With a dedicated hi-tech area stocking the latest in keyboards, drum machines and studio gear, there's a whole heap of reasons to visit PMT Birmingham aside from it's humongous guitar wall. One of those many reasons is our brand new Nord supercentre – coloured in their signature crimson red it is now host to a full range of synthesizers, stage pianos and organs.
Nord are regarded as a pioneer of virtual analogue synthesis, kick-started with the release of the legendary Nord Lead in the mid-nineties. Whilst developing some of the most rugged, incredible sounding keyboards which also feel a dream to play, for me the best aspect of owning a Nord is its extensive sound library and updatable resources online giving you access to some absolute classic keyboards and instruments.
To make their extensive sample libraries, Nord have collaborated with some equally influential musical instrument manufacturers including Mellotron and Chamberlin.
The Mellotron sample library is compatible with the Electro 4, Wave, Piano 2 and Stage 2 and down to Nords relationship with Mellotron they have had access to original tape banks, perfectly sampled for your use. The library includes a wealth of authentic sounds whether you are after a Black Sabbath ‘Changes’ style strings pad or a Beatles ‘Strawberry Fields’ flute style voicing.
Other notable keyboard sample libraries include the Hohner Pianet, Vox Continental Organ and the Jupiter 8 synth. Of course there are tons of acoustic pianos to choose from right the way through from concert-grade grand pianos to the east-end pub honky-tonk uprights with bags of character. Full orchestral sounds, brass and guitars are included and can easily be managed via the sound manager 6 software – simply connect your keyboard via USB, then drag and drop selected sound banks accordingly.
Newly installed onto the display from our recent Nord delivery is the Nord Electro 4 SW73.
Ontop of being sample library compatible the Electro 4 is one of Nords more affordable keyboards yet still incorporates the b3 tone wheel engine from their top of the range Nord C2D Combo Organ. This particular SW or semi-weighted model incorporates rounded waterfall style keys with a feel to them that works as great all-round for both fast synthesiser lines and traditional piano playing. The pots on the fx section have a great feel to them – slightly rubberised with a fairly heavy resistance, they allow you to pin-point effect parameters with real accuracy. There’s main two selectable effects that can be applied simultaneously including pan, tremolo, auto-wah, phaser, flanger and chorus. Combined with these main effects is a delay which works in stereo with an optional ping-pong mode, a reverb, 3 band eq and an amp modelling section with compressor. The amp modelling section adds another dimention of realism with vintage 122 rotary speaker simulations.
For those who really want to get that extra out of their Nord keyboard, the sample editor software gives you the capabilities to get your own samples into the Electro 4. This can be used for chopping up samples in the studio or creating your own split-key performance patches for on the stage.