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MODX+ only has one SWP

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Michel
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Reposting this from the Yamaha Musicians forum:

Top MODX+
Bottom MODX

Although some of the components may have been changed, the board layout looks nearly identical. And only one SWP70!

I wonder how much more they could have squeezed out of the Montage's 2x SWP70's. That said, it often felt like the UI bottleneck was the wimpy Texas Intruments AM3352 ARM Cortex-A8.

 
Posted : 21/09/2023 3:02 pm
Jason
Posts: 7919
Illustrious Member
 

IC403 (the part with a square sticker on the MODX+ in the lower-right corner of the board) is a different package. The original artwork from MODX has a "Large" and "Small" option for this package already so I don't really see this as anything significant. IC403 is eMMC (memory) which is what SDCards use inside of them.

The USB To Device connector (JK301) looks different and maybe the footprint changed? The only clear thing I can see that would maybe cause a respin of the board. There's not enough detail to really pick out that the netlist changed or footprints have changed or otherwise something changed that couldn't have been handled with the original PCB. They stamped different part numbers on the MODX+ version vs. MODX so something should have changed to force this unless they felt that the stuffing options alone would need a different part number in order to manage inventory of each version.

I'm kind of surprised the MODX PCB has a test coupon attached. It's the bottom sliver that reads "Side A 2nd RE". This would be snapped off before installing the board into a unit.

There are ICs on the bottom side too - but not interesting as far as the microcontroller/microprocessors/"CPU" goes.

 
Posted : 21/09/2023 4:34 pm
Jason
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I take that back about netlist/footprint change. Seek (longer) and you shall find. On the left side of the board inside the "sea" of "can" caps (silver round doo-dads) is a new footprint that wasn't on the original PCB.

There's a "big" rectangular IC (IC902) that's been replaced with a smaller square part or package option and the new MODX+ with the smaller part also added footprints for passives above this smaller IC to take advantage of the space.

This part is the DAC which we know had supply issues so the new PCB accommodates a different DAC that I take it solves the "we can't build any more" problem MODX faced forcing a MODX+.

This change proves that the original PCB couldn't have been used for MODX+ unless shipping without a DAC was an option (no analog Main L/R outputs, no headphone output).

 
Posted : 21/09/2023 4:45 pm
Darryl
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It appears that it could be technically possible that the MODX could have it's FM-X polyphony and User memory increased via an OS update. Of course this would not be good for MODX+ sales, so would Yamaha ever do it..!?

Same goes for the Montage...

 
Posted : 21/09/2023 5:35 pm
 Paul
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Thanks for posting these pictures. I saw them when they first appeared, but declined to comment on them. They are too blurry and low rez, making the package legends unreadable and useless.

I agree with Jason's observations. The Asahi Kasei Microdevices factory fire had a significant effect on Yamaha designs and manufacturing. I've been saying that for months when people whinge about the shortage of this or that product. MODX employed an AK4396VF-E2 DAC. Supply dried up and the DM board needed to be spun.

The bottom side of the MODX board has an AK5381VT-E2, which probably needed replacement, too.

Folks, if you're gonna take pictures, please take close-ups! :p

-- pj

 
Posted : 21/09/2023 6:02 pm
 Paul
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[quotePost id=123278]It appears that it could be technically possible that the MODX could have it's FM-X polyphony and User memory increased via an OS update. Of course this would not be good for MODX+ sales, so would Yamaha ever do it..!?
Same goes for the Montage...[/quotePost]

Definitely agree. First rule of marketing, "If you want to play, you gotta pay." 😀

As to how much could be squeezed out, SWP70 has hardware pipelines are designed specifically for AMW and FM-X. It was never clear to me if AN-X, for example, could be implemented via SWP70 alone.

The single core TI AM3352 ARM Cortex-A8 is almost quaint! 🙂 I'd like to see multi-core with software plug-ins. A few more cores would have helped that bash. [Apologies to Lou, RIP]

As painful as it is to say it, Montage M is going to leave MODX+ in the dust. 🙁

All the best -- pj

 
Posted : 21/09/2023 6:10 pm
Jason
Posts: 7919
Illustrious Member
 

Yamaha has a tradition of using stable (old) tech and not chase the latest USB bus, wireless tech, touchscreen technology, and on and on. So I'm not sure how much more CPU is in the next generation.

PAC is free - it's "just" better layout. I'm surprised they haven't done this (layout improvement stuff) sooner since better layout is a lot cheaper than adding active or passive parts to "help" the audio path.

I saw "PAC2" mentioned somewhere. I think really we just get attention to detail (PAC) or no PAC. Not new/different generations of it. Frequencies in the audio domain aren't exactly high enough for things like fiber-weave and the like to enter into play. Even with upper harmonics.

I mean ... marketing can call it whatever they want, I guess. But PAC, in my opinion, is something you have or don't have. The "P" is already a bit of a superlative.

On this dust thing - I'm already sensing some limitations. Granted this is from a somewhat veiled view and seeing the thing unmasked could change my sense. Certainly there's going to be a gap in several areas between the generations - but it wouldn't be keeping with tradition if there weren't a bag of limitations and possibly lost treasures from the past. So we'll see ...

 
Posted : 21/09/2023 10:03 pm
Darryl
Posts: 784
Prominent Member
 

[quotePost id=123280]As painful as it is to say it, Montage M is going to leave MODX+ in the dust. 🙁
[/quotePost]

Along with the Montage 🙁

I am a bit surprised that the MODX+ didn't have a second SWP70, but it's becoming clear now that they are not going to keep the Montage/MODX-like relationship going between the new Montage M & MODX+ unfortunately, and that the MODX+ was never getting the AN-X like many suspected it might...

Kinda begs the question, when will we see the 'MODX M' make it's debut..? late 2024? mid 2025?
Whatever they do, if they fix the MODX8+ keybed in the MODX M8, and go with a more BHE-like keybed and ditch the horrible GHS keybed, I would consider it, as the GHS is unplayable for those who value pianos most...

 
Posted : 22/09/2023 12:57 pm
Jason
Posts: 7919
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I don't like the GHS either. I tried to like it since the "MO" line is such a great value proposition for someone like me who uses a keyboard as a gigging instrument and not so much for anything in the studio. And the pro line with a better keybed for 88 is always too darn heavy to lug around for me.

Some variant of the same graded keyboard has been in the "MO" DNA for so many generations. Having played on the MODX8(+) some, I think I could deal with the keybed these days better than what I experienced in the past with MOX/MOXF. That is, if it held up from a reliability standpoint. There seemed to be a large casualty count on GHS I've experienced in the past.

At any rate, I'd love to see a rethinking of the lightweight 88 synthesizer option (MODX+ follow-on - kind of funny, btw if you say MODX adds to "MO" a "DX" for FM-X and then MOAN could be adding "AN", for AN-X, to "MO" ... I'm sure they'll come up with a better name). We'll see. I think you can see historical timing of the MO follow-on to the flagship in past generations (Montage, Motif) and get a general sense of how long the development and release cycle generally takes (i.e. search engine).

 
Posted : 22/09/2023 4:02 pm
 Paul
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Active Member
 

[quotePost id=123282]Yamaha has a tradition of using stable (old) tech and not chase the latest USB bus, wireless tech, touchscreen technology, and on and on. So I'm not sure how much more CPU is in the next generation. [/quotePost]

Part of why it looks like "old tech" is the choice of host CPU, e.g., the main ARM processor. Yamaha selects so-called embedded processors which integrate everything but the kitchen sink on a single die. They use embedded in order to achieve power/heat goals (no heat sink, fans, etc.) On top of that, they need a processor that is available at the time of prototyping and that will be available for 6 to 7 years on. The embedded stuff is rarely "cutting edge."

[quotePost id=123282]
PAC is free - it's "just" better layout. I'm surprised they haven't done this (layout improvement stuff) sooner since better layout is a lot cheaper than adding active or passive parts to "help" the audio path.

I mean ... marketing can call it whatever they want, I guess. But PAC, in my opinion, is something you have or don't have. The "P" is already a bit of a superlative. [/quotePost]

I disagree that PAC is free. Real engineering time went into partitioning the design and guiding the layout. (The actual board layout is automated.) The recurring cost is clean power -- separate power rails for digital and analog. PAC may seem mundane, but I've purchase so many crap knock-off products that route USB right next to audio! 😮

Yeah, marketing. I tune out over names. I once watched a marketing team argue about color for weeks. Count me out and paint it black. "No colors anymore / I want them to turn black" 😀

Hey, hey, enjoy the day -- pj

 
Posted : 22/09/2023 4:16 pm
Darryl
Posts: 784
Prominent Member
 

[quotePost id=123285]I don't like the GHS either.
Some variant of the same graded keyboard has been in the "MO" DNA for so many generations. Having played on the MODX8(+) some, I think I could deal with the keybed these days better than what I experienced in the past with MOX/MOXF. That is, if it held up from a reliability standpoint. There seemed to be a large casualty count on GHS I've experienced in the past.

At any rate, I'd love to see a rethinking of the lightweight 88 synthesizer option (MODX+ follow-on - kind of funny, btw if you say MODX adds to "MO" a "DX" for FM-X and then MOAN could be adding "AN", for AN-X, to "MO" ... I'm sure they'll come up with a better name). We'll see. I think you can see historical timing of the MO follow-on to the flagship in past generations (Montage, Motif) and get a general sense of how long the development and release cycle generally takes (i.e. search engine).

[/quotePost]
I wouldn't even care if it was slightly on the cheap side of feeling like the MODX8, as long as it wasn't graded like GHS, and could trigger the velocity layers evenly across the keybed.

MOX would have been an easy fit for both FM-X & AN-X as a replacement to the MODX+, but that's been done already as you know.
How about MOADX or MODAX or MOAND-X or MOFAX :p

 
Posted : 22/09/2023 4:21 pm
 Paul
Posts: 0
Active Member
 

[quotePost id=123285]I don't like the GHS either. I tried to like it
[/quotePost]

I was reading through a Yamaha training course from the GHS / GH / GH3 era. GHS was called a "keyboard for piano beginners."

GHS keys are clearly intended for mass manufacturing, too. Keys are molded in groups to be install an octave at a time. GH / GH3 keys are individual. Plus, counterweights can be added to achieve linear grading.

There seems to be genuine variability between GHS implementations. I played a P-125 and DGX-670 side-by-side. The two instruments felt different. (I preferred the 670 and found it acceptable.) I think it has to do with the way the keys are mounted above the sensor strips, key travel and all of that. I question the word "Standard" in the name. BTW, GHC is awful and I hope Yamaha never uses it in a synth or stage keyboard.

I'm glad that Yamaha stage are trying different keybeds. I'm going to buy an 88 something in the next few months. It won't be GHS. I need a practice instrument where the touch translates to the acoustic grand at my gig.

All the best -- pj

 
Posted : 22/09/2023 4:40 pm
Jason
Posts: 7919
Illustrious Member
 

Yeah, engineering cost isn't free but the cost to design a good layout is nothing compared to what you have to do on the back end with a noisy system dealing with the FCC/EMC/reliability (human body model, etc) problems encountered. Adding caps here and there - respinning the board during development - adding gaskets - etc. Not doing it "right" incurs part cost to every board. NRE is better and becomes virtually free vs. the alternative in high volume. I don't really know the numbers - but I would gather the amortized cost of PAC development looks negligable and much lower cost than the band-aid fixes. Not to mention the currency of reputation that's been increased by about every impression I've seen others make about Montage. That it sounds better the Motif (that didn't get a lot of complaints to begin with) -- very positive impressions of the analog outs.

 
Posted : 22/09/2023 5:50 pm
Posts: 803
Prominent Member
 

[quotePost id=123288] I played a P-125 and DGX-670 side-by-side. The two instruments felt different. (I preferred the 670 and found it acceptable.)
[/quotePost]
Similarly, I played a MODX8 and a DGX-660 side-by-side at a Guitar Center. If the MODX8 had felt as nice as the DGX-660, I'd have bought the MODX8 (either instead of or possibly in addition to the MODX7 I ended up buying). But... no.

 
Posted : 23/09/2023 12:10 am
 Paul
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Active Member
 

[quotePost id=123289]Yeah, engineering cost isn't free [/quotePost]

I got reminded of this every day at work. 😮 Glad to be retired... 😀

[quotePost id=123289]
but the cost to design a good layout is nothing compared to what you have to do on the back end with a noisy system dealing with the FCC/EMC/reliability (human body model, etc) problems encountered.
[/quotePost]

Speaking of emissions control, I've always been impressed by Yamaha's practices to control RFI, etc. They put chokes on nearly everything that goes external -- kind of like hot sauce. Then I look at the absolute DIY crap that I design and build. 😀

No matter how people feel about choice of features, etc., the Yamaha folks are good engineers. Even their cheap stuff (PSS-A50) is pretty.

All the best, Jason -- pj

"Motorized faders" -- Just sayin'

 
Posted : 23/09/2023 4:44 pm
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