has anyone had the NL1 and A1? Also wondering how the NL4 compares to the NL1. I'm curious about the difference in tones. Is the filter of the NL1 a lot better than either of these? I'm guessing the NL4 maybe a good compromise, but the tones of the A1 are really hifi sounding and seems to be able to do abrasive stuff too. I like that it can sound lush and organic, but also go into rawer sounding territory.
I have the original NL2, MicroModular and A1R

I'd say they are all different. The NL1 and 2 are very aggressive, buzzy and raw. The A1R does not sound anything like any old Nord. It certainly can sound more organic, warm and has very analog sounding FM. It's aggressiveness is mostly due to the digital waveforms and cross modulating those. The FM on the old Nords is beyond intense and digital.

Don't know about the NL4. That, the Modular 2, NL3 and Wave all put me off.

Dan
Old 18th April 2016 | Show parent
  #482
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I've had this synth for well over a year now and I find myself liking it ever more.

It's just so 'warm' and 'full', and it sits great in mixes with very little post processing most the time in my experience.

It's a shame it's missing a dedicated noise source but I tend to use a plugin called Beatskillz That Thing which can layer incoming envelope shaped noise on top, and I find the tape noise presets to be particularly good to use to add even more 'warmth' and some vintage/sampled flavour. Along with a touch of Kush UBK-1 and then finally D16 Decimort 2 using the Fairlight CMI preset it takes what is already a very very lush sounding synth to the next level for warmth and weight.

Cold, sterile or anaemic are never adjectives you can use for the Nord Lead A1.
Old 30th June 2017 | Show parent
  #483
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Looking for some opinions here, or demos - anyone with an A1 care to weigh in on whether or not any of the filters can do a good Roland impersonation? Juno 60 type resonance is what I'm looking for. It seems to have a the nice chorus sound down, just wondering about the filter types.

I know the Deep Mind 12 is pretty good at that sound, but there are plenty of features on the Nord that I like better (no menu diving, performance-oriented patch slots and layering, etc.)

Last edited by soundxplorer; 30th June 2017 at 06:45 PM..
Old 30th June 2017 | Show parent
  #484
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundxplorer ➡️
Looking for some opinions here, or demos - anyone with an A1 care to weigh in on whether or not any of the filters can do a good Roland impersonation? Juno 60 type resonance is what I'm looking for. It seems to have a the nice chorus sound down, just wondering about the filter types.

I know the Deep Mind 12 is pretty good at that sound, but there are plenty of features on the Nord that I like better (no menu diving, performance-oriented patch slots and layering, etc.)
I don't own a Juno,so I'll base my impressions on this demo



The NLA1 does a great job at the plucky stabs and ethereal pads. You've got plenty of oscillator shapes to work with, so you could choose a starting point and use the wave shaping to dial it in. What you aren't going to get with the Nord (or any VA for that matter) is the really high frequency sizzle in analog sound, or the breathy, slightly noisy envelopes. The TB filter emulation is fantastic and sells itself short as just a 303 emulation. It takes the gain the best, has a very musical response to the resonance, and is all around the most characterful. That would be my jumping off point for making some of the sounds in that video.

The chorus and ensemble effects will get you 90% of the way there with the proper programming. You can add some warble/pitch drift by layering two sounds (same osc/env/filter settings) and set pitch as the mod destination for the second, then have some slight pitch mod set for the envelope and LFO.

If you post a sound you want to get, I could try to match it. I may have some time this evening (life with a two year old, so exciting...). Truth in advertising, I'm actually planning to sell mine and put the money to a Sub 37.
Old 30th June 2017 | Show parent
  #485
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cogsy ➡️
I don't own a Juno,so I'll base my impressions on this demo

Thanks for the reply.
Right at 5:07 in the video you linked above, when the resonance is up and the cutoff gets turned down about half way - that's kinda the sound I'm after.

As for a song reference, the first thing that comes to mind is the intro to "Pearl's Girl" by Underworld. I don't know for sure this is a Juno, but I would kind of be surprised if it wasn't.
The first 30 seconds of this:

Old 1st July 2017 | Show parent
  #486
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundxplorer ➡️
Thanks for the reply.
Right at 5:07 in the video you linked above, when the resonance is up and the cutoff gets turned down about half way - that's kinda the sound I'm after.

As for a song reference, the first thing that comes to mind is the intro to "Pearl's Girl" by Underworld. I don't know for sure this is a Juno, but I would kind of be surprised if it wasn't.
The first 30 seconds of this:

I worked off the first video. I used a slightly detuned saw and square, plus another quieter saw an octave up with a bit of noise. I threw some ensemble effect of there (a little goes a long way). I played with the different filter models, but the TB sounded right (the 12/24 models are a bit blah to my ears, the Moog style was too “in your face”). Once you’ve filtered out so many of your harmonics, I feel like the effects are doing most of the work.

I had a hard time matching the presence of the Juno. At 50% resonance and low filter, you could get some punch by dialing in the gain, but as soon as the LFO starts opening the filter, the tone is gone and you get very digital sounding distortion. I decided to go without the gain for the demo, but I think you could get a little closer if you just wanted a static sound. Your mileage may vary if you are a better synthesist than I am.
Attached Files

NLA1.WAV (5.05 MB, 3081 views)

Old 1st July 2017 | Show parent
  #487
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soundxplorer's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cogsy ➡️
I had a hard time matching the presence of the Juno. At 50% resonance and low filter, you could get some punch by dialing in the gain, but as soon as the LFO starts opening the filter, the tone is gone and you get very digital sounding distortion. I decided to go without the gain for the demo, but I think you could get a little closer if you just wanted a static sound.
cogsy - thanks a bunch for taking the time to make a demo, it is greatly appreciated. I think you've helped me decide not to buy an A1. Nothing against your programming skills at all , I can just tell by the filter sweep that it isn't the sound I'm looking for. It does just seem to get lower in volume and lose punch as the cutoff goes down, which doesn't really mirror how the Juno stays thick and rich at lower filter settings. The Reface CS that I use now as my VA can do that Juno sound fairly well, so I'll stick with it.

Thanks again!
Old 11th July 2017 | Show parent
  #488
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cogsy ➡️
I had a hard time matching the presence of the Juno.
So I wound up getting a Nord Wave instead, but I thought of a trick that might work on the A1 too which might help retain that "presence" as the resonance goes up. Use that sound in Slot A, and use a very similar sound in Slot B at the same time, but zero resonance on the "B" patch, and turn the cutoff down so it is just filling out the bass and mids. Set your panel focus so you are only sweeping the cutoff in the "A" patch while "B" remains static. Worth a try.
Old 12th July 2017 | Show parent
  #489
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundxplorer ➡️
So I wound up getting a Nord Wave instead, but I thought of a trick that might work on the A1 too which might help retain that "presence" as the resonance goes up. Use that sound in Slot A, and use a very similar sound in Slot B at the same time, but zero resonance on the "B" patch, and turn the cutoff down so it is just filling out the bass and mids. Set your panel focus so you are only sweeping the cutoff in the "A" patch while "B" remains static. Worth a try.
Congrats on scoring the Wave! I've heard it's a keeper.

I'm sure that your solution would work, but I've actually just sold it. There are workarounds for most limitations, but it's rarely a straight line from A to B. The problem is really the limited modulation options. Without more LFO's or envelopes, you wind up using lots of layers just to liven up the sound. Having two LFO's on the Wave (plus the crazy FM) will take you all sorts of places.
Old 13th March 2018 | Show parent
  #490
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If anyone is interested in this sounds collection:

Old 14th March 2018 | Show parent
  #491
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Old 29th April 2018
  #492
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
I haven't been using my A1 as much this last 6 months, basically since I got other options, and when I briefly have it's just been to flick through presets when i'm working on a track, and I must say it wasn't going it for me.

Too 'clean', and 'cutting', and while the Lead's very much do have a place in a studio for when that's needed, it is seldom what i'm looking for these days.

However, i've taken some time today and last week to actually programme some of my own patches on for the first time in ages and I was very pleasantly surprised about what I was easily getting from it, and that's before I started stacking the layers.

I have have a love for deep dark moody synth parts and I was even getting some of the grit I used to feel the A1 lacked by using FM and the drive stages more.

This is my best all Nord A1 piece so far:



And I liked how with not a lot of work I am also able to get it to produce good bass, dark low end parts, and weird effects.

Old 29th April 2018 | Show parent
  #493
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1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurzleader ➡️
If anyone is interested in this sounds collection:

Nice work, but that for me is the side of the A1 I really don't like. It's just too bright, clean, sharp and 'happy' for me personally.

Great of course that it can do stuff like that as well though of course.
Old 29th April 2018 | Show parent
  #494
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by barryfell ➡️
Nice work, but that for me is the side of the A1 I really don't like. It's just too bright, clean, sharp and 'happy' for me personally.

Great of course that it can do stuff like that as well though of course.
It sounds very good too me. Nice job programming some good ole fashion 80's performance patches. It also sounds very close to an analog synth and miles better than any other VA's. It is a bit clean, maybe digital, and when I owned one it was a bit bright when pushed to get the volume levels up for my band. For me The A1 would always be in the running with DSI and Korg if I was looking for an under $2000 analogish poly synth.
Old 29th April 2018 | Show parent
  #495
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🎧 5 years
when you program something like that, where you emulate someone, how do you know where to start? What osciallators etc, it's amazing to me
Old 19th September 2019
  #496
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🎧 10 years
I hope so! I'd like the A1 engine plus another octave better quality keybed, aftertouch, and full adsr envelopes and I'd rebuy it.
Old 19th September 2019
  #497
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🎧 5 years
Yes!!! Re-opening this forum is still relevant. One thing that I struggled with on the A1 was the keyboard action and quality. Very poor on an otherwise great board. Another issue was the low output as compared to my KURZ.

A NL5 with better key action, aftertouch, and 5 octaves would be a dream! But the price would be too crazy knowing the company.

But if they do blow thew A1 out at say $995 I would have to consider re-buying. The new Roland Jupiters are too pricey as well, and the System 8 is a rip off, I know because I owned one and returned it.
Old 14th March 2021 | Show parent
  #498
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8 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Lead 4 and A1 Compared

Reviving two different topics to post this, the original Lead 4 and A1 topic. I'll try to help guys who were having the same questions I did.

I always thought that the Lead 4 and A1 were similar in many ways, and it's entirely true - but, they're different in many ways.

Similarities:
- Hardware-wise, they're pretty much on the same ballpark, same keys, same pitch and wheel, the good old Nord way of doing things.
- They have the same 4 slots for making your combination of sounds, in the same way they all did (including the Wave 2).
- The basic oscillators alone sound pretty similar, but not exactly the same.
- They both keep the additional vibrato LFO

The differences are bigger than I anticipated, but mainly feature-wise... they're on the same sonic territory.

The oscillators:
- To start, the A1 IS A SINGLE OSCILLATOR SYNTH
- The detune mode (A1) in no way is enough to make it a two oscillator synth
- Although they're close, playing a chord with a simple sawtooth fully open filter sounds a bit different
----- The A1 is a bit more polite in this test
----- The L4 can sound aggressive in comparison, maybe a bit more harsh
----- This is the same for all waveforms
- The L4 has traditional oscillator configuration, with 2 oscillators + modulation sources
- FM between synths is much much much better on the L4 / A1 is kind of basic
- Osc sync behaves the same on both
- A1 can modulate shape for all waveforms (47) and some provide a very interesting sound (formant for example)
- L4 "wavetables" are static, but bigger in number
- A1 has predetermined detuning values, the L4 has a true second oscillator
- There's no way to detach keybed from the oscillator on the A1

The filters:
- They sound different, but not that much (they're close)
- The tuned sonic character of the A1 is a bit more mellow on higher resonance values
- L4 has additional 48dB/oct filter (marvellous BTW)
- A1 original Nord 12/24 dB/oct filters sound a bit less raspy, I liked it more than the L4's
- The behaviour for the drive is a bit different, again, more mellow on the A1, but not by much - I still don't like how digital they sound with drive
- The scaling is a bit different in each machine

The envelopes:
- L4 has real 4 stage ADSR envelopes (x2)
- L4 has an additional AD/AR modulation envelope
- A1 has limited envelopes, with "obscure" sustain values (depends on how you set the ADR parameters
- A1's envelopes can only affect Osc Control and Filter
- L4 envelope (mod env) can be used for several things
- There's no dedicated buttons on the A1 to make envelopes velocity sensitive
- The L4 is easier to access extra envelope features (like velocity)
- You can sacrifice the single LFO on the A1 and use it like an envelope for extra stuff - still not comparable to the one on the L4
- The curves on both seem to be the same if you cripple L4's sustain

The LFOs:
- A1 has a single LFO, with only two destinations
- L4 has two LFO, but you need to sacrifice one for arpeggio
- L4 has way more destinations
- L4 has way more waveforms
- A1 mainly misses the smooth S&H and logaritmic saw/inv saw
- They're really non comparable, but seem to achieve same frequencies

The arpeggiator:
- L4 arpeggiator is deeper, with the extra patterns (128)
- L4 has to sacrifice one LFO for arp
- A1 has arp available everytime
- A1 plays separate notes only (to my knowledge)
- They're not as interesting as the one on the Wave 2

The other stuff:
- Unison works really different on both, and sound different
- A1 is software maybe (??)
- L4 is real voice unison, but consumes polyphony
- A1 sometimes sounds harsh in unison
- A1 has dedicated PAN control
- You can only mimic control of PAN on the L4 (minimum speed square LFO to PAN)
- L4 has a chord mode, A1 doesn't
- L4 has extra modulation buttons - impulse morphs (THEY'RE AWESOME)

The effects:
- In a few words, the A1 is good, L4 really bad
- The delay and reverb on A1 seem different, sound better
- Can use both delay and reverb at the same time on the A1
- L4 has a strange limitation - either delay or reverb
- L4's delay sounds strange in comparison (to my ears)
- A1 has ping pong delay
- A1 reverb is a bit more limited, but sounds nicer
- L4 would be better without the FX section, and maybe EQ+drive only
- Conceptually speaking, the L4 FX part is awkward
- A1 choruses are good enough (not exactly comparable to dedicated FX)
- A1 RM isn't the same as oscillator RM - it has a static frequency (not usefull at all)
- L4 compressor is ok sounding, but useless in studio use
- Drive seems nicer on the A1
- A1's phaser is ok, flanger really bad

In the end:
They're awesome synthesizers!

I had the pleasure of owning both, and the A1 is the one I decided to keep. It's not that it is a perfect simple analog museum synth, but the fact that it is smaller and has the features I needed for some "solo" work without any extra external processing (read this as kept for the FX).

The Lead 4 is certainly the one to go if you're used to create complex and evolving sounds, but also capable of marvellous conventional analog sounds. There's some limitation to what you can do in terms of modulation, but it still waaaaaay deeper than both A1/Wave 2.

The Lead A1 is kind of a modern take on a Juno 6. It is really simple, not exactly capable of extremely modulated sounds or anything, but it's easy to achieve analog-like patches on the fly.

On the critical side, there's a certain raspyness on the Lead 4 when it comes to analog-like sounds, something that works differently on the A1. The A1 on the other hand seems to be totally dependent on using effects to correct the absense of a second oscillator. The Lead 4 has a weird effects part that shouldn't be on the final product - even an extra LFO/dedicated noise generator would be better.

I believe many think the A1 is the better sounding one based on the effects and presets. Its presets are actually excellent, while the L4 requires some hard work to make your own collection of sounds - but once you do, it's a monster.

In the end, I think they're both excellent, certainly related, with a few plus and minuses on each instrument. I'd keep both if I could, and would certainly recommend both!
Old 14th March 2021 | Show parent
  #499
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🎧 5 years
Thanks, one of the best L4 vs A1 comparisons I've seen!
It agrees with what seems to be the general consensus that the L4 is way deeper and can be really rewarding, but you need to put in a lot of work, while the A1 is way more limited but just sounds good no matter what.
If you have time, could you expand on why the L4 effect section is so bad and weird? It certainly seems more geared towards modern EDM sounds rather than classic vintage tones, but does it really sounds so bad?
Thanks again!
Old 15th March 2021 | Show parent
  #500
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8 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spider76 ➡️
Thanks, one of the best L4 vs A1 comparisons I've seen!
It agrees with what seems to be the general consensus that the L4 is way deeper and can be really rewarding, but you need to put in a lot of work, while the A1 is way more limited but just sounds good no matter what.
If you have time, could you expand on why the L4 effect section is so bad and weird? It certainly seems more geared towards modern EDM sounds rather than classic vintage tones, but does it really sounds so bad?
Thanks again!
Thank you. Yup, it's really the general consensus, but explained why.

About the L4 effects... I don't know, call me crazy, but it's kind of an identity crisis on Nord's part. The overall choice of effect is really poor, and poorly implemented.

In the attempt to put everything in it (FX + delay + reverb) they probably went out of "coding space", and gave a half baked rendition to what it should've been. In all honesty, effects get away from the original Lead origin, and it should at least keep the quality of the synth (which it doesn't). In the end, L4's effects were useless in many ways (TO ME).

The way they did, with compressor, bit crush, drive, 2 formant and a combi filter, makes no sense. The 2 formant are very much alike, drive was weird (although many like that), bit crush had a strange scaling, compressor was bad. It's the kind of "less is more" mentality that they forgot. I'd rather have no effects at all and a cleaner interface, but maybe that's just me.

There are many better options in terms of design of an instrument. A dual switch chorus a la Juno, a controllable and good sounding delay (with feedback control, stereo imaging, etcetera.), you name it. But using either delay OR reverb, is kind of cheap for such an expensive synth.

Certainly the worst part of the synth besides the dreaded TP7BA they put in everything...

I gave the L4 some external effects and the thing sang a different song!
Old 15th March 2021 | Show parent
  #501
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljefe ➡️
I hope so! I'd like the A1 engine plus another octave better quality keybed, aftertouch, and full adsr envelopes and I'd rebuy it.
This sounds exactly like the wave2 no? Plus it has FM engine, Wavetable engine and supports samples too. I just snagged one, can't wait to get it in.
Old 15th March 2021 | Show parent
  #502
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfernald ➡️
This sounds exactly like the wave2 no? Plus it has FM engine, Wavetable engine and supports samples too. I just snagged one, can't wait to get it in.
Congratulations! I'm anxious to hear what you think about it.
Old 15th March 2021 | Show parent
  #503
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🎧 10 years
I went from the Lead A1 to the Wave 2, I re-created the A1 sounds I used pretty quickly and it's just a much nicer synth with so many more possibilities.
Old 16th March 2021 | Show parent
  #504
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordy ➡️
I went from the Lead A1 to the Wave 2, I re-created the A1 sounds I used pretty quickly and it's just a much nicer synth with so many more possibilities.
Is there anything you miss that the A1 had?
Old 16th March 2021 | Show parent
  #505
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🎧 10 years
Nope, nothing at all
Old 14th April 2021 | Show parent
  #506
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cr73645's Avatar
 
8 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Just adding a simple test drive for the different oscillator modes. Tweaking several sounds on the fly...

Old 14th April 2021
  #507
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DJRAZZ's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I agree with the posts above. And that is some really nice programing. But the NORD Lead, to me, is falling behind. The Wave 2 looks cool but I think we need a kick butt NL5 with great synth action to compete with thew new analogs and VA's out by other companies.

NORD was something really special in the day. The NL1 was revolutionary. The NL2X was a work horse. The A1 is really nice and the effects are a bonus, but the issues are in the VA emulations, ENV's, and the action. An analog lead synth or VA lead synth should evoke emotion and good memories of the past.
Old 14th April 2021
  #508
Gear Addict
 
How about the Lead A1's implementation inside the Stage 3

Does that add anything radical or better the sound and experience ?
Old 14th April 2021
  #509
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DJRAZZ's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Well, yes of course it does. When performing on the Stage 3, any kind of programable VA synth is a real bonus. Having an A1 inside of an organ/piano/preset based board makes it possible to gig on just that board and cover a lot of ground. Also, with the ability to add sounds, have seamless transitions of patches, multiple split points, and one of the best organ sims in the industry makes the Stage 3 an absolute beast.
Old 14th April 2021 | Show parent
  #510
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CAL. ➡️
How about the Lead A1's implementation inside the Stage 3

Does that add anything radical or better the sound and experience ?
Better effects. Much more polyphony. Samples as oscillators. Much better keybed with aftertouch.

But...only two parts instead of four, so in a way the Stage 3 only has a "Lead A 1/2" engine.
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