New Nord Analogue Modelling Synth - Lead A1

Lead 4 analogue modelling combined with a streamlined interface      20/01/14
New Nord Analogue Modelling Synth - Lead A1

Nord Keyboards has announced the new Nord Lead A1 analogue modelling synthesizer. They tell us that the Lead A1 combines the latest analogue modelling engine from the acclaimed Lead 4, with an innovative streamlined interface for fast-track programming. Here's the details directly from Nord...


The Lead 4 and now the Lead A1 are equipped with an all new analogue modeling sound engine, capable of reproducing the character and nuances of the vintage synths of your dreams with breathtaking accuracy. 24-voice polyphonic and four part multi-timbral, the Lead A1 is a flexible choice for either stage or studio, delivering a stunningly rich and versatile palette of sounds.

The Lead A1 introduces a new front-panel user interface designed to make programming quick and easy, while retaining hands on flexibility.

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

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

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

The on-board filters include Low Pass, High Pass and Band Pass, along with new stunningly accurate modelled Ladder M and Ladder TB filters introduced in the Lead 4. The Lead A1 features an independent effects processor for each of its four slots. Delay, high quality Reverb, plus a choice of Drive, Ring Modulation, Phaser, Flanger, Ensemble or Chorus are available per slot. The impressive new Ensemble and Chorus effects are analog models of specific classic synths, bringing vintage analogue warmth and feel.

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

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

Like all Nord products, the Lead A1 is handmade in Sweden with meticulous attention to detail and quality control.

Quick specs

  • Synth engine: 96 kHz, 32 bit floating point processing
  • Polyphony: 24 voices
  • Multitimbral: 4 parts
  • Keybed: 49 keys
  • Weight: 4.85 kg (10.7 lbs)
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 802 x 92 x 260 mm (31.5 x 3.6 x 10.2")

Pricing and Availability:
The Nord Lead A1 will be available in April 2014 with an estimated price of £1299 RRP inc VAT / $1799 MAP.

More information:



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18 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
inb4    Said...

aftertouch or not ?

20-Jan-14 08:49 AM

Woo    Said...


20-Jan-14 10:02 AM

Synth_Fan    Said...

Good idea - Nord Lead is always best when straightforward, no nonsence synthesis.

But - it's just too expensive. They should be releasing this for $999!

20-Jan-14 10:44 AM

Gustavo    Said...

Having read the press release I cant help but feel like it is somehow an adapted/improved version of the NS2 synth section, which is designed to be compact in size and parameters but flexible. That way they ended up with a great VA, which now they call Analog Modelling, with a lower cost. Maybe they are trying to fill that sub $2,000 USD gap left from the Lead 2x and Wave (in its last days). If you looke here you can see they even compare it to the 2x!!!

20-Jan-14 11:21 AM

raphus    Said...

This makes me wish they hadn't skimped on so much with the NL4. If the NL4 had pressure sensitivity, a display, more useful effects, and the filters from the NL3, there'd be more of a distinction between it and the NLA1.

20-Jan-14 12:16 PM

Minimal6    Said...


20-Jan-14 12:43 PM

Minimal6    Said...

20-Jan-14 12:44 PM

Minimal6    Said...

Nord is regurgitating the same design, repackaging the Nord 4, and trying to recoup the R&D cost of that failure into a new box with an obscene price point.

Hans seems to have a rather curious contempt for their clients with this "synth". This is not progress, and if this is "honing the interface" for years, I would hate to see what you would come up with if it had been merely months!

20-Jan-14 12:47 PM

Synth_Fan    Said...

Well, with all this new real analogue stuff coming out, it is good to see one company stick to their guns and release some honest-to-God, vintage Virtual Analogue


(a new dawn!!)

20-Jan-14 12:53 PM


I took a closer look at the offerings here on Nord's site and while I don't typically like to complain, this is truly a bit disappointing at first glance for the price point. I think Daddy Warbucks owns all the synths he could ever want for this price and higher, how about making something that us musicians can afford? :) Please...

20-Jan-14 04:38 PM

CI    Said...

For the last two years, Clavia seems to have problems understanding the market. They release the Nord Drum and 1 year later was discontinued to be replaced by the Nord Drum 2.

Now this A1 release just leaves me puzzled. It is a skimmed down version of the NL4, almost similar to the NL2X. But wait, the NL4 is a slight upgrade of the NL2X ! So clavia have now 3 synths, in a similar price bracket with slightly different specs. If the spec and price difference would be substantial, yes the A1 would have a nice place in the synth world. But if I am going to shell out 1800$ for a A1, I might get the extra 500 to have the NL4. Make the A1 1200 and we will be talking. Unless I have to go to a gig that need a red keyboard, I would pass this one.

20-Jan-14 05:28 PM

Dr.Filterstein    Said...

NL4 seems not to be a huge success,and now they try it with A1.No wonder,NL4 sounds very cold and digital although the new filter is more powerfull than NL2X.In term of sound and price King Korg blows all Nords easily out of the universe.

20-Jan-14 06:29 PM

Synth_Fan    Said...

I own an NL2 and though the sound is rock solid, I deplore its memory saving (and access) system. It's horrendous to use. And - there are too many shift functions even on such a knob laden device.

What I can't understand about Clavia is why they never improved those issues, given all the available space on the top surface. You'd swear they were stuck for space the way everything is crammed at the left end of the instrument.

What the lack-luster success of NL3 taught Clavia is that people are not after 'fancy' with them - they want their traditional 'brick-wall' solid virtual analogue synthesis (and I can assure you, the NL2 is vastly superior in raw sound to all other VA's with perhaps the exception of the Virus - and despite the claims above, the Kong Knog is a toy by comparison). The NL3 was a relative failure because it was too fancy, and the NL4 seems to have followed a similar vein.

You can't blame Clavia for trying to improve the instrument and to increase sales - but they have gone the wrong route IMO - they need to improve memory access, remove the shift functions and add better synthesis features such as better ring modulator, for example.

But make no bones about it - my NL2 can provide sounds that are audibly better than any other VA in my arsenal (and that's a lot) - especially for raw, true, pure subtractive-synthesis sounds - stunning and strong bass, soaring leads and everything in between.

There are no 'ear candy' effects on the NL2 - there's nowhere to hide - and so Clavia designed a basic synth engine that sounds stunning - the real deal. I'm sure that is stil the case in the A1.

21-Jan-14 04:41 AM

Dr.Filterstein    Said...

Synth-Fan, NL2 is not the strongest and best VA. It's filter-resonance sound very thin and harsh compared to many VA's and the oscilators are steril and the waveforms are very limited.It seems that you never played King Korg or other VA's. I played and tweaked many of them several times.

21-Jan-14 12:03 PM

Minimal6    Said...

I have to concur with Dr. Filterstein. I find most of the Clavia's offerings to sound thin and sterile. And I happen to the NL3, and used to own the original NL.

21-Jan-14 12:31 PM

Benedict J    Said...

Same situation as the recent iPhone "range"; theres a premium product plus a slimmed down version, but the discrepency in features is barely reflected in price. They're both damn expensive, but one is massively better.

I don't know how many people bought the plastic iPhones, maybe they're a hit, but I see no point in this superficially cheaper Nord when the Lead 4 is only a fragment more expensive and so much better

Surely a new Wave is on the horizon?

29-Jan-14 07:51 AM

S R Dhain    Said...

Owned a NL2X years ago when they were new-ish. Sold on for more or less what i paid for it, which says it all about their demand in the market at any given time. Ironically i bought the NL2X because i wanted an NL3 and all the ones available S/Hand were almost close to list or more ( seriously).

The point is similar here; A1 if you can't stretch to the NL4 , but they are two different beasts, although the diff between these two compared to NL2X and NL3 is minimal in comparison. Perhaps if the actual "out the door" prices of the A1 were closer to less than £1000 then it would be a sure fire seller as current MRP is too close to the NL4. Nord synths rock, man; still one of the best VA or similar you can get. Horses for courses..of course.

29-Jan-14 04:01 PM

JimA    Said...

This is just simply too expensive, confusing, and questionable. The Nord Lead 4 and A1 are now both at the same price. Customers don't know which to buy. Will there be an A1 out shortly? How about a 4x? It's a gamble putting two grand on an Nord Lead A1 at the moment.

19-Oct-14 08:36 PM

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