Possible to build a Nord killer?


So I have a crazy idea I wanted to get your opinions on.

My friend is getting a Nord Stage 3 soon, so naturally I started thinking that I need to beef up my C3 rig. Right now I’m running skinny VSTIs on an i5 Surface Pro 2 and have been doing fine at my gigs even covering the left hand bass. But now, I think I want higher powered software.

Do you think its possible to run Trillian, Omnisphere (or something equivalent), KeysScape and a good B3 emulator on a i7 Surface Pro 3 with 8GB RAM? My machine right now is 4GB and gets occasional distortion noise if I overload it with large sample VSTs in a performance.

I appreciate any advice on a portable (gigs) machine configuration to run these big VSTIs, and also software that could get me comparable sounding to the Nord stuff. Less cost is always better too, as my kids like to eat. A Lot.




Keyscape is a HOG. I have no idea about the CPU speed on the Surface but 8Gb RAM would worry me. And Keyscape all but demands an SSD. While Spectrasonics makes a fantastic all-in-one solution between Onmishpere 2 and Keyscape there are a lot of alternatives that are way WAY easier on a system, like VB3, Lounge Lizard, Pianoteq, possibly even Diva running in a lower resolution, maybe even stuff like NI Massive. And Kontakt, if you don’t run gigantic libraries. The problem is you have to buy a whole bunch of stuff though. What are the exact specs on the Surface’s i7??


Hi Mark,

Part of my work involves choosing ultra lights for road warrior types in sales.

I’ve found Win7 64x and Win10 run much better with at least 8GB RAM no matter what the purpose.

The problem with the latest Surface Pro configurations is you when you choose 16GB you also have to choose the i7 and at least 512GB storage which bumps the price up to $1900. An i5 with 8GB and 256GB is around $1100.

Just FYI, the latest i5 processors (8th/9th generation (Coffee Lake/Cannon Lake) outperform previous i7’s and are probably powerful enough for C3 running processor intensive plugins.


PS - following all the suggestions in Brad’s “Glitch Free” PDF make a big difference.


Unless having something extremely small and light is an ABSOLUTE priority I just can’t understand paying that kind of $$ on a music machine… a refurb from 2 or 3 years back can have a lot more power for $300-400 and the only trade-off is that it’s going to be somewhat bigger. Just me $.02, but then I’m a cheapskate :smiley:


My Surface has an Intel Core i7 4650V cpu 2.9 gigahertz, Haswell M core, gen 4, 8gig ram…


I’m with you Fred. I’ve always been about best bang for the buck, in fact that’s why I’m looking to upgrade my rig rather than buy a Nord like my buddy LOL!


You are trying to compete a sample/VA based nord with even more samples.
May be that works but it is not necessary.
Except Trilian I don’t have the other instruments you named but I use ModoBass now.
For piano, epiano, synths I use physical modeling/VA instruments and all with two ACER Spin5 - wouldn’t go back to the nord stage 1 I had years ago. I can’t imagine that the nord stage 3 is so much better.


I still have a Nord G2 Engine in my Rack and it is sweet. Best Nord that Nord ever made. Fully modular synth in a 1U rack. but that and all Nord Stage features can be found in VSTi form.


The Nord is the best keyboard i ever owned.
Best keybedding, best lightweight, practical with all the dials, great organs and pianos,…
On top my c3 config.
I have mainly Synth1 which is in essence a Nord emulation and added some fx on top
Then i have air xpand 2 for sample based sounds. Organs, strings and brass are very nice. Not perfect but low on ram and CPU. Fast loading.
Avenger for some specialised sounds.
Samples can be triggered from c3.
And if needed there’s tx16 sampler.

The Nord stage goes through c3 for mixing and i have a line in to mix my monitor inears via c3.

A cost effective and very performant setup. :wink:


I loved my Nord Electro 2 but I have every sound in it beat now between VB3, Lounge Lizard and Keyscape. And Diva kills my old Nord Lead. And you can beat the Stage’s pianos pretty easily. So as great as Nord was for me back in the day I much prefer being in the VST world.


Fred mentioned refurbs, I have bought around one hundred off lease laptops/notebooks from Dell Financial services. I think I’ve had less failures with them than purchases of new ones (practically none). I always choose the condition grade “A” figuring it either sat on a shelf as a spare or was hardly used. They look pretty much new. Some we purchase for about $300 but then upgrade from to 8GB RAM and replace the drive with an SSD - that usually adds around $100-125 more.



Hey Doug. You got my interest. :grin:



I’m on their mailing list - the next time they send out a 40% off code I’ll post it here. They have a side bar where you can filter what you’re looking for, ie cosmetic grade “A”, 8GB, 6th gen processor etc. One thing you don’t see often is SSD’s.


Ah cosmetics! I got lucky on eBay with my backup machine- basically a gaming laptop with 16Gb RAM, a fast i7, great machine but it looked like someone had used it to fight zombies- dents all over it, big scratches. So I pulled the trigger and it works wonderfully. I filled in the scratches with Sharpie :smiley: :smiley: It would be my “A” machine except I haven’t put a SSD in it yet.


I just bought a Samsung Evo 860 250GB for $55 on Amazon. They are a good choice for OS/Apps. Newegg is selling the Silicon Power Slim S60 2.5" 512GB SATA III MLC (SSD) for $64. From what I read in reviews it should be reliable and as fast as the Samsung - double the storage for the same price.

Most gaming laptops have a second slot for internal drives.


I’d recommend whenever possible to go with an M.2 SSD from Samsung. The speed is with 3.500MB/sec. almost 10x faster than standard SSDs (like 860) with about 540MB/sec.


Definitely something i found out when setting up a computer to run piano vst’s like Keyscape and The Ravenscroft 275. To run it “smoothly” you really need atleast 32G’s. Keyscape will load a small group of samples initially and when you start playing you will see ram a cpu readings to double or even triple in size! But if you want a Nord kilker piano, the Uvi Ravenscroft wouldbe my recommendation with your preference for a weighted key controller. When it was introduced at Winter NAMM 2013, it was the ONLY software vst showcased in a room of $300,000+ grand piano’s and It faired so well that i played every morning a half hour before the convention started! Also, run my Vst’s programs on a M2 nvme ssd drive which can stream data up to 3G’s a second and put you data on a second drive for your sample data… you wont be disappointed


Or go the modelled route with Pianoteq.

It’s modelled, so resource lite, and when Steinway endorses a Steinway model in Pianoteq then you know it can’t be bad!

It also has the best CP80 sound (extra free download) that I have ever heard!


Looks like I’ll be spending the day checking out Pianoteq and Ravenscroft vids at work today lol! Thanks for the heads up guys!


I program a NORD Stage 3 every week (which someone else plays) at my musically progressive church every week. GREAT pianos, really good organ and an okay synth section. Fantastic keybed – and the keys are slightly shaved so you can slide without killing your fingers. I play aux keys with 2 controllers running Cantabile on an ASUS i5 with 12GB RAM. I don’t use Trillian, but I use Omnisphere, Komplete, UVI, Arturia… you name it. I run into glitching when I have too much running at once. Omnisphere is usually the hog involved. 95% of the time I don’t have a problem.

I don’t think you can totally “kill” a Nord Stage 3 with VSTs - the pianos and the keys are just too great - but you can get pretty close with what you’re talking about. I really recommend Brad’s “Glitch Free” and more RAM. I’m looking into an i7 with 16GB to make sure I have that overhead when I need it. Best of luck.