Nord Modular G2: well that sure fixed my little red wagon


This was one of the first items that I wished to collect - although not a folly or a wonky 90's rack as such, it's definitely a signpost in the slow decline of hardware in the face of VSTs - up to the point where hardware grew an analogue beard. G2s are few and far between, which signals they are either very good (which is a kindly thought) or did badly (which is more likely). And they are very expensive, particularly to Australians as mostly sold in euros or pounds*. It's taken a while to collect one.


Clavia are synthesiser makers for people that demand a pitch knob made of wood and a wheel made of stone, the sort that take a Nord on tour because it's lighter than a stage piano. A quality instrument for your rock fusion experience. I mean, yes, they did start with emulations of lead instruments, but it looks to me that the Virus took that market and Clavia moved jazzward. The G2 (and it's cousin the Nord Lead 3) are as far as they went towards bleeptown, quickly followed by the Nord Lead 2-oops-sorry-we-take-it-back.


This particular one came to me in Australia, and although it was not cheap, it worked out far less than most. Hand delivered, missing a knob in the process of delivery (bad) but shows no sign of ever being used (excellent) - still running the first version of the OS. I fixed that.


This was once the only way you could do virtual modular. Now of course Reaktor, or BEAP would work just as well. I hoped that the hardware would give me more voices, but there's quite a few presets that will collapse down to only three. Most will give 7 voices which seems an odd number, the simple ones equivalent to the Lead 3 give you about 10. Not that much better than contemporary software. Getting rid of the reverb usually helps. There's a G2X that has twice the power (never seen one) or a company that sells expansion boards, but it's not really the main issue.


Not when you have those nice knobs with the little lights that jump to where the patch is stored. Damn those are nice knobs, each with their cute l'il LCD display. Seeing as these represent three columns of eight sets of settings, that's 192 virtual knobs. And it works, it really does work. When you play on the keys you realise that every cheap MIDI controller you own sucks giant animal bits. Did I mention a pitch knob made of wood and a wheel made of stone? This must be the opposite of fleacore. I've hit the big time at last.


The sound of it is probably best described by WC OLO GARB who is always right about everything. It's not distinctive, beardy or anything that a VST couldn't do. Nord is clean and bright like that song from the Sound of Music. Straight. It doesn't seem to have the strange instability of real analogue. It's programmable rather than emergent.


It's interesting to compare it to the Origin. The Origin says 'I promise you 32 voices. But you can only have 4 of this and 3 of that, and you can only connect them in sensible ways'. The G2 says 'connect anything as you like, but just realise it'll end up mono'. You are not going to make anywhere near the variety of sound on the Origin, but if you are going for a fairly standard synthesis it'll give a big fat wash of it. Plus the G2 needs a computer to patch the sounds.


I must admit it will be some years before I know what I can do with this thing. For now it is the red sports car that my mid life crisis demands, and a fitting end to this collecting madness - yes, it's time to stop packing more into this room and start being very good at unpacking the sounds that each beast may provide.




*written before the UK brexitted itself in the face








It was either this or a red car and I think I chose wisely.