New Montage 7 Owner

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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New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Derek » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:27 am

As the subject says. I found the keyboard to replace and retire my faithful Yamaha EX5s. Auditioned and picked it up from PMT in Cardiff yesterday - with Kudos to PMT for honouring their price match promise. :)

I still need to explore it more (and the way my work is right now, that will take a while :( ) but when auditioning in the store it was putting a smile on my face when I was playing it. And the hour I had on it at home last night confirmed that. Messing about with some of the preset Performances has already given me several ideas to develop.

I'll be honest and say that I have been critical of Yamaha when looking at the Montage on paper, primarily querying why they stopped at only two sound engines, and asking what happened to the AN engine, VL engine, EX5 FDSP and AFM (SY FM). But you know what? I don't mind so much now and "when the facts change, I change my mind"

The two mind changers for me are :
  • In the autumn I will building a high performance "brick" computer into my gig rack capable of running even resource hungry VSTis like UH-E DIVA, so I am these less worried about lack of AN modelling in the Montage as I can have whatever synth modelling I want in VSTi form, and of course I have AL-1 in the Kronos along with the MS20 and Poly6 engines.
  • The Montage does indeed sound awesome even with "just" AWM2 and FM-X
So, yes, the Montage is light in the sound engine count department, but I can now see why people have been keen to emphasise the performance aspects of the instrument. These aspects you can only really check out by playing the darn thing.

The super-knob concept and motion synthesis in general do open up a lot of possibilities, although I need to get the super-knob control on a foot pedal so I can keep both hands on the keyboard, and the first thing I had to do was to turn the flashing of the Super-knob off - that was a pimp to far!

Even just messing about last night, the Montage and Kronos seem to complement each other quite nicely. I soon had an idea involving both with a bit of UH-E Hive VSTi lead thrown on top.

As I said, I need to spend a lot more time with this synth, but will let you know how it goes.
Regards
Derek Cook

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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Derek » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:28 pm

Had a little play this morning before i had to disappear on business again :(

Second impressions are even more favourable, I spent some time going through its lead sounds, and to be very fair with Yamaha, there was no need for them to consider the AN engine, which I am very fond of. I need to look into how they were doing it, but Montage AWM2 was doing very passable sync lead sounds which most ROMPLERS would dare not try and do, especially when you start charging the sync depth. Yamaha's digital filters have always been good, so this board was doing some very good leads. I purchased some EasySound sets to get me going, and their "Nature of Chill" is very instant gratification. If I had had a few hours to record I think I could have easily knocked out some good ideas.

When you think about it, Yamaha probably do not do themselves any favours by still referring to the AWM engine as AWM2, which was first found in the SY Range in the 90s. The Montage AWM is a world apart from that origin. If FM on the Montage is badged FM-X then maybe AWM2 should have been AWM-X?
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Derek Cook

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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by parametric » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:24 am

Interesting to see that you are more conciliatory over the Montage - having spent some time PLAYING it . . . .

I think this DOES go to show how IMPORTANT it is to PLAY a keyboard and spend some time getting around it.

Rhetoric is all well and good , but it DOESN'T replace actually PLAYING the thing.

The Alesis Fusion was rubbished by a swathe of bad rhetoric about it's "Factory Set".

When I trialled my 8HD - I was happy to realise what a lot of ROT that "rhetoric" had been - and I am continually impressed as I

revisit the dozens of banks I have - and on occasions I have "forgotten" I have :lol:

Neither a shop or an "Artist's Day" (for that matter) are totally ideal to explore a board, as there are too many distractions to get

comfortable with how the thing is mapped, but IS OK to check you like the KeyBed . . .

You seem to be picking up on much that Josh Phillips said to me as regards use in performance. He was well pleased with

its ease of use with respect to quick selection of sounds (obviously when you have organised things to your own liking).

As you have observed, the quality of the sounds (has always been a strong suit from Yamaha) seem beyond reproach, and you're probably

right in Yamaha's AWM2 "label" being an understatment - according to your ears . . . .(Why didn't they make MORE of that?)

Will be interested to hear what you think when you get to use it "for real" in performance . . .

parametric
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Derek » Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:51 pm

Hi, Chris

Yes, I was guilty of assessing it on paper, but always had the intention of trying one once I had the budget together (not worth doing it until then....). I still would have like to see Yamaha revive AN and VL, but as I said above this modern, 8 element variant of AWM2 and of course FM is doing just fine. I did consider going controller only and saving some money (so controller, Kronos and PC "block"), but I am a fan of 76 note semi weighted keys and you try finding a new controller like that. And whilst I plan to do more with VSTis on stage, I am still not fully condfident to completely rely on a PC in the sound generating stakes. Also I figured, as I had the EX5 for 18 years as my mainstay, I can justify a Montage if I keep it for a similar length of time.

So the combination of Montage, Kronos and the VSTi PC (when I build it later in the year) will be a hell of a rig. That will do me for many years. Two top range keyboards and a PC I can run whatever I wish to make a noise :)

Can't wait to get home to get playing with the Montage again on Thursday, but not before a catchup with an old friend over a curry.....
Regards
Derek Cook

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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Saul » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:55 pm

Great to see you got the Montage at last Derek :)

Like you I was not bowled over with it on paper. I don't think Yamaha did themselves any favours in that respect but playing it day in day out you soon come to realise that this is a very well put together synth with a combination of two great sound engines and some interesting performance features.

For me it's still too expensive but I mean that in the context that it's overkill for what I would use a keyboard for so it's not something I would purchase at it's current price unless I had a very large bank balance where the money would not be missed. A Montage purchase for me would be too much of a good thing ;)

The super knob idea is a lot of fun and when you get that foot pedal it will really come into it's own. Having it flashing all the time would drive me nuts so when I had the Montage here I just set it to non flashing mode.

The quality of the keys on the semi-weighted version I found to be excellent. Not sure I preferred them over the Native Instruments S61 which are also of top quality but they are still up their with the best.

Personally I would still go for the Native Instruments S series or perhaps a Roland DS88 for it's Ivory Feel weighted hammer action keybed. I do mostly play acoustic piano though so the bells and whistles of a Montage are about two grands worth wasted on me.

Anyway I look forward to hearing about your journey with Montage, especially how it fits into your live rig.
Saul
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by parametric » Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:02 am

Actually Derek, at the Artist's Day I attended with Saul, I DID manage to spend some time with the Montage trying the Pedal control of the SuperKnob.

Piano and Strings is SO meat and potatoes for SO MANY things that for me - its a natural, and like you, grabbing at knobs is NOT what you want to be doing when you are playing with both hands.

So I was interested to try and see how well I could control that knob.

As a Piano player, the "Swell" style foot controller is not what I'm used to (normally just sustain pedal) and it was difficult at first to get used to . .

But after a while, I got used to the sensitivity of the pedal, such that I could gently bring in the strings in a fairly relaxed and controlled way.

I think nothing more is required really, other than lots of time to get familiar - and PRACTICE using it . . .

I do have an Yam FC7 and an Alesis Pedal for the Fusion that does prog up/down in addition to Volume (or whatever), but I just don't have the space on the floor (under the chest of drawers - that my 8HD sits on) . .

Oh well - One day perhaps . .

para
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Derek » Wed Aug 02, 2017 6:22 pm

parametric wrote:
Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:02 am
Actually Derek, at the Artist's Day I attended with Saul, I DID manage to spend some time with the Montage trying the Pedal control of the SuperKnob.

Piano and Strings is SO meat and potatoes for SO MANY things that for me - its a natural, and like you, grabbing at knobs is NOT what you want to be doing when you are playing with both hands.

So I was interested to try and see how well I could control that knob.

As a Piano player, the "Swell" style foot controller is not what I'm used to (normally just sustain pedal) and it was difficult at first to get used to . .

But after a while, I got used to the sensitivity of the pedal, such that I could gently bring in the strings in a fairly relaxed and controlled way.

I think nothing more is required really, other than lots of time to get familiar - and PRACTICE using it . . .

I do have an Yam FC7 and an Alesis Pedal for the Fusion that does prog up/down in addition to Volume (or whatever), but I just don't have the space on the floor (under the chest of drawers - that my 8HD sits on) . .

Oh well - One day perhaps . .

para
When I am home tomorrow, I will be getting my old FC7s out to try one. Then I will program my FC300 to be useful with the Montage when I get time. But I've been meaning to get the FC7s setup again as emergency backup if ever my FC300 failed
Regards
Derek Cook

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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Derek » Wed Aug 02, 2017 6:29 pm

Saul wrote:
Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:55 pm
Great to see you got the Montage at last Derek :)

Like you I was not bowled over with it on paper. I don't think Yamaha did themselves any favours in that respect but playing it day in day out you soon come to realise that this is a very well put together synth with a combination of two great sound engines and some interesting performance features.

For me it's still too expensive but I mean that in the context that it's overkill for what I would use a keyboard for so it's not something I would purchase at it's current price unless I had a very large bank balance where the money would not be missed. A Montage purchase for me would be too much of a good thing ;)

The super knob idea is a lot of fun and when you get that foot pedal it will really come into it's own. Having it flashing all the time would drive me nuts so when I had the Montage here I just set it to non flashing mode.

The quality of the keys on the semi-weighted version I found to be excellent. Not sure I preferred them over the Native Instruments S61 which are also of top quality but they are still up their with the best.

Personally I would still go for the Native Instruments S series or perhaps a Roland DS88 for it's Ivory Feel weighted hammer action keybed. I do mostly play acoustic piano though so the bells and whistles of a Montage are about two grands worth wasted on me.

Anyway I look forward to hearing about your journey with Montage, especially how it fits into your live rig.
For me it's the other way around. Heresy maybe, but I am not a huge piano fan. Expressive in the right hands, but not probably mine! I have used piano in covers where it is needed, but rarely use it in my music. I am more into synth sounds and textures.

And as I said I wanted a 76 note keyboard. 88 is too big for me, and I do not like fully weighted (may be something I would grow into if I had the need). 61 keys is too small, but 76 is just right. So a 76 note board I can also use as a controller fits my need best. There are some issues with the Montage as a controller in that Yamaha appear to have fixed the MIDI channels for each part (a bit daft and a backwards step from the EX5), but that doesn't bother me as I plan to route MIDI via Cantabile on PC, and that can do whatever MIDI remapping is required.

I agree with you that it is better in the flesh than on paper, once you get used to the two engines and realise they are SY like in the scope of what they cover, and doubtless my time with it will keep reinforcing that. As I said I am less concerned about the sound engines due to the VSTi plan which really opens up my possibilities as well.

Looking forward to getting back to it tomorrow, although I guess I'd better say hello to the missus first! ;)
Regards
Derek Cook

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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Derek » Thu Aug 03, 2017 9:45 pm

Well, tonight I located one of my old trusty FC7 pedals and put it in control socket two, so had the Superknob under foot control. Much, much better. Went through more of the sounds and remain very impressed, noting down the ones with instant song potential. I'm home for at least a week now(!), so hope to turn at least one of the noodles into a song.

After having spent about five hours with it in total, I agree with what Yamaha have done. It is most definitely a performance synth, not a workstation, and I can see why they have done that. VL and AN would have been nice, but it is doing a darn fine job with AWM2 (which I would have called AWM-X) and FM-X. :)
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by wavesequence » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:32 pm

Add me to the list, please. I'm a new Montage 7 owner since 11:00 AM.
I'm a little confused, although in the previous months I literally studied (and translated into italian for my unique joy and leisure) the in deep articles written by Bad Mister. Still owning FS1R and Motif XF7 I'm wondering if I did the right choice... Time will tell.
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Saul » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:56 pm

wavesequence wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:32 pm
Add me to the list, please. I'm a new Montage 7 owner since 11:00 AM.
I'm a little confused, although in the previous months I literally studied (and translated into italian for my unique joy and leisure) the in deep articles written by Bad Mister. Still owning FS1R and Motif XF7 I'm wondering if I did the right choice... Time will tell.
Congrats on your new Montage 7 :)

If your anything like me it is a keyboard that will grow on you over time. I liked it at first but was not overly enthusiastic but after spending some time with it you start to see what Yamaha's thought process was and where the Montage's strengths are truly centred. It's is definitely a "performance synth" so not a traditional workstation. It has a lot of pluses and very little minuses. Of course it won't suit everyone but that was never the intention. It does what it does very well indeed, I just wish I could actually afford one :(
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Derek » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:51 pm

Hi, with a name like that, I hope you have a Wavestation, OASYS or Kronos! :)

I am also an FS1r owner, and still would not sell my FS1r, as I only have half of it in the Montage. I also have a Motif (ES Flavour).

What attracted me to the Kronos as a replacement for my EX5 was a good 76 note controller board (important to me) and that "Yamaha sound" in a modern context.

So far, after a month of ownership of the Montage, I am still pleased with it. It complements the Kronos quite nicely. HD-1 pads in the Kronos tend to be lighter and less strident and which one I need varies on the song. When I get time, I need to develop some ideas I have which use the two of them.

Personally a Performance synth for me was fine as I do not need another workstation with facilities I will barely use.

The main limitation I have heard about on the Kronos which could affect me is the MIDI side in that the performance part channels are fixed, and so far my recording of a Montage performance with eight stacked channels has resulted in 8 parts all on Cubase track (all the notes on top of each other). I think I know why Yamaha have done this as each part can have different arpeggios and motion/performance settings, so I think I just need to rethink my approach to recording and playback when I do MIDI recordings. Have not had time to think about that yet.

I do find the Montage Touch screen menu scheme quirky. Sometimes I find what I want quickly, other times it takes me forever to refind that item I was after (the Kronos is so logical in comparison), but I hope familiarity will win out in the end! I think I sussed it the other day - the screen options you are presented with, depend on what buttons you have pressed on the right hand button panel, specifically the EDIT button! 8O

And after years of having all data on an SSD in the Kronos (also capable of streaming samples from SSD), all accessible via FTP from my PC, it is a real pain in the a**e to have to go back to USB thumb drives, a fixed FLASH limit (and FLASH write times), but I can live with that.
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Saul » Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:46 pm

Yamaha are running a number of Montage events over the next couple of months starting the end of September. The two I know about so far are at GuitarGiutar in Epsom on the 27th and at Yamaha Music London on the 30th.

You can book one on one sessions with Dom Sigalis who will spend 40 minutes taking you through the Montage and answering any questions you have. It's all free of course and I think for anyone considering a Montage or has just purchased one this could be an invaluable opportunity to demystify how it all works :)

I'm with you about the USB thing Derek. Even the Korg Triton Studio I bought yesterday which is 15 years old has a hard drive built in 8O
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Derek » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:30 pm

I wonder how close those Montage events will get to Darkest Wales? :roll:

Yup, the USB thing is pretty daft in this day and age, as is Montage User or Library data (you can edit data in the former, but not the latter). That has "Yamaha quirkiness" written all other it. I am stil convinced (an opinion formed in the days of the EX5) that Yamaha have a "Deliberate Quirks" department, and no keyboard can be released until they have had a hand in adding something daft to the operation ...... ;)

I may be prejudiced after three years of Kronos Ownership, where all data access is a simple FTP access of the built in SSD. All it needed was a CAT5 to USB converter, but more enterprising folks (and out of warranty of course) have made the internal motherboard network port accessible. I guess it is one of the benefits of Korg basing the Kronos architecture on COTS computing components.

Congrats on the Triton purchase.
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Re: New Montage 7 Owner

Unread post by Saul » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:14 pm

I think you may be right Derek. The Yamaha Quirks Department sounds like a distinct possibility :)

This is the second Triton I have owned and have to say I am completely amazed at how good it sounds. the 'Studio' has double the polyphony of the standard model and a larger wave rom. Plus of course it has the hard drive and the memory is easily expandable from within the metal flap on the top. Fantastic design and 15 years old!
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