Just thought I would pass by and say I have purchased a Montage 7 to replace my Yamaha EX5 as my lower tier keyboard for live use, and I think it nicely complements my Korg Kronos X61 on the top tier.
Experience so far is very positive.
As a long time Yamaha fan (CS15, DX7II, SY99, TG77, EX5, AN1x, FS1r, A4000, WX5 and Motif Rack ES with PLG150-AN and PLG150-VL), who to be honest jumped to the Kronos in 2013 as I couldn't take any more Motif derivatives , I was quite critical of Yamaha when I saw the Montage on paper.
Whilst I applauded the return of FM, I would have loved to see them go further with more engines: AN and VL engines for example. And it is criminal that FDSP only ever appeared on the EX5 - Not just for the EP and Guitar modelling, but the note and velocity independent effects processing in general. I was hoping with the Kronos as the competition that Yamaha would "do the EX5 as it should have been done". As much as I am now a Korg fan with the Kronos (which I see as a modern day EX5), I still love the Yamaha sound.
So I was disappointed when I saw that the Montage "only" had AWM2 and FM-X, I always knew one day I would have to retire my EX5 from stage duties and that I would go and demo the Montage to hear it for myself, once I had the budget ready to replace the EX5.
So, why did I pull the trigger on the Montage?
Simple, it sounds fantastic, and the performance focus is well thought out, and gives you lots of inspiration. I never use a Workstation sequencer for any recording work, so the fact it does not have a full blown sequencer is not an issue for me personally. All my studio recording is done in Cubase and if I need a backing track on stage I use Cantabile (more later), or I have the Kronos Sequencer.
I think Yamaha score a bit of an own goal when they refer to Montage AWM as AWM2, which has been the name since the SY series. AWM-X might be a more appropriate name, and a more powerful beast compared to the four element AWM in my SY99, TG77, EX5 and Motif Rack ES.
In fact (RCM notwithstanding) the Montage reminds me of my SY in that here we have a digital workstation that can sound very analog. Its AWM engine has some really good analog sounds and it even does sync lead sounds pretty well, which is always a stern test for a sample playback engine (need to dig in and understand how!)
Use of Cantabile as a live VSTi host is also why I am more relaxed about lack of engines on the Montage (as well has having 9 in the Kronos!). I will soon have an embedded computer in my gig rack (to replace my current aging laptop) with plenty of horse power and memory, and Cantabile will host my arsenal of soft synths, even resource hungry ones like UH-E DIVA, Omnisphere, etc. Oh, I still have my Nord G2 Engine in the rack as well
So with the combination of Kronos, Montage, Nord G2 Engine and Cantabile host (with any VSTi I wish to use), I think that will see me through for a while.
But back to the Montage, it really does sound great, and three weeks in I am glad I purchased it. I've had a lot of fun checking out the presets, I got some of the EasySound packs as well for even more fun, and it is now time to get it integrated in my rig.
I'll be honest, I miss some of the convenience of the Kronos, such as having everything on SSD that also does sample streaming and which can be accessed direct from computer via FTP for patch transfer, but I can live with that
I'm still on the learning curve of the Montage, but so far so good.