Nord Lead A1 ‘A True Synthesizer Powerhouse’


At the 2014 NAMM ShowNord Keyboards are introducing the new Nord Lead A1 – a new keyboard that they call ‘a true synthesizer powerhouse ‘.

The Lead A1 combines the latest analogue modelling engine from the Nord Lead 4, offering 24-voice polyphonic and four part multi-timbral synthesis. The Lead A1 introduces a new front-panel user interface, designed to make programming quick and easy, while retaining hands on flexibility.

“We’ve been thinking about and honing this interface for a number of years in response to what we hear from many professional players regarding the ever-increasing time pressures in creating sounds for stage or studio.” says Hans Nordelius, CEO and head designer.

nord-lead-a1-synthesizer-oscillatorOne of the main features of the new interface is the Oscillator section, where Oscillator configuration shortcuts allow patches to be created and edited far quicker than is usually possible for synthesis of this complexity.

Using a single LFO and simplified Modulation Envelope with intuitive controls on the front panel, it is also very quick to experiment with modulations, always with a clear overview of the structure of the patch.

The on-board filters include Low Pass, High Pass and Band Pass, along with new modelled Ladder M and Ladder TB filters, introduced in the Lead 4.

The Lead A1 features an independent effects processor for each of its four slots. Delay, high quality Reverb, plus a choice of Drive, Ring Modulation, Phaser, Flanger, Ensemble or Chorus are available per slot. The new Ensemble and Chorus effects are analog models of specific classic synths, bringing vintage analogue warmth and feel.

Nord’s Morph function via Velocity or the Mod Wheel is also included, allowing multiple parameters to be morphed in real time and with easy control.

Additional functions include an independent arpeggiator for each of the four slots, Master Clock sync of the LFO, delay and Arpeggiator, MIDI over USB, and four independent outputs. The Lead A1 also includes the Nord Sound Manager software patch librarian.

Here are Nord Lead A1 audio demos:


  • Oscillators
    • Unique Oscillator concept
    • 8 Oscillator Configurations
    • Pitch, Detune, Shape, Sync, AM, Noise, Dual Osc, FM
    • Traditional Analog and Digital Waveforms
  • Modulation
    • LFO with 5 waveforms
    • Mod Envelope
    • LFO as additional ModEnv
  • Filter
    • 12, 24 dB low-pass filters
    • High-pass and Band-pass filters
    • Transistor and diode ladder filter simulations
    • of Mini and TB-303
  • Effects
    • Ensemble, Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Ring Modulator, Drive
  • Performance
    • 4-part multi-timbral
    • Master Clock Sync of Arpeggiator, LFO and Delay
    • Velocity and Mod Wheel Morph
    • USB MIDI

The Nord Lead A1 will be available in April 2014 with an estimated price of £1299 RRP inc VAT. See the Nord site for details.

via Maine

57 thoughts on “Nord Lead A1 ‘A True Synthesizer Powerhouse’

      1. I have used Nords ,had modular and an Electro. I have to agree there is an element that seems absent from the sound. I use other VA, Roland ,Novation etc and they do the trick. I think in the demos for this synth but the sound seems empty like it has gone through a filter.
        It is good to hear a critical take on the Clavia sound.

      2. While I think Clavia makes some odd choices, my Nord Lead 2 is one of the most interesting sounding VAs I’ve owned. I wouldn’t say it sounds analog but it has a very organic, open sound that nothing else I’ve own (including analogs) has. Also, for such a limited synth you can get some truly bizarre sounds out of it.

      3. Maybe this is just joke and their really going to really introduce a Nord Modular G3. This can’t be real. I mean, who wouldn’t just spend $400 more for the whole damn synth. Stupid. It blows my mind that in the iPad age Clavia can’t see the opportunity for a Nord Modular G3 that’s editor could run on an iPad. It would be freaking amazing! Really frustrating. I happen to love the Nord sound, it’s just got something to it that I love but it’s a real shame that Clavia doesn’t develop that into something truly amazing. It’s really weird when a product you made over 15 years ago is more advanced and forward thinking than anything you’re making now.

  1. No ADSR Envelopes, no Second LFO and 1 less waveform on it. Clavia what is that?
    Insane price too.
    Involution in a revolutionary price. No thaks!!

    1. So they’re bringing out a new synth with LESS features for $1800? I don’t think they understand what people want. If you want “simplified”, just stick to presets or just use the ADSR, cutoff and resonance controls. This leaves no room to grow for people that eventually DO come to grips with subtractive synthesis. Seems silly all around.

  2. With all the cool analogs out now, and coming out, and all the amazing software synths out there, I’m not sure what the point of a synth like this is any more. I would have loved to have seen Nord do what Arturia did and release their take on an analog synth… maybe even a modern poly.

  3. It’s red. Can’t we move on, Nord? It’s getting old to see the same tired design and rebaked technology. You know you’re going to have to offer something really new top to bottom someday…

  4. Clavia simply does not get it. Sales of the Nord 4 have been abysmal thus they think repackaging that synth into this mess will somehow save their investment in the R&D of the Nord 4. Clavia’s UI regressed actually from the Nord 3. The Wave was equally as disappointing, yet apparently Nord is prepared to take us all back the 1980’s with their designs and worst yet their sound.

    I have had some “spirited” discussions with Hans Nordelius about their direction and penchant for all things retro and their sound. He and his team have a rather curious contempt and low opinion of their users based on this mockery and their pricing. I have no problem paying in excess of $2400 for a powerful VA synth. Yet this is not it. Not even close. At least Arturia’s Origin, despite its many software issues early on, had a UI that was new, fresh and made for the 21st century.

  5. I use the mini-synth in the Nord Stage a lot for layers, and it has similar frustrating limits (no ADSR WTF!, no 2nd LFO, etc). If they were going for a cheaper, simpler laymen model, i think they should have shrunk the size and price significantly for sales. Feels like a miss to me.

  6. “We’ve been honing the interface for years”, yet we somehow didn’t notice there was room for another couple of dozen knobs and switches to fit in all that blank space.

  7. This product confuses the hell outta me.

    If you look at the specs, especially the oscillator section… the A1 is actually a step sideways from the Lead2x. Also one less LFO…

    Nord’s is pricing this thing higher than the 2x… for what appears to be upgraded resolution, effects, and a few perks from the Lead4. I just don’t get it.

    I’d love to see Nord realize that the feature sets of $2000 VAs in the 1990s are not worth $2000 to customers today… especially to pro customers that have seen what manufacturers like Access, and Novation offer. We live in an age where plugins can do things a $10,000 modular won’t. If you are going to do virtual analog, ya gotta bring it.

  8. why are they comparing this to the Lead 2x in their comparison chart? The Lead 4 is out. Comparing to thei old synth reveals (IMO) how hard it will be to sell this thing.

  9. I actually think Clavia are moving in the right direction with this. It’s trivial today to create a VA with 10 oscillators, 10 LFOs, 10 envelopes. I think the really interesting challenge is creating a synth with a broad palette of good sounds and a minimal set of intuitive controls. Having less knobs will make you more likely to play with them and create unique sounds rather than just going with the on-board defaults.
    Like the Waldorf Rocket, these things get panned for the lack of features but I think people are really missing the point. Minimalism is a feature.

      1. I didn’t realize all synthesizers had to be targeted at subtractive synthesis experts. I think there are very few virtual analogs in this space and I personally would like to see more.

        1. Nobody said anything about having to be targeted towards experts. My point was even beginners should want to learn and grow and this leaves no room for that. Otherwise, stick to presets and soft synths.

  10. it would have been nice to see fresh modulars, maybe modular g3, but better yet a new micromodular that could cv or interface with all of this new analog stuff. personally i would love a micromodular fx box to play guitar and synths through.

    1. “in response to what we hear from many professional players regarding the ever-increasing time pressures in creating sounds for stage or studio.”
      See, pros can’t waste precious time naming presets.

      1. Pro’s? A lot of us are musicians who make records for the electronic market etc We work hard on tracks, and gig etc.and naming sounds is important .The person who wrote the last statement I hope did so tongue in cheek. It is late so maybe that snide remark went over my head. It is very clear people are a bit pissed off with Nord.

          1. No problem, was to late for me to get your sarcasm. The conclusion seems to be Clavia ,like Moog ,have been trading on a name that is loosing its credibility.

  11. for the price it will cost to buy and the fact its digital, there really is no excuse not to fill that huge space with more knobs/sliders.

  12. I think it’s a solid synth with enough possibilties. Also like the minimal design and the well know Nordlead look. I think it’s a logical follow- up for the 2X. The price however isn’t what I expected. That ‘s a pitty

  13. Weird company. This thing is like a Korg Radias but with less modulation options, a red paint job, a $1k price premium, and from the sounds of it, a fixed HPF on the outputs set to 100 Hz…

  14. I’ve owned a bunch of synths over the years MiniMoogs Yamaha CS80 … MemoryMoog … Arp 2600 … Sequential Circuits ….Nords so far have been clumsy … And there is something missing …

  15. This is +so+ lame. It had better not shift software improvements/updates away from the Nord Lead 4.

    I have no data/research to back this up, but it seems obvious to me that they would cannibalize their own sales by releasing models with trivially minor differences and identical looks.

    And….they made a Nord Lead 2X feature comparison chart? WTF? Are they all drunk?

    The poor old average consumer, the bedroom enthusiast, will have a hell of a time fathoming the differences/pros and cons i.e. which one to buy/ what’s right for them. It’s confusing to anyone. I think they must be confused themselves.

    Price point is outrageous too. Cost cutting galore on the front panel. This is just LAME.

    And what about the poor saps who just paid for a Nord Lead 4? Like I said, do their software updates stop now because of this thing?

    Your gear sounds good. Your product division team needs a proper overhaul though.
    Clavia is a company stuck in a time warp.

  16. Why in Synth Hell did they bugger the envelopes??? I don’t blame them for not making cheaper versions Roland-style when they are a niche company of moderate size, but clunky design choices are never good. The envelopes are too critical to take out of the player’s hands like that. That missing LFO smells like a dirty sock, too.

  17. i currently own a Clavia Nord Modular G1 keyboard. I’ve owned a Nord Rack 2, a Nord Rack 3, and a Nord Lead 2x. I love them Red and I love there Sound. I worked at a music store for 6 years. i sold a ton of 2x’s, and then Clavia seemed to care less about it’s synths and went full force into their Electros and Pianos. I couldn’t get stock on the 2x”s anymore. then came the over priced wave, nord 4, and now this a1 thing. really Clavia? i’ll keep using your old synths. you are becoming Roland. the G1 and G2 Mods are some of the most powerful synths out there today, yet you don’t support them. just like you’ll stop support on these new synths. boo.

  18. baffled…….utterly………so they release a nord lead 4 , then another nord lead in essence with more of some features and less of others > so how the fk is someone suppose to know what to buy ? say i want 2 lfo and but the oscillator waveforms of this ?> what buy both ? it strikes me nord are lost…..any businessman knows you need One good product……not 3 that offer different cutdown versions of each other…… leaves the buyer alienated….i was close to buying a nord 4…… i wont buy any as it lools like people are being spoon fed and played a little….

  19. Have many hear actually tried/heard/played this? Reading the manual provides some insight into what this machine can do “sound” wise especially with the variable waveshaping. Agree that there are a lot of trade off’s, some really weird like no ADSR and some less so but having programmed synths since 1975 I can see the allure…stripped down as it may seem. 98% of Prophet 5 and DX7’s came back to the factory with the internal sounds (a different era no doubt). I have a hunch that this thing can make some wonderful tones…the BIGGEST issue is the price! What price would be reasonable….$1299 street ($1000 less than a NL4)? The Wave seemed the most logical thing to build on: samples + great VA, LCD display etc. Jeez…Korg can put an OLED on a Mini Kaoss Pad for $150 street and in this day no display is really, really a bummer. I’d still like to play one before I call it dead….

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