Yamaha Montage Review

Welcome to the new era from the company that brought you the DX and the Motif. Montage sets the next milestone with sophisticated dynamic control, massive sound creation and streamlined workflow.

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Re: Yamaha Montage Review

Unread post by Derek » Sat Mar 25, 2017 9:43 am

Gordon Reid has reviewed the Montage in this month's Sound On Sand, and his main pro point is:
It looks and sounds gorgeous.
Which is high praise, from a reviewer and synth aficionado, who is quite prepared to tell it how it is. His main con is
The Montage 6 and Montage have slightly narrower Keybeds than standard.
As Gordon points out, that could be a potential issue if you are playing several boards on stage and like your keys lined up and "trained pianists are at risk of playing ninths instead of octaves". That is something I will need to look closely at, as I want my EX5 replacement to complement my Kronos and I don't want playing issues as a result of different key sizes!

And his final con is:
It's not cheap - and neither should it be - but it may be a bit too pricey.
Like myself, Gordon makes the "half an FS1r" comment on FM-X, and in his summing up he draws the point that the Kronos is likely to be the direct competition, and on a "features per pound basis" this is where the Montage runs into difficulties. Montage: AWM and FM-X; Kronos 9 sound engines (HD-1 and MOD-7 closest to Montage engines), KARMA , digital IO, sampling and full audio/MIDI sequencing package - and the Kronos is cheaper.

Gordon then makes the point that for some the sound generating capabilities (and difference in engine count) will be irrelevant to some, but it matters to me as when you have heard (for example) modelled EPs and organs, you will not want to play a sampled one, and we of course lament the languishing Yamaha AN, VL and FDSP technology.

Price is then mentioned several times in the wrapping up, along with the keybed size issue which prevents this excellent synth from getting an unreserved thumbs up.

So, interesting that the first pro review I have seen is echoing the general points we have been discussing.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Review

Unread post by EXer » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:04 pm

Derek wrote:
The Montage 6 and Montage have slightly narrower Keybeds than standard.
As Gordon points out, that could be a potential issue if you are playing several boards on stage and like your keys lined up and "trained pianists are at risk of playing ninths instead of octaves". That is something I will need to look closely at, as I want my EX5 replacement to complement my Kronos and I don't want playing issues as a result of different key sizes!
►Your EX5 has already narrow keys!

The EX5 has a Yamaha FS keybed. The octave is 4 mm shorter than on a standard piano (161 mm instead of 165 mm).

All Yamaha and Korg upper range synths have had that keybed until the Motif ES and Korg Oasys 76.
Since the Motif XS the upper range Yamaha synths have had a FSX keybed, which is basically a lead free version of the FS keybed.

Btw, I'm a pianist and I have *no* problem switching between the EX5 and a standard keyboard, and I'm pretty sure you don't have problems either when you switch between your EX5 and your Kronos!
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Re: Yamaha Montage Review

Unread post by Derek » Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:17 pm

Well, you live and learn. I can strike that off as an issue then :)
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Re: Yamaha Montage Review

Unread post by Saul » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:40 pm

The Montage goes back tomorrow...for real this time. Courier booked and all that so, if anyone wants any info on something that I can check before I box it up please let me know.

On the subject of touch screens, Yamaha were not unfortunately doing touch screens before everyone else. Korg started the ball rolling with the 'Trinity' which came out in 1995 and then of course there was the Triton which dominated the market from 1999 onwards. So yeah Yamaha were doing touch screens back in 2004 but that is still 9 years after Korg and even then it was another 12 years before they got around to putting one on their flagship synth range. Something with most of us never could figure out.

and DrF..as you know, threads on this forum hardly ever stay "on-topic" and speaking for myself I am extremely glad that is the case :) So thanks for bringing the Electone into this thread. It's an amazing instrument and although I know it's also massively expensive I still think Yamaha missed a trick by not marketing it in Europe.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Review

Unread post by AJay » Wed May 10, 2017 6:50 pm

Derek wrote:1) They still have VL synthesis in a product, so why drop it on the Western market?

This kind of proves my point that Yamaha has some great technology in its arsenal. If it could drop half an FS1r into the Montage, why did they not go further and drop VL (as they have in that Electone) and AN into it? With four synth engines, they would only have a another 5 to go then to complete with the Kronos! A CS80 facsimile would have gotten then more than half way there, and I would then have been plotting to sell a family member to get it.....
Because it's not as simple as just, "drop this and that into it". You don't want it to suffer the same fundamental problems as the EX5, do you? In any case, it wouldn't give the Montage more "engines", any more than it did the EX5.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Review

Unread post by Derek » Wed May 10, 2017 8:10 pm

AJay wrote:
Derek wrote:1) They still have VL synthesis in a product, so why drop it on the Western market?

This kind of proves my point that Yamaha has some great technology in its arsenal. If it could drop half an FS1r into the Montage, why did they not go further and drop VL (as they have in that Electone) and AN into it? With four synth engines, they would only have a another 5 to go then to complete with the Kronos! A CS80 facsimile would have gotten then more than half way there, and I would then have been plotting to sell a family member to get it.....
Because it's not as simple as just, "drop this and that into it". You don't want it to suffer the same fundamental problems as the EX5, do you? In any case, it wouldn't give the Montage more "engines", any more than it did the EX5.
It is not that difficult if Korg can drop 9 engines into a Kronos.

Yamaha managed 1/2 an FS1r for the Montage to go with AWM2, so it is not difficult, so why not the whole lot? Why not VL and AN , and then there's four engines, then. Why drop user sampling?

The answerwill of course be based on how the code was written and how portable it is. But here's the thing. I doubt Korg wrote the original Wavestation code to be portable (if they did they were very clever and far sighted!). But they have obviously gone through a generic porting exercise that abstracted the code from the hardware and you now find it in the Korg Legacy Cell, the Kronos HD-1 engine and the iWavestation. If Korg can do it, why not Yamaha?

Now let's note that Yamaha made the FS1r compatible with the DX7 and the Montage at least half compatible with the FS1r, but also able to load DX7 patches (probably because the FS1r could). The AN1x code is in the AN1x, EX5 and PLG150-AN (and thus also AN200). The VL-1 code is also in the VL70m, PLG150-VL and EX5. so it can be done..... it might not be simple, but only thing really impossible in life is slamming a revolving door shut! Yamaha have also shown they can virtualise an AN1x as their "synth book" had a tablet version of an AN in it (but in a book!!!!)

The problem with the EX5 was it was a machine ahead of the processing horsepower available at the time. No problems in Voice mode, but totally hamstrung in Performance mode (and SCSI speed). What was an issue 20 years ago should not be a problem today.

So to recap, if Korg can do it, I do not see why Yamaha (who were once one of the most innovative synth companies out there) could not do it. They have the technical capability (or did), so it is company policy that must be holding them back from being great once more.

I feel Yamaha may have now lost me forever. I have still barely scratched the surface of the Kronos after three years - a sign of an awesome synth, and Korg keep updating it. I still want to try a Montage, but I am not itching for it. I am currently thinking of small computers that cost around £500, can be embedded in my gig rack and can run my VSTis. I think this is the future now. If Yamaha do not go for VSTi versions of their synths then they will be losing out as more people go that route. A lot of people are going that way now.
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Derek Cook

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Re: Yamaha Montage Review

Unread post by Saul » Wed May 10, 2017 10:23 pm

I certainly think Yamaha are technically capable of doing just about anything. I think part of the problem is they don't see the creation of a product in the same way that we do and by "we" I mean the average punter not the "elite" few at the top of the tree because their needs are often very different from yours or mine.

It's also very difficult when you are a company known for innovation to be seen to be copying your main rival which in this case is Korg. Hence why we don't see a multi synth engined Montage. They gave us FM-X and AWM2 I think because they know they already have a large fan base for those two synth engines and can also trade on the reputation of past glories with the DX7, SY77, FS1r etc.

Personally I think Montage is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. It's no secret that I think it's too expensive but then perhaps that is from the perspective of someone who just can't afford one? Can't afford a Kronos either so Yamaha are not alone in that respect.

I do have a feeling that Yamaha will eventually go down the software route but right now as they have said they wouldn't they are sticking with it for the foreseeable future. Never say never!
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