Nord is one of the top manufacturers of high-end stage pianos and synths. The Nord Piano 5 is the latest in the series, which has long been a favorite of session musicians around the world.
The Nord Piano 5 looks like the older models; it’s an 88-key stage piano in Nord’s signature red. It combines high-quality sounds with studio-grade effects and shows some significant updates since the last model.
- Sep 10, 2021: Verified links. Minor changes in structure.
Our verdict on the Nord Piano 5
We always have to consider the cost when it comes to any Nord keyboard. There are very few negatives to talk of, and any slight complaints are based on personal preference rather than serious issues. So, we have to conclude that the Nord Piano 5 is a stunning stage piano. It sounds amazing, it’s great to use, and it looks better than most keyboards ever made. The price, although not without merit, is the only true downside.Check availability and current price: Sweetwater
Who does it suit?
The Nord Piano 5 is for professionals and serious musicians; it’s not a beginner’s choice.
- Outstanding sound quality.
- Intuitive layout.
- Handmade build quality.
- Two piano layers.
- Studio-grade effects.
- Very expensive.
Nord Piano’s have always been pretty good when it comes to onboard effects, and they seem to improve with each new model. The effects section comprises six modules: Mod1, Mod2, Amp/Comp, EQ, Delay, and Reverb. There are three amp/speaker simulations and a 3-band with sweepable mid.
Having this kind of modular layout makes it easy to route effects exactly as you want to, rather than having a blanket effect over everything.
Effects include Tremolo, Ring Modulation, Phaser, and more, with two selectable depths for each effect. You can assign effects to individual layers in the piano or Sample Synth sections. The delay module has a tap-tempo control, too, so everything is very intuitive.
There are five reverb types, along with bright and dark modes, to add ambiance to your tone. New to the Nord Piano 5 is the Chorale effect, which adds a smooth, creamy modulation to your sound.
This latest edition of the Nord Piano offers twice the memory of its predecessor, in both the piano and Sample Synth sections.
Independent piano layers
Another brand new feature for the Nord Piano 5 is that you now get two independent piano layers. You can use the piano layers individually, layered together, or split. Nord has always provided a great piano tone; the dual layers just opens up new possibilities to combine these great piano tones.
Splitting two piano sounds might not be the most obvious idea, but if one has deep, rich bass and the other has crisp, articulate highs, it works fantastically well.
Unison mode with three amounts is a new feature for the Sample Synth section. It’s a powerful feature that you find in a lot of soft synths, and it allows you to create massive ensemble patches.
Advanced Keyboard Split
Nord’s Advanced Keyboard Split is another way to make sure that your transition from one sound to another is as smooth as possible. Beyond choosing a split point, you can also add crossfades.
Tru-Vibrato is new to the Sample Synth section, and it mimics the vibrato characteristics of strings, brass, and woodwind instruments.
Advanced string resonance
String resonance, pedal noise, and so on aren’t unusual features for a stage piano anymore. However, we thought it’s worth mentioning here because Nord keyboards do it exceptionally well.
A few manufacturers are equally good when it comes to piano, synth, and organ sounds. Nord is one of them. It can mainly be attributed to the fact that they also manufacture dedicated synths and organs. So, when it comes to the Nord Piano, you get the best of all worlds.
The increased memory and two independent piano layers open up new possibilities for the Nord Piano 5. It takes something that was already fantastic and makes it even better.
If there was any minor negative, it’s that the max polyphony is only 120 notes, which is relatively low.
If there is any aspect of the Nord Piano that always gives us mixed opinions, it’s the keyboard feel. Generally speaking, we tend to prefer the feel of high-end Yamaha and Roland stage pianos over Nord.
Nord uses its own Triple Sensor Keybed with grand weighted action, and to be fair, it’s better than ever. Our issue is that Nord’s weighted keys can sometimes feel a little stiff compared to other manufacturers.
However, millions of users would disagree, so it’s a good reminder that personal preference is what matters.
The Nord Piano 5 has quite a lot going on in a small space. If you are familiar with Nord keyboards, you won’t be overwhelmed, but it could look slightly intimidating as a beginner.
What matters most is that Nord has been using the same (or very similar) layout for a very long time because it works! It doesn’t take long at all before you know your way around every single control. The modular design makes selecting or altering sounds and effects a breeze.
The Nord Piano 5 is a very expensive keyboard, and while it’s worth the money, it’s a lot to pay if you don’t need it. As a keyboard to practice/learn on, or if you won’t utilize everything it has to offer, it’s the wrong choice.
If you do utilize everything it has to offer, then it’s the ultimate home studio keyboard piano.
Despite our opinion on the keyboard feel, the Nord Piano 5 is an absolute monster of a stage piano. It delivers sound quality that will blow away most others, and it’s intuitive to use.
It has also become such an iconic image on stage in that classic Nord red.
If you look into how Nord instruments are put together, it’s no surprise they are so expensive. Every single keyboard is handmade in Sweden with incredible attention to detail, and it shows.
The Nord Piano 5 might be a high-end stage piano, but it’s a workhorse, too. You could be a gigging musician for decades and not run into a single person complaining that their Nord let them down.
Compared to other stage pianos
The Nord Piano 5 is a proper professional stage piano, but it comes with a hefty price tag. If you aren’t ready to spend that much cash, here are some great alternatives.
You can also check our recommendations for the best digital pianos and stage pianos currently on the market.
Piano 5 vs. Yamaha YC88
The new Yamaha YC88 is a gorgeous stage piano with real organ drawbars. Pound for pound, we prefer the YC88.
Piano 5 vs. Roland RD-2000
The RD-2000 has been around for a little while now, and it’s a beast. If you layer a lot of sounds or integrate software, the RD-2000 wins, if not, then the Nord Piano 5 is better.
Piano 5 vs. Kawai MP11SE
If it were a straight grand piano shootout, we would tell you to go for the MP11SE. But, if you need more of an all-rounder, go for the Nord Piano 5.