Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

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Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Saul » Mon Jan 30, 2017 2:03 pm

Not sure if anyone else has come across this issue yet but, if you use the Montage as your main audio interface in MacOS Sierra...as you should be able to do, you may find a problem whereby if you are playing audio on the computer and then try to play something on the keyboard at the same time, the Montage knocks out and/or distorts the audio on the Mac. This doesn't happen in Windows 10 and I am pretty sure it also is not an issued in El Capitan.

Another major problem is with MIDI. I can't use the Montage as a controller in MacOS Sierra. Every midi softsyynth I have tried either doesn't work or will work for about 30 seconds and then crash. Again this is not a problem in Windows 10.

I had hoped the 1.5 firmware would have sorted it out but alas it has not, if anything it is slightly worse.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Yamaha Montage Problems in Mac OS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Saul » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:35 am

Sound issues in MacOS Sierra seem to be getting worse when using the Montage as the audio interface. More often than not, when playing something like a youtube video the sound slows down and has a sort of echo to it.

Got to say that although this is probably only happening in MacOS Sierra, it really should not be happening at all. This is a three grand keyboard after all. Is it unreasonable to expect the audio interface to work without any issues? I can understand there might have been issues when macOS was in beta but it's been out for for 5 months now and Montage has had two firmware updates in that time, neither of which fixed the problem.

Were this just a problem with on piece of software you could put it down to that software vendor not updating their own drivers but this issue affects everything that uses audio and midi.

Have been trying to get a response from Yamaha but apparently these things now need to be raised via Yamaha Japan and they can take an age to respond so it could be I no longer have the Montage by the time they come up with a solution. That's a shame because it makes working with Montage a bit clunky.

I haven't yet seen anyone else complain about this issue but given the relatively low numbers of Montage out there coupled with the fact that many musicians who have invested heavily in software will probably have resisted the upgrade to MacOS Sierra so as to not lose access to that software, It's understandable why it's not all over the forums.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Saul » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:20 pm

Quick update on this.

Yamaha were in touch and asked me to try a few things none of which worked. Montage still has MIDI and Audio problems in macOS Sierra.

It must be a conflict with the mac operating system though because the midi obviously works as I tested it on the iPad and that was fine.

Bear in mind this is a new install of macOS Sierra on a new hard drive. The computer sees the Montage just fine and the audio interface works as long as I don't try to play audio on the mac at the same time as play the keyboard.

Not seen anyone else with the same issues but then I also have not seen anyone else using the Montage with macOS Sierra. Very frustrating to say the least!
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Derek » Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:47 pm

Strange to hear of such problems on a Mac, as they are usually pretty good for MIDI and audio.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Saul » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:10 pm

Yeah everything else works fine Derek. It's just this USB/MIDI connection from the Montage to the Mac. Yamaha are saying it must be my particular set up but I don't buy that. If there were any problems then why is it ONLY the Montage that is not working?
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Derek » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:33 am

Saul wrote:If there were any problems then why is it ONLY the Montage that is not working?
Indeed :)
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Saul » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:57 pm

Well it's always the simple things isn't it?

Turns out it was the usb lead causing the problem! Not sure why. Both the leads I have here are USB 2.0, shielded and good quality. They work fine with my other USB equipped gear. At first I thought it might be the length as the cable I usually use is 5 metres but the other one is 2 metres in length so that shouldn't be a problem.

I tried a shorter cable which came with the Korg microKey and this worked a treat. No midi lock ups and no distortion on the audio

Perhaps the Montage doesn't pump enough power to the USB port? I would have thought that unlikely though.

Still, it's definitely a cable issue. Going to purchase a new one of about 3metres and see how that goes.

Although if it's the cable then why does it work ok in Windows?
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by parametric » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:23 pm

Couldn't be a USB2 vs USB3 problem could it?

I've had issues using USB2 devices plugged into USB3 sockets. Backward compatability is NOT assured . . . .

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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Saul » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:09 pm

Well in typical Yamaha fashion it doesn't really tell you in the specs. It's says USB 1.1 to 3.0 and it depends on the data transmitted. That's ALL it says. The website is no better and doesn't even list which version it supports. Neither does it indicate anything on the touch screen. USB 2 is more than fast enough for MIDI data so there should be no issues with a USB 2 cable. Certainly all my other devices transmit over USB 2 without any problems.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Derek » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:17 pm

Strange issue.

Problems I have had with USB are to do with old USB 2 devices really not liking USB 3, despite USB3 being "backwards compatible".

So,
  • My Focusrite Saffire 6 MIDI interface (2011 vintage) will only work in a USB 2 port - I have had to label my laptop ports to ensure it is plugged into its single USB 2 port, as If I get it wrong on a gig night, I end up with no end of problems! The funny thing is my even older MOTU MIDISPORT 2x2 is happy in USB 3
  • My MOTU MIDI Express 128 8x8 MIDI port (2006 vintage) seems to work in USB3, but you get hanging notes. Plug it into USB2 and all is fine - see comment above about older MOTU interface!
  • From memory, my Belkin USB WIFI interface on my music computer refused to work in USB3
But I have never heard of lead problems....
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by SeaGtGruff » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:51 pm

Just my 2 cents (or 2 pence?), but to my way of thinking, if plugging a USB2 cable into a USB3 port causes problems, it seems like the problem must be on the machine that has the USB3 port, not the other end of the cable. Shouldn't the machine with the USB3 port detect that the cable is USB2 and "downgrade" its behavior to match USB2 specs? It seems to me that the fault must lie on the Mac side-- either the USB3 connection/port itself, or the USB drivers-- and not on the Montage side.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Saul » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:50 pm

The mac has a USB 2.0 port. The Montage has a USB 2.0 port (it's not USB 3.0 I confirmed) so the two should be fine, in any case I am using ONLY USB 2.0 cables so one cable works fine...the short one that came with the Korg microKey but the other two cables only work for about 30 seconds before the Midi locks up. Plus when just using the audio interface...playing a youtube clip for example, the audio slows down and there is a distinct echo effect going on. Again, using the short cable this all disappears and everything works properly.

This is not the software locking up by the way. When it locks playing the Montage the software still works fine if I use the mouse on the virtual keys or if I switch to the microKey so the software itself is not crashing. It's the midi data from the Montage that is dropping out.

I could sort of understand if I were shoving a shed load of midi plus audio down it but the only thing I am doing is trying to play acoustic piano on one channel, It's not exactly testing the limits of midi capability.

I know there are different quality USB cables out there which is why some will not charge your phone properly when others will but not sure if that is the case here.

This is the spec for the 5mtr and 3mtr cables I tried that caused problems :

SHIELDED 28AWG/2C+24AWG/2C (UL) E305668 TYPE CM 75ºC CSA LL204790 TYPPE CM 75ºC 150V MSL

and this is the spec of the shorter cable that came with the Korg which works fine :

E166307 AWM 20276 24/28AWG 80ºC 30V VW-1

They are both 28/24 unlike cheaper cables which are 28/28 so in theory they should both be able to carry a max of 2 amps, which is great for charging your mobile/tablet but not sure what bearing it has on this MIDI situation. Any thoughts?

Have been chatting to someone from Yamaha Europe about this over the last couple of weeks and this is his latest response ;
Regarding the cable length from my experience USB cables up to 3 m working well. Above that it depends. If it’s just a simple MIDI connection it might work but I had the case that even the USB MIDI driver won’t work with 5 or 6 m. For the Yamaha Steinberg USB Driver I would go as short as possible because I think that 32 audio channels mono in 44.1 kHz by 16 bit plus MIDI is a connection with some kind of higher demand.
Keep in mind though I am not using 32 audio channels plus midi.

The other thing is, the closest practical distance I can get the Montage to my iMac is 3mtrs so I need to be using a cable of at least that length...which these days is surely not unreasonable?

Imagine then that I have spent £3000 on a new Montage only to discover I can't use it with my mac? Not going to be a very happy customer right? Thankfully I have not had to spend any money. Lucky for me Yamaha made it so expensive I couldn't afford one ;)

Derek, I wonder if you have had any issues with the Kronos in this respect? What length of USB cable do you use to connect it to your Mac or laptop?
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by parametric » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:45 am

This is rather disappointing with a flagship synth . . . .

It sounds like your longer cables take you to a situation where you are on the cusp of the spec - and the combination of montage port - cable - Mac Port conspire to make it fall off it's perch rather readily.

I guess it would be tortuous to try and connect using conventional midi and audio and see if that works without issue?

(I PRESUME the Montage has conventional Midi I/O/T?)

"But why should I have to!" - I hear you cry - (and I agree)

You are for sure in a better position to get Yamaha's ear on this - and it can probably be sorted - but how soon?

Regards

parametric
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Saul » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:09 am

The Montage does work fine with standard midi cables but on a keyboard in this price range I have to question why, when they make so much of the Audio/Midi interface should I have to then resort to two midi cables and an external box? Seems a bit clunky for a modern synth that costs the best part of £3k

Would be interesting to compare with other synths that have a usb audio/midi interface. The MOXF has one and as far as I can remember there were no issues with audio or midi on the mac and by the way, that was using the same 5mtr cable that seems to cause problems with the Montage.

Not sure if this is right but I don't think the Kronos has the audio interface? I know the Krome didn't which is part of the reason I didn't buy one.
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Re: Yamaha Montage Sound and Midi Problems in MacOS Sierra - SOLVED!

Unread post by Derek » Wed Feb 15, 2017 2:26 pm

Saul wrote:The mac has a USB 2.0 port. The Montage has a USB 2.0 port (it's not USB 3.0 I confirmed) so the two should be fine, in any case I am using ONLY USB 2.0 cables so one cable works fine...the short one that came with the Korg microKey but the other two cables only work for about 30 seconds before the Midi locks up. Plus when just using the audio interface...playing a youtube clip for example, the audio slows down and there is a distinct echo effect going on. Again, using the short cable this all disappears and everything works properly.

This is not the software locking up by the way. When it locks playing the Montage the software still works fine if I use the mouse on the virtual keys or if I switch to the microKey so the software itself is not crashing. It's the midi data from the Montage that is dropping out.

I could sort of understand if I were shoving a shed load of midi plus audio down it but the only thing I am doing is trying to play acoustic piano on one channel, It's not exactly testing the limits of midi capability.

I know there are different quality USB cables out there which is why some will not charge your phone properly when others will but not sure if that is the case here.

This is the spec for the 5mtr and 3mtr cables I tried that caused problems :

SHIELDED 28AWG/2C+24AWG/2C (UL) E305668 TYPE CM 75ºC CSA LL204790 TYPPE CM 75ºC 150V MSL

and this is the spec of the shorter cable that came with the Korg which works fine :

E166307 AWM 20276 24/28AWG 80ºC 30V VW-1

They are both 28/24 unlike cheaper cables which are 28/28 so in theory they should both be able to carry a max of 2 amps, which is great for charging your mobile/tablet but not sure what bearing it has on this MIDI situation. Any thoughts?

Have been chatting to someone from Yamaha Europe about this over the last couple of weeks and this is his latest response ;
Regarding the cable length from my experience USB cables up to 3 m working well. Above that it depends. If it’s just a simple MIDI connection it might work but I had the case that even the USB MIDI driver won’t work with 5 or 6 m. For the Yamaha Steinberg USB Driver I would go as short as possible because I think that 32 audio channels mono in 44.1 kHz by 16 bit plus MIDI is a connection with some kind of higher demand.
Keep in mind though I am not using 32 audio channels plus midi.

The other thing is, the closest practical distance I can get the Montage to my iMac is 3mtrs so I need to be using a cable of at least that length...which these days is surely not unreasonable?

Imagine then that I have spent £3000 on a new Montage only to discover I can't use it with my mac? Not going to be a very happy customer right? Thankfully I have not had to spend any money. Lucky for me Yamaha made it so expensive I couldn't afford one ;)

Derek, I wonder if you have had any issues with the Kronos in this respect? What length of USB cable do you use to connect it to your Mac or laptop?
Will have to check when I am at home, but I think my Kronos cable is 3M to get from computer to where the Kronos is. Not noticed any issues at all. My USB cables on the laptop are 3M as I often have to place the rack the audio/midi interface is in on the floor and away from the laptop, which I have on a stand close to me to keep an eye on things.

All sorts of things can affect cable performance not just wire gauge - capacitance and resistance can be an issue (but rare over short distances) and more significantly the quality of construction inside even "professional" cables can be shocking. I have taken to inspecting the soldering and insulation inside the connector of every cable I buy (obviously not moulded ones!) before I use it as the construction standard is usually terrible. It's possibly the amount of cables that I have (0.5KM's worth! 8O ) which means that the law of averages has bitten, but I have had several occasions where cables have stopped working (usually just before a gig starts!), and it is because over time they have shorted internally inside the connector because there is no insulation and there is too much bare wire - a sign of things being made quickly and to cost. I guess such horrors are close to shorting from the outset and the flexing of cables over time just slowly moves them together until one day.....

I have a cable tester and periodically check all the cables when cleaning them. My band mates laugh at me as I am a little OCD over cables (but that 0.5KM is about £600 worth!) and I spend time coiling them up properly and lashing them with Velcro ties. But they last me a lifetime and I am not the fool trying to untangle a rats nest of dodgy cables at the next gig! I had my first ever MIDI cable failure a few months back on a cable I have had for at least 10 years, whereas some folks reckon you are luck to get a year from them.
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