Clavia Nord Lead 3

Nord Lead 3 Image

Newly redesigned and vastly improved, Clavia gives us the Nord Lead 3. It is a 24-voice synthesizer (the NL2 is 16-voice) with many new features including many bigger knobs and controls. A new Unison mode is available that won't affect polyphony so that you can get some extremely thick and fat polyphonic sounds. A new and 'easier to use' user interface with endless rotary knobs and LED graphs offer total and immediate control.

The oscillator section has been completely redesigned. There are two separate oscillator groups, each providing you with six different waveforms, plus an additional built-in sync oscillator. A new type of synthesis akin to FM is also available called Sinus Modulation (SM). The Nord Lead 3 also features two high quality multi-mode filters with Low-, Band- and High-pass filtering. There's also Lowpass-Highpass and Lowpass-Lowpass filter modes and a Classic mode that emulates the characteristics of a classic analog filter. The Nord Lead 3 now offers up to 3 LFOs/Envelopes per voice plus Global Vibrato, syncable to MIDI clock.

Nord Lead 3 Image

The Nord Lead 3 also has four separate Morph groups. The Morph function lets you continuously control defined ranges of up to 26 parameters in a sound, using only a single control source. This lets you produce radical changes to a sound in a very fast and easy way. There are four Morph groups available for each sound and you may assign up to 26 different parameters, distributed as you wish among the four Morph groups. The Morph groups are hardwired to one control source each: Velocity, Aftertouch, Modulation Wheel and Expression Pedal. And with the new Timbre function you can switch between two complete parameter setups in a sound.

Also on-board are 4 individual audio outputs. Each MIDI part can be routed to a separate output or to two for stereo. The Software within the Nord Lead 3 can easily be upgraded via MIDI for future enhancements and upgrades. The Nord Lead 3 makes a great synth better than ever! A Nord Rack 3 is planned for release later this year. The Nord Lead 3 has already been used by Jean-Michel Jarre, Stereolab, Adrian Belew, the Faint, Keane, and the Pet Shop Boys.

Lookup Clavia Nord Lead 3 Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

Related forum topics


Are you looking to buy or sell a Clavia Nord Lead 3? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

46 Visitor comments
March 15, 2014 @ 9:13 am
Although I would agree that it is far from being the best sounding VA synth out there it is easily the best bit of kit I have to program sounds. It's a joy to work with especially its super easy modulation setup.

For those saying it sounds bad, cut the crap.
March 7, 2014 @ 4:13 pm
Nobby I agree the nord lead 3 sound nothing like a VA. But no where does it say it is meant to be. Unlike the 1 and 2 that we're VA the 3 is described as a performance synth.

I think a lot of people give the 3 a bad press as it's not fat analogue emulation. But it was never meant to be this.
Nobby the Aardvark
February 26, 2014 @ 10:22 am
Just no. This was the worst sounding Nord Lead right up until the Nord Lead 4 got released. Now they can both share the accolade equally.

Quite how all of the synth manufacturers have managed to make their VA's sound WORSE than their initial attempts over the years is quite astonishing... Korg, Roland, Nord, Novation, Access. Did I miss any?

Nord Lead 1 will be 20 years old next year and still no VA sounds better.
December 20, 2013 @ 4:08 pm
@Sian Howard

yep agreed. I had one for quite a few years and could never really muster up the effort to try and make it work for me soundwise. The stock presets are awful and best overwritten asap. If you're prepared to put the time in and program your own sounds then the NORD is for you. Presonally I'm too spoilt by the fantastic plug-in's available these days and it spent most of the time (shamefully) being a controller keyboard.
Sian Howard
October 3, 2013 @ 5:31 pm
I got a Nord Lead 3 S/H for £700 about 6 months ago. Initially disappointed, not as lush and fat sounding as I had expected (yet the synth certainly looks the part). But with careful programming it really comes alive. I love the simple implementation of FM and other waveshaping possibilities, this really has filled a gap in my sound design setup that only my Yamaha FS1R came close to before. I do highly recommend it, but surprisingly, given the way it was marketed, it is more of a sound designers tool than a wow-straight-out-of-the-box machine. Don't get one if you don't like programming.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.81 (535 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 24 voices
  • Oscillators - 2 oscillator groups each with Six waveforms: sine, saw, triangle, square (pulse with width modulation), noise, synced noise, dual sine; 2- and 4-op FM and differential FM; osc-sync; ring-modulation; variable unison.
  • LFO - 2 per voice, syncable to MIDI. Triangle, saw, square, smooth and stepped random, and triple-peak sine waveforms. Seperate vibrato effect.
  • Filter - 2 multi-mode filters (series or parallel). Lowpass, Bandpass, Highpass, LP-HP, LP-LP and Classic mode. 1-, 2-, or 4-pole.
  • VCA - ADSR envelopes for amplitude and filter; Amplifier Gain control
  • Keyboard - 49 keys with velocity and aftertouch and octave shift functionality
  • Memory - 1,024 patches, 256 performances
  • Control - MIDI IN/OUT/THRU (4-parts)
  • Date Produced - 2001
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

Errors or Corrections? Send them here.