Blake's Take: E.S.P. for MONTAGE M

By: Blake Angelos

The MONTAGE M can now be in your computer – via Expanded Softsynth Plugin (E.S.P.). This initial “Quick Edit” version offers MONTAGE M sound plus basic editing. Future versions will add full editing, enhanced connectivity and more. Read on for details.

The MONTAGE M Expanded Softsynth Plugin (E.S.P.) is here – putting MONTAGE M in your computer!

This initial “Quick Edit “version offers MONTAGE M sound plus basic editing. Future versions (coming soon) will add full editing, enhanced connectivity and more. Read on to learn more.

UPDATE: Get MONTAGE M OS v1.22 here! This update fixes previous connection issues.

E.S.P. Computer Hardware and Software Requirements:

  • Hardware
    • Windows: Windows 10 or later. 64-bit required
      • Plugin format: VST 3.
      • Minimum CPU: Intel Core i5 (4th Gen)
      Mac: MacOS Monterey or later
      • Plugin format: VST 3, AU v2.
      • Minimum CPU: Intel Core i5 (late 2015 or later) or Apple Silicon M1 or later. Apple Silicon M series processor is recommended.
      Minimum system memory: 8 Gb RAM or more
      • Storage required: 10 Gb free space.
      • Display resolution: 1440 x 870 or above recommended.
  • Software
    • MONTAGE OS v1.22: E.S.P. Quick Edit requires MONTAGE M OS v1.22. This latest OS version adds additional integration components for seamless connection between MONTAGE M and E.S.P. Get MONTAGE M OS v1.22 here. Please see the READ ME file included with the MONTAGE M OS v1.22 download package for more information.
    • DAW: E.S.P. is available in VST3 and Apple AU Plugin formats. If you don’t own DAW software, no worries: MONTAGE M owners can download Cubase AI for Mac or PC here free of charge. In the box with MONTAGE M is the Cubase AI Download Information card. It looks like this:

If you need to download Cubase AI follow the instructions at the link above.

You’ll also need the authorization code printed at the bottom of the Expanded Softsynth Plugin for MONTAGE M Download information Card that came in the box with your MONTAGE M. It looks like this:

Follow the authorization and installation instructions located HERE to get to get the Expanded Softsynth Plugin for MONTAGE M.

E.S.P. in Cubase

Let’s look at E.S.P. in Cubase. I’ve opened a blank Cubase Project. I’ve connected MONTAGE M via USB with the Yamaha Steinberg USB Driver. The quickest method for adding E.S.P. to my project is the Instrument Track:

When the Instrument Track is added the main E.S.P. Quick Edit screen appears. This is the Performance “CFX + FM EP”, the tried-and-true CFX Concert Grand with FM-X classic EP. When you move the Super Knob on your MONTAGE M it will respond in E.S.P. in the same way as the hardware: All the way to the right is just CFX, all the way life is FM-X electric piano, and the center is the balanced layer of both Voices. Click on the magnifying glass right next the Performance (see the red box) to call up Category Search:

This opens the MONTAGE M Category Search window in E.S.P. You’ll immediately notice familiar Preset Performances, the blue AND green text identifying Multipart and Single Part Performances respectively and the Main/Sub/Attribute Category Search Menu:

Use Category Search in the same way you would on MONTAGE M. In the example below I searched Main Pad/Choir, Sub Analog, and Attribute AN-X:

I selected the AN-X Performance “Peaceful Gardens” from this list. Here is the main window with Part 1 selected:

E.S.P. Quick Edit mirrors the MONTAGE M Quick Edit controls in the 512 x 64 screen. You have Part controls like Mute, Solo, Pan and Volume on the right. Note the Super Knob control as well. A connected MONTAGE M can control the E.S.P. Super Knob. The Super Knob responds to a standard MIDI cc (default is cc 95) so it can be controlled by a different MIDI controller with an assignable knob. This underscores what I love about E.S.P.—When I’m away from my MONTAGE M I can play the same sounds from a different MIDI controller (In fact, as I write this, I am in a hotel room with reface CP connected playing E.S.P.).

In the Quick Edit Screen at the bottom, you’ll see three areas for Pitch, Filter, and EQ/Effect

You can view/edit at the Part Common level (parameters related to individual Parts of a Performance) by clicking the Part number, or Performance Common level (parameters related to all Parts) by clicking on COMMON. Check it out below:

The Quick Edit view offers fast and easy access to high level sound shaping parameters. Signal flow and control graphics show you how parameter changes will alter the sound. Check out the Quick Edit view below:

Here’s a closer look at the bottom three boxes starting with the Pitch, Portamento Setting and Pitch LFO. The Pitch tab sets Part Note Shift, Detune and Pitch Bend Upper/Lower Range, the Portamento tab turns Portamento On/Off, Time and sets Portamento to Fingered or Full-time, and the Pitch LFO tab offers independent depth settings for each Oscillator, LFO speed control and LFO wave shape:

Next to Pitch settings are the Filter and Amplitude Settings. You have a choice between 10 filter resonant filter types, cutoff and resonance settings, Filter EG and LFO, and Amplitude EG and LFO. Check it out:

The Quick Edit area on the right is for Part EQ and Insertion Effect offsets. You have a Part three band EQ with gain and frequency settings, two Part Effects with effect offset controls and a final two-band Part EQ with five settings:

Over on the right you’ll see the double chevron button that changes the view to Motion Sequence or Arpeggio offsets. E.S.P. Quick Edit offers only top-level editing, so deep Motion Sequence or Arpeggio Editing isn’t available yet, but you can add Preset Arpeggios with this version. Check it out:

AWM2, FM-X and Multipart Performances

The Part Editor of an AWM2 Performance has a similar layout with Quick Edit parameters for Pitch, Filter, Amplitude, LFO, EQ and Insertion Effects. With AWM2 Parts you see Element Settings:

Each Part Element has settings for Level, Element Switch on/off, Pan, Filter Type, Cutoff, Element EQ, Note Limit, Velocity Limit and Element Name. Even though this is a Quick Edit version, you still have a solid number of parameters you can edit. For deeper editing you can sync with your MONTAGE M. Send the Performance over, make deeper edits those edits and send it back to E.S.P. More on that in a moment. Here’s the great MONTAGE M Multipart Performance “sFz Tremolo BPM Sync”in E.S.P., Performance Common level:

Here’s an FM-X Performance. Here you have Operator settings and the handy FM Color editor with controls for FM Depth, Harmonics and Texture:

Synchronization with MONTAGE M

Synchronization allows you to send Performances between E.S.P. and MONTAGE M. The Sync Icon Is located at the top of the editor. When connected, MONTAGE M appears as a four-port MIDI interface. The Ports handle data transmission in this manner:

  • MONTAGE M Port 1: MONTAGE M Tone Generator.
  • MONTAGE M Port 2: DAW Remote Control.
  • MONTAGE M Port 3: Turns the MONTAGE M physical MIDI I/O into a MIDI interface
  • MONTAGE M Port 4: Used for connection to E.S.P.

Here’s how E.S.P. Sync appears in MONTAGE M:

This is cool for a few reasons. I put a song together at home using E.S.P. and my MONTAGE M8x. The song has several Performances that I created in MONTAGE M and sent over to E.S.P. and saved in a Cubase Project. I left home, when to another location with a different MONTAGE M and connected it to Cubase. If I had forgotten to save a User file or Backup file from my MONTAGE M there are no worries because I synced MONTAGE to E.S.P., and all I need to do is send from E.S.P. to the new MONTAGE M. This is a great feature for touring musicians, worship players or anyone who needs to use multiple MONTAGE M keyboards for whatever reason.

Of course, the real benefit of the Expanded Softsynth Plugin for MONTAGE M is the considerable power it adds. You can open multiple instances in a DAW and drastically increase your music making potential. With modern computer systems the horsepower needed is completely within reach and won’t cost a fortune. E.S.P. is a powerful update to MONTAGE M. And best of all, it’s free for all MONTAGE M owners.

MONTAGE M Owners: Download the installation guide for the free Expanded Softsynth Plugin for MONTAGE M here.

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