Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

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Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Saul » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:28 am

Just wanted to post a couple of positives that Montage has over the Motif XF and MOXF

First up is the start up time...doesn't apply to the MOXF of course but, Montage boots from power on to working keyboard in around 16 seconds! That's quite an improvement from the Yamaha XF, Korg Kronos and even Korg's mid range keyboard, the Krome. Whilst those keyboards only take between one and two minutes to boot, which is not a massive amount of time, if you are a gigging musician and for whatever reason you need to do a restart on stage a quick start up can be pretty useful? Anyway I thought it was quite impressive...although for 3 grand you definitely need to be impressed right?

With regard to loading sounds to the built in flash memory on Montage, Yamaha have definitely made improvements here. It's still not quite as fast as moving data between a computer and a memory stick but they are getting there. I recently loaded the Bösendorfer 290 Imperial Grand Piano library into the Montage and it took about 5 minutes to transfer. Given that the same size file would have taken around 30 minutes on the XF/MOXF you can easily see the difference!

Now whilst that Flash loading thing has indeed improved quite dramatically I still have to question why you cannot simply drag and drop from your computer? At the moment you have to download the file then transfer it to a USB stick that has been formatted on the Montage and finally load it into Montage. I'm sure there is a sensible explanation for this but at the moment I can't think of one.

Just about to update the firmware on the Montage to v1.20 so perhaps thing will improve even more after this.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Derek » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:48 pm

Just an observation on start time. You are quite right that the Kronos is painfully slow if you are in a reboot situation on stage and everybody else is waiting for you, but you need to ensure you are comparing apples with apples. :)

The main reason for the Kronos boot time is because it is doing the (streaming) sample preload from SSD into memory, which includes the "ROM" waves and anything else you care to put in yourself, which is also streaming from SSD. So whilst the downside to this is the boot time, the upside is it is so much more scalable and you are not constrained by FLASH capacity in the way that other ROMPLER synths are. It is what fits on a 160GB SSD, which you can replace if not large enough or fit a second one.

How do you protect yourself from embarrassment on stage due to crashes and glitches? You have a UPS. After gigging with one for the past two years, I would not like to be without one now even if I did not have a Kronos.

Re your data transfer point, with the Kronos I have a USB to CAT5 adapter, and I can use FTP (FileZilla) to transfer data between computer and synth. And having the SSD, I can save as many different backups and configurations inside the synth so they are always with me (in addition to any external backups I carry about).

That is the benefit of the Kronos being based on a OEM Motherboard/Computer based architecture.

+2 to Korg on these counts compared to the Montage then. ;) Now, what does it sound like? :)
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Saul » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:26 pm

Ok but I still don't see why the Kronos takes 2 minutes to boot. My mac boots in 20 seconds and everything is available straight away so why not the same with Kronos? I mean boot the OS and then stream from the hard drive. The Alesis Fusion did that and as far as I can remember it didn't need two minutes to start up.

Again why not just show up as an external drive when plugged into a computer? Then there is no need for an FTP program, you just drag and drop.

Montage is ready to go in 16 seconds. You have 'Live Set's where you can keep everything for a live performance and that stays there when you power off so everything is there when you boot.

Of course Montage doesn't have the storage capacity of Kronos but I think Yamaha's reasoning is you don't need to carry hundreds of gigabytes of sounds and samples with you for a gig. Anything you need is either already there or you load it in from computer/usb before you set out.

Personally I would prefer to see an SSD...even a small one in Montage and also have it appear as an external drive when connected to a computer but, either it's never going to happen or it's in the roadmap for further down the line. How long did it take Yamaha to put a touch screen on their flagship keyboard? :/:

How does it sound? I'll get to that in another thread. Just wondering if Korg would send me a Kronos for comparison ;)
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Derek » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:40 pm

Yes, but what does a Mac need to do to in terms of loading from disk to get started? Is it fetching, processing and filling its DRAM with > 2GB of data before it gets going?

By my calcs, a two minute boot time for 2GB (noting that it needs to start other things and not just do the preload in that 2 minutes) is about a transfer rate of 17MB (bytes) per second, which sounds slow compared to theoretical burst speeds of SSD or even DRAM, but assuming it is not DMA transfers then you have a program loading data, doing something with it and then storing it in DRAM.

In the case of the Kronos, it is clever in that it transparently maps a program's pointers to samples without you having to worry about what program maps to what sample bank (noting you are loading multiple sample banks as you have specified in your preload list) either via pre-load streaming or anything you load fully in memory, so it needs to build up a table of UUIDs for sample banks needed by programs and where they actually end up in memory. Bear in mind that a Korg Program has two oscillators and each oscillator has up to eight samples, so 16 samples per Program, and there are potentially 2,688 HD-1 programs in the Kronos (assuming all 21 program banks are HD-1 banks), so that is potentially a maximum of 43,008 sample pointers to remap as you go along.

Again with Fusion are we comparing apples with apples? Its max dram mem capacity is an order of magnitude lower, so should be an order of magnitude faster?

Perhaps the Kronos could be faster in booting, but hard to say without fully understanding the mechanism and what it does in totality (not just the pre-load). My point was that is is a different and far more flexible paradigm than FLASH, so it is inevitably slower but far more flexible, and you mitigate reboot risk by having a UPS. TBH, it is no different taking a PC live VST host approach. I have read of some people's computer based VST rigs taking up to eight minutes fo fully load if you wish to pre-load to minimise switching delays on stage.

BTW my Motif Rack ES takes as long to boot because it is pre-loading data into the volatile memory of my PLG150-AN and PLG150-VL cards (probably a few hundred KB!). The slow down when I added each card in was quite notable!

Would it be better for a Kronos SSD to be available as a drive to a computer? I wouldn't disagree with that. But FTP is better than manually moving data on USB drives, and with FileZilla, once you have established the FTP then you can drag and drop between it and Windoze Exploder windows. :) From memory I think I have just used Explorer only by putting the IP address in as the path. Why specifically use FileZllla? I can't remember! Will have to check just using Explorer again to see if there was a reason. but, yes making a synth appear as an OS drive would be better.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Derek » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:48 pm

Saul wrote: Of course Montage doesn't have the storage capacity of Kronos but I think Yamaha's reasoning is you don't need to carry hundreds of gigabytes of sounds and samples with you for a gig. Anything you need is either already there or you load it in from computer/usb before you set out.
I don't buy that. Would you prefer a piano with looped samples constrained to fit in ROM/FLASH or a streamed one where there are no looped samples and plenty of velocity layers?

The thing with the Kronos approach is no constraints on samples to fit a ROM/FLASH constraint. Your constraint is the preload limit you can get into 3GB of DRAM as opposed to shoehorning everything into ROM/FLASH.

And as a user I can chose to have what I want in the pre-load. If I do not use any Kromos "presets" I can change the pre-load not to even load the "Factory samples", which is more space for my samples. I have not done that yet, but I could if I wanted to.

Of course Pianoteq is a better model of efficiency in terms of memory foot print :)

At the end of the day, is the Kronos or Montage approach better? I have an opinion, but viva la difference, and the point is their different boot times cannot be directly compared as apples v apples.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Saul » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:33 am

Well I can't hear any looping in the Montage pianos. You can hold down a key and let the note fade away quite naturally but then again we have to keep in mind that these are "compressed" samples unlike in the Kronos which uses uncompressed samples. This is what AWM2 is all about. A compression technology which packs and unpacks samples without any "apparent" loss in quality. Whether you notice any difference depends entirely on your own hearing. To me the pianos in the Krome...which uses the same acoustic piano samples as Kronos, sounded more organic...warmer and easier on the ear. The MOXF and the Montage sound very bright...probably too bright for me but of course it's down to personal preferences.

I do however like the Bosendorfer library that Yamaha just released for Montage. That sounds much more my type of piano. It has that warm, woody resonance that a real acoustic piano should have....in my opinion of course. Not trying to tell anyone else what their piano preferences should be ;)

With reference to the Alesis Fusion...which I think is a relevant comparison as a multi synth engine keyboard. It doesn't have a very large wave rom compared with keyboards like the Kronos and Montage but it doesn't really need it as it streams samples direct from the hard drive. Having said that, there is some noticeable looping on it's piano samples which should not be there and also some issues with velocity on certain notes. It was a great keyboard when it was released back in 2006 though and still is today but the OS leaves a lot to be desired and that is where it's achilles heel is. Had Alesis sorted that out and implemented all the things that were apparently in the pipeline I think it would have been a big seller.

Pianoteq I think beats all of them. Tiny footprint, fantastic quality and no load time. If they could get that into a hardware synth and use the same tech for it's other sounds I think that would be all you would need :)

By the way I just timed the loading of the Bosendorfer sample library into Montage and it actually took 10 minutes not 5 so it's still slow but a definite improvement.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by EXer » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:26 pm

Saul wrote:With reference to the Alesis Fusion...which I think is a relevant comparison as a multi synth engine keyboard. It doesn't have a very large wave rom compared with keyboards like the Kronos and Montage but it doesn't really need it as it streams samples direct from the hard drive.
The Fusion does not stream samples from its HD. The samples related to a Program are loaded into RAM at once at the time when the user calls that Program for the 1st time. Those samples remain in RAM until another program is called and there is not enough memory left to load its samples.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by parametric » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:09 pm

Correct EXer . . . .

If you are using the Fusion this way, it is wise to upgrade the Ram to 192Mb for each "engine" so you can hold more programs in RAM for immediate access without waiting for them to load from HD.

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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Saul » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:09 pm

Streaming was the wrong word. Certainly the Fusion doesn't "stream" in terms of playing the sample directly from the hard drive. It does need to load the sample into memory, which usually takes a couple of seconds however the fact that it can do this means it doesn't need to hold every sample in memory all the time. So you can boot quickly and still have all your samples available. I think it was a good compromise although it would have worked better with an SSD but this was 2006 after all.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by parametric » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:20 pm

Faster is certainly what you would expect with an SSD Saul, but the reality is that the speed is constrained by the PATA IDE controller, so there is really no perceptable speed advantage (sadly).

Lower power demand on the PSU and cooler running ARE an advantage however, as is improved robustness, if gigging . . . .

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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Saul » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:27 pm

Well I did mean SSD in terms of IF it were an available and relatively cheap tech in 2006, so in that regard the interface would not be holding it back because it would have been designed with SSD in mind.
I am aware you can add an SSD to the Fusion now, as you have done but of course you don't see the speed advantage because your going through the PATA IDE controller. It's like using a USB 3 drive in a USB 1 port, the speed is in the drive but it cannot be realised.

Anyway, despite it's drawbacks the Fusion is still a fantastic keyboard :) As is Montage but the Fusion doesn't cost three grand! ;)

Of course the manufacturers are not giving us what they "could" give us. They drip feed the tech so we keep "upgrading". That's just the way it is I suppose, although the same cannot be said for the Controller/Software market. That always seems to be on the cutting edge and still the best value for money way to go.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Derek » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:34 pm

I was always surprised why, given all the other models in the Kronos, that the SGX-2 piano engine was sample based, albeit unlooped, uncompressed piano samples. It does sound georgeous though. There is still the odd song where i used the EX5 stereo piano on stage as it cuts through better as a "rock piano". But SGX-2 is better for a natural piano sound, and it does have features like sympathetic string resonance which makes it much more realistic (as well as full length samples).

With good sample looping, you will not hear the loops, but that is not the point. For example, Ski did an excellent job on the EX5 getting Mellotron samples into 16MB of FLASH memory, but as much as I love the EX5 and "MEL-LABS", compare it to my MTRON pro VST where every key is sampled and full length (as opposed to a few looped samples stretched across the keyboard) and there is no comparison when it comes to which is the better facsimile of a Mellotron, especially as my MTRON has the original Streetly tape expansion packs. As brilliant a job Ski did with the trimming and seamless looping (a masterful piece of work), you lose the fact that part of the Mellotron sound was that each key was an individual recording up to 8 seconds long where each key recording is a different performance. Looped samples, however good they are will not give you the same result Ditto with SGX-2: it so much more organic sounding (but we know Pianoteq is better again).

That is why I am a big of modelling (unless I win the lottery I do not have the room or the budget to maintain old classic synths). Listen to my AN1x compared to a sample based synth sound (even a sampled AN1x) and the difference would be noticeable even to somebody who is tone deaf.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by parametric » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:01 pm

Derek, I don't remember if I made you aware of these?

http://www.backintimerecords.de/bitr066.htm

I have the Vintage Keys 1-4 and a number of others for the Fusion.

The "Taped" set (further down the page) is new and covers the Mellotron, Orchestron and Chamberlin . . . .

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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by EXer » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:34 pm

You can also find samples of a M400S Mellotron ► here and there

They are really good, and they are free.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Start Up Time and Flash Memory

Unread post by Derek » Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:04 pm

parametric wrote:Derek, I don't remember if I made you aware of these?

http://www.backintimerecords.de/bitr066.htm

I have the Vintage Keys 1-4 and a number of others for the Fusion.

The "Taped" set (further down the page) is new and covers the Mellotron, Orchestron and Chamberlin . . . .

parametric
Yes, you sent me a link a while back, and I did buy one of the PAD sound sets.

I wouldn't bother with getting Mellotron sounds into the Kronos, as they are n the "ROM", but if I needed Mellotron sounds live, I would simply take GForce MTRON out on a PC as I have the Streetly "tape banks" (i.e. tape banks from the original Streetly Electronics tape masters).

BTW. The GForce Virtual String Machine (VSM) is also equally excellent. That gives you all of the classic string machines of the 70s like Godwins, Solinas, Logans, Crumanrs, Yamaha's Eminents, etc.

If you like the classic string sounds of the 70s, VSM is well worth checking out, and short of the real thing, MTRON PRO with the streetly tapes is the best I have achieved on the Mellotron sound. Their OSCar and Odyssey emulations are very good as well. All are well worth checking out and you can demo them

http://www.gforcesoftware.com/
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