Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

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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Derek
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Derek » Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:48 pm

EXer wrote:
Derek wrote:The 61/76 note keyboards not being semi-weighted? That could be big a turn off for me. The action of the keybed is one of the reasons why I still use the EX5 as my main controller.
From what I've read the keyboard on the Montage 61/76 is the same as on the Motif XS/XF, i.e. the Yamaha FSX, which is a lead free version of the FS keyboard you can find on the EX5, SY99, Motif/ES and Korg Trinity, Triton, Oasys76 (unfortunately not on the Kronos).

I fully understand why you like the keyboard of the EX5. I really like the feeling of that keyboard too: when you depress a key you have to overcome a certain resistance first, then it becomes lighter, giving the sensation of "throwing" the key, a bit like on a piano. That's a very pleasant sensation, very different from the "springy" sensation of ordinary synth keyboards on which the resistance is simply proportional to the depressing of the key.
To be lead free, yes that is a good point, although I don't go licking the lead when I repair keys! ;)

I guess a plus side if they are lead free is less weight to carry (but I can manage the EX5).
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Saul » Thu Mar 03, 2016 7:23 pm

That's the thinking behind the "balanced hammer action' in that it is supposed to be the best compromise between synth type and a weighted piano type keybed. I'm not entirely convinced about that though. Seems like a bit of a fudge to me? They are both great but I really think if you want a synth action you need to go for exactly that.

I would be quite happy with the keys on the Montage 6 & 7 but not so sure about the Montage 8. As I said before though, that could be lack of familiarity and having grown used to the feel of the Roland Juno DS88 I would probably take some time to grow accustomed to Yamaha's version of weight keys.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Derek » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:02 pm

I think it is all going to down to personal taste, but I am so used to the semi weighted feel, having gone through DX7II, EX5, SY77 and SY99.

The Korg Kronos bed is nice, but not as nice as the EX5's

We'll see. I won't prejudge it until I have tried the Montage.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by wavesequence » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:51 pm

Well, IMHO Montage is half news, like Yamaha didn't want to make a step longer than his leg. All in all it's an enhanced Motif XF - in other words a ROMPler, a technology that's almost 15 years old and a half renowned FM engine, without formant shaping synthesis. Nonetheless to say, the final price is high. There's also a "crippled" sequencer, no sampler and a modest 1.75GB FlashRAM to store user samples.
Yamaha wake up, we're in 2016!! Musicians need real multi synthesis instruments, not preheated expensive soups. Otherwise with VST and an average computer/sequencer a musician gets a lot more for less.
I'm sorry to be the "different bell" inside this forum, but I'm very disappointed reading Montage specs. I was expecting a real multiengine synthesizer.
As a Motif XF7 owner I'll wait at least 5-7 years to change my actual workstation. Actually Montage is not worth the effort.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Saul » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:16 am

I was pretty much of the same opinion initially. I was expecting more synth engines for that sort of money but they have done a good job with the AWM/FM combination.

I suppose If I were to put my cynics hat on for a moment I could argue that all they have done is given us less for more money.

They ditched the sampler and sequencer of the XF, gave us a modified version of the MOXF casing, used the existing keybeds from the Motif XF, did away with the user installable flash cards...although with their appalling write speed that is not too much of a bad thing and yet kept the same high price.

It sounds great. it's a lot of fun to use and it does have some features I really like such as iOS connectivity and a massive boost in the number of audio/midi channels that transmit at one time down the usb cable. I also prefer touch screens so that's another big win for me however, I have to question that rather hefty price tag. Is there really over 2 grands worth of keyboard there?
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by tux » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:11 am

Saul wrote:I was pretty much of the same opinion initially. I was expecting more synth engines for that sort of money but they have done a good job with the AWM/FM combination.
They did a good (or actually excellent) job with the AWM/FM combination in the SY77/SY99 25 years ago. In the Montage all they did is they put those two engines alongside each other, they didn't really combine them. Yamaha has a long way to go to get back to its former glory that it achieved with the SY99 and the EX5.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Saul » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:00 am

Actually that is one of the things that really does concern me and I was a little disappointed to find the AWM and FM were actually two separate engines with the emphasis on 'separate'. Although it does sound fantastic, especially when your in the room and playing it yourself, really all they have given you is a way to 'layer' the AWM with the FM not combine them.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Derek » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:32 pm

Arguably the Kronos is the same. 9 engines, but no interaction. But at least you have 7 more choices.

I do think Yamaha missed a trick from their heritage in not considering RCM.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by knolan » Mon Mar 07, 2016 9:04 pm

Thanks Saul for the review. Very interesting. I agree about the superknob - it looks too big, and the flashing light is a bit tacky. Also - on one or two demos on line it looks quite wobbly! I also agree with your appraisal of balanced hammer action. Not a huge fan of it - and with their graded hammer action technology you'd think they'd put it on the Montage 8.

It seems that Yamaha are trying to strike a balance between piano and synth / organ players, but I think balanced hammer action serves neither group - where piano players would much prefer the GH piano action, and organ / synth players have 5 and 6 octave versions that serve that purpose very well.


I have to say, despite owning dozens of synths and am a piano player with a piano diploma, I balk at the finesse of debate on this thread regarding the various opinions on Yamaha's synth action / semi weighted keyboards. Seriously impressive! ( I can't tell the difference ). I suppose I do agree the EX5 feels a tad smoother than the SY99 (but I really like it's action too) - and the EX5 "Stereo Piano" program is, still, to die for in my opinion. There's something so warm and inviting about it.

Best regards,
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Saul » Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:15 pm

I have actually been thinking today about that balanced hammer action on the Montage 8. The thing that strikes me most is how little an impression it left on me. I don't quite know why. It's of high quality but it just doesn't seem to have stood out yet I remember very well the balanced hammer action on the Roland Juno DS88. Now you could argue that I had the Roland for about 6 weeks and I only had a couple of hours with the Montage 8 but here's the thing. The Juno DS88 impressed me as soon as I put my fingers on the keys and the Yamaha didn't.

I did however, like the action on the Montage 6 & 7 and were it the case that I had anywhere near enough spare cash to buy one it would probably be the Montage 6, which is not what I expected to be saying.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by scottrod » Thu May 12, 2016 12:35 pm

Received my Montage 8 yesterday to replace my aging Motif ES8 also purchased new, got to spend an hour or two with it.

1. The grey color is lighter than I expected from images on the web. The faceplate appears to be plastic.
2. Two of the knobs were jammed like it took a hit, I pushed one to the side and with a loud 'snap' everything popped into position. Hmm.
3. The stupid sticker on the front should have had a lot less aggressive adhesive. Jeez guys.
4. After a while, I turned off the flashing option on the knob, but left the color on. Turned down the intensity from 128 to 32. Fine now.
5. Updated the OS from 1.01 installed to 1.10.6 as on the web. Took way too long to figure out how to format a USB stick on the unit.
6. The touch screen is nicely responsive although you need to use a pinkie to navigate it best.
7. As programmed, the sounds work off different midi channels. It you hook it up to a controller, simply sending Channel 1 data won't work.
8. The sounds are incredibly polished. The effects engine stunningly beautiful.

Overall I like it as a Motif replacement. Will be gutting the balanced hammer action this weekend to replace the hammers with the modified hammers in my ES8. The action as-designed is way too heavy for me. With my mod, it's a dream.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Saul » Thu May 12, 2016 1:02 pm

I'm surprised you have had delivery already! When I last spoke to Yamaha they said deliveries were expected in June but that they might be in short supply for a while.

Interesting you say the action was way too heavy. I think that was also my first impression but perhaps more time with it would have helped. Still a great keyboard though but....I still can't afford one :(

What is this hammer mod you mentioned? That sounds very interesting indeed!
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by scottrod » Thu May 12, 2016 4:50 pm

I played the ES8 for several years always disliking the heaviness of the action. Nice and smooth, well balanced pivots, good damping, but just way too heavy. It was wearing me out, much heavier than the Renner action on my piano; subtle passages were very difficult.

I had a Prophet T8 at the time which had a lovely, smooth action but almost too light. Needed something in the middle.

I did the key force measurements and calculations, tore apart the ES8 to see how it worked and figured out how to modify it. I bought some hammers from Yamaha first to modify and play with; it seemed like a win so I tore apart the action and spent all weekend behind a milling machine modifying hammers.

I put it back together and I now truly love it. If I were to do it again, I might lighten it just a hair more, but it’s imminently more playable now. It was a labor-intensive mod, but so worth it. I've found no downside.

For a couple of photos of what I did, search Gearslutz for the post: Modified Motif ES8 Action
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by GuitarTabs4synth » Sun Jul 31, 2016 3:24 pm

I found the Montage 8 setup at Guitar Center, but no one could setup the sound to come out.
I was pretty eager to find out what all of the noise online was about, but to no avail, was out of luck.
The montage looks like a spaceship console. And I think someone setup one of the superknob parameters to a filter setting that cutoff the entire sound.
Anyway I thought the key action was just quite dampened, but to be fair I did not hear any sound.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Hands On - First Impressions

Unread post by Swithin » Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:05 pm

Hi everyone! This is my first post here.

I was wondering if anyone might know whether the orchestral sounds on the Montage are better than the additional flash libraries available for the MOXF - like DSF Motif Strings and DCP brass. I can try the Montage in a shop (and I've heard lots of demos on YouTube - the Montage sounds fabulous indeed), but there's no way to get a hands-on impression of the libraries available for the MOXF.

I'm trying to decide whether to get myself a MOXF or be patient until the cheaper version of the Montage comes out (however long that may take).
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