Learn the Nord Stage 3 Synth Engine (Part 3) | Tutorial / Training

– Welcome to the Nord stage three synthesizer training, this is part three (gentle music) If you missed part two and part one, I encourage you to go back there and watch those parts because this training really does work best if you watch it in order and there are things that I won’t even cover in part three because I’ve already covered it in part one and two such as configuring your synth at a starting point where all the default settings are back to zero, so I won’t even be covering that here in part three so be sure to watch the earlier parts and this particular version this part three is all about filtering, this is the Nord stage three filter section and it’s an important thing to know because in order to understand modulation, which is part four, you really have to know what it is your modulating and in many cases that’s the filter and the filter aspects of the synthesizer, in addition to filtering we’re gonna be talking about the KB track functionality, a little bit about what that does, we’ll briefly explore the drive option which is adding drive to the filter itself and then we’ll end the video with vibrato because even though that’s a simple thing to understand it actually is a little deeper than you would first suspect so we’ll talk about vibrato and what’s that all about so let’s get started with the filter I thought we would take a look at the Nord definition of it because they tend to do a pretty good job of explaining what it is and then what we do here in these videos as we take what the book says and we put it to practical use and look at it firsthand So the filter is an important component in shaping the overall timbre of the sound and can be modulated by a number of sources And modulation is the idea of fluctuating that sound over time then that’s where things get really exciting but we need to understand what filters are how they work first before we can talk about modulation The Nord stage three features a selection of both classic and innovative synthesizer filters, most filters share the same parameters, those two parameters are the frequency and more specifically the frequency cut-off and that controls the cut-off frequency here with this knob and that’s why it’s in red, I assume that’s why it’s in red because it’s such an important knob when it comes to filtering here on the Synth and so much is derived from this cut-off, and then the second not here which is the resonance knob and that controls the resonance of the filter resonance which we’ll learn about here in a little bit and for every filter configuration except one which is the LP and HP and the LP and HP stands for low-pass and high-pass filter, those filters are running simultaneously in that particular configuration and that way when that happens these knobs dictate the cut-off of both those filters respectively, so that’s the only thing you need to know about so this knob is resonance, every other situation except for this where it becomes the cut-off for the high-pass filter Now before we talk about the filter configuration specifically, I want to bring an important note to your attention, you may notice that there is no actual way to turn off the filter, no matter what you do, one of those lights is going be illuminated indicating that the filter is on and that is 100% true, the filter doesn’t ever shut off on the Synth, however you don’t necessarily have to have the filter on because if you put your frequency knob at 10 in this case with the low-pass filter LP 12 that’s what that stands for, if I have my frequency knob at 10, it means that that frequency cut-off is all the way to the far right of the frequency spectrum, in fact so far right that the filter isn’t even on, meaning the frequency cut-off is outside the range it’s all the way to 10 and there is no filter happening so the reason why there’s no way to turn off the filter is because you really turn off the filter or dictate where the filter frequency cut-off is by this knob, so this knob is in a sense your on-off button for the filter Okay, first there are six different configurations, we have the LP 12 which stands for the low-pass filter 12 dB and that will be explained better when we read through it, then you have the low-pass 24 which is essentially the same type of filter except that it reduces the volume by 24 dB per octave versus 12 dB per octave on the LP 12 then you have this interesting filter which is the LPM and that is a 24 dB filter just like the LP 24 except it has a different personality trait, it’s modeled after the famous Moog filter and we’ll read about that here in a second, then you have the filter here called LP plus HP, we talked about it just a second ago and that filter is essentially two filters, it’s both a low-pass filter happening at the same time is a high-pass filter so those two filters are working in tandem, then you have the BP filter which is band pass and this is an interesting filter which we’ll talk about here in a second and then finally the high-pass filter, so essentially these are all filtering the same thing

and that is frequencies and the frequencies, think of the old back in the 80s where we used to have stereos and we used to be proud of our stereos we had the amplifier the big speakers and the subwoofer and then of course it wouldn’t be complete unless you had one of those long EQs and you could move the frequencies up and down and essentially this is the exact same thing, this frequency cut-off determines where we start trimming those frequencies up or down and when we talk about cutting them off, we’re talking about lowering their volume or raising their volume, that’s it, there’s nothing fancy going, we’re just literally taking a frequency on that spectrum and either making it louder or quieter and that’s all these filters are doing, with that said let’s get down to business here, let’s take a look at the default filter which is the LP 12 and read about that, so it is a low-pass filter which means it allows the low frequencies to pass through meaning you’re going to hear low frequencies more than you’re going to hear high frequencies when you start playing with the frequency knob so if you think of this frequency knob here, this knob here, when it’s on 10 think of the frequency spectrum and think of that cut-off starting at 10 in moving to the left and slowly but surely cutting off those high frequencies in a curve-like fashion, in fact we can see a picture of it here and the LP 12 stands for 12 dB for every octave, so the LP 12 setting provides 12 dB octave low-pass filter which retains more harmonics than the LP 24 setting a 12 dB filter is also known as a two pole filter versus the LP 24 setting with an attenuation slope of 24 dBs per octave is a more classic synth filter, it cuts out frequencies rather drastically with a slope of 24 dB per octave and a dB, a 24 dB filter is also known as a four pole filter so let’s listen to the differences here, I’m gonna load up a classic saw wave and I’m gonna start with my frequency on 10 and load up my spectrum analyzer with GarageBand and yes I have a tone, I’m just gonna play the c above middle c and start with 10 here on the frequency knob and we’ll start reducing those high frequencies in a nice smooth fashion and you can see here when I have it on 10 keep your eyes focused on that far left line and you’ll no notice that it doesn’t move an inch as I move that knob until I get to the very, until I get to about five on the frequency, you’ll see it, now it’s starting to finally diminish because it’s letting the low frequencies pass through, now another thing to play attention to as you move this knob but look at the center LED and you’ll see that it shows you the range, if I go all the way to zero, my filter frequencies 14 Hz, if I go all the way to the right it’s 21 kHz so again that represents the spectrum of where that line is, that’s a line in the sand in a sense as to where it’s gonna start cutting off those frequencies and because this is a low-pass filter only the frequencies on the right side, the high frequencies, are being diminished because the low is allowed to pass, now it’s completely the opposite when you talk about high-pass filter, it’s the exact same thing in reverse, in fact let’s do that right now, let’s go to the high-pass filter and if I start on 10 it’s going to have a different effect, I actually have to start on zero and move to 10 in order for you to hear something similar in my example so we’ll do that same seeking and I’ll start going from zero up and right now we’re cutting off the low frequencies and leaving just the high frequencies, high-pass filter, allowing the high frequencies to pass and that’s really that simple how these filters work now of course you have to play around with them and learn their personality traits but then when you start modulating these filters, meaning move them up and down through time, using the different the options we have here on the Nord Stage 3, it really becomes exciting and interesting Alright so that’s the low-pass filter 12 So again let’s review, we’ll go from 10 to zero And it’s a nice smooth, when I get to about five, I still have four lines showing Okay now let’s take a look at the LP24, which is a more dramatic effect, again that’s 24 dB per octave going down, go from 10 to five and we’ll watch the difference This time I’m left with two and one little, maybe three lines, not very many, so it has a more dramatic effect, more frequencies are being cut out, the more I bring that cut off from right to left, so really that’s it So you could say well so there’s really not much of a difference, no there isn’t, these filters are essentially, they all do the same thing, they reduce or enhance frequencies on the spectrum

and the configuration is just how much or how they work Now the LP12, or excuse me the LPM which is that one, let’s read about that one, ’cause that’s sort of interesting The LPM, the low-pass M filter provides an emulation of the original transistor filter from the famous Mini and that Mini is from Moog, the groundbreaking and much loved filter design, was created and patented in the 1960s by Dr. Robert A. Moog And it sort of became famous, the Moog became famous for its sound, it was so unique and this filter here emulates that personality So let’s listen to that, and remember at its root it’s still an LP24 with a Moog approach to it In fact let’s talk about it just little bit more The M filter is a four pole, so that’s again the 24 dB octave resonating low-pass filter, the character of the filter resonance is one detail that makes it stand out leaving more of the low-end of the signal then on the 24 dB octave So let’s just listen to the LP24 versus the LPM, and I’ll play in the low register because I think you’ll be up to hear the lower notes little better So I’ll just play a little pattern here, and I’ll reduce the frequency cut-off here So nice rounded sound at five Now let’s change it to the LPM It feels different and unique, different that the LP24 Let me bring more frequency out, let’s keep it at eight and compare the two Now the LPM So there’s some subtleties there, I mean it’s pretty close, they’re still at their very nature, the filters are similar but it does provide that LPM option and if you’re going for something specific, or you want to mimic something more closely to what the Moog originally did, that LPM filter may come in very handy Okay I’m going to skip the LP, HP for now, because that’s the most advanced in my opinion, and skip right to the band-pass filter and then we’ll come back to the other one in a second So the band-pass filter is one of my favorites because it’s unique, it’s got its own personality trait if you will, the BP or band-pass filter allows frequencies close to the filter frequency cut off, in this case setting to pass, while frequencies above and below the cut-off are attenuated or diminished, this can for instance be used for programming narrow, nasal or very controlled sounds, it’s exact character depending on filter frequency and resonance setting So remember this resonance we haven’t really learned about that yet, but this in conjunction with this, can make for some interesting things So the band-pass filter, think of that cut off as you move it up and down, the slope of the curve where those frequencies are So think of you taking that EQ and just taking your hands and sort of squishing down the right and left as you move left and right Alright so let’s listen to that, we’ll start with the frequency way on the right, and this really becomes obvious when you see it visually here I’ll just play a C, and you see when I have my band-pass filter all the way to the right, all I’m getting are those, just those high frequencies there and a little curve, and as I move down So it’s like taking the spectrum and only listening to the part that you want to accentuate, and that’s the band-pass filter Okay the next filter is the high-pass filter, we sort of already talked about that a little bit when we talked about the low-pass filter and it’s really kind of the opposite, except that the high-pass filter runs at 24 dB versus a 12 So the high-pass filter is similar to the LP 24 Alright so that’s how that works, and when you move that cut-off, you’re taking off the low part of the frequency Okay now let’s look at this one, this is the LP and the HP combined, and it looks like this, let’s read about it, the combined low-pass, high-pass filter, consists of a 12 dB low-pass and a 12 dB high-pass filter in parallel, the filter frequency knob controls the cut-off frequency of the LP filter, and the resonance knob, controls the cut-off frequency of the high-pass filter That resonance knob over here, this becomes the filter frequency cut off for the high-pass filter in this one scenario, and that’s why it’s in red and that’s why this is in red, so you can see clearly what that does Alright so let’s play with this, this is very interesting, first let’s just turn off all the filtering whatsoever, and in order to do that,

you would put zero here on the frequency knob, for the low-pass and then for the high-pass, you would put in on 10, because remember they sort of work in opposites, coming together like this, where those frequency cut-offs are coming together So I have the high-pass frequency on 10 so it’s over here, low-pass frequency on zero, and meaning I’m not gonna hear anything when I play, so I’m just gonna put on my KB Hold here and play a wide range of sound, can’t hear it at the moment, so first I’m going to take my low-pass filter, and turn it on, allowing more of those low frequencies to pass through, here they come That’s up to a five which is about a 622 Hz Okay I’m gonna turn that off, then I’m gonna take my high-pass filter cut-off and move that so that it releases some of those high frequencies, here they come, now if I put ’em both on about halfway, about five Okay so now if I move them both to their opposites, I hear an actual louder than it would be, in other words those frequencies overlap, and I actually am making more frequency come through, it’s actually getting louder In fact it says it right here, it says, the combination is highly useful for extensive tonal shaping of any source allowing for cutting the range between the two cut-off frequencies, or for enhancing a particular range with overlapping filter ranges So that part where it enhances you can actually bring those filter frequencies together and overlap and actually have more volume in that frequency range than you would otherwise So the LP/HP filter if set a certain way, will actually make your keyboard a little louder based on its configuration than it would be if you just had a regular LP 12 at frequency 10 for example, so just keep that in mind when you’re playing around with this That really is it for the filtering in terms of understanding that, so let’s move onto the next part which is KB Tracking Let’s read about that first, because it’s a little confusing when you first hear about what KB Tracking is, the reason for controlling keyboard track, is related to basic acoustics, if the pitch of a waveform is raised, the harmonics naturally raise in frequency as well If the cut-off frequency is constant, the sound will be perceived as getting muddier the higher up the keyboard you play, to avoid this effect use the KB track So let me explain this if I can, it’s not an easy thing to explain necessarily, but that it helps a little bit when you see it visually If I take a traditional saw wave, and I start at the low-end, you’ll see that the saw wave in it as it’s very nature, it has the basic fundamental note, and then the harmonics of the saw wave, spread through the spectrum, going to the right, each one getting a little quieter and quieter, and that’s essentially the personality of the saw wave Now as I move up the range, you’ll see that that line that slope follows my note beautifully Again I’m not talking about KB Tracking at this point and I have no filter involved, so KB Tracking, none of this is affected of my filter is at full, where this cut-off is not being, influencing the filter, in other words the filter is not invoked You’ll see that my slope follows my note beautifully, but if I take my frequency now, and cut off you know half of the frequencies, 554 Hz for example right at five, and I do that same thing, as I play the lone out, you see that nice slope and you see all the lines represented But as I move up the keyboard, you’ll see less and less harmonics being represented, look I’ve only four lines now, now I’ve only got three lines, and way up here I’ve only got two lines or so It’s changed its personality from a saw wave almost back to a sine wave because the frequency cut-off is right here at the middle of the of the spectrum, right around here, right around the 500 Hz range, which means that we are basically, we don’t want to hear anything about 500 Hz, So that same note which had its full presence down here at the bottom end of the spectrum, because that 500 there illuminated in green, is indicating yeah we’re letting all those notes come through, all those frequencies come through, but as I move up the spectrum, that 500 says no you can’t pass past the 500, so that’s why the sound becomes a little bit more muddy or dull as you got the keyboard Now watch what happens when I turn my KB Tracking to full glory, in other words all the way to one, that’s a one-to-one relationship KB Tracking is following and bringing my cut-off frequency, in a sense it’s taking that 500 and moving it up for me automatically as the keys move up the keyboard, so let’s do that now That same low note, and as I move up, look at my curve is following me, I almost have as many lines as I did, in fact I should have the exact same many lines Look at that, I’m way up here, now listen to how buzzy it is, it’s still very buzzy, very much like a saw wave so that KB track allows those frequencies

to come out relative to where the note is on the pitch spectrum so KB track is a neat way to keep the personality of those sounds the same across the keyboard now there are cases where you want to do that and have KB tracking on and there are cases where you don’t Now exactly how and why you’d want to use one over the other I can’t really explain all of that right now nor do I really have a full appreciation nor have I thought about it long enough to think about why the KB tracking would be useful one way or the other but I can tell you that if you’re trying to preserve the personality trait of a saw wave as you move up the spectrum, one way to do that is to keep that KB tracking at a one to one ratio So let’s just quickly look at the different options you have zero which no KB tracking you saw that clearly how that works, those frequencies get cut off rather quickly based on where your knob is of course and the lower your knob is on the frequency spectrum if you’re using a low pass filter, the more accentuated or the duller the sound will be going right so the KB tracking really is a derivative of where your frequency knob is so keep that in mind too Alright so you have off and you have one third that’s where the cut-off frequency will track the keyboard and a one to three relationship play one octave higher and the cut-off frequency will move by a third of an octave Now you have the two thirds which is the cut-off frequency will track a keyboard in a two to three relationship, play one octave higher and the cut-off frequency will move by two thirds or the one the one which is it cuts off in exact relationship to the keys you’re playing And let’s look at that visually here on the little graph You can see here’s an example of one to one tracking and here’s an example of two thirds tracking and you can study this a closely positive video if you want you can take a close look at this and, look at where the lines are going in, kind of get your head around this but I think it was easy to see quite clearly the KB tracking as we followed it along the spectrum analyzer just a minute ago So it’s a neat option to have, it’s a good option to have because you know if you take it too literally, if you don’t have that KB tracking on, basically that the stage three is saying “okay well you told me to cut off at 500 “so that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” but as a musician and as a performing situation, you don’t necessarily want it to take you too literally ’cause you still want it to sound clear or you still want the sound to have its integrity as what you meant for it to be when you played in the low register for example Next, we have the drive option This adds drive to the filter Okay, drive, activating drive which is the shift key and the KB track where we just were here that’s the drive option you get three settings that adds distortion to the filter stage you get setting one, two and three representing low, medium and high amounts of drive respectively They make a quick footnote here that says using drive with the high filter resonance setting will often produce a fun or interesting result here so let’s see what we can do here let’s put on the drive We’ll just keep a low pass filter here, I’ll put the frequency right in the middle at a five and we’ll add some drive So here’s a regular c and as I add the drive, I’ll hold the shift key and add one drive (buzzing) two drive, you can hear it’s a little buzzier (buzzing) and there is full drive (buzzing) yeah and it adds some drive, I wouldn’t say it has the pronounced effect of using the drive option over here on our regular amp simulation settings where you can drive and overdrive it to the point of its massive distortion but this is a nice enhancement for the filter and it can add some interesting effects Now it did mention that footnote where it said why don’t you use the resonance in conjunction with the drive to see what kind of options you have (buzzing) Put some more drive on here (buzzing) Yeah it comes out with that electric guitar sound especially if you modulate it manually here and we’re gonna learn in part four, modulation is all about moving these frequency knobs up and down across different patterns and things That’s gonna get fun (buzzing) Alright and that’s just the saw wave, you can play around with drive, with the different samples and the other different oscillator configurations that you have and experiment with that but those are some nice options So really, we’ve just gone through the entire filter section, we didn’t talk about this knob here or this knob here, that’s gonna be covered in part four because those have a whole nother meaning and they can go deep, really does require its own video Alright, but I do want to finish this video with the vibrato Vibrato modulates the pitch of the oscillator to produce natural sounding vibrato effects so there are three basic methods

you can use to control the synth vibrato which is set using the selector button in the vibrato section if you’re using one of the delay modes, delay one, delay two or delay three, the vibrato is introduced after a short amount of time increasing with each setting after a note is played The vibrato amount of the delay modes is set in the sound menu as well as the rate for the vibrato modes read more about this on page 53 so those first three delays and we’ll talk about where those settings are actually in the sound menu so that you wouldn’t necessarily think about where this is actually being affected by a menu down below here but it is and then you have the wheel that’s vibrato as dictated by the wheel and this sort of overrides anything that might be in the sound setting so full wheel is full vibrato so let’s take a look at that flute here and play this (flute playing) And when I put the wheel all the way up it is full vibrato and then this is the after touch so as I push a note and push harder (flute playing) that’s when my vibrato kicks in so it’s really interesting, you can trigger vibrato just through this delay mechanism and it affects your keyboard that way you can choose the wheel or the after touch So delay one, (flute playing) a little bit of delay, a little bit more delay (flute playing) there it is and finally the most delay (flute playing) so it’s hard to tell in this particular example, let’s just use a sine wave (beeping) there’s a better way of doing it, now you can hear the difference between the non-vibrato (beeping) and vibrato (beeping) delays, different delays Okay so let’s take a look at this closer, you can go to your vibrato settings here if you hold the shift button and push sound and you’ll see here you have a rate of vibrato as well and that goes from four to eight Hz so let’s listen to that, let’s put it on delay one for my vibrato (humming) and there is four hertz and as I speed up the vibrato, (humming) it’s dictated here under these settings and no matter what I choose, what type of vibrato I choose, let’s choose the wheel type the rate is always dictated by the sound settings here (humming) you can lower the rate and slow that vibrato down Okay the amount on the other hand only dictates the vibrato for delay one, two and three that’s where the amount is dictated so if I have a drastic amount here (humming) that’s pretty drastic at 50 cent or I can go down to let’s say eight cent and have it barely noticeable (humming) however the amount when you use the wheel function or the AT style, this amount is meaningless it only uses the amount based on where the wheel is (humming) So as I’m moving my wheel up, it’s having more of a dramatic effect or in the case of after touch, the harder I push, (loud humming) will go from zero to 50 based on those controls Okay so rate it dictated here through the sound settings on no matter what vibrato option you choose, the rate is always dictated here under your sound settings, that’s page three of 11 under the sound settings, remember you just hold the shift button and push sound, go to page three and you’ll get to your sound settings and then your amount for the sound settings is for delay one and two and three and then your wheel ignores the amount here and uses whatever the wheel is and the AT uses whatever the pressure is So hopefully that makes sense, so we’ve talked about filtering, we’ve talked about the frequency cut-offs, we’ve talked about the different types of filters, the KB tracking, the drive and the vibrato The one thing we didn’t talk about too much is the resonance and what that does so let’s cover that real quickly The morphable resonance parameter is used to further adjust the characteristics of the filter Increasing the resonance will emphasize frequencies around the cut-off frequency making the sound thinner Further raising the resonance will make the sound resonant to the point where the filter starts to self-oscillate and produce a ringing pitch Exactly where in the frequency spectrum this ringing occurs depends on the frequency value So let’s take a look at the frequency the resonance is that point where you have the cut-off, the resonance will accentuate the area around the cut-off making for some interesting effects and the higher on the resonance, the more effect it will have So let’s take a classic saw wave here and (humming) put the frequency to about a five and bring the resonance up (humming) You can see, does some interesting things (humming) And when you keep the resonance let’s say, at a certain rate, and move the frequency up or down, it creates some interesting effects as well So you can play around with that, this is interesting because it’s morphable as well so we can have influence over that

using pedals, using the after touch or using the wheel for example (light music)