The dynamic duo of
|The Nord Drum 2 is a portable, 6-voice
drum synth with a flexible, easy-to-program
interface. Conveniently, it
connects to the Nord Pad controller
with a single CAT5 cable.
Clavia is back in the percussion-controller
game with a vengeance: Not only is the
Nord Drum 2 (ND2) a significant upgrade
of an outstanding table-top drum module, it
easily integrates with the Nord Pad, a new
lightweight and portable pad controller
The ND2 is a powerful 6-voice synthesizer
that is slightly larger than a paperback book but
easy to program, thanks to a clever integration
of buttons, modifier keys, and data wheel. Each
voice, controlled by a separate pad or trigger
input, can use one of three types of synthesis—subtractive, FM (6 algorithms available), or
resonant models (harmonic, tuned percussion,
drum head, and cymbal-like algorithms).
Percussion-related parameters include
control over Click (initial attack transient),
Punch (attack characteristics such as pitching
the first cycle of the waveform up or down),
velocity-controlled pitch bend, and Mute
groups for silencing other channels. The
Spectra parameter adjusts upper harmonic
content or controls modulation amount, while
the Clap parameter adds a reverb tail in higher
settings. Scale presets (chromatic, pentatonic,
hexatonic, and hang) are available, as are
distortion and echo effects.
The ND2 stores eight banks of 50 programs;
four of the banks have factory kits ranging from
realistic acoustic-drum timbres to electronic
kits and sound effects. The sound quality is
excellent overall. You can edit and replace any
of these presets or save your own in the four
user banks. Clavia offers the free Nord Drum
2 Manager (Mac/Win) for transferring sound
banks to and from your computer over MIDI.
There is no librarian app—it’s that simple to
edit, even on-the-fly!
The rear panel has two unbalanced 1/4"
outputs, MIDI I/O, a headphone jack, and
six 1/4" trigger inputs. A CAT 5 (RJ45) port
connects the ND2 to the Nord Pad. The module and the pad include mounting clamps that can
be attached to traditional drum hardware; a
CAT 5 cable is included with the Nord Pad.
If you use the CAT 5 cable, only external-trigger
input 1 can be used (typically assigned
to a kick-drum pad). Parameters for adjusting
trigger type, sensitivity, and threshold allow
you to use a variety of third-party controllers
with the ND2. It was also fun to trigger the six
channels using my Eurorack modular system.
The Nord Pad is roughly the size of an
iPad, with six 3.75"x 3.75" rubberized sections
that respond well to sticks and hands. You can
edit the response to suit your playing style,
and Trigger presets are available to get you
started. There are no rims around the pads,
so you can trigger two pads simultaneously
by hitting across them with the flat part of a
stick or hand. Most importantly, I had no false-triggering
issues with the controller.
Another control option is Nord Beat 2, a
free step-sequencer app for the iPad. You will
need a MIDI interface that supports USB from
the iPad and the DIN connectors on the ND2.
For me, the biggest drawback of the ND2 is
the lack of a USB port, which would simplify
the connections needed to use the iPad app
and sound-bank manager.
Nonetheless, the Nord Drum 2 sounds
great, and it’s simple to use and easy to
schlepp. If sequencing realistic drum parts is
your intent, add the pad. Together, they create
the most portable electronic-drum modeling
system available that provides uncompromising
Gino Robair is Electronic Musician’s
STRENGTHS Intuitive interface. 6
discrete trigger inputs. Small and
LIMITATIONS No USB. No power switch.
Stepping can be heard when a sound
is sustained and you lower the output
Nord Drum 2 $699
Nord Drum Pad $499