Nord Drum 3p: What Is It?
The Nord Drum 3p is a "modeling percussion synthesizer" that I've been using as an electronic drum set.
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The Clavia Nord Drum 3p
I detail the five main reasons I decided to get the Nord Drum 3p after researching solutions for electronic drums. The main considerations were its size, design, hi-hat sounds, the fact that it's actually a synthesizer, and its price/value ratio.
Additional Thoughts on the Nord Drum 3p
The size of the 3p was a big consideration. The footprint is small, especially when compared to electronic drum sets that are designed to look like analog drum sets. The 3p is also easy to setup, breakdown, store, and move around, which makes it ideal for jamming with others. I like that the 3p is compact and not pretending to be a drum set. There also isn't a bunch of cables that need to be hooked up and zip-tied to a metal frame that holds all of the triggers and controllers. (It's funny to note that these cables are not often pictured in e-drum set product pics.)
The 3p's design is simple and minimalist, which are two tenets I try to live by. I don't want to have to be a scientist when it comes to using music gear. The unit is easy to figure out in one sitting, but you can also go deeper as you understand more about it.
I've done a lot of research into electronic drums. The biggest downfall in the sound of electronic drums are the hi-hats. Hi-hats are a complex instrument to replicate, as there is a lot of nuance in the instrument. Given the way the sound engine works on the 3p, I think it does the best job in this price range of replicating hi-hat sounds.
The fact that the 3p is actually a synthesizer is why I think it's the best electronic drum set out there. The sounds are dynamically created every time you strike a pad; these aren't samples that are being played back at varying volumes. The 3p feels like you're playing real instruments that respond to and evolve depending on how hard you strike them.
One of the biggest advantages with electronic drums in general is the amount of sounds available. With an analog kit, you're stuck with whatever the drums and cymbals sound like and however you can tune them for everything you record. There's a lot of interesting kits and textures on the 3p, and you can synthesize your own sounds. Synthesis, to me, is the ultimate form of music creation: you are literally synthesizing your own sounds.
Electronic drums have always seemed unneccesarily expensive. I think this is something I needed to accept before getting the 3p. You don't need a kick pedal to use it, but if you want to play the 3p like a drum kit, I'd recommend getting the Roland KT-10. Overall, based on all of the above mentioned reasons, I believe the 3p has the best price/value ratio in the $500-$1000 price range.
One caveat is that I like the sound of electronic drums and drum machines and this sound may not be for everyone. I've always wanted to be able to play electronic drum sounds with a more human feel beyond just finger drumming. Musicians I used to play with would often shame me for enjoying and using electronic drum sounds. It's important to know what you want and the sounds you like and not be afraid to embrace that. I honestly wish I'd realized this sooner.
I hope this information is helpful. Happy drumming and happy recording.
Other Helpful Videos
This video from Henrik Sjørslev is a sound demo of the first bank of sounds on the 3p. Henrik also has videos for the other banks and they're a great way to sample the array of sounds on tap. (And I hope Snickers sent Henrik a couple bars for the product placement!)
Jeremy from Red Means Recording makes some of the best electronic music gear tutorials and music on YouTube. I was blown away by this video on the 3p being controlled via Digitakt. Since I also have the Digitakt, and I dream of reaching Jeremy's skill level, this video made the decision to get the 3p a no-brainer.
Stephen from Noir Et Blanc Vie never disappoints and the production level of his videos are probably the best in the music sphere on YouTube. This video is an entertaining overview of the 3p. I also enjoyed the clips of the Nord alongside an analog drum kit. (And if you're looking for a deep cut of the podcast, I was lucky enough to chat with Stephen in a two part series way back in the first season: NEBV Pt 1 & NEBV Pt 2.)
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