Nord Lead 4 Debuts At Musikmesse


Musikmesse 2013: Nord today introduced the Nord Lead 4 – a 4-part multi-timbral synthesizer sporting a brand new 2-oscillator virtual analog sound engine with 2x oversampling

In addition to classic analog waveforms, there’s a Wavetable mode with new Formant Wavetables. Frequency Modulation and Hard/Soft sync options are available for mutilating your sound further and the True Voice Unison mode can stack up to four oscillators per voice for really thick, beefy leads and pads.

The filter section boasts Low Pass (12/24dB), High Pass, and Band Pass filters and also new simulations of two transistor and diode ladder filters capturing the squeaky, dirty character of the originals. A dedicated filter overdrive can distort your sound before it passes through the effect section.

The new Variation buttons let you override almost any parameter of the synthesizer, instantaneously. With 7 assignable variations per program, Nord Lead 4 gives you  freedom to warp and improvise your sound live, both rhythmically and sonically. And, thanks to the Master Clock Synchronization, it can be done in sync to other layers or an external MIDI Clock.

All 4 slots have dedicated effect sections with delay, reverb, tube amp simulated overdrive, a Talk effect modeled after a vocal tract and a sample rate reducing Crush effect.


The Nord Lead 4 is also available as a Tabletop/Rack version, the Nord Lead 4R.


Key Features:

  • 4-part multi-timbral with 4 separate outs.
  • 2-Oscillator Virtual Analog Subtractive synthesis with Frequency Modulation, Hard and Soft Sync and True Voice Unison.
  • Morph and Variation performance controls.
  • Wavetable synthesis, including unique Formant Wavetables.
  • 12/24 dB Low-pass, High-pass, Band-pass filters section plus transistor and diode ladder filter simulations.
  • 2 LFO/Arpeggiator sections and Mod Env section with flexible routing possibilities.
  • LFO, Arpeggiator and Delay can be synchronized to the Master Clock (or external MIDI-Clock).
  • Crush, Talk and Distortion, Reverb, Delay effects (available per slot)
  • 2x oversampled sound engine.
  • 49-key velocity sensitive keyboard (C-C) (Not Nord Lead 4R).

Here are audio demos:

Nord Lead 4 is shipping May 2013. Nord Lead 4R is shipping in August 2013. Street is expected to be about 1649 Euro for the rack, 1849 Euro for the full keyboard.

See the Nord site for more details.

53 thoughts on “Nord Lead 4 Debuts At Musikmesse

  1. Specs look really nice, but I’m a bit surprised by the price. $2400 USD? I am a big fan of the Lead. Have a 2x myself. Were I to drop that kind of cash, I think I’d prefer to spend another $600 and pick up a P12.

    1. Are you seeing an actual US price somewhere are you just converting the Euros? If you’re just doing a currency conversion, note that the European price probably includes VAT which obviously wouldn’t be the case in the U.S., so it may be somewhat lower than that.

      1. good point. I guess it is just taking the place of the nord wave. I was expecting it to fall more in line with the price of the 2x.

  2. First I had a boner reading that they are producing a nord lead 4,With reading the price my boner was gone,It was like I was fall into sleep with a boner and next morning it was gone. 🙁

  3. The Specs are impressive, although Nord never reveals the operating frequency strangely enough as some sort of proprietary information.

    The UI however is very disappointing. It is as if they are taking a leap back, the Nord 3 was certainly more impressive with the rotary led rings around the knobs.

  4. Nice, a really matured Lead you can hear in a PROPER demo. There’s the template for one done right. The FX-per-slot upgrade is a meaningful addition, as are the 4 outs. The tabletop version grabs me. It has a date with a quality controller and you’ll see them sprouting in well-heeled DJ booths.

    In US today-dollars, the keyboard will be 2403.17 and the module, 2143.23. That’s not cheap, but neither are the results. When you pro-rate your gear, you often get a really nice rate over time. That seems especially true of Nord. Does anyone sane NOT use a synth for several years? Yeah, the NL4 looks savory. Gimme some Nord stock, please.

    1. Nord Lead always had four outputs since version 1. Much as I admire the sound and congratulate Clavia, the odds of this turning up in a DJ booth are close to nil, especially as it doesn’t have any inputs.

    2. Heh, wow, look at all the feathers in the air! You’d think I’d struck my head into an ice bar and yelled “HARLEYS ARE FOR SISSIES!” I stick by my view, because it’ll be rare that anyone buys a Nord without knowing what it really is. Its a good upgrade and its pluses outweigh its minuses.

  5. Way to go Synthhead, I guess your site has become the new Syria regime….dissent is not merely frowned upon, it is not allowed.

    Granted you are not killing anyone, you are however killing opposing viewpoints.

  6. You can buy 4 actual analog synths and a good effects processor for that price. Virtual analog seems kind of pointless at that price.

    1. I strongly disagree. You clearly do not understand the prowess of VA. Now I agree with you at this price point, the Nord 4 is not worth it. They are using the very same components (bin shopping) and synth engine. Whilst new, it is simply new algorithms….that is all.

      1. Clavia usually has the latest processors in there, and pushed 24-bit internal processing at 96kHz sampling frequency impressively early in VA evolution.

        The oversampling must use a ton of processing power. Especially considering it does 4 parts and unison mode.

      2. Clavia has typically used the best processors there is, and it has pushed 24-bit internal processing at 96kHz sampling frequency impressively early in VA evolution.

        This time they are oversampling the engine, and it must eat tons of processing power, especially when you take the 4 part timbrality and unison mode into the account.

    2. A kind of pointless comparison.

      This is a multitimbral, multifunctioning and still very good sounding synth.

      You don’t get similar analog polysynth as there isn’t one.

      This is well priced and well hung synth of its very own kind.

  7. All I have to say is this… What took you guys so long to come out with this? Maybe that’s why the price is so high.

  8. Edward made a good point. I contacted clavia one time that there is a need for performance based synthesizers that are compact but rich in features. This nord lead isnt ideal in tight spaces and dj booths. Artists and performers would choose an korg r3 or minibrute or the new bass station 2 for these kind of purposes. Also they didnt implement audio inputs to use the filters or other fxs as audio effects. I wished they had chosen something more compact like their G2. I might add that the G2 did have excellent audio input capabilities. I think clavia has to step up tbh if i look at other companies that produce affordable yet powerfull performance based synthesizers.

  9. Looks and sounds powerful. Has a lot of features, but still fits them all in the panel in fantastically inviting way.

    Also, it has all the most important parameters available. It could have this and that, but then it wouldn’t be all in one panel synth anymore. I love, that we still have one of this kind of “no menu synth” in the market too. And sample support might make at least my life easier, as I might now survive with one not too heavy synth in the gigs. And the “oversampling engine” sounds promising, cannot wait to hear more.

    Also, this is not built by slaves, so pardon the price.

  10. Great looking and sounding synth…not sure it will get me to leave the NL2x…they may never live up to the expectations becuase how awesome the 1/2/2x is.

  11. If you lock this synth up together with a woman in a trunk and you open the trunk after 3 days this synth will still look good because the build quality and you will be happy to see it again,the woman will look like sh*t ,angry and will piss you of for the rest of the day.

      1. “LFO, Arpeggiator and Delay can be synchronized to the Master Clock”
        OMG! Finally?

        I really miss this function in my NL2.

  12. The first few years that I saw a nord in my local music shop, I SERIOUSLY thought that some idiot at stolen the mod rocker and they had done their best making a rough cut “button” our of a piece of wood, like, they knew it didnt fit the hole properly and it looked ugly, but they needed to sell it….

    now, MANY years later…here we are, and that damn rotton piece of design is still hanging in there like a buck tooth on a princess.

    1. The pitch stick looks ridiculous until you actually use one. I like the one on my G2 way, way more than the pitch control on any other synth I have ever used. It becomes very natural to bend the pitch like a whammy on a guitar while twiddling the mod wheel with your thumb.

      1. Exactly. The pitch wheel is a poor second to the wooden stick. I’ve got a house full of synths and find that the pitch stick is comfortable, easy to use, and VERY easy to control; it’s almost like bending guitar strings. And the mod wheel is perfectly placed under your left thumb. This attention to design is one reason my Nord Wave is right next to me in the studio, ALL the time.

  13. The greatest feature is the Variations section… Fits the modern sensibility of sounds switching rapidly as part of a musical idea. I’d like to know more about those. Oversampled sound engine is also something worth noting for a digital synth. The price is likely too high, and I’m going to pass for something with more routing possibilities, like modulating delay times. This synth is definitely an serious instrument.

  14. The price is totally ridiculous. Like i promised in a previous post, it is a cut down NL3 with some more processing power. Why did they cancel FM instead of putting it to a higher level? Wave oscillators are a nice addition, but they can’t compensate a missing 4O or 6O-FM. Is there any cool sample-granular-loop-pitch-to-death-aliasing-wave-modulation feature? No! Dear Clavias, this is bullshit! They treat you as fools. I can’t express my disappointment……. Leave that thing and show what you’re thinking.

    1. I love FM, and I’m sad, that there seems to be a notch in the Clavias FM ambitions.

      Then again, the FM is still there, and the first demo sounded like an FM torture chamber, so I have to check the synth before judging it too harshly.

      AND, the sound is the beef, as always, and the processing power investments into the engine has gone into the sound department. Multitimbrality with unison mode makes it fry a lot of beef at the same time. I mean, you don’t have to use the other oscillator just for detuning, you can use unison for that. 4 parts, each with 2 different oscillators, detuned with, say, 5 unison voices will boil your eggs even if they are in the refrigerator.

  15. Definitely exceeds my price range, but what else shall we expect about its price? “Hand-made in Sweden”; not Chinese or something..

  16. These prices match Swedens economic reality and not Englands.
    It would be interesting to see where their actual products sell well.
    Will Clavia ever make a small simple rack unit for those of without large bank accounts , credit options etc

  17. This is clearly an improvement on the Nord Wave, and re-introduces the multi-timbrality & midi clock sync of the Nord Lead 3 – but no liquid crystal display to show patch information (a Casio calculator can do that!) is unforgiveable!

    They’ve also failed to give us the LED indicators on the knobs that made programming the NL3 so fantastic – I’m keeping mine, think I’ll buy a KingKorg afterall (and it has a 5 octave keyboard).

    1. Thank you Richard, perhaps the most sensible post here yet. I am just disappointed. I really thought that perhaps they build on the evolution of the UI of N3, not regress.

  18. Handmade in Sweden,knowing that Sweden is the most expensive country in Europe.I played and had several clavia instruments and never had one error or bug or something like that.
    My only disappointment with this synth that it still have no aftertouch.

  19. some real synth experts on this site, they can tell you down cold just how good a synth is with out even hearing it in the flesh, let alone trying the performance side of it out.

    its defiantly pricey but so is the virus and people wax lyrical over the most over priced synth on the market.

    look forward to having a test run as clavia do produce a good performer!

  20. This looks very cool. However, I am relieved that it is too expensive for me to consider. I already have too many things on my “to buy” list (Moog Sub Phatty, Korg MS-20 Mini, Ableton Push,…), and I cannot afford anything else. That being said, I just saw the article about rumoured new Korg beatboxes. D*mn…

  21. I think it’s a good instrument, but the price does seem rather high compared to the competition. I think the point made about the DSI Prophet 12 is a valid one. At least it will have aftertouch and be able to call up presets and have a display for naming patches.

    Another alternative, and don’t count this out for real time control, is the Korg Kronos. Trust me when I say that it’s VA engine(s), and ESPECIALLY its FM engine are of super high quality. Plus, you have multitimbral operation, tons of FX, can change sounds or combis without the sound cutting off, and can use samples as modulators in either the VA engine or the FM engine. There are lots of assignable real time controls, the keybed is nice, has aftertouch, and if you choose to use it even as just a synth, it is more powerful and capable than anything on the market. Don’t overlook it because it happens to be a workstation. I’ve seen the non ‘X’ version going for $2499 Cdn. It’s a synth BEAST.

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