Nord Stage 3 Vs Piano 4 (Comparison)
Our pick: Either one
The biggest difference between the Nord Stage 3 and the Nord Piano 4 is the sound engines included in each one. In the Stage 3,you get three sound engines - piano, synth, and organ - while the Piano 4 gives you only the piano and synth engines with a heavier focus on piano.
We're comparing two of Nord's most popular digital keyboards, the Stage 3 and Piano 4. What are the main differences between the two and what are you paying for if you go with the somewhat more expensive Stage 3?
In a side-by-side comparison, we'll show you the exact specs and highlight the differences between both keyboards.
However, you don't really need to get into the details of the spec sheet.
The biggest distinction is quite simple.
Primary Difference: The Sound Engines
The primary difference between the Nord Stage 3 and the Piano 4 is that the Stage 3 is built with the following three engines:
While the Piano 4 is built with only two:
In addition, the Stage 3 provides a significantly larger amount of board control over its engines, while the Piano 4 has a reduced control scheme.
Piano, Organ, and Synth combo VS Piano/Synth Combo
This means the Stage 3 is for those that want everything Nord can throw at them in terms of capability. The Piano 4 is for keyboard players who are perhaps more conventional piano players wanting access to effects and some additional synth sounds.
That's the meta narrative that describes the differences between the two, but below we'll put all the details into our comparison table to get at some of the more nuanced differences.
We'll also provide some basic grading in a few important categories.
Compare to Similar Keyboards
But first, we've created a simple comparison tool to help you look at the Stage 3, the Piano 4, and a couple other similar keyboards side-by-side.
If you find this content helpful and you want to support us, please consider shopping through our Sweetwater links. It costs you nothing extra and is a non-intrusive way of supporting our site.
Nord Stage 3
Nord Piano 4
Roland RD 2000
Below our table of contents is the main comparison table I've been talking about. Please feel free to drop any questions you have in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Nord Stage 3 VS Piano 4: The Basics
In this comparison we see that the primary advantage of the Stage 3 is versatility and the additional organ engine.
We can also see - simply from looking at the two - that the Stage 3 has a lot more control and more i/o capability. We do like the Piano 4 better for playing feel, as the keys seemed a little more realistic and more properly weighted than the Stage 3.
This would be consistent with our view that the Piano 4 is better suited for a more conventional, perhaps formal piano player that is less familiar with synth and keyboard-centric playing styles.
Digital stage piano
Digital stage piano
Oragan, Piano, and Synth
Piano and synth functions
Onboard Audio Interface
Zones, Splits, and Crossfades
88 weighted hammer action
88 Triple Sensor keys with Virtual Hammer Action Technology
Load Simultaneous Instruments
120 piano notes, 34 synth notes
120 piano notes, 34 synth notes
400 programs with 8 banks
400 Programs with 16 banks
Number of emulations unspecified but available from the Nord Piano Library
Reverb, Delay, Phaser, Tremolo, Wah, Chorus, Flanger, Distortion
1 x 1/8" (monitor in)
1 x 1/8" (monitor)
4 x 1/4", 1 x 1/4"(headphones)
2 x 1/4" (right, left)
1 x Type B
1 x Type B
4 x 1/4" (channels 1-4), 1 x 1/4" (headphones)
2 x 1/4" (sustain, volume)
2 x OLEDs
2 GB (gigabytes)
1 GB (gigabyte)
In this section we've added some simple grading for both keyboards, which reflect the Stage 3 being more versatile, and the Piano 4 being better for more formal playing styles. Keep in mind, these are subjective - based on our opinion - so take the grades with a grain of salt.
Feel of a Real Piano Grade (playability)
Nuance capturing grade
Ease of use/learning curve grade
Non-piano sound grades
Effects and sounds
Regardless of what you choose, the keyboard you get - especially at this price range - needs to suit your context and your specific need. These grades are to help you get an idea for whether or not it would be ideal for your situation.
For example, if you plan to do a lot of effects and synth/electronic sounds, the Stage 3 might be the better option.
By a different metric, if you're more interested in teaching conventional piano lessons, but you want some synth flexibility as well, the Piano 4 would be a better move.
Use these grades that way - and not necessarily as a way to say one is better than the other.
They're both incredibly solid and reliable keyboards.
In this section we've grabbed a couple audio demos for both keyboards, one from Nord for the Stage 3 -and the other by Sweetwater.
Nord Stage 3
From an audio standpoint, both keyboards are fairly similar and hard to distinguish, so it's certainly not a sound quality issue when deciphering between the two. We could make a subjective argument that the Piano 4 sounds a little better with conventional acoustic piano sounds, but that's really only noticeable if you're the one playing it (we've played these at a couple different churches).
Of course there are sounds you can make with the Stage 3 that aren't even possible with the Piano 4, so it's an imperfect comparison to begin with.
Overall, sound quality is solid in both keyboards.
Now that we've covered the comparison, let's look at some of the scenarios where one might be better than the other.
Which one is better for people used to acoustic piano?
For people who are transitioning from an acoustic piano, or are more used to that feel and style, the Piano 4 is an easy choice. We like the feel better than the Stage 3, in addition to it being generally more focused on piano sounds.
If you plan to use your keyboard primarily for recording, we'd go with the Stage 3 for the expanded sounds and the more versatile i/o profile. It's not that the Piano 4 can't handle recording, but between the two the Stage 3 is better built for it.
For live performances?
If your primary focus is live performance, we'd probably call this one a coin flip. The limitations of the Piano 4 are not really an issue in a live setting, so it would again come back to whether you consider yourself more of a traditional acoustic piano player or a keyboard/synth specialist looking to use a lot of different sounds during live shows.
For churches/worship bands?
For church and worship bands, we'd go back to the same thing we said for performing live. It's a coin flip, and depends more on how you would use it in general. Both are good in this setting, which is primarily where we've been able to use and test them.
Concluding our Comparison
To conclude, these are both fantastic keyboards from one of the best names in the keyboard manufacturing business. It's entirely likely that you would be happy with either one, but hopefully this comparison has provided a little bit of context for you to work with.
Questions about these two Keyboards
If you have additional questions about this comparison, or about the extent to which we've used these two keyboards, please feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below and we'll chat. See you there.
Written by GC Editorial on Keyboards and Roundups
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