Nord Lead Virtual Analog Synth

Human memories are fuzzy things. Over time we seem to remember the good things while the bad things get blurry. Lately, old analog synth gear has been romanticized as the answer to everything that's missing from current digital synthesizers and sample playback keyboards.

After paying too much for a used "classic" analog synthesizer, it doesn't take long to rediscover everything that made them less than ideal. They're noisy, the pitch is unstable, there's no patch storage and no MIDI. But they have that sound, so what can you do?

Well, one excellent solution is the Nord Lead Virtual Analog Synthesizer by Clavia. It's a very successful digital emulation of those great analog sounds that musicians can't get enough of, but it also has the power to make a wide range of new sounds that are impossible on both old and new gear!

The Nord Lead comes in both a 4-voice keyboard version ($2,395 retail) and a 4-voice rack version ($1,995 retail). Standard memory for each is 99 patches (59 ROM and 40 user RAM). Each can be expanded to full 12-voice polyphony with an upgrade that lists for an additional $695 and includes a PCMCIA card slot for accessing a whopping 297 extra patches and 100 performances per card — man, that's a lot of sounds!

The body contours and colors of the Nord Lead are reminiscent of a sleek, sexy Italian sports car. The construction both inside and out is very clean and solid. It has a tight, 4 octave, velocity sensitive keyboard with left hand buttons to shift up to 2 octaves up or down. The panel layout encourages you to twiddle while you play and every sound parameter has its own knob that works smoothly in real-time (how long have you dreamt about that?). As you turn these knobs, the instrument also sends out a separate MIDI Controller for each parameter. This can be recorded as part of the sequence track in order to create flowing and shifting timbres and textures.

Under the hood there are two virtual analog oscillators, each capable of producing triangle, sawtooth and variable width pulse waves; Oscillator 2 can also produce noise. There's even hard sync and full pulse width modulation. And did we neglect to mention sam-ple-and-hold plus an integral arpeggiator? Whew!

The most radical controller on the Nord Lead is its unique wooden pitch stick. It has a very tight, accurate feel to it that creates whole step and multi-octave bends with an extraordinarily smooth sweep — no zippering here. Its center position has no dead spots, allowing for subtle musical vibrato all the way to totally wild shakes.

The Mod Wheel, which is made of a pumice-like stone, can be quickly routed to the Filter, LFO Depth, Oscillator 2 Pitch, or Morph. Like the name implies you can create two positions for each and every parameter knob and create an interpolated sweep between them by using the Mod Wheel (or a Foot Controller). This is fresh stuff!

There's also a comprehensive FM section to this synth that lifts it out of the '70s and drops it right down into the '90s. It is capable of producing bright metallic tones, as well as great splattering textures. The FM Depth can also be controlled by the Mod Wheel to produce seamlessly evolving pads and complex lead timbres.

The bottom line is simple, if your gig requires gutsy analog synth sounds that need to be tweaked in real-time, then the Nord Lead is certainly your dream machine.

This killer synth is sure to be in short supply for a while, so for more information, along with availability and your special pricing, call your Sweetwater sales engineer today!