5 Reasons Why Yamaha Montage Is The Future of FM Synthesizers


Yamaha revolutionized synthesizers with the DX7 in the Eighties, and now promises to push the envelope once again with the Yamaha Montage - taking the quality and tradition of the DX and Motif series to new heights...

Yamaha Montage blog

As we highlighted on a recent post, there's still a lot of love for the classic Yamaha DX7 sounds. This particular synth was responsible for some of the most iconic sounds of the Eighties, and the release of affordable synths such as the Yamaha Reface DX and the forthcoming Korg Volca FM seem to signal a revival for digital FM synthesizers.

This is a change from the past few years, when analogue synthesizers have become cool and highly desirable again. Departing from this trend, the new Yamaha Montage is fighting the digital corner and seems set to become *the* ultimate FM synthesizer right now, a full-sized synth with lots of great sounds and many innovations.

Yamaha Montage vs. Korg Kronos: Which One is Better?

It seems LOTS of players are wondering whether the Yamaha Montage is better or worse than the Korg Kronos. Well, this is a tricky question because they're two different beasts altogether.

Sure, because it offers so much, Montage is on the high-end price range, really aimed at the pros who use gear such as Motif or Kronos synths... but it offers something different! It's definitely an improvement on Yamaha's own Motif series, but fans of Kronos may or may not be impressed, depending on what they expect from their keyboard.

For instance, Montage is an actual FM synth, and Kronos isn't (though you can load an FM sound library to it). There's certainly plenty to be impressed with, as Montage offers quite a few great new features, such as Super Knob and Performance Recorder.

Montage features nearly 10 times the waveform capacity of the MOTIF XF, allowing more samples per instrument for incredibly realistic and nuanced sound, and integrated Flash Memory
of 1.75 GB, with high speed reading/writing for your own custom samples or synth libraries from yamahasynth.com.

Current Kronos users will probably not be too tempted to make the change, but if you're a live performer and on the market for a powerful new FM synthesizer that can do DX7 and much more, then maybe the new Yamaha Montage series is just right for you. Trust us... it'll blow your mind! Here's our Top 5 reasons why you should get excited by Montage...

1. It's better than the Yamaha DX7... really!

This might sound like blasphemy to some, but it's true! The DX7 is a classic synth for sure, and had some great sounds, but the fact is that the new Montage keyboards offer a much more powerful FM synth engine, and they're also much more versatile and easier to operate. Montage's FM-X engine has 8 operators and 128-note polyphony, and is capable of producing classic ‘80s or cutting-edge EDM sounds with incredible dynamic range, power and fidelity.

2. It's compatible with older Motif and DX7 sounds

The Montage is an evolution from the previous Yamaha synths, which also means the brand recognize the fact many players who've used past models would still like to load their old sounds when upgrading to this new range. Montage is compatible with older Motif sounds (XF, XS, ES...) and will also be compatible to your DX7 library.

3. It's actually much more than a FM-synthesizer

Delivering great FM synthesizer sounds is just one of the things Montage does, of course. People just looking for a FM synth may opt for something cheaper... Montage is a seriously sophisticated synth, for the professional musicians.

Montage features a second synth engine, the AWM2, which allows tremendous data compression without sound quality loss for unparalleled, realistic sound reproduction, 128-Note, Stereo polyphony, and rich stereo sound without halving the available number of notes. You can also blend the FM-X and AWM2 sounds, to create new and exciting layers of sounds!

4. It's perfect for live performance

Performing live is a breeze with Montage. Live Set lets you organize your Performances however you want without copying, changing order or renaming. When a Performance is selected, you can easily register it to a Live Set. This is perfect for playing gigs or even creating your own organization scheme for Performances.

Yamaha Montage Live screen Yamaha Montage 'Live Set' screen

Another innovation is the Super Knob, which allows you to create dynamic sound changes from radical to sublime! The Super Knob can control multiple parameters simultaneously resulting in anything you can imagine. For example: change your listening position from right in front of an instrument to in the back seat of a concert hall. Or radically change the character of a Performance from atmospheric and mellow to rhythmic and edgy. This way of controlling different paramaters - with just one (Super!) knob - comes very handy on live situations.

Other features include:

  • Motion Sequences: tempo-synchronized, customizable control sequences that can be assigned to virtually any synthesizer parameter)
  • Envelope Follower: converts audio into a control source for control of virtually any synthesizer parameter. For example, a drum loop could drive effects parameters for a cool rhythms or a vocal recording could control multiple parameters for a “talking” synthesizer. The audio can even be a “live” source through the A/D input.
  • Performance Recorder: Montage offers 16 Sequence tracks, Tempo track and Scene track, and three recording types: Real time replace, Real time overdub, Real time punch in/out.

All of these features make Montage a killer live synth! Check Yamaha's legendary Bert demoing the Montage, for a better taste of what's it all about!

5. Montage is great for sound creation

Yamaha Montage workflow

While it's true that the Montage synth comes truly alive in a, well, live situation, there's plenty on offer for the recording artist, too. Besides the two synth engines, Montage also features:

  • Effects: From high definition reverbs to incredibly detailed Virtual Circuit Modeling (VCM) effects, MONTAGE is loaded with DSP innovation, power and, most importantly, sound quality. Use effects like Beat Repeat, Vinyl Break or Bit Crusher to get a modern EDM sound. You can even add a compressor with sidechain for a modern “ducking” effect. Or go retro with vintage effects like Analog Delay, VCM Phaser or a variety of Amp Simulators. Piano players will appreciate piano-focused effects like Damper Resonance for a super-realistic piano experience and the HD reverbs that let you put yourself in any performance space.
  • Pure Analog Circuit: professional balanced outputs with “Pure Analog Circuit” (PAC). PAC improves the quality of signal after being converted to analog from digital for clear harmonic reproduction and even frequency response. The result is an output capable of reproducing MONTAGE’s internal content expressively with power and clarity.
  • Streamlined Workflow: How do you want to integrate your instrument with your system? How do you want to organize the onboard content? How do you want to interact with the instrument while you play? MONTAGE answers these questions and more with a flexible, streamlined workflow.
  • ...And much more: USB/MIDI connection, Cubase AI bundle and A/D input, which processes external audio sources with your instrument’s DSP. Use mics, guitars or any line source as an input and process with the internal effects. You can even use these sources with the Envelope Follower or Sidechain for a truly unique sound.

One thing is certain... Yamaha Montage sounds great!



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4 Comments on “5 Reasons Why Yamaha Montage Is The Future of FM Synthesizers”

  • db
    15th May 2016

    "Montage is an actual FM synth, and Kronos isn't"

    This is a strong contender for the most false claim of the year.

    KRONOS features MOD-7, a fully capable engine that offers FM (actually PM like Yamaha) synthesis - but with a whole pile of other things like waveshaping, ring mod, and more - none of which Yamaha have ever integrated in their FM synths.

    So, what, an engine that in many ways is actually better, somehow isn't 'a real FM synth'? How much did you get paid to write this and discredit Korg in a way that a cursory reading of the specs shows to be completely dishonest?

    In fact, the Montage FM is just a crippled FS1R, so which keyboard is the real innovator here? The answer is obvious.

    • Admin
      16th May 2016

      Hi there! Hang on a minute,friend... we've never suggested Korg Kronos wasn't great! Actually we suggested quite the opposite, that Kronos users might NOT be impressed by the Montage! Seems we were right...

      In our view both are great, but different beasts. Each will attract different players, with different needs...

      And strictly speaking, Kronos is not a FM-synth in the sense that it uses VPM, which is Korg's version of FM, but not "actually" FM... (A good article to read is https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1997_articles/sep97/synthschool3.html)

      The Yamaha Montage is a different beast than Kronos, with its own unique sounds and features. Like every other synth ever, some people will love it, and others won't... but the fact there's a new, a bona fide Yamaha FM synth on the market, with 8-operator FM architecture and 128-note polyphony is pretty great! The reaction so far has been great. Fair dos if you don't like it, but plenty of players seem to love it! ;)

  • Tim
    3rd August 2016

    The above comment is correct - how Yamaha's 'FM' works is no different to Korg's.
    VPM is just a different name for it.

  • Michael Brehmer
    5th September 2016

    You are right that MONTAGE is a great instrument.
    But it has one disadvantage. His user storage for perforformance is too small.
    If you load any voice package, it don't reach for your own edit performances.

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