Nord stage 3 release date

Nord stage 3 release date DEFAULT

Nord Stage

Digital keyboard manufactured by Clavia

Nord Stage
Nord Stage 88 lowres.jpg

Nord Stage 88

  • 2005–2008 (Nord Stage)
  • 2008–2011 (Nord Stage EX)
  • 2011–2015 (Nord Stage 2)
  • 2015–2017 (Nord Stage 2 EX)
  • 2017–present (Nord Stage 3)
OscillatorSquare, sawtooth, wavetable, FM, modelling, sample
LFOWave, sawtooth
Synthesis typeSample-based synthesis, Physical modeling synthesis, Analog modeling synthesis, FM modeling synthesis
FilterHigh pass, Low pass 12/24, Notch, resonance
Aftertouch expressionYes
Velocity expressionYes
Storage memory400 programs
Effects6 modulations, 6 effects, overdrive, rotary speaker, EQ, delay, compressor, reverb
Keyboard88-key hammer action, 76-key hammer action or 73-key semi weighted
External controlSustain pedal, control / swell, rotary speed

The Nord Stage is a digital keyboard or stage piano, manufactured by Clavia Digital Music Instruments of Stockholm in Sweden. There have been five editions of the instrument; the original Nord Stage in 2005, the Nord Stage EX in 2008, the Nord Stage 2 in 2011, the Nord Stage 2 EX in 2015, and the Nord Stage 3 in 2017.

The Nord Stage follows the success of earlier keyboard instruments from Clavia, and contains similar emulations of vintage electromechanical keyboards such as the Hammond Organ and electric pianos as found on the Nord Electro 2, with additional functionality including a weighted piano-like keyboard on certain models, a synthesizer section based on the Nord Lead, a more versatile organ section and extended effects processing. The Nord Stage is multitimbral, which means it can play more than one sound at once, either by splitting the internal keyboard or connecting an external MIDI controller.

The Nord Stage 2 and 3 also have the ability to play samples, allowing it to reproduce the functionality of a Mellotron or Chamberlin. Individual samples can be downloaded from Clavia's website, and a community has developed that provides new instruments and sounds.


By 2005, Clavia had found commercial success with the Nord Lead synthesizer, which emulated analog synthesis,[1] and the Nord Electro virtual electromechanical keyboard, which emulated the Hammond Organ and Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos.[2] The goal of the Nord Stage was to combine these two technologies together into a flagship instrument.

The Nord Stage was unveiled in April 2005 at the Musikmesse music instrument convention in Frankfurt, Germany.[3] A full-range, 88 weighted key version, the Stage 88, began shipping in July 2005;[4] a 76 weighted key version, the Stage 76, was announced at NAMM in January 2006,[5] and a 73 semi-weighted key version, the Stage Compact, started shipping in August 2006.[6] An expanded version, the Nord Stage EX, was released in November 2008. It included an increased memory size.[7]

A revised edition, the Nord Stage 2 appeared in September 2011,[8] containing an improved synthesizer model and sampler functionality, as seen in the Nord Wave. The three models of the Stage 2 are the HA-88, containing 88 fully weighted keys, the HA-76, containing 76 weighted keys, and the SW-73, containing 73 semi-weighted keys.[9] An updated model, the Stage 2 EX, with extended memory capacity, was announced in 2015.[10]

The Nord Stage 3 series was announced in April 2017. It features doubled memory for the piano section (2 GB) and increased sample memory (480 MB). It also features the Lead A1 synth engine and the C2D organ engine. The models for the Stage 3 are the Nord Stage 3 88, with 88 Hammer Action keys, the smaller and lighter HP 76, with 76 Hammer Action Portable keys, and the Compact, with 73 semi-weighted waterfall keys and, like the Electro 5D, physical drawbars for the organ section.[11]

Like all other Nord keyboards, the Stage's metal panel is bright red, and the Stage also features similar red wood panels to the Nord Electro.[12]

Version Piano sample memory Piano polyphony (stereo/mono) Synth sample memory Synth polyphony Year
Stage 128 MB 40/60 16 2005
Stage EX 256 MB 40/60 16 2008
Stage 2 500 MB 40/60 380 MB 18 2011
Stage 2 EX 1 GB 40/60 380 MB 18 2015
Stage 3 2 GB 120 480 MB 34 2017

Sound sections[edit]

The Nord Stage is divided into three sound groups, the Organ Section, the Piano Section, and the Synthesizer Section. Each section can be played independently or simultaneously, divided into specific key ranges (splitting), and blended with independent volume controls.[12]

Organ section[edit]

The drawbuttons in the Nord Stage's organ section. In this example,
the 16', 5 1/3' and 8' drawbuttons have been "pulled out" fully.

The Nord Stage Organ Section provides physical models of three electric organs – the Hammond B3, the Vox Continental, and the Farfisa Compact. Instead of physical drawbars, the Organ section features "drawbuttons" with a set of red LED strips to indicate the position of each drawbar from 0 (fully in) to 8 (fully out). For the Hammond and Vox organ emulations, pressing the "down" button illuminates more LEDs to visually emulate a drawbar being pulled out, while pressing the "up" button does the reverse. Since a real Farfisa organ selects sounds via rocker tabs instead of drawbars, the drawbuttons behave as tabs when the Farfisa emulation is selected on the Stage. The standard set of Percussion, Chorus and Vibrato settings as found on each of the three organs are available, and a rotary speaker emulation (similar to a Leslie speaker), including speed selection and overdrive, is also available. The Organ section is fully polyphonic. The Stage 3 Compact features physical drawbars, replacing the “draw buttons”. These give the performer much more accurate and responsive real time control of the timbre of the organ sound.[12][13]

Piano section[edit]

The Piano section uses samples of acoustic and electromechanical pianos. The Stage's in-built memory allow multiple sample sets to be installed.[14] While additional sampled piano sets are available as free downloads from Clavia's website, the Stage ships with Yamaha C7 and Steinway Concert Model D grand pianos, Svenska Pianofabriken and Yamaha M5J upright pianos, Yamaha CP80 Electric grand piano, Rhodes Piano, Wurlitzer Electronic Piano, and Hohner Clavinet samples. The Clav EQ buttons allow users to adjust the sound of the Clavinet. Acoustic Piano sounds are stereo samples, which can be switched manually to "Mono Mode", and can be played at 40-note polyphony; electric piano samples are mono and can be played with 60-note polyphony.[12]

Synthesizer section[edit]

The synthesizer panel on a Nord Stage

The Stage Synthesizer combines wavetables with analog oscillators and FM operators. Featuring filter and envelope controls, the Synth Section's timbre knob allows users to move through different sound groups. A number of programs are available to store sounds under three categories – Synth, Pad or Bass.[12] The Synth also includes a 2-band EQ, a glide (portamento) function, and a unison function which is used to thicken the sound. The Synth Section is 16-note polyphonic.[12]

The Nord Stage 2 introduced the additional capability to act as a sampler, playing back pre-recorded instrument sounds. Samples can be downloaded from both Clavia's and other third party websites, and installed using a software application running on a PC or a Mac.[15] Amongst the samples included as standard with the Nord Stage 2 and 3 are those for the Mellotron and Chamberlin tape-based keyboards, which have been exclusively licensed to Clavia.[9] Users can also create their own samples, and load them into the Stage using the tools supplied.[16][17]

External section[edit]

This section, unlike the others, does not directly generate sound. Instead, it allows users to control other gear connected via MIDI. Common parameters such as zone, channel, and volume are controllable from the Stage.[12]

Other features[edit]


The Stage's Effects Section expands on the Electro's effects selection. Included are the Electro's modulation effects (tremolo, auto-pan, ring modulation, auto-wah, and 2 manual wah algorithms), "stomp box" effects (2 algorithms each of phaser (effect), flanger and chorus). The Stage adds a delay module, amplifier modeling (Wurlitzer speaker, Fender Twin Reverb and Roland Jazz Chorus),[18]overdrive, and expands the Electro's 2-band EQ to 3-band. Piano, Organ, and Synth sections can be independently routed through these groups. Two Master Effects are included – a simple compressor, and a 5 algorithm reverb.


Sounds can be stored as Programs, which include the instrument source, effects types, and settings. There are 400 storage locations – 4 banks with 100 programs in each – all of which can be overwritten with user programs. There are 300 independent storage locations for Synth patches.[19]

The Nord Stage is multitimbral – each of the Piano, Organ, and Synth sections can sound independently. There are two Panels – A and B – each of which provides a separate configuration of the three sections within a single Program. Panels can be played independently, with one of the panels being controlled via an external MIDI keyboard controller, or they can be layered together, allowing for a maximum of 6 part multitimbral. Most of the buttons and knobs on the Stage, such as volume, instrument selection, drawbar levels (for organ) or filter controls (for synthesizer) can also be adjusted by the external keyboard.[20]

The left hand side of a Nord Stage 88, showing the custom pitch stick and ceramic wheel controller

Controllers and accessories[edit]

The Nord Stage includes a spring-mounted wooden pitch stick, and a ceramic mod wheel, similar to the Nord Lead and Nord Modular synthesizers.[12]

Many of the parameter knobs are simple potentiometers, however there are several 360-degree lighted rotary encoders. These rotary encoders control parameters that can be "morphed". Morph Grouping is Clavia's technology that allows users to assign multiple parameters to one control, such as the mod wheel, a control pedal, or aftertouch.[21]

The connectors at the back of the Stage allow the connection of a sustain pedal, a swell pedal for organ, a footswitch to select the rotary speaker emulation speed, and a control pedal to modify effects such as wah-wah. A set of screw-in legs are an available option for the 88 and 76 note models[22] and a custom designed soft case is also available from Clavia.[23] A third party company, Ocean Beach Digital, has manufactured a set of MIDI controlled drawbars for the Nord Stage, for users who prefer to use real drawbars instead of the buttons provided as standard.[24]


The Nord Stage 2 received a Platinum award from Future Music magazine (who described it as "A huge upgrade, cementing its status as the most authentic stage piano/organ/synth available"),[15][25] and won the 2011 MIA Award for best hardware,[26] and the 2011 MIPA Award for best Stage Piano.[27]

Derek Sherinian, already well known for using Nord keyboards, started using the Nord Stage 2 in 2011.[28] Other notable musicians who have used the Nord Stage include Little Feat's Bill Payne,[29]Scott Kinsey,[30]The Ark's Jens Andersson (who played a Nord Stage 2 on the band's final tour),[31]Bryan Ferry[32] and Elbow.[33]

Sound on Sound criticised the pitch stick on the Nord Stage, noting its range is permanently fixed to two semitones and cannot be adjusted.[12] Performing Musician magazine felt that the piano sound "is a little uneven in places", particularly towards the lower end, and were concerned it wouldn't work well as a music workstation, describing its External section as "useless in any real-world situation", though they did praise the quality of the organ sounds.[34] Reviewing the Stage 2, Keyboard Magazine criticised the lack of MIDI thru and said "even with dedicated controls for most functions, it can be difficult to grasp at first. The few hardware buttons for changing programs are shared with Live settings." However, they also stated the acoustic pianos sounded "beautiful".[35] Reviewing the Stage 3, Sound on Sound found it a significant upgrade from previous models, though still raised concerns about the high price tag.[36]


External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nord Stage.

Nord Stage 3 Review: An In-Depth Look at the Famous Red Beast

Nord Stage 3 Review

Clavia may not be as well known as the big names, but their Nord instruments easily match up with the likes of Yamaha and Korg.

What’s more, their stage pianos, synthesizers, performance keyboards, and even organs are arguably the best in the business.

The Nord Stage 2 was released 8 full years ago and alongside its successor, the Stage 2 EX, it has become a favorite among performing musicians.

While many performers enjoy the flexibility and customization that comes with workstation keyboards, like Korg’s Kronos and Yamaha’s Montage, Clavia’s main priority with their stage  keyboards has been playability.

This focus has made this keyboard maker a prominent brand.

Though the Stage 2 has formed the basis of many gigging keyboardists’ rigs in the past decade, keyboard tech has evolved significantly since then.

The Stage 2’s piano section was impressive at the time, but the synth and organ sections leave much to be desired today.

Clavia Nord logo

In the years since the Stage 2’s release, Clavia released the Nord C2D organ and the Nord Lead A1 virtual analogue synth.

These became modern classics in their own right and many Stage 2 owners clambered for a new Stage update to include these new sound engines.

The 2015 Stage 2 EX, while a welcome upgrade, did not include the new features.

In 2017, Clavia released the Nord Stage 3, and this time they listened.

The new synth section was ripped wholesale from the A1 and the C2D’s organ engine carried over some noteworthy elements.

Since its release, the Stage 3 has proven to be an excellent stage keyboard and is an instrument many musicians covet.

If the Stage 3 is a tried-and-true workhorse, then why review it? Well, it’s not cheap.

The Nord Stage is a big investment, but do its fancy features justify the cost?

Let’s find out.

Full specs can be found on the Nord official site here.

Check the availability and current price of the Nord Stage 3 in your region:

US: ( What Retailer to Buy From What Retailer to Buy From?As you can see, there are plenty of good places where you can buy this item. My personal favorite is Sweetwater.

Being one of the oldest and most reputable music retailers in the US, it offers exceptional customer service, competitive prices, fast shipping, and overall the best experience I’ve ever had shopping for audio equipment.

Many of my fellow musicians share the same opinion and regard Sweetwater as their go-to music store.)
SweetwaterGuitar CenterAmazon

UK & Europe:
Gear4music Thomann

Variants (73/76/88 keys)

First things first. Let’s describe the 3 main variants of the Nord Stage 3.

The flagship version is the Stage 3 88, which is also the largest.

This full size keyboard features 88 fully weighted hammer action keys. The 88-key version is ideal for piano players, having a full keyboard ranging from A to C.

Nord Stage 3 versions

A more portable version is the Stage 3 HP76.

As the name indicates, it has 76 keys and a lighter action known as Hammer Action Portable. It is marketed towards players who want to increase portability without sacrificing playability. It has a key range from E to G.

Finally, the Stage 3 Compact comes with 73 semi-weighted keys ranging from E to E. It resembles Nord’s C2 organ series and is ideal for organ players.

In fact, this is the only Stage 3 version that comes with physical drawbars, allowing players to take full advantage of the digital organ models on offer.

A quick summary of the dimensions and weight of the three variations is shown below.

Dimensions Stage 3 88 Stage 3 HP76 Stage 3 Compact
Weight 19 kg / 41.8 lbs. 12.5 kg / 27.5 lbs. 10 kg / 22 lbs.
Width 128.7 cm / 50.7" 112.2 cm / 44" 107 cm / 42"
Depth 33.4 cm / 13" 34.7 cm / 13.6" 30.2 cm / 12"
Height 11.8 cm / 4.7" 12.7 cm / 5" 10.4 cm / 4"


Apart from the dimensions, weight, and keyboard style (as well as the Stage 3 Compact’s physical drawbars), there aren’t any differences between the three.

All share the same sound engines, front panel architecture, and build materials.


Nord instruments share the same distinct look, with a striking, bright red livery and solid construction that is Clavia’s signature.

Nord Stage 3 live performance

The Stage 3 shares the same design ethos and is easy to recognize, even from afar. The body features smooth metal all round and feels premium.

While I can’t attest to its durability, an acquaintance of mine’s Stage 2 has survived multiple falls and collisions throughout the years and still functions like new (barring a few dents and scratches). This keyboard is designed to last.

Nord Stage 3 red finish

If you’re unfamiliar with Nord keyboards, you should know that they provide a lot of control.

Everything from their early Nord Lead synthesizers to modern Nord Pianos have front panels with a ton of knobs and buttons.

Depending on your experience with keyboards, this will either be a liberating experience or an extremely daunting one.

For people who are very particular about their sounds, having every specific parameter available at their fingertips is an amazing scenario.

On the other hand, someone who just wants solid sounds out of the box might find the cluttered controls somewhat scary.

Nord Stage 3 front layout

Personally, I’d say stage performers will love this high degree of control. Having things laid out, like on the Stage 3, is extremely helpful.

If you need to tweak your delay times, there’s a knob for that. Need to turn down the reverb intensity? There’s a knob for that as well.

Basically, if you need to do something on the Nord Stage 3, chances are you’ll be able to do it with a simple turn of a knob or press of a button.


If you’ve ever been on stage playing a synth solo that just fails to slice through the mix, you’ll appreciate being able to add some drive or open the filter at will.

The layout is very organized. Everything is right above the keyboard and is separated into specific sections.

These include the Organ, Piano, Synth, and Effects sections, as well as an External section.

We’ll cover the sound engines and effects in detail in the Sound section of this review. For now, just know that the knobs and buttons are tactile and solid.

Everything here feels great. In fact, they feel every bit as good as the knobs and buttons on premium or boutique synths and keyboards.

The simple act of turning the knobs delivers a perfect amount of resistance, making smooth swells and sweeps easy to do.

Nord Stage 3 knobs

The most noticeable improvement over the previous Stage 2 is the inclusion of two OLED displays.

These monochrome displays are placed at the program selection and Synth section of the Stage 3, and are a welcome addition.

The obvious screen use-case of viewing presets is nice. There’s also a new Song mode that makes preset management far more convenient.

On the Synth section, the screen is even more involved and helps you utilize the unique A1 synth engine, which relies heavily on visual feedback.

A common complaint about the Stage 3 and its predecessors is that things aren’t necessarily streamlined.

While you can’t deny the amount of control you will enjoy, many controls are multi-functional, requiring a combined press with a Shift button.

While this is definitely not ideal, it is fairly standard among feature-rich keyboards. Though I can see merit in arguing for arrangement, in use, the controls do make sense.

Making changes on the fly is simple once you get used to the layout. In fact, most features that see regular use are accessible without the Shift key.

Further simplifying things, the design integrates visual cues that help during sound design and set up.

Nord Stage 3 control elements

Keyboard split points are marked with green LEDs, and the same LEDs mark parameters that can be assigned to the Morphing function.

Overall, the control scheme is great, and the screens solve one of the most common navigation complaints from previous models.

Whether you’re designing sounds at home or making tweaks on the fly in a performance, this won’t let you down. Some practice is necessary, but definitely worth it.

I’d say the mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rings true here.

The Stage 2 won the 2011 Musikmesse International Press Award the Best Stage Piano, and the same design is retained here, with small but significant innovations that just make the experience a lot smoother.

The Stage 3 later won the prestigeous TEC Award (Technical Excellence and Creativity) for Best Musical Instrument Hardware 2017, at NAMM Show 2018 in Anaheim, California.


Since the three variants have different keyboard types, we’ll be covering them individually.

Stage 3 88

Nord’s Stage 3 88 shares the same keyboard with the Nord Stage 2 EX. This means you’re getting an 88-key weighted keyboard.

As you may know, Clavia doesn’t make their own keyboard actions.

In many of their fully weighted keyboards, Clavia uses key actions produced by Fatar, an Italian key bed manufacturer.

While I wouldn’t say that Fatar actions are incredibly realistic from a pianist’s perspective, they’re certainly playable and adequate for stage performances.

Most likely, the 88-key version of the Nord Stage 3 uses the Fatar TP/40 key bed used by its predecessor.

Nord Stage 3 88 keys

There’s a natural heft to keypresses, as you’d expect from real concert grands (slightly lighter), but the keys return smoothly and quickly, making swift glides and licks quite playable.

Unlike the Nord Piano 4, which uses a more sophisticated key action with a 3-sensor detection system, Virtual Hammer Technology and a more piano-like feel overall, the Stage 3′ action has a 2-sensor system and feels not as heavy, accommodating organ and synth playing.

If you’ve tried doing organ swipes on heavy weighted keys before, you’ll be happy to know that these keys work fine for that.

Overall, I’m quite happy with how these keys feel, though I can’t say I’m overly impressed by them.

There are definitely digital pianos on the market with a more realistic key action. However, that would make the Stage 3 less versatile and enjoyable to play with tones other than piano.

Stage 3 HP76

The Nord Stage 3 HP76 comes with 76 hammer portable keys. The main difference with these keys is in heft. They feel pretty light and not realistic by any means.

Even so, the instrument is far more portable than the 88-key variant (the P in the name stands for “portable”), with a keyboard weight that’s lower by 6.5 kg.

Nord Stage 3 HP76 keys

While the keys compromise realism, they are still quite playable. Velocity sensitivity remains accurate. After practicing, you can play piano parts in a near-identical fashion to what you’re used to.

Do note that these keys are a bit noisier and feel a bit clunkier, though this really doesn’t matter on stage.

That said, the lighter keys cause increased sensitivity to aftertouch, making expressive synth parts that much easier to play.

I’d say the HP76 is perfectly viable if you’re not a fan of the Stage 3 88’s heavy bulk.

While these keys won’t appeal to everyone, you’ll come around with time. But if portability isn’t a concern, get the 88.

Stage 3 Compact

The Stage 3 Compact comes with 73 semi-weighted waterfall keys. These keys lack the lip commonly seen on grand piano-style keys, making them ideal for quick organ shreds and synth glides.

This is the lightest action of the three variants, and Clavia clearly markets the Compact to organists.

This is even more evident as the Stage 3 Compact is the only Stage 3 variant with physical drawbars. On the other 2 versions, you’re stuck using increase/decrease buttons on the Organ section.

Nord Stage 3 compact 73 keys

These keys are also ideal for synthesizer players, and I personally prefer these to the keys found on the Stage 3 HP76.

Even when playing piano parts, the disregard for realism works out and delivers an enjoyable experience.

Of course, this is coming from the perspective of someone who’s played a ton of digital pianos (as evidenced from the many reviews on this site).

I might be less forgiving to the HP76 due to expectations. So if portability is what you’re after, try both the HP76 and the Compact, then pick what you prefer.

Other Aspects

Apart from the keys, it’s worth noting that Nord keyboards always come with a unique pitch bend and mod wheel.

The pitch bend is handled with a “pitch stick” with a cut-out lip. This is not a standard pitch wheel and will take some getting used to. However, it does excel when used for vibrato and full bends.

The main complaint I have is its small size. There’s not a lot of space between the two extremes, which – depending on your playing style – might be an issue, especially if you incorporate slow bends or halfway bends in your playing.

Nord Stage 3 pitch bend mod wheel

On the other hand, the mod wheel feels excellent. It’s very thin, so you might need time to adapt to it; but it’s solid. There’s a good bit of resistance on it that feels just right, and you can easily make precise changes to any point.

A feature some might be less familiar with is aftertouch, which continues detecting pressure sensitivity even after you’re pressed each key, while the keys are being held down.

A neat example of this is when you link the volume to aftertouch. This allows you to make the sound louder by placing higher pressure on the keys and vice versa.

Overall Thoughts

The keys, regardless of which version you choose, are all quite good.

My complaints mainly stem from the price of the Stage 3. For either version you’re paying a premium, so I expect top-tier components, and the keys are no exception.

Overall, I’d say the Stage 3 88 and the Stage 3 Compact are the ones to look at.

The keys on the 88 may be the definitive experience, while the Compact’s physical drawbars and great waterfall keys make it ideal for organ and synth players.


Since the Nord Stage 3 has 3 main sound engines, we’ll cover each one in a dedicated section.

Piano Section


The Nord Stage 3 has an in-depth piano section. The digital pianos used on the Stage 3 are sample based, so you can swap out the piano samples on demand with a USB connection and provided Nord Sound Manager.

Nord Stage 3 piano section

To store samples, you get 2 GB of memory dedicated to the Piano section.

This comes preloaded with the highly praised Bösendorfer Grand Imperial XL, which is featured on previous Nord Stage iterations, as well as the Nord Piano and Nord Electro.

With the expanded memory, Nord has also included a new “large” piano, the Royal Grand 3D YaS6 XL that takes up much of the memory along with the Grand Imperial XL.

Again, this is a very well-sampled piano with a slightly brighter timbre.

Nord Stage 3 piano panel

Using both the Grand Imperial and the Royal Grand does eat up a ton of memory, so make your choices wisely.

This covers your bread-and-butter grand piano sounds and is well sampled all round, with nicely simulated velocity transitions and string resonances.

Update June 2019. Nord just introduced their new flagship grand piano sound called the White Grand, which became the largest XL sound available in the Nord Piano Library.

Check out the video below to see how the White Grand sounds (spoiler: incredible).

At the same time, there’s an impressive suite of various sampled pianos, including some well-known grand piano models like the Steinway Model D, Yamaha C7, Kawai SK-7, Fazioli, plus some nice upright pianos.

The 2 GB of space limit means you’ll need to pick and choose.

Thankfully, each of these piano libraries come in 4 different sizes (XL, L, M, S), which are conveniently available for download on Nord’s website.

The XL samples have the most detail, with a fully mapped keyboard and string resonance samples.

As you move towards the Small samples, you lose detail, but available samples are still multi-sampled with detailed velocity mapping.

You can mix and match pianos of different sizes to adapt to your needs.

The XL samples are the best and sound amazing even in solo work. The rest of the samples are good enough when used in a band context and are great for layering as well.

Below you can listen to all the grand pianos available from the Nord Piano Library (all the tested sounds are XL):

Of course, you are missing out on some of the more detailed piano simulation options, such as those from Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine, but the base samples here are excellent.

Many critics agree that these are some of the best grand piano samples on the market, so you’ll get your money’s worth.

  • Here are 9 grand piano tones that come preloaded on the Nord Stage 3:
  • Royal Grand 3D YaS6 (XL) — sampled from the Yamaha S6
  • Grand Imperial Bdorf (XL) — sampled from the Bösendorfer Imperial
  • Grand Lady D Stw D (Lrg) — sampled from the Steinway Model D
  • Italian Grand Faz (Lrg) — sampled from a Fazioli Grand
  • Velvet Grand Model1 (Lrg) — sampled from the Blüthner Model 1
  • Silver Grand SK7 (Lrg) — sampled from the Kawai SK7
  • Studio Grand 2 YaC7 (Lrg) — sampled from the Yamaha C7
  • Bright Grand YaS4 (Lrg) — sampled from the Yamaha S4
  • E.Grand 3 Mono CP80 Amped (Sml) — sampled from the Yamaha CP80

For electric pianos, you get two main sets – tines (which include the Rhodes Mk I, Mk II, and Mk V) and reeds (your Wurlitzers). I’m satisfied with all the offerings from this section.

All the samples are great bases to build on, and the effects section really helps them shine. Adding some subtle tremolo and rotary cabinet simulation to the mix delivers excellent results.

Clavinets are included and sampled with good detail, having 8 selectable pickup combinations.

The uneven sampling rears its head here, but running these through the amp section delivers the bite you’d expect from a real Clavinet.

For most people, this is more than enough to cover their needs, but purists may feel slightly disappointed with the lack of options.

Finally, harpsichords include French and Italian variants sampled in different variations.

These are well done and I’m particularly impressed with the realistic release tails, something most included harpsichord sounds fail to achieve.

For polyphony, you get a solid 120 notes, good enough to cover classical pieces with no cutoffs.

Overall, these pianos are very good – and some are exceptional; there are gems in every section.

I’d suggest using the Sound Manager software to remove the sounds you don’t like after giving them a try. If you’re planning to use the Stage 3 for piano playing, you’re good to go.

Controls and Specific Features

The main complaint I have about the Stage 3 is that you need the Nord Triple Pedal to get pedal noise, half-pedaling, sostenuto, and other ‘soft’ functions.

This adds several hundreds to the MSRP, which feels painful considering the high price of the instrument already.

Another complaint I remember from the Stage 1 EX era was the sample release times. This was fixed with a Long Release option that is on by default.

This is also helpfully restricted to this section, meaning your organ and synth sounds retain sharp and precise release times, which can be turned off at will.

Nord Stage 3 main display

In terms of touch sensitivity, you get 3 main settings. You can also edit the sensitivity in detail, through the menus, if you need specific values.

Finally, a small but helpful addition is the piano filters. You access this function via the clavinet pickup switch. It is essentially a tuned EQ for your piano.

You get 3 settings: soft, mid, and bright, which give an increasingly bright piano sound with emphasized treble.

This seems like a minor addition, but its surprisingly intuitive, allowing you to inject some brightness to your solo immediately, or salvage a bad stage mix with a few quick button presses.

Organ Section


Nord Stage 3 organ section

Most people considered the Stage 2’s Organ section to be its weakest part (though still definitely serviceable).

With the Stage 3, Clavia listened and delivered a stripped-down Nord C2D organ engine and with corresponding algorithms.

The models on offer here include classics like the Hammond, Vox Continental, and Farfisa. These will be familiar names to people who’ve owned previous Nords.

The Hammond nails the sound of the B2 almost perfectly, containing the “click-ey” keys, percussive elements and authentic chorus and vibrato effects.

Many Hammond fanatics have praised Nord’s implementation, so this will probably be your main organ choice.

Nord Stage 3 organ panel

The Vox Continental and Farfisa models are also good but are often criticized for being unrealistic.

The emulation lacks the aggressive drive of the real model and uses a different drawbar configuration.

While you can use the amp section to add the bite, it’s less than ideal (for reasons that will be explained in the Effects section).

The new additions are two pipe organs. Pipe 1 is not the most impressive, sounding synthetic rather than realistic. Even Clavia describes this as a B3 organ, minus the artifacts and digital simulations.

Pipe 2 is where its at, sounding very genuine.

Overall, the organs sound good. Though I’m not too particular with authenticity, these sounds work great for what they’re designed to do and will satisfy most organists regardless of preference.

I find myself turning to the Hammond model for most uses, a sentiment shared by other Nord Stage users. Whether you’re doing Jazz or Rock, these organs have you covered.

Controls and Specific Features

The controls are far more involved than in the Piano section.

The most defining feature of this section is the drawbars (digital or physical depending on model).

The button-based digital drawbars are decently tactile and allow you to make quick changes easily during play.

The physical drawbars are superior in this regard, though their digital counterparts are still very usable.

There’s a dedicated vibrato and chorus on this section and each comes in 3 models. You can’t change much here, but each has a pleasing character that adds to the organ sounds.

Much like the Piano section’s Long Decay, you get 3 options in the Percussion section. These buttons allow you top toggle softer volume, a faster decay, and the third harmonic.

I tend to retain the presets since I’m not an organ maestro, though the options are there for sound designers.

I discuss the Rotary effect in the Effects section below, as it can be used by all sound generators.

Synth Section


As someone who loves Nord Lead series, I’m very impressed with the new Synth section. The synth section is a carbon copy of the Nord Lead A1 synthesizer.

For synth aficionados, this is purely digital, as is every other synth from Nord.

Nord Stage 3 synth section

Despite not being analogue, just know that its cut from the same cloth as the Nord Lead 4 synthesizer, which is well known for being one of the best virtual analogue synths available.

The A1 synthesizer doesn’t follow conventional synthesizer structure, but if you’ve got experience, it’s not hard to grasp.

The synth begins with a harmonically rich oscillator as the sound source; this then goes through the filter, which cuts certain frequencies; and finally it goes through an amplifier, which allows you to shape the attack, decay, and release of the sound.

Add a dose of modulation and effects, and congrats – you’ve got a fascinating sound!

While this is a simplified description of subtractive synthesis, simplicity is the focus of the A1 synth.

Nord Stage 3 synth panel

The main section that defines the A1 synth engine is the Oscillators. They don’t limit you to the typical Saw, Square, Triangle, and Sine waves.

Instead, you get the option of using classic analog waveforms, additive Waves, chorused S-Waves, vowel F-Waves, and samples.

You can load up to 480 Mb of your own samples via the Nord Sample Manager.

Highlights here include sampled Mellotron sounds, which, when combined with the filters, give a very realistic approximation of the real deal.

Speaking of the samples, there’s a lot on offer here. Orchestral strings, brass, winds, and choirs are included right off the bat. These are excellent both for playing and layering alike.

To check out all the samples that come preloaded on the Stage 3 follow this link.

Nord Stage 3 samples

S-Waves are new to the Stage series and are a good emulation of the classic Roland Supersaw and Access Virus TI sound, something notably missing previous Nord Stage keyboards.

If you were always missing that ubiquitous Avicii-style synths or lush synth strings, then these have you covered.

You can choose from 12 oscillator configurations, which include the following:

  • Single oscillator
  • Mix – both oscillators are independent and can be balanced
  • Detune – 2nd oscillator is a detuned copy of 1st oscillator
  • 2 variants of Mix Noise
  • Oscillator Sync
  • 2 and 3 operator frequency modulation (FM) synthesis
  • Ring modulation (RM)
  • Amplitude modulation (AM)

Each oscillator configuration has a specific controllable parameter. While this isn’t a lot of control, it does provide a simple way to experiment.

With the release of the Nord Lead A1, Nord reps said that the synth was designed for novices who wanted flexibility without too much underlying complexity. I’d say this definitely achieves that goal.

Polyphony-wise, bring digital has its perks, and you’re getting 34-voice polyphony, which is more than enough to cover huge pads and synth strings without cutting off.

The single multi-mode filter has 6 main types:

  • 24dB/oct ‘classic M’ filter – Moog-style transistor ladder filter
  • Clavia 24dB/oct filter
  • Clavia 12db/oct filter
  • High-pass filter
  • Band-pass filter
  • Parallel LP/HP filter

Note that the first 5 types are capable of self-resonance, allowing for ringing oscillation when the resonance control is pushed.

Speaking of ‘pushed,’ three levels of overdrive are available on the filter. This is a simple way of adding some subtle (or not so subtle) saturation to your sounds.

The main modulation sources for the filter are the dedicated low-frequency oscillator (LFO), and either the velocity or the modulation envelope.

Common ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) envelopes are missing, and you get ADR and ASR envelopes instead.

The Mod Envelope controls a parameter determined by the oscillator configuration and the filter cutoff frequency. The other Amp Envelope controls the output levels.

What is ADSR envelope

The envelopes range from a snappy 3 milliseconds to a drawn-out 45 seconds. This means everything from percussive basses to atmospheric pads is covered.

Not only that, these envelopes are velocity sensitive, allowing you to add further expressivity.

Finally, you get a Unison mode that adds 1, 2, or 3 additional detuned sounds to the mix, giving an even richer, wider sound.

In terms of sound, I’m was quite impressed with the A1 on release, and this is coming from someone who uses a rack-mount Nord Lead Rack 2 regularly, a rack with many more features.

Despite these limitations, the simplicity encourages experimentation. The highlights are the oscillators, which are very flexible and allow you to dial in diverse tones with minimal effort.

I had a blast designing sounds on this synth, and the presets are good, too.

This section is the highlight of all the sound modules, and I’m sure even absolute beginners will be able to create custom sounds with ease.

While you might lament the fact that this isn’t analogue, the Nord series has proved to be one of the most flexible, whether as virtual analogue or unabashedly digital.

Controls and Specific Features

The synth comes in polyphonic, monophonic retriggering, and monophonic legato modes and has a basic glide control for adding portamento to your sounds.

Apart from that, there’s an arpeggiator with Up, Down, Up/Down, and Random configurations.

The arpeggiation can also be used across 1-4 octaves, and you can choose for the arpeggiator to keep on ruing even after you’ve released the keys.

Nord Stage 3 arpeggiator

This is standard enough, though I find it helpful that you can now link the arpeggiator rate to the master clock, which means you’ll always keep tempo.

The same is true for the LFO modulator, which can have a manual rate or be synced to the master clock.

The single LFO might feel limiting, especially since it only offers 5 waveforms, though Sample and Hold (S&H) is included.

Having only 2 destinations (oscillator and filter cutoff) is also a bummer.

Finally, there’s a vibrato control that you can delay or link to the mod wheel or aftertouch.

The delayed option is welcome and will be appreciated by players who like adding tension to their transitions.

The Morph mode can be assigned to the LFO rate, arpeggiator rate, filter modulation, and oscillator modulation with the morph mode.

This is where it shines, as you can easily inject a lot of personality into an otherwise static sound with a few quick assignments.

Overall, the controls follow through with the Nord Lead A1’s promise of simplicity. Most standard functions are available on demand without complicated menus. It’s easy to use during sound design and performances.


Most performance keyboards and workstations include onboard effects. The Nord Stage 3 is unique because it places the controls on the front panel, reducing the need for menu diving.

Nord Stage 3 effects section

The major upgrade from the Stage 2 is that effects are independent on your A and B panels, which adds to the flexibility of your presets.

However, each effect section is still limited to a single sound source (i.e. you can only link the Rotary Cabinet simulation to the Organ section, Piano section or Synth section, but not more than one).

The only exception to this rule is the Compressor and Reverb sections, which are applied across all sounds.

While you can still layer different sounds with different effect settings using the A/B panel, you cannot, say, use a delay for the Piano and Synth section simultaneously on a single Panel.

I’d say this is where the biggest limitations lie.

Nord Stage 3 effects panel

Rotary Section

No organ emulation would be complete without a rotary speaker effect. The Stage 3 comes with a basic but pleasing emulation from the Nord C2D digital organ.

You can now independently affect the speed and acceleration parameters for the horn and rotor, as well as the distance of the virtual mic.

Do note that this is the one effect you can’t adjust between panels, so you’ll be restricted to the current speed settings across the A and B panels.

Nord Stage 3 rotary effect

The cool thing about this rotary speaker is that you can link its speed to the Morph controls.

Linking the speed of the rotary speaker to aftertouch allows you an extra layer of expressiveness, enabling you to control the speed of the ‘rotation’ by changing how hard you’re pressing down on the keys.

Apart from that, you get a basic drive control on the rotary module, which allows you to add the bite you’d expect from legitimate Farfisa and Vox organs. Again, there isn’t much for control, but it does sound like a pleasing tube-based distortion.

Do note that the rotary module isn’t limited to the Organ section. The same effect can be applied to the Piano and Synth sections as well.

Effects 1 Section

The 1st effects section covers the following types:

  • Tremolo
  • Ring Modulator
  • Auto Panner
  • Wah-wah
  • 2 variants of Auto Wah

These effects cover the more experimental and niche styles, though I find myself using the Panning and Tremolo effects a lot with the Piano section, particularly on electric piano sounds.

Nord Stage 3 effect 1 section

Control-wise, you get a basic Rate and Amount control, and the rate can be linked to the master clock, which is perfect for the tremolo and auto panner.

Similarly, both controls can be linked to the Morph control, enabling further expressiveness.

Effects 2 Section

Nord Stage 3 effect 2 section

This section covers the following effects:

  • Flanger
  • 2 Phasers
  • 2 Choruses
  • Vibe

This section takes care of stereo-focused effects, and I really did wish I could use these on more than one sound generation section.

The choruses in particular are very nice in subtle amounts and can add a lot to slow organs, ballad pianos, and lush synths.

While you may find the Rate and Amount controls somewhat lacking, I’m fine with that since the base algorithms here are tuned nicely.

Delay Section

Delay is an essential part of most songs, making the detailed Stage 3 Delay section very welcome.

Nord Stage 3 delay

The Stage 3 improves upon previous models by adding tempo sync and analogue-modeling to the mix, both of which are helpful upgrades.

Changing the tempo (or falling out of tempo!) on the Stage 2 was tedious. Yet thanks to the new master clock sync and tap tempo buttons, it’s easy to get back on track.

If you prefer a manual rate setting, that’s still available.

The analog mode comes in the form of a filter (High, Low, and Bandpass) that affects individual echoes.

People expecting tape-style echoes will be disappointed, though these filters are the same analogue-style filters you get on the Synth section, providing a bit of warmth to the delayed repeats.

A Ping Pong delay toggle, Feedback, and Dry/Wet mix control complete the section. The tempo, feedback, and mix control can be linked to the Morph mode.

Overall, this is a simple yet flexible delay, a solid addition to the Stage 3. It’s just disappointing that you can use this section on a single sound source.

Amp Sim Section and EQ

The amp sim section is fairly straightforward and comes in the following varieties:

  • Small Amp – Wurlitzer 200A internal speaker emulation
  • JC – Roland Jazz Chorus speaker cabinet speaker emulation with tube pre-amps
  • Twin – Emulation of classic Fender Twin tube amplifier and speaker cabinet

When active, you can tweak the Drive knob to affect the gain of the tube preamps. This parameter can be Morphed.

If no amp models are selected, the Drive control adds tube overdrive without the corresponding speaker simulation.

Nord Stage 3 EQ Amp simulation

The EQ section is standard and has Treble, variable Mid (with modifiable frequency), and Bass controls, ranging from -15 dB to +15 dB. These are particularly helpful for cutting out muddy frequencies and emphasizing specifics.

While I could complain about the limitations yet again, the addition of a Piano Filters section helps remedy the 1-sound source limit a lot.

You no longer need to devote this EQ section to achieve the bright highs of a piano. I’ll give Clavia a pass on this, though more flexibility would be welcome.

The new addition here is the inclusion of the LP24 and HP24 filters, which are similar to the 24dB per-octave filters in the Synth section.

When active, the Mid and Bass controls become frequency, resonance, and a mix control, giving a way to emphasize frequencies while injecting extra warmth.

For personal use, I find this section goes to the Synth section, being used to clear out the muddy lows from the more complex waveforms.

However, if you’re using a preset dedicated to a single sound, the 3-band EQ remains a welcome addition.


This section has always been basic, even since the Stage 2, but it delivers disco/dance style pianos so effectively that I can’t help but love it.

The addition of a Fast mode may appeal to dance musicians who like the pumping effect, though I’m not exactly a fan. Your mileage may differ.

A singular amount control is not much to work with, though the standard attack and release times seem short, nearing limiter levels. For that classic M1-style piano though, this is just right.

The main problem here is that the effect is applied across all 3 sounds, which isn’t always ideal if you only want the reduced dynamics on a specific section.


The reverb remains the same from previous Stage models and comes with 6 algorithms:

I’m somewhat disappointed that there’s only a Dry/Wet mix knob here. You can’t modify the size, pre-delay, damping, or character of the reverb.

Nord Stage 3 compressor reverb

This feels like a missed opportunity, especially since the Stage 3 is competing with full-fledged workstations due to its price.

Also, this is shared across all sound sources, which could be good or bad depending on the needs of the song.

I liked the simple settings of the Stage 2, but it’s been half a decade since then and even cheap practice keyboards give you more than the Dry/Wet mix.

That said, it’s hard to deny the quality of the algorithms here.

Most people will probably be satisfied with what’s available, though as someone who’s used to more control during performances, I can’t help but want a little more.

A nitpick is that the Reverb gets applied pre-Rotary, which means you lose out on the room mic component of the Rotary speaker, which is awkward.

My recommendation? Get a dedicated reverb unit if you’re planning to use the rotary and reverb on the same sound.

Externals Section

This is low-key my favorite part of the Stage 3. This section allows you to integrate separate equipment into your performances with ease, which means you can use soft synths, rack-mount modules, and other keyboards by connecting them to the Stage 3.

Nord Stage 3 extern section

Thanks to the many connectivity options on the Stage 3, the external modules receive MIDI, MIDI Continuous Controllers (CC), and MIDI Program Change (PC) signals.

This integrates beautifully with the preset changing and Song mode on the Stage 3, making things as seamless as possible.

At the same time, you can also send the Master Clock signal through here and nearly every voicing parameter on the Stage 3 can be modulated via external MIDI CC.

As someone who found the limited amount of modulation sources restrictive, being able to link this to Ableton Live for more control was greatly appreciated.

It might seem cumbersome to work with this section at first, but once everything is set up, integrating the rest of your gear is a breeze.

Using the Stage 3’s keys (instead of moving around to access another MIDI keyboard) is something many performing keyboardists will enjoy.

Other Features

Since the Stage 3 offers so many features, there are more that aren’t related to the sound modules.


The Stage 3 allows you to split sounds across 4 sections of the keyboard. The splits are helpfully highlighted with green LEDs, so you won’t get confused when switching through presets and panels.

While this is very convenient, there is an issue. The splits are limited to specific points on the keyboard (10), so you can’t assign other keys as split points. This is one of the biggest Stage 3 drawbacks.

As a solution to the problem, Clavia implemented gradual splits rather than the abrupt splits you’d see on other keyboards.

This means you get 3 options for each split point: the classic abrupt, a small gradual, and a large gradual split.

Nord Stage 3 split morph

With a gradual split, the sound doesn’t just change when you pass the split point.

For a small gradual split, the sound on the left gradually grows softer 5-keys before the split point, as the next sound introduces slowly.

The large variant is the same, only spanning a full octave rather than 5 semitones.

This is a helpful inclusion, especially when you’re playing solos, though I can’t help but feel that a more detailed splitting option would be superior.

Nord Stage 3 side view

Regardless, having 4 sections is nice and is more than enough. If you want, you can use the 3 sound modules and an external unit on the same full-range keyboard with no overlaps.

Overall, it’s a decent system, though being able to use specific split points would definitely be better.


Morphing has been a common feature on most Nord keyboards and it’s present here as well.

Assigning morphs is simple. The Stage 3’s assignable parameters are marked with a LED below. You only need to hit the corresponding Morph Assign button.

You can assign morphing to the mod wheel, aftertouch, or a connected expression pedal. These assignments are easy to do and you can assign a minimum and maximum value to each parameter.


We’ve been referring to the A and B panels a lot because they are essentially a quick switch between two states of the keyboard.

At its core, this is a way of switching between two different setups with dedicated Organ, Piano, Synth, and external settings.

While this is the standard use case, you can also use the two panels simultaneously, using the other panel’s same section to layer sounds.

This gives you multitimbral synths and detuned pianos – even dual-manual organs.

Nord Stage 3 panels A and B

It might be better to consider the B panel as entirely separate from the A panel, as you can even set a certain sound section to be triggered via external MIDI so you can mix in more MIDI controllers.

The main limitation here is that both panels share the same zone splitting configuration. On the bright side, this means less confusion, though it also means reduced flexibility.

The panel features here are very involved. Once you grasp all the intricacies, you’ll be able to set things up your way. While this requires a lot of effort, the flexibility is worth it.

For example, you can have an external MIDI keyboard triggering the Synth section on Panel B, while you play your own synth section on Panel A using the Stage 3’s keys.

This is a basic example, but it shows how powerful the panels system can be with the right setup.

To get a better understanding of how layers and splits work on the Stage 3, I highly recommend checking out the video below:

Program Management

There are two ways to access your designed sounds – through the standard Program mode or through the newly introduced Song mode.

Program mode has a total of 16 program banks (labeled A-P), split into 5 pages of 5 programs each.

This is a typical method of navigating presets that is made somewhat easier with List control, by which you move through banks rather than individual presets. Props to Clavia for organizing sounds into categories that make sense, too.

12 banks are already taken by the factory presets, which you can change and modify depending on your needs.

Check out the video below to listen to all the factory presets on the Nord Stage 3:

If, at some point, you want to restore the program memory to its original state, you can easily do that by downloading the original program banks from Nord’s website.

There are also 4 empty banks (100 program slots) where you can store your own programs.

Song mode is a welcome addition, enabling you to use programs from Program mode in self-designed sets, which is ideal for performances involving various songs with differing sound sets.

Do note that the programs are shared in their entirety, so any changes you make will apply across both the initial program and the corresponding song mode copy.

Nord Stage 3 Programs and Songs

Seamless Switching

Normally, when you switch through sounds on a keyboard, the previous sound cuts out abruptly. However, the Stage 3 enables the previous sound to keep on ringing, even after a program change.

While this seems like a small deal, it’s terrific for songs that require switching programs mid song, making the transitions less jarring.

If you’re a happy owner of the Nord Stage 3 / Electro 5/6 (or you’re considering to buy it), I highly recommend checking out the MyKeysToMusic YouTube channel.

It shares a lot of actionable advice on how to use your Nord keyboard most effectively and unleash its full potential.

Marc (the host of the channel) also offers comprehensive video training for those who want to learn the fundamentals of using Nord keyboards and synthesizers in general.


As you would expect from a stage performance keyboard, the Nord Stage 3 offers a full suite of connectivity options. That said, there’s a few omissions I don’t prefer.

Nord Stage 3 back panel

Four standard 1/4” Line Out jacks offer four audio channels. By default, channels 1/2 cover your main stereo outputs. You can configure channels 3/4 to separate sound sources from the internal system menu.

You can also opt for sounds to output in mono. This isn’t ideal, though the biggest flaw of this system is that you essentially have only 2 stereo outputs.

Dedicated outs for all 6 sound sources (across both panels) would definitely be ideal. That said, channels 1/2 are sufficient for standard use.

A 1/4” stereo headphone jack outputs the same signal as channels 1/2 and can be used for monitoring.

For pedals, you get an Organ Swell jack, a Control Pedal jack (for your expression pedal), and a Sustain Pedal jack.

You lose out on half-pedaling and pedal noise if without Nord’s dedicated 3-pedal setup.

Nord Stage 3 jacks ports

A new inclusion is the Program Up/Down pedal jack, which allows you to move through programs with a dedicated 2-button pedal.

If you need to switch through many sounds throughout a song, you’ll love this feature, since you won’t need to stop playing. We’ve provided a 2-button pedal recommendation in the Accessories section of the review.

A 1/8” Monitor-In jack is included as well that sends the signal to channels 1/2. You can also use this input for smartphones, music players, and metronomes for practice purposes.

Since this “monitor signal” routes through the main outputs, I found it more ideal to use as an additional sound source input.

I used this to integrate my Korg Electribe Sampler without conversions (as the Electribe has a 1/8” headphone out), and you can also directly connect your laptops here to save a mixer slot.

Speaking of connecting to laptops, there’s a USB Type B port that supports MIDI (but not audio).

The main reason for connecting to your computer will be for software updates and for using Nord’s Sound Manager and Sample Editor. These programs are how you load your custom samples for the Synth section and pianos for the Piano section.

Nord Stage 3 connectors

If you’ve got external gear, know that the MIDI In/Out jacks use standard 5-pin connectors.

Note that MIDI-through-USB and the MIDI jacks are identical, so the CC64 on both control the same parameter (in this case, Sustain).

Speaking of CCs, you can control parameters with MIDI CC signals.

If you’ve got external envelope generators or LFOs, or even extra modulation sources, you can use these to control individual parameters.

The manual gives the full list, and there’s a total of 119 parameters to modulate.

Like I said, you get a full suite of connections. I only wish they had dedicated outputs for each individual section, though that’s just me wanting more control.

What you get is already more than sufficient, and sometimes limitations force you to balance your sounds well (your mix engineer will thank you!).

Nord Sound Manager

Nord sound manager

This is an essential part of the Nord Stage experience, as it allows you to do the following:

  • Manage programs, presets, and songs
  • Manage piano sounds for the Piano section
  • Manage samples for the Synth section
  • Back up programs to your computer
  • Back up bundles containing programs and their associated samples
  • Back up your full instrument
  • Restore your instrument with a backup file

This program is available for OS X and Windows and features a simple, straightforward user interface.

I highly recommend loading your own samples or those made by other users.

There’s a huge community of not just Nord Stage users, but sampler users, out there, and there are a ton of well-designed and exotic one-shot samples that work great with the Synth section’s sample functionality.

Nord Sample Editor

If you’re going to load your own samples into the Stage 3, you’ll need the Nord Sample Editor to convert them to the new NSMP 3.0 format.

Nord sample editor

This allows you to tweak the sound and set loop points, pitch, and level. The program automatically maps your samples to the keys that correspond to their pitch, making the process a breeze.

This program is available on OS X and Windows and requires the keyboard to be connected.

Since you’re limited to a maximum of 480Mb in sample storage, a tracker shows how much space remains.


  • The Nord Stage 3 comes with the following accessories:
  • Nord Sustain Pedal (88 and HP76 only)
  • Dust Cover (88 and HP76 only)
  • Nord Piano Library DVD
  • User Manual
  • USB Type B Connector
  • AC Adapter

The included sustain pedal is a full-sized pedal that doesn’t support half-pedaling. As previously stated, you’ll probably want the Nord 3-pedal unit to fully maximize the Piano section’s capabilities.

Nord Stage 3 accessories

The Nord Piano Library DVD comes with a decent selection of pianos, as well as the necessary software (Nord Sound Manager) to load them onto your keyboard. You can download more sounds from the provided Nord links, too.

The included USB cord is mainly used to update the OS, though it can also be used for USB MIDI computer connections after the fact. A warning accompanies the shipping that tells you to update the OS immediately to keep things up to date.

Finally, the AC adapter will be region-specific, so be sure to check if your AC mains match the voltage rating on the adapter, especially if you’re buying used.

The internal transformers might not match your country’s values, so be sure to check this before turning on the system.

A stand is not included, though it is compatible with most stands on the market.

Since the external section encourages the use of external sound sources, you might consider a multi-keyboard stand.

The following are some recommended purchases to enhance and complete your Stage 3 experience.

Music Rest

The Nord Stage 3 doesn’t come with a music stand. If you play classical music and want to be able to conveniently put music sheets in front of you, you’ll have to invest in the Nord Music Stand, which is sold separately.


When it comes to keyboard stands, there are usually two ways you can go.

One is to consider a wooden furniture-style stand, which would be a good option if you’re going to use your instrument mainly at home and want something sturdy and nice-looking.

For their 88-key instruments, Nord designed the Nord Wood Keyboard Stand, which looks and feels luxurious but so is the price.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to spend that kind of money on a stand, especially considering that there are so many quality generic X- and Z-style stands out there, which cost only a fraction of what you’d pay for the Nord furniture-style stand.

Here are a few generic keyboard stands that I recommend:

Nord Triple Pedal

Clavia’s main triple pedal lets you access the otherwise hidden pedal noise features of the Stage 3. For authentic sounding pianos, this is a must.

The price is not cheap, adding a few hundred dollars to the MSRP.

The sostenuto and soft pedals also come with this pedal, enabling you to play classical pieces.

Unfortunately, the pedal noise is exclusive to this pedal, especially since most keyboards and software VSTs achieve the same effect with third-party pedals.

Regardless, if you’re not particular about minute details like pedal noise, feel free to skip this.

2-Button Footswitch Pedal

These might uncommon with piano players, but guitarists know about 2-button footswitches.

The Stage 3 allows program switching with a 2-button footswitch and most guitar footswitches work with this.

If you’re looking for value, the Peavy multi-purpose 2-button footswitch is cheap and solid. Despite being made for Peavy’s guitar amps, it works fine through the Stage 3’s Program Up/Down jack.

For a more advanced and substantial 2-button footswitch, check out the Boss FS-6 and Boss FS-7.

Expression Pedal

The Organ Swell and Control Pedal jacks are designed to work with an expression pedal.

Depending on your style of play, an expression pedal might not be needed, though I find having an extra mod wheel that doesn’t require my hands is quite helpful, especially for organ and synth pad playing.

There are many expression pedals out there. However, unlike sustain or damper pedals, most should work fine since they all follow the same principles and design.

If you’re looking for a high-quality expression pedal, I recommend the Moog EP-3 expression pedal, which is very well-built and responsive.

The Yamaha FC7 is another great option, which is considered an industry standard.

Gig Bag/Case 

Since the Nord Stage 3 is a very popular gigging keyboard, chances are you’ll want to move it around from time to time.

In that case, you’ll want to ensure easy and safe transportation for such a high-end instrument, which can be tricky considering the size and weight of the Stage 3, especially its 88-key version.

Nord offers a few soft cases designed specifically for their keyboards. Depending on the length of your keyboard, you’ll need a different case.

While they are robust and high-quality just like Nord instruments themselves, they are quite expensive and, in my opinion, are slightly overpriced.

I recommend taking a look at Gator soft and hard (for long-distance travel) cases that are very well-regarded in the music community and are extremely durable.

Just check the dimensions of your Nord keyboard and see what Gator case will fit best (see the dimensions specified in the description for each keyboard case):

External Amplification

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  2. Private fishing charters ventura ca
  3. Unifi dream machine bridge mode
  4. Detroit 60 series turbo actuator

Synth Section Programmability

The Synth Section of the Stage 3 is quite clearly the most noticeable upgrade to the sound generating sections and will no doubt be the focus of a number of future articles. Based on the analogue modelling of the Lead A1, but with sample integration, the Synth Section not only sounds brilliant but provides incredibly fast, hands-on control.  Thanks to Oscillator configurations (and the new OLED display) programming experimentation is positively encouraged!   There's a little learning curve as the synth does so much in a relatively small space, but it's clearly a continuation of Nord's awareness that speed of programming is critical to the professional players likely to own them in that almost everything can be done directly from the front panel.

Super Waves

As part of the Stage 3's new Oscillator Section there is a category of oscillator called Super Wave (S-wave).  They are specifically designed to sound super fat. And they do.  We can't wait to let you hear them!

The Piano Section has its own 'Piano Filters'

Nord's Piano Library is unsurpassed in the' variety of piano samples available - the sheer characterfulness is breathtaking across it's Grand Pianos, Uprights and Electric Pianos.  To further fine-tune those pianos, the Stage 3 now features new Piano Filters that can adapt the sonics of each piano from Soft to Brilliant.  It allows the sound to be further tuned to your taste, with the Brilliant setting really allowing the Piano to cut through a busy mix. 

Reverb is pre-Rotary

The Stage 3's Organ section as a whole is now based on the flagship C2D Organ modelling.  And it sounds stunning.  For players predominantly using the Stage 3 for organ sounds, the Stage 3 Compact now comes with Physical Drawbars (as well as the lighter action 'Waterfall' keybed).  Its vintage-modelled Rotary Simulator has also been upgraded and, as an additional enhancement, any Reverb is pre-Rotary. This produces a really lovely result which Nord say has been a request of many organ players.

4 Zones

The Stage 3's keyboard can now be split into 4 Zones (rather than 3 on the Stage 2 / EX). Split points are still defined from a choice of set locations. Some have requested the ability to split at any point but Nord point to the huge benefit to a live musician of having  the LED lights above the keybed which indicate where the split points are set - it means no more remembering or guessing where the keyboard may be split. The LEDs are visible on a dark stage too.

Split Point Crossover

Also newly added is a great feature allowing the ability to "cross-fade" at split points. This means that sounds can fade across the split points rather than be a hard split.  In action this means there's not a jump between sounds but a smooth transition.  There are a couple of curves to choose from, or of course can be turned off to act as a 'normal' hard split.  It's brilliantly musical for certain applications - definitely something we encourage you to try once you get your hands on a Stage 3!


Whilst the Stage 3 doesn't use the Triple Sensor keybed of the Piano 3 (due to the fact that the Stage 3 has AfterTouch), Nord say the structural support for the keybed has been improved which results in a more solid feel at the bottom of the key-press with less mechanical noise overall. This is indeed true and is a nice improvement.

Nord Stage 3 - Official demo

Nord Stage 3 Review 2021: When in Doubt, Wear Red

The Nord Stage 3 is the fifth generation of the wildly popular Stage series made by Clavia Digital Music Instruments of Stockholm in Sweden [1, 2].

The first model in this series, the Stage Compact was introduced in 2005. Since then, a lot of bands and other artists have started using – and bragging about – the Nords as they have proven to be utterly reliable, easily portable, and very flexible performance instruments.

As the name suggests, the Nord “Stage” series is designed with the touring musician in mind, and it is at home on the stage. As it doesn’t have onboard speakers, it really isn’t designed with the pianist at home in mind, and its ultimate design and features speak best to those who require a capable instrument that can be lugged around. The design is lightweight, but the designers have managed to pack a full size, fully weighted 88-key keyboard in the cabinet, and the action really is top-of-the-line.

It has a colorful, modern design, but it doesn’t conform to general ideas of what a traditional piano aesthetic should look like – so this is NOT your average-joe piano.

The Nord Stage 3 is the flagship of Clavia’s stage series, and it features award-winning technologies, including an enhanced piano section and several hands-on effects. The Lead A1 Synth Engine is also the cream of the crop, and one of the best features of this versatile keyboard.

The Nord stage 3 is offered in 3 variations, with the only difference between them being the number of notes, the style of their respective keybeds and the playing action they have.  We’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Nord Stage 3 88 in this review.

Nord Stage 3 Specs & Features

Here are the technical specifications of the Nord Stage 3, and some of the features it has – as supplied by the manufacturer:

  • Amount of keys: 88
  • Type of keys: Fully weighted hammer action (with aftertouch).
  • Polyphony: 120 notes (piano) / 34 notes (synth).
  • Presets:
    • 400 programs with 8 banks
    • Lead A1 Synth Engine
    • Organ modeling, Vox Continental, Farfisa, Pipe Organ
  • Effects: Flanger, Phaser, Chorus, Delay, Ring Modulator, Tremolo, Auto Pan, Wah, Speaker simulations, Filters, Rotary, Reverb, Compressor
  • Audio Inputs: 1 x 1/8″ (monitor in)
  • Audio Outputs: 4 x 1/4″ (channels 1-4), 1 x 1/4″ (headphones)
  • USB: 1 x Type B
  • MIDI: In/Out/USB
  • Pedal inputs: 2 x 1/4″ (sustain, control), 1 x 1/4″ (organ swell), 1 x 1/4″ (rotor pedal), 1 x 1/4″ (program change)
  • Other Controllers:
    • Modulation Wheel
    • Pitch bend stick
  • Onboard Features: 2GB Piano sound memory, 4 keyboard zones (3 split points), Nord Sound Manager (Mac/PC)
  • Power supply: Standard IEC AC cable
  • Dimensions:
    • Height: 4.7”
    • Width: 50.7”
    • Depth: 13”
    • Weight: 41.8 Lbs.
  • Manufacturer part number: AMS-NSTAGE3-88

Table of Contents


Nord is well known and recognized by its brand-specific and very striking red designs. The Stage 3 shares this same design: The cabinet has a distinct red cabinet and solid construction that speaks of high-end manufacturing standards.

The Nord Stage 3 has a dazzling array of controls, and looks nothing like a traditional keyboard or digital piano – and the technological modernity is easy to spot with just a quick glance of the eye. The buttons, rotary knobs, and other controls are sturdy, and the wooden pitch bend control (another design totally unique to Nord keyboards) looks like it is built to last.

If you’re particular about tones and sounds, having full control over every possible parameter at the tips of your fingers will please you to no end. On the other side of the coin, if you’re an amateur or someone who isn’t tech-savvy, you might find the controls cluttered and you might be better off buying another instrument that offers the sounds you want out of the box.

Although the design is user-friendly, you might find the control panel on the Nord Stage 3 daunting at first. There ARE tons of knobs and buttons – but, they provide a LOT of control – and being a performance instrument means that the functions and abilities it has is exactly what the professional musician wants and needs. As a matter of fact, the professional player will find working on the controls of the Nord 3 to be a liberating experience.

Most professional musicians and stage performers who own Nords idolize the level of control that they bring. And, having things laid out on the panel is quite helpful. Just about any tone or setting you can imagine, any tweak or master adaption that you need to make, any quick setting you need to do in-play is easily doable either by pushing a button or turning a knob.

Need to import a new sound? There’s a knob for that Need to tweak delay times? It’s easy! Need to turn up the reverb intensity? There’s a knob for that too! Making changes is really simple once you get used to the layout. The design also integrates visual ques to assist you during sound design and set up.

Speaking of visual cues, one of the biggest improvements that Clavia has made on the Stage 2, is that the Nord Stage 3 features two OLED displays. They are placed at the “Program selection” and “Synth section” parts of the Stage 3, and their job is to provide accurate feedback of selections and settings as you play. There is also a new Song mode that makes it way easier to manage presets. These displays are also vital if you are using the A1 Synth engine, which relies heavily on visual feedback.

In addition to the two screens, the Nord Stage 3 also features green LEDs located on the keybed, that marks Keyboard split points and other parameters (which you can assign in the morphing function).

So, the designers at Clavia have taken great trouble to make navigating the Nord Stage 3 logical and easy. The control scheme is streamlined to economically afford any setting or change you need to make either at home when you’re playing around, or on the fly when you’re gigging live.

It’s clear that the Nord Stage 3 was designed to be a player’s keyboard that is durable, and it looks and feels to be exactly so. The dimensions of everything from the cabinet to the keys just “feel” right and are a joy to look at and play around on.


Nord Stage 3 88 has 88 full size and fully weighted keys. Clavia does not manufacture the action of these keyboards themselves – this is the gig of Italian manufacturer Fatar, who are known to be specialists when it comes to manufacturing keyboard actions.

The Fatar keybed has proven itself in the Stage 3’s predecessor, the Stage 2 EX. The notes have a playable and adequate action and feel, and most musicians will have nothing to complain about here. It needs to be said that the action is NOT realistic when you compare it to that of a hammer-action acoustic piano – but, this shouldn’t surprise you, and the standard is still high.

While we’re discussing the keyboard and action of the Stage 3, it might be worth mentioning how great the mod wheel feels. Once you’ve gotten used to its thin profile, it is a precise tool that has JUST the right amount of resistance and travel between its extremes.


Nords have become synonymous with live performances, and the Nord Stage 3 is no exception. Everything you could possibly want to do is controlled by live knobs and pedals – and it is rarely necessary for you to do delve into the menu for changes. Changing programs are seamless, there are extended split functionality and crossfade options, a Song List Mode (which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail later) and extended morph destinations.

The menu is easy to navigate (in the odd chance you might need to) because it is accompanied by a state-of-the-art OLED screen.

The acoustical flexibility of the Stage 3 will take your breath away. There are essentially three different sound generation sections – the piano, the organ, and a world-class synth. Best of all, all three of these can be used at the same time!

The Stage 3 has a huge amount of functions, modes and features that make performances run without incident while it generates the exact sound you want it to. While we’ll delve into the details of these in detail a bit later on when it comes to performance you can rest assured that the Nord Stage 3 is intuitive and flexible enough to accommodate whatever request you throw at it.

As the 80’s hit group Queen [3] suggested (at least when it comes to the Nord Stage 3) the show WILL go on!


The Nord Stage 3 has three main sound engines, namely the Organ section, the Piano section and the Synth section. We’ll cover each of these separately below:

Organ section

The organ section boasts with the widely acclaimed (although slightly adapted) organ simulation engine called the C2D. Many musicians complained about the organ section on the Nord Stage 2, and to be honest, it was probably its weakest part at the time. The all-new organ section includes all the classics you’d expect (like the Hammond and Farfisa sounds) and a few other less-familiar numbers.

Organists will undoubtedly delight in just how realistic these sounds are, and you could easily accompany a congregation to the tunes of any hymnal without them realizing that you aren’t playing on a pipe organ! This can be done on one of the two brand new Principle Pipe organ models.

Any two organ sounds can be used simultaneously, and the updated 122 Vintage Rotary speaker can be used for each slot independently. This simulation adds character to live organ performances and it has different slow to fast modes, and drive control. The Vintage Rotary speaker can also be used in the Piano and Synth modes.

The Hammond sound emulates that of the original Hammond B2 to a tee, including the clicky keys, and realistic vibrato and chorus effects when you select them.

The Vox Continental and Farfisa Compact create excellent classic transistor organ samples, and you can play around with all the classic settings you would have enjoyed in the 1960s on them.

The Nord Stage 3 also has a B3 Tone with an Organ simulator, which has four different tone wheel settings – from factory new to leaky old vintage. This allows you to create just the right mood for whichever organ you’re playing on.

The percussion section allows you to toggle softer volume, a faster decay, and the third harmonic.

Saving the best for last, the Nord Stage 3 features nine digital drawbars, offering you the chance to feel like you are playing and setting a real organ. For the organist who likes real hands-on control, this is a nice little add on. For instance, you can mix the sound of 8-feet and 4-feet pipes on the pipe organ sounds, or effectively recreate the 8+4 stops that many vintage organs have with it.  It really feels like the organ section has controls that are way more involved than that of the piano or synth sections, and you will be transported in time and place once you get the knack of it!

Piano section

The piano section of the Nord Stage 3 is the Rolls Royce of piano sections. Now featuring a dedicated 2GB of RAM JUST for the piano section, it packs a powerful punch… Piano purists will enjoy playing on the realistic and detailed sounds of Nord’s pianos. The amount of sampling and design that went into these sounds are breathtaking – from the string resonance to the detailed pedal noise feature that mimics the sound of a sustain pedal being stepped on or released in-play.

As you’d expect from any decent digital piano, the Nord Stage 3 has adjustable touch sensitivity. There are three main settings, which can also be edited through the menu function if you need it to be more or less specific or sensitive.

The piano filters act as an equalizer, which can be used with any of the piano sounds. These filters can be applied to change the outputs of the soft, mid or bright tones of the piano you are playing on – so, you could make a piano sound more boomy in the low ranges, or brighter in the high ranges if you wish.  While it seems useless to some, it is a great feature to use if you ever encounter a sound engineer that doesn’t know what he’s doing and you need to tweak a live mix on your end while on stage.

The Stage 3 has a massive piano section which is sample-based. You can swap out samples with a USB connection and the Nord Sound Manager as you please.

The widely praised Bösendorfer Grand Imperial XL is preloaded and should be your go-to-piano-sound. It is absolutely stunning in every way, from its rich, realistic 2 string bass sounds, to its high treble sounds which seem to have JUST the right amount of reverb and clarity without sounding pingy. This same model was used in the Nord Piano and the Nord Electro, and it is used by many world-renowned musicians for a reason – it is as close (or better) that you’ll get to playing on a concert grand on stage without taking a piano or a tuner along for the gig.

Another preloaded piano is the Royal Grand 3D YaS6 XL, which takes up a lot of the 2 Gig onboard memory along with its Grand Imperial brother. The sounds are superb, and it will please folks looking for a crisper, brighter piano sound.

There are a few Clavinets, with eight pickup combinations, and popular sounds from French and Italian harpsichords.

The other sampled pianos on offer include the Steinway Model D, Yamaha C7, Kawai Sk-7, a few digital pianos (like the Rhodes Mk I, Mk II, Mk V, a few Wurlitzers and others) and numerous upright acoustic pianos(including Honky tonk, Saloon and Mellow upright sounds). There really is a piano sound for every taste and need in this suite.

These samples are great to use as they are, or to use as a foundation to build on by adding some effects such as a tremolo for slight variations.

The keys have a 120 note polyphonic capability, so you can play anything from a single note melody to a complex classical number or even a ragtime piano-saloon set without stressing about getting muted notes in between.

The Nord Stage 3's piano section screams “PLAY ME!” and you will be a happier muzo for doing so. It IS that good!

Synth Section

The Nord Stage 3 Synth section features another world-leading sound engine: the A1 Synth engine, known best for its analog modeling and smart oscillator configurations which delivers amazing sounds with very little programming. A carbon copy of the Synth engine used in the Nord Lead 4 synthesizer, it has been proven to do everything you’re dreaming of… and more!

The purely digital synth has both single oscillator setups with pitch and shape modes, and Dual oscillator setups which include detune, sync, waveform, bell and noise mix modes. It also features 3 unison modes, which doesn’t take away any of its polyphonic capabilities.

The Stage 3 Synth section has 34-note polyphony, which is more than enough considering the use of a synth. You’d be able to play any club track or synthetic backing with it, without getting cut off the moment you hit a few tritones in succession.

We can’t compliment the oscillators enough. This is the backbone of the A1 synth section, and it offers five different oscillator categories – The classic analog, and a Wave, Formant, Sample and Super Wave forms. The Super Wave forms are a new addition to the stage series, and the Roland Supersaw classic sound it offers is particularly useful (and easy on the ear!).

The Oscillator configurations offer you a world of creativity too – you can use both oscillators independently, detune one of them, synthesize the frequency, or modulate the amplitude (FM and AM). You can also set specific parameters for these in its menu section.

There is a vast amount of different samples in the synth section, including orchestral strings, woodwinds,  brass sounds, choirs, and others. These are all masterfully sampled, and great to use as they are – but, they can also be layered with other sounds if you want to play Picasso and get creative.

The Nord Stage 3’s synth section has a dedicated memory of 480Mb for synth sounds, so there’s enough space to add sounds from the Sound Manager if you wish.

The synth section has its own modes, including the polyphonic, monophonic retriggering and monophonic legato modes. It also has a glide control (which serves well for sliding between notes in a portamento-like fashion). The vibrato control can be linked to the mod wheel or aftertouch. The arpeggiator can be selected in an up/down or random configuration for adding substance to your melodies and can be set to run even after you’ve released the note.

The A2 Synth Engine, according to Nord reps, was designed for novices who need flexibility without the complexity of traditional synth engines – and in this regard, we’d say they did themselves proud. The Dedicated OLED display used exclusively for the Oscillator section makes navigation easy, and understanding the Synth section is not overly complex.

Pink Floyd [4] would’ve LOVED the Nord Stage 3!


As you’d expect from a performance keyboard, the Nord Stage 3 has an effects section. And, this section is one of the best we’ve ever played on.

One of the best features of the effects section is that you can control it from the front panel. There is no need to go menu-diving to access or enable them.

The NS2 effects section is all-new and all-improved from the ones used by Nord in the Stage 3’s predecessors. There’s a range of instantly tweakable effects, all of them fashioned after classic stompboxes – and best of all, they’re all available for each slot! The delay has feedback filters, and the filter mode in the EQ section offers resonance and HP/LP modes. Morphable parameters have been increased, and there’s a new fast compressor mode too.

So, a lot of big changes to accommodate the professional musician who needs, as Tina Turner demands, “Simply the best” [5]!

Let’s look at these effects in a bit more detail:

Effect 1

These effects deal with the more niche type of styles. You can select the Tremolo, two Wahs, an Auto Wah or an Auto Pan. There’s also a ring modulator. These conspire to create the most awesome experimental and raw licks that electronic musicians will love! The panning and tremolo effects are great when coupled with the piano sounds.

Controlling these effects is made easy through the “Basic rate” and “amount” controls. Alternatively, the effect rate can be linked to the master clock, or as the last option, both controls can be linked to the Morph control for even more expression.

Effect 2

The second section deals with stereo effects. There are two Phasers, two Choruses, a Flanger, and a Vibe effect, all of these modeled after the classic analog stompboxes that we all came to know and love in popular music. The choruses, in particular, offer soothing effects, and they are great in complimenting ballad-like piano or slow organ sounds.

Again, the Rate and Amount can be controlled.

These effects are world-class and crystal clear. Hats off to the designers at Nord!

Other effects and filters:

Amp Sim/EQ/Filter

This section is pretty straight forward and easy to use. It features authentic simulations of JC(Roland Jazz Chorus speaker), Twin(Classic Fender) and Small speaker(Wurlitzer 200A) speakers with adjustable drive and – as a bonus – a separate Tube Drive simulation.

There’s a 3 band equalizer to tweak with which has the standard treble, variable mid and bass controls, and cut off and resonance controls that can be applied to either of the 3 sound sections (organ, piano or synth).


The Nord Stage 3 features an enhanced delay effect with morphable controls for the tempo, feedback, and mix.

A welcome addition is the Tap tempo function, and tempo sync – so you won’t fall out of tempo or struggle to change the tempo in play. Manual rate setting is still available if you’d like to go old school too, Indiana Jones.

Individual echoes are affected through a High, Low and Bandpass filter.


The compressor does a fantastic job of keeping the overall mic under control. Although it is pretty basic, it has a fast mode which will suit dance/club musicians and various disco/dance style deliveries. This effect is applied to all 3 sounds when selected.


The Stage 3 has six different reverbs. These remain the same from previous Stage models, although the amount of reverb is now morphable and separately applied per slot. The new bright mode is quite crisp and excellent for daytime/jazz gigs.

The reverb types on board are 2 Halls, 2 Stages, and 2 Room options.

Rotary effect

The last effect we’ll discuss is the rotary speaker emulation. This is taken off the Nord C2D digital organ and allows you to independently affect the speed and acceleration parameters for both the horn and the rotary. You can even tweak the distance of the make-believe virtual mic!

This effect completes the rotary organ simulation – making the Nord Stage 3 the go-to instrument for the dedicated rotary organist wishing to be transported in time and place.


The Nord Stage 3 has a list of features that reads like a book.

Advanced split functionality.

The Stage 3 has three split zones and a split point crossfade function. You can choose different crossfade parameters – small, large, or off. These are conveniently indicated by LEDs of different colors for different sections.

The Split point editor mode allows you to edit and organize split points to suit your song or style, with the OLED display offering an overview of the sound sources assigned to each split zone.

Program Change Pedal

A unique and handy tool is the Program change via pedal option, allowing you to effect program changes using the pedal while your hands stay on the keyboard.


There are a total of 16 program banks. Navigation is made easy with a list control, allowing you to move through banks rather than single presets. The banks are split into 5 pages of 5 programs each.

Clavia thought it was a good idea to include 12 banks of factory presets, which as you would expect, are changeable – or modifiable – to your liking.

Song mode

The all-new “Song Mode” is a great addition to the seemingly innumerable number of other presets. Almost like the “Bank” or ‘Memory Bank” function on pipe organs and older keyboards, it offers the musician the option of organizing a group of programs for each specific song in the song list. These song lists can be created for different situations/bands/set-ups and saved under the song names. Pressing a button in-song will recall the settings you programmed, and you can use up to five of these presets within a single song. These presets can also be customized in-song or on the fly, without you needing to access a computer. Having access to the song mode will make your performances all the better, and this is an awesome feature!

The Nord Sound Manager

The sound manager allows you to manage programs, presets and songs in the different sections. It will also back up programs to your computer, or back up your full instrument, which you can back up again at any later stage.

Available for OS X and Windows, it is easy to operate, and the interface is user-friendly.

Having access to the Sound Manager [6] is an essential part of managing the Stage 3 without the headache of ever losing whatever hard work you put into programming it.


Morphing is a pretty common feature on arranger keyboards, and again the Nord Stage 3 doesn’t disappoint. It offers a great morph function which is easy to assign.

You can assign the morph function to the mod wheel, aftertouch, or an expression pedal. You can also assign separate minimum and maximum values to each parameter.

Transposing, octave shifting and tuning

The Nord Stage 3 has a full transposition function and an octave shifting option. Nords all feature Clavia’s bespoke pitch bend wheel, which is more of a little pitch stick with a cut-out lip. Although it is smaller and way thinner than traditional ones, it is easy to get used to it, and its size makes it easy to do vibratos and bends with precision.

Other features

Standard features (which are not always so standard, even on high-end piano keyboards) are the recording and playback function, and a full-function metronome which handles either manual input, tempo tap, or tempo adaption.


The Stage 3 is a millennial. It is up to date with the latest technologies, and it has a legion of connectivity options.

The external connection modules are able to receive MIDI, MIDI CC (Continuous Controllers) and MIDI PC (Program Change) signals. These enable you to integrate other equipment with the Nord, which allows you to use other synths, modules and keyboards live, under one controller.

Four ¼ Line out jacks cover stereo channels and offer 2 additional channels to separate sound sources. Of course, there’s also a 1/4” stereo headphone jack, ideal for use monitoring. A 1/8” Monitor IN jack is included too, which is great as input for smartphones or music players.

There are jacks for a control pedal, a sustain pedal, and an organ swell. A new port is the program up/down pedal jack, which makes menu changes smooth and easy (provided you have a two-button pedal!).

The Stage 3 has a USB type port B which makes connecting to laptops and personal computers possible. You will need to access this port quite frequently in order to use Nord’s Sound manager and sample editors.

Lastly, there’s a power port that takes the power cord included with the Nord Stage 3.


Just like the huge range of connectivity options, the Nord Stage 3 is compatible with a LOT of different accessories – most of them available in the aftermarket out of your own pocket. The Stage 3 comes packages with

  • The Nord Sustain pedal
  • Nord Library DVD (with a cool selection of great pianos and the Nord Sound Manager, and a bunch of links for you to download more sounds too).
  • A user manual
  • A USB type B connector
  • An AC Adapter
  • A dust cover

Of course, there are a ton of aftermarket accessories available. These are the best of them:

Best stands for the Nord Stage 3

You will want to get a sturdy stand for your Nord Stage 3. The horror of one of those babies hitting the floor will give you nightmares for the rest of your life!

There are two options here:

The first is to get a furniture-style stand,

Which is usually made out of wood and will look great if you’re only going to be using your Nord at home.

This is a great option, manufactured by Nord, with an elegant matte lacquered finish, and fixed at a standard grand piano height:

The second option is to get an X or Z frame stage-type stand.

These are always easier to transport, and lighter to carry around. They’re fairly easy to assemble and come at a cheaper price than the fixed furniture-type stands.

Rockjam manufactures the Xfinity heavy-duty, double-x piano keyboard stand with locking straps, which is sturdy and reliable enough for you to trust it in any situation. It is fully adjustable and can set to heights of between 4 and 38 inches. It has non-slip rubber caps on the end of its legs, and the double support straps will prevent your Nord from sliding about in-play.

Plixio makes a brilliant heavy duty Z-style stand, which is fully adjustable. What makes this stand great is the fact that both the height and width is fully adjustable. Essentially, if you plan on ever sitting down while you play, a Z-style stand is your best option. This one includes a headphone hook and anchoring straps that will keep your Nord in the position you placed it.

As we mentioned earlier, the Nord Stage 3 allows for program changes via a 2-button footswitch pedal. While this comes from the realm guitarists are more familiar with, we would recommend getting one if you plan on getting the most out of your Nord Stage 3.

The Boss FS-6 battery-operated footswitch pedal is probably your best bet. It will do what you need it to do, and you can’t disagree with hundreds of happy reviewers on Amazon. Although there is a more expensive FS-7 available, we’d recommend the FS-6 purely because of its ease of operation.

As an alternative, you might consider getting a Peavey Multi-purpose 2-button footswitch. Although these were originally engineered for guitars, they work well with Nords, and they are fully compatible with the Nord Stage 3. Peavey’s 2 button footswitch has 2 led lights indicating selection and is a plug-and-play, easy setup pedal.

The best control pedals for the Nord Stage 3

Control pedals, or expression pedals, are purely optional accessories. You will love having one if you will be using the Nord Stage 3 for its organ sounds, as this will double as a swell-pedal. The Control pedal can also adjust the volume, or be used as a second mod wheel.

There are a lot of different control pedals out there, but the Yamaha FC7 is the most popular one – for a reason. The Yamaha name guarantees quality workmanship and is sensitive enough to allow for accurate control in-play.

A great second option is the heavy-duty Roland EV-5. It is a tad bit smaller than the FC7, which makes it easier to pack away or transport, it is not ideal for players with bigger feet.

Other Pedals suited for the Nord Stage 3

A lot of debate has gone into the usefulness of the Nord Triple Pedal. If you need (or want) to get pedal noise or use half-pedaling, you’ll have to invest in one of these. They don’t come cheap, and you’ll have to fork out a couple of hundreds if you want one.

The Nord Triple Pedal has other soft functions and it allows you to access hidden pedal noise (like those you would generate on an acoustic piano).

Personally, we consider it a bit of a gimmick, unless you are a classically trained pianist – in which case… GET ONE!

The best gig bags for the Nord Stage 3

Nord makes gig bags that are custom designed for each of their keyboards. As you’d expect from Nord, these are high-grade travel cases (essentially soft rolling cases) that are manufactured to perfection. Made with pockets that can hold stands, pedals or other accessories and a padded interior to protect your baby all mounted on wheels, this is simply the best – albeit slightly pricey – option to get if you plan on lugging your Stage 3 around.

Gator manufactures a decent cheaper alternative, which will protect your piano just as well.

You can buy their rugged nylon soft bag, with wheels, padded inners, and large accessory compartments here:

Or, you can opt for a Gator Hard Case, which is ideal for long-distance travel. Its nearly indestructible polyethylene construction will encase your Nord Stage 3, and you can rest easy while in transit on tour.

The best headphones for the Nord Stage 3

Having a decent set of headphones will allow you to play or practice privately, and best of all double as a monitor if you need one on stage.

Behringer makes the HPS3000, which offers ultra-wide frequency response with high definition bass sounds and super transparent highs that will compliment the output of your Nord Stage 3.

Sennheiser is trusted by musicians and sound engineers all over the world, and they make some of the best headphones available to pianists right now. The HD 579 open back headphone is an excellent mid-range choice!

The Sony MDR7506 professional headphone offers a lightweight (albeit large diaphragm) option to musicians who travel a lot. With a frequency response of 10 Hertz to 20 kilohertz, its range and capabilities are boundless, and you’ll enjoy hours of great sound from the masters of digital speakers, Sony themselves.

User reviews

Nord’s Stage series has always enjoyed positive reviews on Amazon and other retailers. The Stage 3 has an average rating of 4.1, with most of the purchasers raving about the excellent instrument it is. Most people enjoyed and complemented the feel of the keys, and the superlative quality of the instrument sampling and sounds. The unique pitch bend wheel also got a few mentions, and people love the unique red look it sports.

The only negative reviews we could find, was of one customer who received a faulty keyboard, that to be fair, probably got damaged somewhere along the delivery line, and people mentioning that it took a while to master the comprehensive list of functions on the Nord Stage 3.


After all these years, people are still in love with Clavia’s Nord Stage series – and it’s easy to see why. Everything works as it should, and it has all the bells and whistles a musician could possibly dream of.

The Nord Stage 3 has many upgrades from the previous models – like an increased sample memory, new pipe organs, increased polyphony, and better effects. The new “song mode” is also a nice addition.

The synth section is exceptional, the piano sampling is out of this world, and the organ emulations are absolutely superb.

The rugged metal chassis and simple controls, although there are a lot of knobs and buttons on the front panel, add to its user-friendliness

The array of connectivity options, the capability it has in entertaining different pedals, and the few extra functions it has (such as the program change pedal) are not only nice to have but necessities for the professional musician… and again, the Nord Stage 3 comes to the party.

The amazing audio quality and overall playability it has completes the package. And, in real operational terms – when it comes to playing and performing on a stage piano, it’s hard to imagine anything better.


  • The Nord Stage 3 has an excellent build quality. It is hand-made in Sweden and should last you a lifetime.
  • The keys feel quite real and react well to touch. They’re really fun to play on!
  • The audiological pleasure of its piano section (with special mention to the Bösendorfer Grand Imperial XL)
  • The powerful Synth section with its 34 note polyphony
  • The Hammond organ – and its range of effects (yes, we mention it again because it is THAT good!)
  • The controls are intuitive, and it offers easy access without having to go menu-diving
  • The two display panels operate independently
  • It has a huge number of preset sounds and navigating and saving new ones are a breeze.


  • First, and probably the biggest drawback, is its price. The Nord Stage 3 doesn’t come cheap!
  • The split points are predetermined and can be limiting. It would be great if these were user-assignable!
  • The effects section is limited to a single sound source.
  • The range of accessories – including the Nord Triple pedal – you’ll need to buy in addition to the just the piano if you want to get the most joy out of it adds salt to its already high retail price.
  • The fact that there are no onboard speakers (although we don’t expect them in a stage piano) makes this little monster useless for the home-user without a proper external sound setup.

 Total score: 10/10 

All things considered: There just isn’t anything better in the digital keyboard market right now!


The Nord Stage 3 we reviewed is the Nord Stage 3 88, with its fully weighted Hammer Action keybed. Clavia makes two variants to this model, namely the Nord Stage 3 Compact with a 73-note lightweight hammer action keybed and the Nord Stage 3 HP76 with a 76-note semi-weighted waterfall keybed with Physical Drawbars. While most of the functions and features are the same in all three models, there are small differences – most notably the different keybeds and key actions.

Nord Stage 3 HP76

The Nord Stage 3 HP 76 is a slightly smaller version of the Stage 3 88. The HP stands for “Hammer Action Portable”, and this is marketed to the musician who wants to have a more portable version of the Stage 3 88, without needing to offer up its superb playability.

The action on the HP76 is slightly lighter, but you won’t notice the difference after a few practices or a performance set or two. It responds just as well to touch, and all the other functions remain identical to that of the Stage 3 88.

Nord Stage 3 Compact

The Stage 3 compact has 73 notes, which is, as its compact name suggests, a more compact version of the Stage 3 88, and the 88 keys that a standard full-size piano has.

The Nord Stage 3 Compact has semi-weighted keys, without the lip commonly seen on standard-type piano keys. The fact that the Stage 3 Compact doesn’t have full hammer-action keys does compromise a bit on realism, but they are still velocity-sensitive. The Stage 3 compact is a lot lighter on your fingers, which is excellent for players who are into playing synth parts. If you’re more of a pianist planning on using the piano sounds, this is probably not the best option for you. If you are an organist, or after Nord’s infamous organ sounds, this IS the best option for you.

The Nord Stage 3 compact is the only of the 3 Nord variants with physical drawbars – and they’re really cool to play on. They’re located on the left of the cabinet, and easy to operate with precision. If you’re not an organist, our bet is that you will soon enough fool around on them, and have fun doing it too!

The fact that this is a smaller (yes, more compact) piano than the Nord Stage 3 88, makes it easier to cart around too, so this is a worthy option if you don’t need a full-size piano.

Nord stage 3 vs Nord stage 2?

A popular question is this: How does the Nord Stage 3 compare with the Nord Stage 2?

Well, the Nord Stage two was a phenomenal piano. But, it was more of a hybrid of the original Nord piano, the Nord C2D organ, and the Nord Lead Synth engine. But, the times they are a-changing…

The Nord Stage 3 is a way more modern, and way more capable piano than the Nord Stage 2 ever was. There are a number of improvements such as:

  • An added split zone (Now 4, compared to the Stage 2’s 3)
  • The Stage 3 offers cross-fade between split points, which the Stage 2 never did
  • An additional 1 GB of onboard memory was added to the Stage 3
  • The Stage 3 has two new principal pipe organ sounds
  • The biggest change is in the synth section. The Stage two had traditional VA synthesis, but the new Lead Synth engine trumps that. The Stage 3’s Synth section has a 34-note polyphony (compared to the 18 of the Stage 2), 100 more patch memories, and more sample RAM.
  • The effects section has been upgraded, particularly with more Reverb options
  • The compressor engine on the Stage 3 has a fast mode and is available for each slot – whereas the Stage 2 had a weaker global compressor.

Small things add up, and as a package, the Nord Stage 3 has more to offer than its predecessor.


It is very, very hard to find a viable competitor to the Nord Stage 3. There are a lot of pianos that are as powerful, and there are a lot of pianos that offer a better “look” if you consider a cleaner front panel to be so. But, they do so by hiding settings and important controls in their menus – and even a touch screen subtracts from both ease of use and playability.

The Nord Stage 3’s closest rivals are:

The Roland FA-08

Roland’s latest workstation offers top-notch sound quality and a great scratch pad sequencer. It has a substantial collection of factory sounds and effects and is a lighter instrument than the Nord Stage 3. It is competitively priced, but… it feels so too.

It has a tiny screen that is hard to read and work on, and it’s plastic cabinet feels cheap. There are NO external faders, and it really looks more like a stage piano than a digital work station.

It does have a left/right/push joystick which makes operation fun and easier, and 16 drum pads which make laying out beats a breeze.

A worthy competitor? We think not. But, if money makes the decision, this isn’t a bad piano at all!

The Korg Kronos

At the time of its launch in 2011, the Korg Kronos was probably the best your money could buy. Since then, the folks at Korg have tweaked and improved their flagship considerably, and it is a great instrument.

The full-weighted piano with its 9 sound engines and Karma engine, coupled with an EP and CX-3 tonewheel engine allows you full touch control of the classic control panels and drawbars via its color screen.

It has an SHX-2 piano engine which has some awesome pianos, a CX-3 Organ engine which isn’t bad, and the popular AI-1 synth engine with its two oscillators and a bunch of filters which really gets the job done.

The Kronos has a full-fledged DAW recording ability and is fun to play on. Where it lacks, is again in playability. It is not as intuitive as the Nord Stage 3, and you will be a busy musician if you’re playing a Kronos in a live situation.


The Nord Stage 3 is an awe-inspiring, amazing keyboard that ticks all the boxes. This is a do-it-all piano, a respectable organ, and a world-class synth combined in one, and it is easy and fun to use. The red cabinet means you’re getting the best of everything – and if your pockets are deep enough… GO BUY IT!


Date 3 nord stage release

Introducing the Nord Stage 3

Press Release, Stockholm 05-04-2017

Continuing our vision of the ultimate instrument for the performing musician - we are very proud to introduce the Nord Stage 3.

The fifth generation of our successful Stage Series, the Nord Stage 3 features our latest award-winning technologies including the Nord Lead A1 Synth Engine with sample playback, acclaimed Nord C2D Organ Engine, a greatly enhanced Piano Section, and extensive hands-on Effects - all in one exceptional performance keyboard.


Live-focused improvements

Two super-clear OLED displays for on-stage clarity, Seamless Transitions when changing programs/sounds, extended Split functionality, and the addition of the new Song List Mode makes the Nord Stage 3 more intuitive and flexible than ever for the live performer.

Massive sonic flexibility

The Nord Stage 3 has three sound generating sections; Piano, Organ and Synthesizer, all of which can be used simultaneously. Furthermore, the Nord Stage 3 has 2 separate slots allowing you to have 2 Pianos, 2 Organs and 2 Synths plus Effects at the same time for massive sonic flexibility.

Performance Highlights NEW

  • OLED displays for Program and Synth sections
  • Seamless Transitions for smooth program changes
  • Advanced Split functionality with optional crossfade
  • Song Mode for set list functionality
  • Physical Drawbars for Compact model
  • Support for program change via pedal

Piano Section

The greatly enhanced Piano Section features doubled memory (2 GB) for our exclusive Nord Piano Library, expanded voice polyphony and creative new Piano Filters. 

Factory Bank

The Nord Stage 3 features an outstanding selection of Grands, Uprights, Electric Pianos, Digital Pianos, Clavinet and Harpsichord from our exclusive Nord Piano Library - all handpicked for their unique characters. 

The Nord Stage 3 Piano Section also features a brand new “Layer” category with rich dynamic layered patches.

The Nord Piano Experience

Nord’s state-of-the-art sampling techniques capture the extraordinary nuances and real character of the source instruments. Our unique ‘Advanced String Resonance’ and Dynamic Pedal Noise features deliver breathtaking realism and an unsurpassed level of expressiveness. 

Piano Section Highlights NEW

  • 2 GB Memory (doubled from Stage 2 EX)
  • Greatly expanded polyphony (120 voices)
  • New Layer category
  • Creative Piano Filters

Synth Section

The Nord Stage 3 features the acclaimed Nord Lead A1 Synth Engine, combined with Sample Playback and a dedicated OLED display.

Powerful Smart Oscillator

The Lead A1 synth engine is renowned for its analog-modelling warmth, and utilises brilliant Smart Oscillator Configurations to deliver stunning results with little programming. Single oscillator setups including Shape, FM, Ring Mod, Detune and Sync. Dual oscillator modes include Noise, Sine, Saw, Triangle and Square Mix. The Synth section also includes a brand new Oscillator category with massive “Super Waves”.

Sample Synth

The Nord Stage 3 Synth Section has powerful sample playback capabilities and comes with a wide selection of samples from our Nord Sample Library. All samples can be tweaked creatively inside the A1 Synth Engine and it is even possible to create and transfer your own samples using the Nord Sample Editor. 

Synth Section Highlights NEW

  • Lead A1 Synth Engine with Sample Playback
  • Dedicated OLED display for Oscillator configurations
  • 480 MB memory for Sample Library
  • New Super Wave category and new Classic waveforms 
  • Classic Transistor Ladder Filter emulation, flexible LP+BP Filter and Filter Drive
  • Extended Morph functionality

Organ Section

The Nord Stage 3 features our latest award-winning C2D Organ simulations of B3 Tonewheel and Transistor Organs, plus two brand new Principal Pipe Organs. 

Separate Organs and Rotary per Slot

It is now possible to use two different Organ models simultaneously, allowing you to creatively blend a B3 with a Vox/Farfisa or a Principal Pipe organ. The updated vintage Model 122 Rotary Speaker simulation is also available for each slot independently. 

Physical Drawbars for Compact model

The Nord Stage 3 Compact features our physical drawbars, and semi-weighted waterfall keybed. This model also supports the Nord Half-moon Switch.

Organ Section Highlights NEW

  • Nord C2D B3 Tone Wheel simulation 
  • Model 122 Rotary Speaker simulation - available per Slot 
  • 2 new Principal Pipe organs 
  • Physical Drawbars for Compact model

Effect Section

The Nord Stage 3 Effect section features more morphable parameters, an enhanced Delay effect, separate Reverb and Compressor for each slot, and a brand new Filter Effect.

The powerful Nord Stage 3 Effect Section features a wide range of instantly tweakable high quality effects including Tremolo, Phaser, Chorus, Pan, Wah, RM, Flanger and Vibe, all modeled after classic stomp boxes.

Effect Section Highlights NEW

  • Delay with added Feedback filters (HP/LP/BP) and dedicated Analog Mode
  • Filter Mode with Resonance (HP/LP)
  • Separate Compressor per slot including new Fast Mode
  • Separate Reverb per Slot including new Bright Mode
  • Extended Morph functionality


The Nord Stage 3 comes in three models:

Nord Stage 3 88 features our top-of-the-line 88-note fully weighted Hammer Action Keybed (A-C)
Nord Stage 3 HP76 features an extremely lightweight 76-note Hammer Action Portable keybed (E-G)
​Nord Stage 3 Compact features a 73-note Semi Weighted Waterfall keybed (E-E) with Physical Drawbars NEW


The Nord Stage 3 is scheduled for shipping in July 2017 with pricing to be announced. Nord Stage 3 is handmade in Sweden by Clavia DMI AB.

All specifications are subject to change without further notice



For press related matters, contact marketing [at]

About Clavia DMI AB:
Clavia Digital Musical Instruments AB manufactures industry-leading digital synthesizers and keyboards sold under the brand name Nord. All technology R&D and manufacturing takes place in Sweden and all Nord products are assembled by hand in Stockholm. Clavia DMI AB has 30 employees and a turnover of 20M USD whereof 95 % is export sales to local distributors. The company’s main markets are USA and Europe but Asia and Latin America also adds exciting and interesting new markets for our premium quality keyboard instruments.

Nord Stage 3 - Official demo

The Nord Stage 3 is the fifth generation of our successful Stage series continuing our vision of the ultimate instrument for the performing musician.

Our outstanding new flagship instrument features our latest award-winning technologies including the Nord Lead A1 Synth Engine with sample playback, our acclaimed Nord C2D organ, a greatly enhanced Piano Section and extensive hands-on Effects - all in one exceptional performance keyboard.



  • OLED-displays for Program and Synth section 
  • Seamless transitions when changing programs 
  • Extended Split functionality with optional Crossfade
  • Song List Mode 
  • Extended Morph Destinations 

Piano section

  • Doubled memory (2GB) for the Nord Piano Library 
  • Greatly expanded polyphony (120 voices)
  • Creative Filter presets 
  • Layer category

Synth section

  • Nord Lead A1 Synth Engine with Sample playback 
  • Dedicated OLED display for Oscillator functions 
  • Expanded Memory (480 MB) for the Nord Sample Library 3.0
  • Extended Polyphony 
  • Super Wave category (S-wave)

Organ section

  • Nord C2D Organ Engine
  • 2 new Pipe Organ models 
  • Model 122 Vintage Rotary Speaker - available per Slot
  • Physical Drawbars for Nord Stage 3 Compact 


  • Improved Delay with added Feedback filters and Analog Mode 
  • Filter Mode with Resonance  
  • Separate Compressor per Slot with Amount and Fast mode
  • Separate Reverb per Slot with Bright mode 


Two super-clear OLED displays for on-stage clarity, Seamless Transitions when changing programs/sounds, extended Split functionality with optional crossfade, and the addition of the new Song List Mode makes the Nord Stage 3 more intuitive and flexible than ever before for the live performer. 

Massive sonic flexibility

The Nord Stage 3 has three sound generating sections; Piano, Organ and Synthesizer, all of which can be used simultaneously. Furthermore, the Nord Stage 3 has 2 separate slots allowing you to have 2 Pianos, 2 Organs and 2 Synths plus Effects at the same time for massive sonic flexibility.

Seamless transitions

The Nord Stage 3 features automatically seamless transitions when changing sounds or programs while playing. 

Song Mode

A new Song Mode lets you easily organize a group of Programs for each specific song in the list. Each song can consist of up to 5 different Programs, freely assignable from your existing Programs. You can create unique Song Lists for different bands or situations and the names and order can be easily customized on the fly without connecting it to a computer. The super clear new OLED display offers excellent overview when selecting sounds and editing programs.

Advanced Split functionality with optional crossfade

The Nord Stage 3 also features 3 Split Zones and a new Split Point Crossfade functionality. Choose among 3 different crossfade widths (Small, Large or Off) indicated by different LED colors.
A new Split Point Editor Mode lets you easily organize and set up Split Points using the OLED display giving you a great overview of the assigned sound sources for each Split zone.  

Support for Program change via pedal 

The Nord Stage 3 also supports Program change via pedal allowing for flexible program changes (up/down) while keeping your hands on the keyboard.    

Piano Section

The greatly enhanced Piano section features doubled memory (2 GB) for the exclusive Nord Piano Library, 120 voice polyphony and creative new Piano Filters. 

The Nord Piano Experience

The Nord Stage 3 features a wide selection of Grands, Uprights, Electric Pianos, Digital Pianos, Clavinet and Harpsichord from our exclusive Nord Piano Library - all handpicked for their unique characters! The Nord Stage 3 Piano section also features a brand new “Layer” category with rich dynamic layered patches.

Nord’s state-of-the-art sampling techniques capture the extraordinary nuances and real character of the source instruments. Our unique ‘Advanced String Resonance’ and Dynamic Pedal Noise features deliver breathtaking realism and an unsurpassed level of expressiveness. 

Replaceable sounds

The Nord Stage 3 Factory Bank features a very extensive selection of the Nord Piano Library but you can easily add or replace any of these sounds using the Nord Sound Manager. Our exclusive Nord Piano Library is constantly updated with new exclusive world class sounds, and always free of charge.

Long Release

A Long Release-mode adds a slightly longer release, more suitable for legato playing, emulating a looser damper tension in an acoustic or an electromechanical instrument.

Nord Triple Pedal

The Nord Triple Pedal (optional accessory) features our unique dynamic sustain pedal that enables the use of half-pedaling and "release and catch" techniques and also Sustenuto and Soft Pedals. The Nord Triple Pedal also recreates the mechanical sounds of lifting and releasing the damper mechanism, producing the characteristic thomp and sizzle sounds. The Pedal Noise feature responds dynamically to the force/momentum used when pressing or releasing the sustain pedal on the Nord Triple Pedal.

Organ Section

The Nord Stage 3 features our latest award-winning C2D Organ simulations of B3 Tonewheel and Vintage Transistor Organs plus two brand new Principal Pipe Organs. Two different Organ models can be used simultaneously and the updated vintage 122 Rotary Speaker simulation is also available for each slot independently. 

B3 Tonewheel simulation

The Nord Stage 3 Organ section features our award winning Nord C2D organ including the extremely authentic B3 Tonewheel simulation with four different tone wheel settings, ranging from factory new clean to leaky old vintage.  

Vintage Rotary Speaker

The Nord Stage 3 features the latest generation of our vintage 122 Rotary Speaker simulation adding an essential character to a live organ performance and features Slow, Fast and Stop mode as well as a Drive control. The 122 Rotary Speaker simulation is available on each slot and can also be used with the Piano or Synth section

Classic Transistor Organs

The Organ section also features impeccable simulations of the classic 1960’s Transistor Organs, Vox Continental and Farfisa Compact with all the classic settings.

Pipe Organs 

The Organ section also contains two different new Pipe Organ models. Pipe 1 is a pure Organ with few harmonics. Pipe 2 is a recreation of metal pipes that commonly make up the backbone of a pipe or church organ, with a special detune mode when enabling Vibrato/Chorus.

Physical Drawbars for Stage 3 Compact 

The Nord Stage 3 Compact now features Physical Drawbars offering ultimate hands-on experience for the dedicated organ players. This model also supports the Nord Half-moon Switch.

The Nord Stage 3 88 and HP76 features Digital LED Drawbars, offering excellent overview over current settings. 

Synth Section

The Nord Stage 3 Synth section features the acclaimed Nord Lead A1 Synth Engine combined with Sample Playback and a brilliant OLED display for all Oscillator functions.

Powerful Smart Oscillator

The Lead A1 Synth Engine is renowned for its analog-modelling warmth, and utilises brilliant Smart Oscillator Configurations to deliver stunning results with little programming. There are both Single oscillator setups including Pitch and Shape modes, and Dual oscillator setups including Detune, Sync, Waveform, Bell and Noise Mix modes, FM and Ring Mod. The Synth section also provides 3 Unison modes, without reducing voice polyphony.  

The Nord Stage 3's new Oscillator section features 5 oscillator categories: Classic, Wave, Formant, Sample and brand new Super Wave (S-wave).

Oscillator Configurations

The Oscillator Configuration concept allows for extremely quick and flexible programming, suitable for both advanced synth nerds and and less experienced sound creators.

Start with a single Oscillator waveform, select an Oscillator Configuration, and use the secondary Oscillator Control to adjust the amount of desired parameter (pitch/shape/FM-modulation etc).

These are the Oscillator Configurations available when using Classic, Wave or Formant oscillator types:


Allows for adjusting the pitch of the main oscillator.


Adds a second oscillator which can be pitched separately from the main oscillator.


Allows for shaping Classic waveforms using a traditional waveshaping method. Waveforms from the Wave and Formant categories are shaped using a spectral shaping process.


Emulates Hard sync by adding an additional oscillator that is the sync reference.

Waveform Mix (Dual Oscillator)

Adds a second oscillator, providing a Sine, Triangle, Square or Saw wave. The pitch of the second oscillator can be adjusted separately. 

Bell Mix

Adds a dedicated "Bell" oscillator, which uses a special FM algorithm to create a good foundation for bell type sounds.

Noise Mix

Adds a White Noise element which can be mixed with the main oscillator.

Noise Mix 2

Adds a filtered and slightly resonant Noise element to the main oscillator.

Freq Mod 2 (FM)*

The main oscillator is frequency modulated by a second sine wave oscillator with several pitch offsets for the second oscillator (-12 to +48 semitones).

Freq Mod 3 (FM)*

The main oscillator is modulated by a combination of two additional oscillators with several pitch offsets to choose from (-12 to +48 semitones).

Ring Modulation

In this mode the main oscillator waveform is multiplied with a sine wave of selectable relative pitch, for classic Ring Modulation sounds.

*=Not available when using Samples and Superwaves.

Nord Sample LibrarySample Playback

The Nord Stage 3 Synth section has powerful sample playback capabilities and comes with an outstanding selection of samples from our new Nord Sample Library 3.0. All samples can be tweaked creatively inside the Lead A1 Synth Engine and it is even possible to create and transfer your own samples using the Nord Sample Editor. 

Flexible Filters

The Synth section features 6 Filter types: Classic Transistor Ladder Filter (LP M), Low Pass 12 and 24, Band Pass, High Pass and a powerful new combined Low Pass and Band Pass (LP+BP) Filter. The Filter section also includes a dedicated Filter Drive with 3 amount settings, as well as selectable keyboard tracking amount (1/3, 2/3 and full).

Syncronizable LFO and Arpeggiator 

The Synth section features an Arpeggiator and LFO that can be easily synced to the Stage 3 Master Clock for perfect timing with other elements of the Stage 3, including its effects.

Effect Section

The Nord Stage 3 Effect section features a brand new Filter Effect, extended morphable parameters, an enhanced Delay effect and a separate Reverb and Compressor for each slot. 

The powerful Effect section features a wide range of instantly tweakable high quality effects all modeled after classic stomp boxes, all available for each slot.

Effect 1

Here you can choose from Tremolo, two Wahs, an Auto-Wah, and an AutoPan. Use the AutoWah with a Clavinet for raw funk licks, create a psychedelic vibe with an Electric Piano on AutoPan, or give a Wurlitzer some body using the Tremolo. There is also a Ring Modulator on board, an effect used by many experimental and electronic musicians.

Effect 2

The two Phasers, two Choruses, the Flanger and a Vibe effect are modeled from the classic analog stomp boxes that define the sound of popular music. These swirling Phasers, metallic Flangers, and thick Choruses that are used by uncompromising professionals everywhere are crystal clear and faithfully simulated on the Nord Stage 3.

Amp Sim/EQ/Filter

Features authentic JC, Twin and Small speaker simulations with adjustable Drive, plus a separate Tube Drive simulation. This section also features a 3-band Equalizer with sweepable mid. A powerful addition is the new Filter (LP24/HP24), with Cut-off and Resonance controls that apply to the entire selected sound source (Organ, Piano or Synth). 


The enhanced Delay effect features morphable controls for Tempo, Feedback and Mix (Dry/Wet), as well as controls for Ping-Pong mode and Tap Tempo. New additions include 3 feedback filters (HP/LP/BP) and a dedicated control for enabling the Analog mode.


The Compressor helps you keep the overall mix tight and under control, and now also features a new Fast mode and is separate for each Slot.


The Nord Stage 3 features six different Reverb types (Hall 1+2, Stage 1+2, and Room 1+2)  for adding some ambience to your sounds, and the amount is now morphable. The Reverb effect is now separate per Slot and also features a new Bright mode. 

Master Clock

The Master Clock function makes it easy to sync effects to other elements, like the arpeggiator, LFO or even one of the other effects. You can easily lock the effect rate to a range of note values – make the delay do quarter note triplets of what arpeggiator is playing, while the LFO gently sweeps the filter up and down in half notes, all perfectly interlocked. The Master Clock can also be controlled by an external MIDI clock – perfect for syncing your parts to a backing track, including tempo changes!


The Nord Stage 3 wouldn’t be a master keyboard if it couldn’t control external devices with ease. The Extern section is designed solely for this purpose, so that any MIDI-connected gear gets seamlessly integrated with the Nord Stage 3’s built-in instruments. Zones, splits and layers are handled exactly as if the external equipment was a part of the Stage 3 itself. All settings are saved together with a Program so advanced setups can be immediately recalled in real-time during a performance. You can even use the Extern Section to automatically transmit Bank Select and Program Change messages to your external units.

Three Models

The Nord Stage 3 comes in three models:

  • Nord Stage 3 88 with a fully weighted Hammer Action keybed (A-C)
  • Nord Stage 3 HP76 with a lightweight Hammer Action Portable keybed (E-G)
  • ​Nord Stage 3 Compact with a 73-note Semi Weighted Waterfall keybed (E-E) with Physical Drawbars. NEW

Each Fatar keybed is meticulously calibrated at the Nord factory to ensure an even response over the whole range.

Hammer Action (HA)

The Nord Stage 3 88 keybed uses our top-of-the-line fully weighted hammer action piano keys. Perfect for electric and acoustic piano sounds, but also works great for organ playing. Key range A-C.

Hammer Action Portable (HP)

The Nord Stage 3 HP76 keybed uses amazingly portable weighted hammer action piano keys, limiting the weight of the Nord Stage 3 HP76 to only 12,4 kg (27,3 lbs). Key range E-G.

Semi Weighted Waterfall (SW)

The Nord Stage 3 Compact keybed uses semi weighted organ keys with a rounded "waterfall" tip, brilliant for rapid organ shredding and synthesizer licks, but also plays nice with piano sounds. Key range E-E.

Control Pedals

The Nord Stage 3 supports the following pedals: Fatar, Yamaha FC7, Roland EV-7, Roland EV-5, Korg EXP2 and Korg XVP10.

Program Change Pedal

The Nord Stage 3 supports program change (Up/Down) via momentary two-button pedals such as the Boss FS-6 and Boss FS-7.

Specifications subject to change without notice. *Steinway, Wurlitzer, Hohner, Clavinet, Farfisa and Vox are trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated or associated with Clavia. These trademarks are mentioned here as a reference to a sound only. Leslie is mentioned to describe a connector standard.


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Clavia Nord Stage 3

Clavia have considerable experience and expertise when it comes to designing stage keyboards. Is this the best one yet?

It’s been more than six years since I reviewed the Nord Stage 2, which was, in essence, a hybrid of the Nord Piano, much of the Nord C2 organ and a simplified version of the Nord Lead virtual analogue synth engine. But things have moved forward since then, and the Stage 2 no longer embodies the best of Clavia’s stable; the Nord Piano libraries have expanded, new algorithms have appeared in the C2 and C2D organs, and the Nord A1 synthesis engine has superseded the traditional Nord Lead engine. So it came as no surprise when, last year, Clavia announced the Stage 3. Incorporating many of Clavia’s latest technologies, this comes in three incarnations: a 73-note model with a waterfall keybed, a 76-note version with a lightweight hammer action, and the fully weighted, 88-note hammer action variant that I have here, which not only feels good and plays well but (unlike some recent instruments from elsewhere) has the correct dimensions, both in terms of key length and keyboard width.

Like its predecessor, the Stage 3 isn’t one instrument — it’s (almost) two. Think of it as one Stage 3 with its Organ, Piano, Synth, Extern (external control) and seven effects sections in what Clavia call ‘Panel A’ and, with a few interdependencies, a second, almost independent Stage 3 in ‘Panel B’, totalling six sound engines, two external control sections and 14 effects sections. But while the Stage 3 looks much the same as previous models — the overall design is the same, the dimensions are the same, and the weight is only slightly increased — a closer inspection shows that there are many significant differences.

The Organ Section

The Stage 3 retains the fully polyphonic Hammond, Vox and Farfisa models of previous Nords, updated with the latest algorithms from the Nord C2D. In truth, there’s nothing new to say about the Hammond model. It offers the same underlying sound and the same key-click, percussion and chorus/vibrato facilities as the dedicated organ, as well as the three tonewheel modes — clean, vintage1 and the ‘leaky’ vintage2 — that I have praised on numerous occasions in the past. In contrast, the Vox model has changed slightly, although not in a good way. For some reason, Clavia have changed the configuration of the drawbars, replacing the Stage 2’s sine wave and triangle wave drawbars with an historically inaccurate mix control on the ninth drawbar. Sonically, the model remains rather more polite than the sound generated by my crumbling Vox Super Continental II so, rather than say that it’s an altogether accurate reproduction of the original, I would prefer to say that it’s one that you could use very successfully in its place. Similarly, the sound of the Farfisa emulation continues to lack the bark of the original and remains an approximation to that of the Compact Deluxe. In the past, I’ve been complimentary about both the Vox and Farfisa emulations, but I think that it’s time to become a little more critical of them. If Clavia want them to be state of the art, they need updating.

The big upgrade in the organ section is the addition of two pipe organ models. Testing Pipe 1 before reading the manual, I was surprised by how synthetic it sounded, but later found that Clavia describe it as “similar to that of the B3 organ — but without any of its electromechanical behaviours and artifacts,” which sums it up well. Pipe 2 is somewhat more authentic, being based upon the Principal ranks of a genuine organ. For either model, you can use the drawbars to emulate multiple ranks of pipes, for example mixing 8’ and 4’ to recreate the 8+4 stops of many classical organs. However, this merely mixes two octaves of the same sound; there’s no difference in timbre as there would be between two ranks of pipes. So, while the two new models may be useful, they won’t replace a dedicated emulation of a classical organ nor the classical voices in the Nord C2, and I would treat them as a nod in that direction rather than a serious attempt to bring pipes to the Stage series.

As before, you can set up two independent registrations of a given organ on a single Panel, allowing you to flick between the two at the touch a button. But even better than this, I was delighted to find that you can now select different organ models for Panels A and B, which means that you can have two models of organ available on the keyboard at the same time. For me, that’s a big step forward.

The Piano Section

I’ve been a fan of the Nord Pianos since the Bösendorfer Grand Imperial XL was introduced. This is a large multi-sample — so large that, on early models of the Piano, Electro and Stage, it gobbled up much of the available memory. However, the Piano RAM in the Stage 3 has now been expanded to an impressive 2GB, so you can retain the Grand Imperial XL, the even larger Royal Grand 3D YaS6 XL, or even both, and much more besides. To take advantage of this, the number of slots into which you can load the six types of piano samples — Grand, Upright, Electric, Clavinet/Harpsichord, Digital and Layers — has increased from nine per type to 20 per type. Just as significant is the increase in polyphony. The Stage 2 offered either 60 mono or 40 stereo voices and, even in 2011, this was a bit limiting, so I was delighted to find that this has now been expanded to 120 voices for all of the piano sounds. The other significant upgrade in this section is the addition of three preset filter settings for the pianos — soft, mid and bright — selected using the same button that switches between the eight pickup combinations now available for the Clavinets.

As always, I found many of the pianos and related sounds to be superb. The XL (extra large) pianos remain smooth, both in terms of velocity transitions and from note to note as you play up and down the keyboard, and the string resonance and soft release functions (when available) help to make the sound even more realistic. I’ve been privileged to play many of the digital pianos released over the past few years and, if I had to choose, Clavia’s grand pianos remain my favourites. I only have one complaint regarding them, and I’ve had it for more than a decade; you still need to buy the Nord Triple Pedal to access the pedal noise, half-pedalling, sostenuto and Una Corda ‘soft’ functions, and this adds around £200$200 to the cost of the instrument. I also like some of the upright pianos, many of the e-pianos and Clavinets, and the French Harpsichord, although a handful of these — in particular, one or two of the Clavinets — exhibit obvious velocity layers, so it’s probably worth using the Sound Manager (see box) and the Nord Piano Library to delete and replace any of the pre-loaded instruments that don’t come up to the mark. Unfortunately, the Clavinets are still unresponsive to pressure (they should go a tad sharp when you lean on the keys) and there’s still no modelling of the mute slider. Played through suitable effects and the amp model, they sound great, but they are now looking somewhat limited when compared with the latest Clavinet soft synths.

The Synth Section

The most visible changes between the Stage 2 and the Stage 3 lie in the Synth section which, while remaining a subtractive synth, goes way beyond traditional VA synthesis. The new version sees an increase in the maximum polyphony from 18 voices to 34 voices, in the number of patch memories from 300 to 400, and in the amount of sample RAM from 384MB to 480MB, but the most significant innovations lie in the voicing itself, and in particular in the dual oscillator section. This now offers initial sounds based upon analogue-style waveforms, Waves (which are additive waveforms, not wavetables as Clavia claim), S-Waves (chorused waveforms), F-Waves (vowel sounds), and samples, the last of which are obtained from the Nord nsmp3 sample library.

You determine how the oscillators are configured using the Oscillator Configuration controls. The first configuration is Single Oscillator (which, as its name implies, comprises just osc 1) and there are three versions of this: Basic, Pitch and Shape, the choice of which determines how the OSC CTRL parameter affects the waveform; either not at all, to control the pitch, or to control the waveshape. Then there are the 12 Dual Oscillator configurations, which include Mix (osc 2 is independent of Osc1, and offers sine, triangle, sawtooth and square waveforms), Detune (osc 2 is a detuned copy of osc 1), two versions of Mix Noise, Sync, 2-op and 3-op FM, ring modulation, and amplitude ‘Bell’ modulation. Not all oscillator types can be used in every configuration — in particular, S-Waves and Samples have no pitch or shape configurations, nor can they be used in the Sync, Detune or FM configurations — but there’s still a great deal of flexibility here.

Once you’ve configured the oscillators, things get a bit more conventional, with the signal passing to a multi-mode filter that offers six profiles: a new 24dB/oct ‘classic’ filter (an emulation of the Moog transistor ladder), Clavia’s 24dB/oct and 12dB/oct low-pass filters, a high-pass filter, a band-pass filter and a parallel LP/HP filter. The first five of these are resonant and will oscillate when asked to do so; the sixth isn’t and the resonance knob controls the second cutoff frequency. Keyboard tracking of the cutoff frequency is Minimoog-style in all modes, with options for none, 1/3, 2/3 and 3/3 tracking. Three levels of overdrive are offered, and the cutoff frequency can be modulated by the synth’s LFO and by either velocity or the modulation envelope (but not both simultaneously).

As on previous models, the Stage 3’s contour generators are ADR/ASR devices. There are two of these: one for modulating the appropriate parameter in the selected oscillator configuration as well as the filter cutoff frequency, and the other dedicated to the audio signal level. They have claimed time constants ranging from 3ms at the snappy end to a languorous 45s at the slow end of the scale, and the levels of both are velocity sensitive, with four degrees of sensitivity for the latter. If this sounds a bit limited when compared with other VA synths, the provision of a single, programmable LFO is even more so. This offers five waveforms including S&H, and has just two destinations: the oscillators (where it’s exclusive with the modulation contour) and the filter cutoff frequency. However, like previous Nords, there’s also a global LFO for vibrato and delayed vibrato that you program in the menus (see box) and control using the mod wheel and aftertouch. Other facilities include a Unison mode that adds one, two or three detuned versions of the initial waveform to itself for a rich, chorused sound, plus a sync’able arpeggiator offering up, down, up/down and random modes over one to four octaves. Finally, there’s a mono mode that offers single- and multi-triggering options and constant-rate portamento.

Despite its simplicity, the Synth can sound superb. It’s capable of being simultaneously precise, deep and engaging, and I found that I could use it for all manner of jobs — analogue-style basses, pads and leads, digital timbres, and of course a huge range of sample-based sounds. Once you’ve mastered its unusual architecture you’ll find that it’s a lot more flexible than its limited number of features and parameters might suggest.

The Effects

Like the Stage 2, the Stage 3 offers Rotary Speaker, Effects 1 and Effects 2, Delay, Amp Simulation/EQ, Compression and Reverb, and all of these are now available independently on Panels A and B, which is excellent news, although each section can be accessed by only a single sound generator at any given time, which remains a considerable limitation.

The Leslie emulation is based upon the latest algorithm from the Nord C2D, and has been enhanced by the addition of independent speed and acceleration parameters for the horn and the rotor, as well as a close/far parameter for the microphone placement. Unfortunately, the speed and drive settings are the same on both Panels, so that precludes playing one organ with a gentle, slow purr and a second screaming though a ‘fast’ Leslie. But that caveat aside, the effect is much better than before, whether used for organs or other sounds such as 12-string guitars.

Next come the Effects 1 (pan, tremolo, ring modulator, wah and two types of auto-wah) and Effects 2 (two phasers and two choruses, a flanger and Vibe) sections. In each of these, only one effect can be selected at a time, and you’re limited to just two parameters for each — generally rate and amount — although those in Effects 1 can be sync’ed to Master Clock if desired.

The next big change is apparent in the Delay section, which has been enhanced by the addition of three filters (LP, HP and BP) that allow you to create a wider range of effects, plus an Analogue mode that adds a touch of distortion to the repeats and emulates a tape echo when you change the tempo. Nice!

The Amp Sim/EQ section has also been enhanced by the addition of resonant 24dB/oct low-pass and high-pass filters together with a wet/dry control that allows you to mix the contributions from the filtered and unfiltered sounds. You can only select one of these at a time, but the effect on the sound can be considerable. Sadly, this section still exhibits a fault that I noted on the Stage 2, whereby altering the master level of an overdriven sound doesn’t affect the amount of distortion.

The Compressor has also been updated with the addition of a Fast mode (which, because it generates pumping, is not to my taste, but you may like it) and, finally, the Reverb has been updated with a Bright mode that does what its name suggests.

Extern & MIDI

Squeezed between the Synth and Effects section, there’s the small group of controls called Extern. Although it has other uses, it’s perhaps easiest to think of this as another instrument section that just happens to have its sound generator — another keyboard, module or soft synth — outside of the Stage 3 itself. To make this as seamless as possible you can configure things so that, each time you select a Program, the appropriate Program Change messages and any desired CCs are sent to the external instrument. Extern MIDI channels can be set on a per-Program basis or globally and, if the latter, any changes made to the physical controls on the Stage 3 can be transmitted as MIDI data, which means that you can use it as a controller keyboard. You can also route incoming MIDI to anything being controlled by Extern, which is good.

In the other direction, more than 100 of the Stage 3’s voicing parameters can be controlled using MIDI CCs, which makes it possible to automate performances. What’s more, if you present a MIDI Clock to the Stage 3, its Master Clock will lock to this. This means that, on both Panels, the arpeggiator, the synth’s LFO and any appropriate effects can be synchronised, either at the same rate or at various subdivisions of MIDI Clock.

In Use

To get the best from the Stage 3, you need to grasp its unusual Program architecture and understand how its three sound engines work within this. Let’s start with the keyboard zones. Unlike previous models (which offered three of these) you can now define four zones across the keyboard and these allow you to assign each of the Organ, Piano, Synth and Extern sections to their own zones, or overlap them in various ways, or spread them across the whole keyboard as you see fit. There’s also a new Split Width parameter that creates a crossfade across a split point so that the sound changes smoothly between the instruments placed on either side of it. Regrettably, and in common with previous models, there are only 10 pre-determined split positions so, if you want to play a synth bass sound from the bottom of the keyboard to G3, and a piano from Ab3 upward, you can’t. The best you can do is select the nearest split point at either E3/F3 or B3/C4, which might be acceptable, but equally may not.

Even the Panels are not as straightforward as they might seem. Most obviously, you can use them to switch between two complete Organ/Piano/Synth/Extern setups, or to create dual-manual organs, or to create layered sounds such as duo-timbral synths that you can’t obtain from a single Panel... or, using the zones, all of these simultaneously. There’s also a facility to place a Piano sound in each of Panel A and Panel B, and then detune the two by three amounts ranging from honky-tonk to ‘just about to fall apart’. In addition, there’s a dedicated Dual KB mode that allows you to determine which single instrument in Panel B will be disconnected from the keyboard of the Stage 3 itself and played using an external keyboard. This allows you, for example, to play the organ section using a suitable MIDI controller while reserving the Stage 3’s own keyboard for piano playing. You can even set things up so that you’re playing one Panel on the Stage 3 itself while some or all of the other is being controlled via MIDI from elsewhere. These are good facilities, and I wonder why Clavia don’t make more of a fuss about them. If there’s a significant limitation (and there is) it’s that both Panels use the same zone configuration so, while you can assign different instruments to the zones within Panel A and Panel B, you can’t configure their split points differently.

Once you’ve grasped all of this, you’re ready to create, save and recall Programs. There are then two ways to access them, either in Program mode, in which the eight banks of Programs are split up into 10 pages, each containing five Programs, or in the new Song mode, which accesses the same Programs but allows you to configure them into set lists. It’s important to understand that no copies are made to populate the Songs — if you edit a Program held in one location, you edit the underlying Program and therefore the same sound in all locations in all Songs. Nonetheless, it’s a useful feature that I would use extensively. In addition, there’s also a Live mode that contains five Program slots. The difference between these and other Programs is that any changes you make to the sounds and effects are stored automatically for immediate recall.

If all this flexibility comes at a price, it’s that the Stage 3 is far from a ‘one function per control’ instrument, whether programming sounds or when performing. But once you’ve used it for a while, almost everything falls quickly to hand. Inevitably, there are still areas of the Stage 3 that could be improved, such as the provision of pedal noise without needing to buy the Nord Triple Pedal, the addition of audio over USB, and more, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use one in the studio because it can sound beautiful and I find it to be musically inspiring. I’m therefore rather sad that I couldn’t use one on stage at the moment. This is because I often need more control over the positions of splits and layers than the Stage 3 can provide. But for players with simpler demands in this area (and that’s likely to be the majority of you) this won’t be a problem.


The Stage 3 is a significant upgrade from the Stage 2, not just because of the major changes, but because some of the lesser ones could make a difference to how and when you’ll be able to use it. Of course, the price will remain a stumbling block for many people, and no-one (well, almost no-one) is going to spend somewhere in the region of £3500$4500 on a whim. But if the facilities of the Stage 3 are appropriate to your needs, you won’t be disappointed by the range of sounds that you can get from it, nor its quality, nor its style, which are as good as they ever were. The Stage 3 is a fine instrument, and one that I would love to have the opportunity to use.  


Some ‘multi-instruments’ from the 1970s and 1980s offered individual outputs for each of their sections plus a Total output, and I think that a similar arrangement would be appropriate for the Stage 3, which instead offers just four unbalanced quarter-inch outputs. A headphone output sits alongside these, as does a 3.5mm monitor (audio) input. On the Stage 2, the audio presented to this input was directed only to the headphones, but now it’s available at the Ch1/Ch2 outputs, which is a significant improvement.

As expected, there are inputs for a sustain pedal, an expression pedal, an organ swell pedal, and a pedal to control the speed of the rotary speaker effect. In addition, there’s a new input for a dual pedal switch to step upward or downward through Programs or the Parts in a Song. MIDI in and MIDI out are provided, as is MIDI over USB, the latter of which provides the means for using the Sound Manager and, when it appears, the Sample Editor. However, there’s no audio over USB.

The final hole accepts an IEC mains lead for the internal power supply. The review unit accepts nominally 230V, 50/60 Hz, which suggests that there’s a separate model for the USA and other 100-120V countries.


The Stage 3 has four menus that, by and large, operate globally upon the instrument. The first is a System menu that allows you to set several performance-oriented settings such as the output routing options and the types and functions of any connected pedals. There’s also a new parameter that determines how transitions are handled when changing Programs — either curtailing the current sounds or retaining them until released by the keys or MIDI. For obvious reasons, the second of these is very welcome. The Sound menu concentrates on parameters that affect the sounds, including the loudness of the piano pedal noise and string resonance, the Hammond tonewheel model and the loudness of its key click, the rate of the synth’s dedicated vibrato oscillator and its amount when delayed vibrato is selected, and the speeds and accelerations/decelerations of the horn and rotor emulations in the rotary speaker effect. Next comes a MIDI menu that sports all of the expected parameters, plus one that allows you to connect a second keyboard to use the Stage 3 in Dual KB mode. Finally, there’s the Extern menu, which again concentrates on MIDI settings including Program-specific parameters for Panels A and B.

The Nord Sound Manager & Sample Editor

Clavia Nord Stage 3Unlike the Stage 2, which was supplied with two DVDs containing the Nord Sound Manager, the Piano sample library, the Synth sample library and the Sample Editor, the Stage 3 was delivered with a pair of DVDs that contain just the first two of these.

The Sound Manager is a useful adjunct to the instrument itself, allowing you to organise your Programs, Songs and Synth patches, to upload new samples to the Piano and Synth engines, to back up the Stage 3 and to restore it to its factory state. True, you can organise Programs and their underlying samples on the Stage 3 itself, but it’s a much faster and more pleasant exercise using the software. Unfortunately, the Stage 3 isn’t compatible with existing versions of the Sample Editor. Clavia say that an updated version of this is “in the works” and will be available soon. When this appears, it will allow you to take your own audio samples and multi-samples, edit them, and then convert them into the Stage 3’s format ready for uploading.

The Sound Manager runs on Macs (OS 10.6 and later) and PCs (Windows XP and later). The Nord USB driver (v3.0 or later) is required for PCs.


Morphing allows you to use the mod wheel, a pedal and aftertouch to affect the various sound engines in real time. Each of these can control multiple parameters simultaneously and with either polarity. The list of destinations — including all of the drawbars in the organ model, the level of the piano, seven parameters within the synth, and 10 in the effects sections — is fewer than on some Clavia instruments, but it’s still a very useful facility. For example, lacking three hands or three feet, I always use aftertouch to control the Leslie speed on my organs, and being able to accentuate the sound by pulling out the drawbars a tad and increasing the drive at the same time makes me doubly happy.

The Stage 3 Compact

The Stage 3 Compact differs from the 76- and 88-note versions in two significant ways. Firstly, courtesy of its semi-weighted, 73-note ‘waterfall’ keyboard, it’s better suited to organ and synth playing. Secondly, it uses physical drawbars instead of inc/dec registration buttons and offers a Live mode that, when you jump between Programs, uses the physical positions of the drawbars as the current registration no matter what is stored in memory. This is an excellent innovation, and one that I would undoubtedly find useful.


  • Many obvious upgrades: increased sample memory, new pipe organ models, a more powerful synthesizer, increased polyphony and enhanced effects.
  • Many less obvious upgrades: Song mode, an extra keyboard zone, seamless transitions between Programs, Program changing using a footpedal, improved monitor input routing and more.
  • Many of the acoustic pianos and other piano-type instruments are excellent.
  • The Hammond organ model and its related effects are state of the art.
  • The synthesizer section is more powerful than you might imagine.
  • The two Panels are now close to independent, making it (almost) two instruments in one.
  • It’s solidly built, yet Clavia’s red livery continues to look stylish.


  • The lack of user-assignable split points is limiting.
  • Making the triple pedal an expensive extra remains rather naughty.
  • The Vox and Farfisa models are starting to fall behind those of the competition.
  • The Clavinets have no mute function.
  • There’s no USB audio.
  • It’s not cheap.


When I was asked to look at the Stage 3, I didn’t know whether it would be a minor upgrade or a significant step forward. It turned out to be the latter, to the extent that I can see Stage 2 owners selling their existing instruments and spending the extra to obtain the new model. I would.

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