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quarta-feira, 11 de janeiro de 2017

Clavia Nord Modular G2!

For my first review, I thought it would be interesting to talk a bit about my absolute favourite synth, the Clavia Nord Modular G2!

Since you'll hear me talking a lot about this amazing synth in this blog, this won’t be the most complete review on it, but I’ll try to give you a good overview on what it can do and what I like / despite about it. 

For you to understand better how much I love this machine, I can tell you that in my home studio I am lucky to have 2 Clavia Nord Modular G2X (the rarer 5 octave version with the DSP Expansion built-in) and 1 Clavia Nord Modular G2 Engine (unfortunately without the DSP expansion installed, but it still is a very powerful machine).

This might seem a bit too much at first, but when you think about all this amazing machine can do, you'll start understanding why ;)

For starters, the Clavia Nord Modular G2 is a virtual modular synth that you can patch up using the editor in your computer.
The editor is definitely not as fun as patching a physical modular synth, like an Eurorack Modular, but it does the job very well (and with the big plus that you can save your own sounds!).
After the patching is done, you can edit the sounds using the synth's own interface (the G2 Engine lacks a physical interface, so this only applies to the keyboard versions...), needing only to assign the different parameters to the different pages of knobs (provided the interface can handle as many parameters).

Example of a patch made on the Nord Modular G2 Editor. Cables can be hidden for the value of the parameters to be clear!
In the set of modules available you'll find a vast selection of modules, separated in the following categories - In/Out, Note, Oscillator, LFO, Random, Envelope, Filter, FX, Delay, Shaper, Level, Mixer, Switch, Logic, Sequencer, MIDI - which allow you to create pretty complex patches that are simply out of reach for most other digital synths and for eurorack modulars with similar price range (and these lack polyphony…).

Despite I wouldn’t dare saying the Clavia Nord Modular G2 is the best sounding synth in the world (which I don’t think it is), it is an amazingly reliable synth for almost every task.

It can serve you pretty good as a synth for analog and digital sounds (it even features a pretty accurate Yamaha DX7 emulation), it can be a very versatile drum machine, or even as a very versatile effects processor with up to 4 external inputs, always with a great sound to it!
Sequencer running, upper LED indicates the step being played,
while lower LED indicates if it is active or not. 

And if you want to use it to control other gear, you can do that as well, you can program other gear that accepts CCs with it, and even sequence multiple external MIDI channels (and you can see on the LEDs which step is active at a given time!).

The only thing you must keep in mind is that since it’s not a new machine, the amount of RAM available isn’t that generous, which means delay times aren’t that amazing (you can have up to 2.7s of mono delay in a single patch), and unfortunately there is no sample player module (which would be really amazing…).

The other things I dislike in the Clavia Nord Modular G2 are the low amount of parameters pages available, which can be really annoying if you want to use it as a sequencer as you can’t control more than 5 sequencers with the interface, despite that consumes less than 20% of the available processing power…

Also, when it comes to control, it can only deal with CCs, which is a bit of a bummer when you want to control some of your vintage synths that can only understand sysex.

Other than that, I wouldn’t really complain with anything, which should tell you how amazing this machine is ;)
Clavia Nord Modular G2X using CCs
to control an Elektron SIDstation 

Another reason why this synth ranks so high in my book is that it is truly a sound designers dream, and an amazing tool to learn synthesis on.

It was the synth that really made me want to program my sounds, because the limit was truly my imagination (and the amount of processing power available, of course!) and I could always try something new every time I was patching with it.

Still, despite I have this synth since 2009 and have programmed hundreds of patches with it, I can’t call myself an expert on it, and several “hardcore” patches that are available in still make me scratch my head…
However, I find it to be really intuitive and it’s easy to program something that sounds really good on it.

Because of all the possibilities this synth offers, my review is definitely incomplete, but I will be using this synth most times when explaining several tricks I have been using to achieve my own sound, which I hope will also allow you to understand better the insane amount of possibilities this synth really offers!

Either way, if you want to see how would it sounds together with a minimal amount of gear, I did this performance at radio in early 2012, using one of my Clavia Nord Modular G2X together with a Fender Rhodes MkII 73. 
I processed the sound of the Fender Rhodes MkII 73 with a Sony DPS-V77 (which also served as pre-amp), while the Nord was controlled by an Eigenharp Pico, with its MIDI signal being processed by an Oberheim Strummer. 
Everything that isn’t the Rhodes sound is done by the Clavia Nord Modular G2X, and honestly it’s the only machine I can think of that I could use on its own for a full performance (hopefully I’ll get there with my Kyma Capybara 320, but that’s a much more complicated machine to learn and I’m a complete newbie at it…).

I hope you enjoy this performance, and stay tuned ;)

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