Friday, July 6, 2012

Backing up Nord Lead 2 patches

Hi there.

After a long pause in posting, here's a guide for backing up Nord Lead 2 patches.

What you need for this:
 - Clavia Nord Lead 2 (of course)
 - A computer running Windows
 - A USB-MIDI interface or a sound card with MIDI
 - A MIDI cable
 - MIDI-OX software (free download link)

MIDI-OX is a great tool for synth players. You can do all sorts of MIDI tricks with it, including backing up your sounds on your PC. The software is freeware for non-commercial use.

Nord Lead and other synthesizers often have the ability to export the patches through MIDI as "SysEx dumps". SysEx stands for system exclusive data. MIDI-OX can receive this data and save it as .syx files.

Walkthrough of a complete backup

First, install MIDI-OX and start it up. Connect MIDI IN of your PC's MIDI interface to the MIDI OUT of the Nord Lead 2.

In order to receive a sysex dump on the MIDI-OX, click View --> SysEx...
This opens the SysEx View and Scratchpad. Then click on Sysex --> Receive Manual Dump...
A message box appears, asking you to wait for the dump to complete.

Now you need to send the SysEx data from Nord Lead 2. After each dump, click on the "done" button. You can then save the dump by clicking Display Window --> Save as... 

Here's what to do on the Nord Lead 2:

How to dump programs
Be sure that you are in manual mode and then press SHIFT - DUMP ALL.

Manual mode looks something like this...

How to dump performances
Nord Lead 2 performances are stored on ROM and cannot be edited. Thus it's not necessary to back them up. However, here's how to do it: Press performance to get in performance mode and then press SHIFT - DUMP ALL.

Performance mode.

Backing up your PCMCIA Sound Card

If you have a Nord Lead 2 Sound Card, chances are that it's battery is running dangerously low by now. The battery life is around 10 years, give or take. You can replace the battery without data loss if you do it quickly. But if you want to be sure no data is lost, it's best to back it up first.

Here's how to back up the data:

How to dump program banks 1-3 from PCMCIA card:
 - Be sure that you are in manual mode (not performance mode).
 - Press up key until you have "1." on the left of the LCD display.
 - You now have bank 1 of the card selected.
 - Press SHIFT - DUMP ALL.
 - Repeat this for banks "2." and "3."

Bank 1 from the sound card selected, patch #9.

How to dump performances from PCMCIA card:
 - Press performance to get in performance mode.
 - Press up until you get "1." on the left of the LCD display.
 - Press SHIFT - DUMP ALL.

Restoring backups

You can restore any bank you've dumped easily. You need a connection between the MIDI OUT of your PC and the MIDI IN of the synth.
Just open the Sysex view and select File --> Send Sysex File... 
The bank you have selected on the Nord Lead 2 will be overwritten.

Single program / performance dumps

Doing single program or performance dumps is a lot of help when creating variants. To do a single patch dump, just press SHIFT + DUMP ONE.

Sharing your sounds

When you've done with backing up your precious patches, why not share them with the world?

Electro-music has TONS of Nord Lead 2 patches for you to try out. However, they seem to only archive single patches.

Another great place for browsing sharing sysex data is Sysexdb. There's no Nord Lead 2 data in there yet though. That's why you should send yours there too!


  1. Awesome! Thanks so much :)

  2. Hi,

    Just bought a nice old nord lead 2. I've never worked with midi before...
    Now I would like to be able to dump all sounds to my PC and I like to add new sounds from internet-downloads to the Nord.

    I've installed midi-ox. tried to dump it all to midi-ox. Midi-ox is waiting but receives 0 bytes....What did I do wrong? Do I have to install a seperate nord lead 2 driver?

    Any help?

    1. You don't need a driver for nord lead 2, only for your sound card or other MIDI device. What kind of MIDI interface you are using? Did you connect the MIDI out of Nord Lead 2 to the MIDI in of the interface?

    2. hello, I would need the original percussion kits p0, ... to dump them back into my NL2x, I have mistakenly deleted them, could you kindly send them to me at fabricex74 at gmail . com ? thanks, fabrice

  3. Hi,

    I would like to ask you on help with NL2 patches from DiscoDsp Discovery. After export I ave tried to import in into NL 2 but nothing happened. Still same native NL sounds... It was SysEx file, so where is mistake? :)