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Interesting Website With Yamaha Montage (MODX) technical information

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Jason
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I haven't seen this website mentioned - or, at least, the search on here didn't return any hits. I ran across an interesting article and there is more good content there:

http://www.sayatone.com/yamaha-montage/yamaha-montage-3-synth-engines/

The page is run by someone who takes scope shots of the audio, does measurements, etc. It's the sort of thing that appeals to the more technically curious.

 
Posted : 14/08/2023 1:17 pm
david
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Now he'll have to start over with the Montage2 in a few months

 
Posted : 14/08/2023 2:18 pm
Jason
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Keyboards live long after their expiration date. For those who will continue using a Montage or MODX for the next 20 years (give or take), the information will remain relevant whether or not this individual moves on to other keyboards.

 
Posted : 14/08/2023 4:10 pm
david
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There are definitely classifications of synths apart from the financial drivers:

1) Worth keeping forever on merits alone such as it's extremely unique

2) The next generation essentially replaces it completely making it obsolete

3) The next gen is so similar there's no reason to upgrade

4) GAS I'm going to get the next thing no matter what

Yamaha has done both in the past. Jumping to a completely new series or "+", "ES", "XF" etc. or doubling up of DSP & options.

Some players choose to leap frog only upgrading every other generation

Or waiting 4,5,6 years for Yamaha to expand the current system to its full potential

Or waiting for the dumbed down spin-off version such as MODX series

It might come down to two deciding or determining factors considering only hardware: A) Sound B) Functionality

If you must have an all-in-one do everything workstation synth like Fantom you'll being watching for the Montage2 specs. to decide or wait for the Fantom2 or other options forthcoming

If you want the best possible sound source available no matter how many components you'll probably go modular and build your studio using specialized units.

One truth is that it will always come down to price point & profit. You can only get so much from an all-in-one workstation that's under $5K no matter what wish for. Montage2 would probably have to reach upwards of $10K to do everything as good as individual modular &/or desktop units. There has to be a trade off somewhere & still make the project feasible and profitable yet remain affordable to most musicians. Nord charges workstation prices for their stage boards which can load samples.

I wonder will the Montage be a beast $8K type unit since Montage and MODX+ are still available for anyone to afford. Or will Yamaha go the way of CK with a cheaper type build but smarter unit to keep the PP in check? If it's like the Genos, all plastic, it will likely get broken with heavy use but maybe not. Just offer a custom fit roadie case for non-studio use. It's possible with MODX+ as the low grade and Montage as the mid grade and Montage2 as the top shelf. Just seems like they'll have to dump real money into it because Osmose MPE, Iridium, Oberheim, Moog, Sequential and many others are so reasonably affordable and are killing it in sound quality and options. It's kind of true that you get what you pay for and the used market is making that even better for your GAS and heartburn related GA digestive disorders.

The new Montage2 will have one or several of these top 10 reactional possibilities: 1) Ugh! 2) Ahh! 3) Ouch! 4) Huh? 5) Bah! 6) Grr! 7) Wha! 8) Duh! 9) Wah Hoo! 10) Holy Crap!

 
Posted : 14/08/2023 4:53 pm
Jason
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Yamaha hardly ever makes a new keyboard that makes the old one obscelete. Motif is still relevant if you want Karma support, surgical sequencing, sampling, support for certain compressions (and therefore content), and a ton of other advanced features that were dropped in Montage classic.

I was still using the ES when the XF dropped which is 2 generations old in Motif. There were certainly lots of great things about the XF but it didn't necessarily make the past generations irrelevant .

 
Posted : 14/08/2023 7:21 pm
david
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Yes they do tend to pick and choose features so as not to make a previous model worthless I'm sure by design. However it's been plenty of time they can now remake the CS80. Oberheim has done it and the DX7 killed their line. There is such thing as waiting too long where people die off and can't enjoy what you have made because no one can afford a real CS80. Waiting is sometimes not the best idea. I'm seriously enjoying the OB-X8 and at a fraction of the original cost of all 4 units. Not sure what role Yamaha played in Deckard's Dream Black Corp. also in Japan. Any affiliation or shared secrets in that endeavor? Is that the only CS80 clone we will ever have before we die off?

 
Posted : 14/08/2023 10:54 pm
Jason
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Personally, I don't care to see a CS80 clone. What I would use of a "full" clone would likely be the polyphonic aftertouch and long modulation strip. Either/both of which one could integrate into a synth different than the CS80 (been there, done that) taking cues from what's out there and imagining what's not out there yet (innovation). I'm not sure I want the CS80 tone generator verbatim.

I think this is generally what Yamaha tries to do with varying success. Sometimes reaching too far (FS1R, maybe EX5 if the limitations annoy you -- I'm not annoyed) and sometimes not reaching far enough (Montage can be seen as derivative from previous generations while dropping key features that were deemed important).

Whatever is going to happen next is already fully baked - so there's nothing to do but sit and wait.

In the meantime, use keyboards available now (sometimes meaning the one on your keyboard stand if not in the stores) and learn as much as you can to get the most out of it to serve your music.

To that extent, I offer up this useful webpage which describes part of how the Montage operates from a functional/measured perspective. If not this specific information, stuff in the ballpark has been asked about from a certain pool. This is serving those who can use it.

 
Posted : 14/08/2023 11:30 pm
david
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To clarify that would be in addition to Montage2 is a CS80 clone but yes with more advanced features or digital accessibility similar to the Oberheim but better or more. Yamaha should make some sort of authentic analog as nothing is hotter as the 80s are coming back I hope. We are kind of tired of all digital or we have plenty of options. What's the last true analog Yamaha made? They probably won't and the competition is pretty stiff. Might be cool if the Montage2 had a authentic analog engine integrated into the PAC with everything else.

 
Posted : 15/08/2023 1:27 am
 Fred
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Hello, it's so cute to see you speculating on the next Montage! But are you going to realize that Yamaha doesn't care what we want or not?
No matter what we say, what we think, what we ask...Yamah engineers will do what they set out to do, that's all.
Look at the Ideascale website. He's supposed to give Yamaha ideas for improvement, isn't he? Have you seen the hundreds of fantastic ideas that could have made the Montage even better? Not a single one of these ideas has been listened to for the past 3 years, not a single one.
I don't know about Roland, but I saw the exact same thing for the Korg Kronos. The official Kronos forum contains nearly 17,000 topics, over 190,000 posts...And yet, Korg has remained silent to requests and suggestions.
For Yamaha, all of us are just customers, only there to pay, play the instrument and keep quiet. We have to be happy with what Yamaha gives us, and keep quiet. Either way, they won't listen to anything.

 
Posted : 15/08/2023 6:50 am
Jason
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I don't know why you would have such a high expectation as to what Yamaha "listens" to or responds to. Ideascale and any other forum to communicate feature improvements or new features is a wishing well. You cast your wish and maybe it's granted (now, later, distant future) and maybe it isn't. These wishes are closer to votes. If you really want to be "heard" you have to also have a bunch of others who agree with you. One single outside voice of a request isn't relevant enough to act upon unless the feature was already on the roadmap.

There have been plenty of changes that have happened seemingly directly from customer feedback. So there is some success rate. And, from what I see, a greater success rate than frankly I expected.

Like I said, the next keyboard is already fully baked in terms of planning/features.

This thread isn't about any of this (it's about technical information pertaining to the Montage/MODX FM-X tone engine) although I'm happy to entertain tangents.

 
Posted : 15/08/2023 3:20 pm
david
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Oh absolutely we realize we get what we get no matter what. This forum is more of a ventilation stack and it's pretty amazing Yamaha will allow people to roast them or praise them and everything in between. Speculation is self entertainment I suppose and fun when I get something right or am totally off base. I fully expect Yamaha to do what they always have done with one surprise or wrinkle. I guessed (wished) at the beginning it wouldn't be another Montage but rather a new platform but knew that was a big stretch. They play it safe 90% of the time but eventually they will need a fundamental change because AWM2 or 3 can only go so far because sampling is a labor intensive and then you have to process it. Every note needs to be sampled and in 10 different accents or envelops. It's most practical application is for backing tracks not solos or featured instruments. Virtual is catching up fast and it's pretty unlimited sounding like real time instruments now with hundreds of sonic variations within a sliver of the fundamental voice. A sax can make a hundred different sound variants within a 20 second solo. Sampling will never achieve that unless AI can match it and then make it controllable using one finger like MPE+.

 
Posted : 15/08/2023 4:23 pm
Darryl
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That is very interesting @Jason ! 😉

I do mostly everything by ear. I learned to play piano/synth completely by ear. I learned to program my first synth Korg Polysix by ear, as well as my Roland SH-101 and Yamaha DX7II-FD all by ear. I learned to mix songs that I've recorded by reading up on techniques and applying them using my ear, as well as comparing to professionally recorded stuff and adjusting by ear.
However, when I am having difficulty finding specific frequencies (& ranges/widths) I will use the sweep method, but I also like to utilize my Waves Spectrum Analyzer plugin to pin point and validate where my ear tells me it is. So seeing graphical details like in this article is quite interesting.

Seeing the actual changes in waves is pretty kool! When I saved all my sounds on the DX7II via sysex, converted them and imported them into the Montage, I did notice that they sounded almost identical, but there are slight variations, so having my DX7 plugged into the Montage's A/D input and comparing the same sounds from the original source to the Montage's sound, I was able to tweak them on the Montage to be pretty much identical to the DX7. With a few sounds I recorded the audio of the DX7 and then of the Montage, added each to separate channels in Pro Tools and compared the differences using the spectrum analyzer. I was then able to pinpoint more accurately what EQ settings were needed to make them sound nearly identical.

There is sooooo much potential on the Montage that is untapped, it's crazy! I plan to dig into all of it for the foreseeable future as much as possible. I've already captured my favorite C7 VST piano and created a library, whereby it sounds and plays exactly like the VST does. And if there are any more pianos I want in the future, I will do the same. The different being that I can likely get the same results via SampleRobot, with shorter samples & utilizing looping once the sound gets lower in volume, such that the waveform size is nearly half.
The fun factor for me is still 100% there, as I've barely dug into motion sequencing, into some of the effects that completely change the sounds, and FM-X. Layering FM-X with AWM2 and keeping them in different waves & frequency ranges, as well as stereo space makes all the difference in many cases. I often hear some people say they aren't a fan of FM-X/DX sounds so they stick with AWM2, but I've programmed and heard what others have programmed via DX7's, and they can sound nearly identical to almost any analog synth sound, and somethings even better sounding. There are many ways to get that big thick fat analog sound using FM-X.
But FM-X also has the ability to do things that are simply not possible on an analog synth and not available in the AWM2 preset waveforms. The 2 compliment each other so well... So many times I've been programming FM-X sounds, tweaking them to get a sound and hear some crazy different sounds that I've not heard on any synth demo or recording. I would love to see what some of those waves look like under a scope ... but regardless, I plan to start saving/using those crazy unique sounds and enhance + possibly layer them with other sounds + motion sequence them, etc., when creating new sounds in the future...

 
Posted : 15/08/2023 4:42 pm
david
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Analog can provide massive thick tones I found I couldn't get that out of the FMx whereas Oberheim is so thick you can't see the wall behind the sound. I can't compare I don't have the Montage anymore. Real analog is all about thickness and filters and detuning. There must be a trade off because if Montage did everything possible it the world everyone would only own a Montage. Individual specialized synths will always do sounds better because that's the trade off. All-in-one units will never be legendary unless they cost $20K. The Yamaha TX had to layer 8 DX/FM brains to get thick so there's a big price for thickness. We can layer thin synth voices all day long but might not cut through a mix.

Thin FM is nice for bells and textures and layers but it won't growl at a brick wall and bring it down. It just always sounded thin which is okay for what it was meant to do which is add layers to AMW2 or play a DX EP, etc. When I played my CP1 DX/FM next to Montage the CP1 was better or thicker more rounded. The YC DX/FM is just okay and it has the real FM engine. I could try to layer 6 FMs on my Iriduim to see what that can do. A single FM engine just can't do what it can not do. I used to MIDI loop the cable to double the FM voices on the YC, EX5, Montage which made it better.

I have to Korg Opsix too which does FM and is fun but it's not thick or earth shaking. I'll try 6 layers on the Iridium which might be interesting. The Osmose FM/DX was pretty good or about as good as a Montage EP DX piano as I recall. I forget if Montage could do multiple layers per voice but maybe the new Montage2 can. I guess it can do 8 per performance all FM (128 or 256 poly) then loop the MIDI cable to get 16? I did that a bunch for experimentation.

 
Posted : 15/08/2023 8:28 pm
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I ran across an interesting article and there is more good content there:

Here are two more;
http://www.javelinart.com/FM_Synthesis_of_Real_Instruments.pdf

This one has detailed example of creating instrument sounds and applies to DX11 and other 4 operator families, DX7 and six op families and FS1R and Montage/Modx the 8 operator families.

It includes links to audio/spectrum analyzers and a mention of this 'hard to find' article
https://docplayer.net/44525664-Yamaha-fs1r-facts-speculations.html

Although written about the FS1R the bulk of the material applies to Montage/Modx and there are detailed explanations of envelope parameters (with tables) that I haven't found anywhere else.

The page at that link purports to say the doc can be downloaded in PDF format. I can't figure out
how to do that. If anyone can please post a link to a PDF version.

 
Posted : 15/08/2023 10:04 pm
david
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I've owned several FS1Rs including the software to control it. Without the software to edit it it was basically a Rompler and was okay. It wasn't thick sounding and I sold it after a while. I guess I've never had a real analog like Oberheim so I'm kind of addicted to that currently. I had a Moog and Auturia matrix brute once. I'm in a stew of Iridium, Osmose, Oberheim which are a welcomed change. Waiting around for Montage2 but not expecting to much of a difference except for ANx. No way to decide until crazy Yamaha releases the information which is super annoying waiting to hear what it is. We don't need a song and dance presentation just the specs. and what's available onboard at release without waiting 2 more years. If it's still a Montage it's not really that spectacular of a reveal event. Just tell us already. Some intricacies good or bad will remain hidden as usual. Could it have wiggle keys and MPE capabilities?

 
Posted : 15/08/2023 10:27 pm
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