We were fortunate enough to get a chance to play around with (for probably way too long) and review in detail the new Nord Electro 6 electronic keyboard series. As we’re huge fans of Nord in general, and in particular their Electro series as a whole, we were excited they came out with the new 6 considering the 5 was still relatively young at this point. For those who aren’t aware, Nord is one of our favorite stage piano and synthesizer brands in the world. They’ve made countless appearances in our guides for good reason, so we’re excited to write this today. So what have they added? Taken away? Is it worth the upgrade? Let’s check out the Nord Electro 6!
Main features of the Nord Electro 6
- Expanded memory to 512 MB for Nord Sample Library
- 3 part multi-timbral
- Split\Layer for all 3 sections
- OLED display
- Reverb with bright mode
- Large range of other studio effects (tweakable)
- Synth: Extended voice polyphony (30 voices)
- Synth: Dedicated sample synth section
- Synth: Attack, Decay\Release and other dynamic controls
- Piano: 1 GB for Nord Piano Library with filters
- Piano: Extended voice polyphony (120 voices)
- Piano: Sympathetic string resonsnace and 4 dynamic curves
- Organ: B3 Bass and Tonewheel, Vox and Farfisa
- Organ: 2 Pipe Organs
- Organ: Model 122 vintage rotary speaker
- Organ: 6D (61 and 73) models have physical drawbars
- Organ: 6D (61 and 73) models have half-moon switch mount for rotary speaker control
In terms of standouts for thew New Electro 6, there are quite a lot here as you can see. For one, we’re really digging the upgrades from their Electro 5 series — added seamless transitions, a new streamlined user interface, 3 part multi-timbral as well as optional split point crossfades for better flexibility and feel. The piano section as also adds some filters as well as extended voice polyphony, the sample synth adds 512 MB extended memory for their Sample Memory and an extended voice polyphony in this section, too. The organ adds 2 additional pipe organs and a nifty dual organ mode the previous Electro 5 lacked. Lastly, effects are generally the same (stereo effects with tube overdrive, vibe, separate reverb\delay, and standard tremolo, pan, ring-mod and wah-wah (with control pedal compatibility), however this Electro 6 series will give us a (very nice sounding) reverb with bright mode.
So should I upgrade from the Electro 5? Well, we’ll never say no if you have the cash. However, if you’ve just purchased the Electro 5 considering it came out a few years ago, we’d say you can wait for now. The additions are of course lovely, but doesn’t necessarily call for buying an entire new Electro 6. If you were one of the lucky ones to wait before grabbing your Nord, you’re in luck — many were anticipating this coming out in 2019 or even late 2018, but here we are. We’ll see if the money is worth it when the actual price comes out.
Many state this Electro 6 is some refinements with the foundation Electro series keyboard have also included. We agree, and think it’s best to not fix what isn’t broken, and this is more for those who haven’t purchased an Electro yet as opposed to upgrading the keyboard they have now (unless you have a 1, 2 or 3, then maybe you’ll start to debate on an upgrade).
Overall piano build
The keys here of all three of the Electro 6 models are beautiful, as found in many Nord models as well as competitors particularly in this price-point. The 6D 61 and 73 are listed with semi-weighted while the 6 HP is hammer action. This is always a plus in Nord series’ as they give us options for not only key counts but also key makes to pertain to our style and of course, budget as well.
Another note to keep in mind is their usage of ‘waterfall keybed‘ for both the Electro 6D 61 and Electro 6D 73. For those who are unaware, this means that the keys have rounded back edges and drop straight down commonly found with organs and are especially efficient certain moves, such as palm slides. We loved the feel of these when we were playing — easy to move with, got some nice slides down, and definitely got into a flow after getting an overall feel of them.
Aside from the keys, the Nord build is just outstanding. The shell and casing surround your keyboard is great for long-term investment purposes, and of course it’s portable — just keep it safe. Wrapping it in a towel like many we know will suffice, but we do recommend finding a compatible case or even special cover to add some security to your investment. These things aren’t cheap, of course. The knobs, faders and buttons all resemble the previous Electro series builds, which is a must as we say don’t fix what isn’t broken. For a few G’s you’re getting one of the best electronic keyboards in the market, regardless which exact model you choose. Either way, all three are portable.
The Nord Electro 6 sound
Of course with any keyboard or stage piano, how does the Nord Electro 6 sound? No cheap filtered synth, piano and organ here. It’s the real deal. We had a chance to play with all three and loved each one. The new dual organ mode was quite fun to mess around with, but what really stood out to us (as in the other legendary Electros) is that organ. In our opinion and of course subjective lens through our own human ears, organs are always hit or miss in synths, samples (yes, VST’s, too), and other electronic keyboards; however, we couldn’t stop playing and finally felt obliged when we saw a bit of a line forming behind us. Here’s a Sound on Sound Electro 6 video from NAMM 2018 to get a feel of the sounds yourself if you aren’t familiar with the Electro feel and quality.
Aside from the usual built-in sounds, keep in mind that you can always upload your own sounds in the internal memory here, so you’re not just stuck with what comes with the keyboard. This is if you’d like to use your own samples, but also note that many don’t understand that Nord releases completely free sounds and samples variously through out the year, so you can always see what they have at hand in case you’d like to incorporate them into your Electro 6. You just drop them into the keyboard using their free software and you’re good to go (1 GB for for the piano library and 512 MB for sample, which we’ve definitely heard some complaints about that it isn’t nearly enough). There are some equalizer sections in the piano if you’d prefer to add some brightness or softened the sound to your liking. Why not?
Electro 6 performance
A big standout of the Electro 6’s performance includes the new addition of seamless transitions. This is always a plus for those who perform or want to emulate some transitional elements to your songs — change sounds or programs in the middle of whatever you’re doing is always a plus (and quite standard nowadays we feel, glad this was added).
Layering and splitting was great in previous Electro keyboards. In this particular version, the organs, pianos and sample synths can be used simultaneously as a layer or split. As opposed to the older series with splitting and layering each section separately, you can now combine all three. You have 6 split points and split point cross-fade functionality (originally introduced in the Stage 3) for great transitions between two split zones. You can also customize the cross-fade widths (up to 3 — small, large or off) and it’s indicated by the LED screen with coloring.
Lastly, the program section has been a bit refined. When using this part of the keyboard, we were able to copy and paste as well as move in something called “organize mode” — it helped us arrange programs pretty easily. You can also further organize your stuff with a “Page View” option which is especially convenient for performers to fine-tune your flow during a set for better on-the-fly adjustments and transitions.
The final word on the Nord Electro 6 series
It’s hard to ever come close to nit-picking at a Nord product, considering they’re in the high-end category for a reason. No complaints or cons if you’re taking what the Electro 6 actually is — a digital piano\electronic keyboard\somewhat of a synthesizer (what do you truly classify this as?) with high-end sounds and overall stable and secure build for portability to gigs or studios. Again, we have heard of some cons and complaints in regards to the sample memory being only 512 MB. Our argument to that as devil’s advocate is, do you really want to buy this to sample with? To us, it’s more a cherry on top and slight additive to a keyboard you’re buying for feel, build and on-board sounds, not to mention Nord comes out with free samples and sounds all of the time. Others have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the lack of a new Nord Lead with 61 keys, as opposed to coming out with another standard electronic keyboard. Maybe next year? Perhaps we’ll see in later models some improvements to the organ, such as microtone simulation? Time will tell.
All in all, the Nord Electro 6 series is a force to be reckoned, and with their phrasing “our most powerful and flexible Electro ever”, we’d say we agree. You can also read our stage piano or digital piano guides for competitors, but nothing out there comes close to Nords if you have the cash at hand with the price-points these come in.