Yamaha is back – Yamaha MONTAGE

Update 04.02.2016

Demo by Katsunori Ujiie.

Katsunori is one of the best synthesizer presenters on the web. Of course in my opinion and as long as you are interested in playing keyboards/synthesizers in a more traditional way.

However, if this is the best what Yamaha’s MONTAGE is going to offer, then I am in the fortunate position to save myself a lot of money. My interest decreased over the time but got actually killed @ 21:20.

But please judge yourself:

Update 26.01.2016

Update 25.01.2016

Sweetwater with some great FM sounds:


Update 24.01.2016 Thx Jörn

Thomann prices [incl. German VAT]:

MONTAGE 6 – € 2.999
MONTAGE 7 – € 3.499
MONTAGE 8 – € 3.999

Update 23.01.2016

Update 21.01.2016

Offizielles Video:

Recommended videos:

Sonic state – NAMM 2016: Yamaha Montage


First price information [source andertons.co.uk]:

MONTAGE 6 – £2,169.00
MONTAGE 7 – £2,530.00
MONTAGE 8 – £2,892.00

All prices including VAT


Yamaha MONTAGE 6 (please click photo, or open new Tab in Safari)

The following information I took from andertons.co.uk website:

Motion sequences can be programmed so that you can manipulate a parameter in time with the global tempo to create a dynamic and interesting sound.

The new Super Knob can control one or a number of parameters at once in a wide variety of ways. If you want to completely mess with your sound in one single action, then the Super Knob is a great way to create amazing effects on the fly in a live situation as well as when messing around with different tones in the studio.

Envelope follower can use a audio signal as the source for dynamic control of parameters. For example, you can use a drum loop to control it’s own effects in sync with its own beat. Or vocals can be added to a synth sound to create a vocoder style sound.

Key Specifications:

  • AWM2 Engine with 128-note polyphony (Stereo)
  • FM-X Engine: 128-note polyphony, 8-Operators,
  • 88-Algorithms, 7-Spectral Forms,
  • Super Knob Control / Direct Control Assignment
  • Motion Sequences and Scenes
  • NEW Envelope Follower & Side Chain FX turn A/D
  • input into control signal for live situations
  • Dual Insert FX on all 16 Parts:
  • 7” TFT Colour Touch Screen
  • Live Set Organiser
  • Seamless Sound Switching (SSS)
  • Integrated Flash Memory: 1.75GB
  • Balanced Outputs

Eight operators, 88 algorithms somehow remind me on the specs of Yamaha’s FS1r.

Yamaha MONTAGE specifications (please click photo, or open new Tab in Safari)

Yamaha MONTAGE specifications (please click photo, or open new Tab)

Synthetic sounds:

Acoustic sounds:


Throughout the years I have always been a big fan of Yamaha instruments. When I started with synthesizers, back in the early eighties, I had to decide between a Yamaha CS-10 and a Korg MS-20. It took me weeks until decidef for the latter. But only a few years later one of my all time favorite synthesizers was launched and found its new home in my studio. It was the Yamaha DX-7.

Those of you who follow my blog and listened to my tracks on SoundCloud, know how much I like Yamaha’s CP1. Somehow I am getting the impression I am the only one. :-) But that is a different story.

Yamaha recently released their Reface series and I guess there will be more to come. Actually their new MONTAGE is a strong signal that they are back with FM. On the source site of the following information it says „If you liked the DX and Motif, get ready to love Montage.“

I am not sure about the Motif. But what I know for sure is how much I liked the DX-7 and later the DX-5 together with the TX-816. The TX-816 was a nightmare to program but its sounds were simply great due to their dynamic range. So let’s see what Yamaha has developed.

To share my excitement with others who are waiting eagerly for next gen FM by Yamaha, I post what I collected during the last days. The source is listed on the bottom of this blog entry.

Here we go:

Massive Sound Creation

Most interesting to me

Yamaha – An amazingly sophisticated pure synthesizer engine capable of producing classic ‘80s or cutting-edge EDM sound with incredible dynamic range, power and fidelity. MONTAGE features an 8-operator FM architecture and 128-note polyphony, allowing for a massive array of sound design options.

Curious to see whether it is possible to draw for example own algorithms with limitless cross mod capabilities and feedback. Wave sequencing would be welcome too.

Yamaha – Powered by proprietary Yamaha technology for data compression and sound playback, AWM2 allows tremendous data compression without sound quality loss for unparalleled, realistic sound reproduction.

・128-Note, Stereo polyphony
Experience rich stereo sound without halving the available number of notes.

・Waveform Capacity
MONTAGE features nearly 10 times the waveform capacity of the MOTIF XF, allowing more samples per instrument for incredibly realistic and nuanced sound.

・Integrated Flash Memory

MONTAGE includes 1.75 GB of user flash memory with high speed reading/writing for your own custom samples or synth libraries from yamahasynth.com.

Korg’s Kronos is clearly the target and it will be hard to beat. Korg did a great job over the decades and OASYS was already ahead of the others ten years ago. With the Kronos things did not get worse. So again, this will be hard to beat. But maybe the Bösendorfer is going to help the Montage.

One thing I always liked a lot about Clavia was their easy way to add several parameter ranges to a single controller. Movement of the controller caused then either smooth or dramatic sonic changes. Montage’s Super Knob seems to offer even more.

Sophisticated Dynamic Control

Super Knob
Yamaha – Create dynamic sound changes from radical to sublime with the Super Knob. 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.

The Super Knob can even be assigned to a second FC7 foot controller making it easy to manipulate the sound when playing with both hands.

And there are some more features which probably other musicians will appreciate as well:

SSS (Seamless Sound Switching)
Yamaha – Seamless Sound Switching (SSS) lets you change performances seamlessly without any cut-off in envelope or effects. This is perfect for live performances where you end one song and start another without stopping.

IMPORTANT: Yamaha – „This function is only available for Performances that have a maximum of 8 parts.“

A/D Input
The A/D input 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.

MONTAGE will come in three different configurations: MONTAGE 6 and MONTAGE 7 feature the premium FSX semi-weighted synthesizer action with aftertouch in 61 and 76 keys respectively. MONTAGE 8 features an 88 key, fully-weighted Balanced Hammer action with aftertouch.

So if I look at the MONTAGE as a synthesizer, deriving FM with a new (inter)face and depending on the price, then this instrument is of interest. In case it is targeted as competition to Korg’s Kronos… well, frankly, in the latter case I am afraid to say that it needs to come with some extra synth-engines to take

this It needs to have some extra synth-engines onboard to take-on Korg

It seems that all the information available on the internet now goes back to this source.

Recommended reading:

All photos © Yamaha

3 Kommentare

  1. Ryan w Anderson

    20. Mai 2016 um 13:47

    Why are you hating on the Yamaha montage? Can’t it do everything that basically all other synthesizers can do? What makes it a let down like you’re depicting? Why is the korg kronos the best synthesizer as you state? I bought a montage and I am making a decision of keeping it or getting something else. But after I read your comments, it seems like I’m going into analyzing the montage with a preconceived negative bias. If you could please enlighten me I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

    • Jon Holstein

      13. Juli 2016 um 17:18

      I don’t know why the bloq owner feels the way he does.

      My opinion is that it feels like Yamaha wanted to pretend that they had actually released a powerful Synth with this. As hardware Synths are kind of trendy today. They were trying to ride that way.
      In reality this is just another workstation.
      And I feel workstations are on their way out.
      The Kronos feels somewhat more interesting to me, as it could be seen as a host for a few synths. (one would be much better off with a computer on stage and a host software or DAW, and a good master keyboard).

      Things like Super Knob, is just too much of a hustle to set up.
      And most of the time, when you control multiple parameters via one control, you only want to control a few parameters. Besides at the best that is all you can remember.
      On stage you don’t want to turn a knob and make a mayhem.
      The super knob therefor to me, seems more like a thing to make demoes more interesting (videos, or when you sit in front of one and play around).
      In the long run I don’t expect that feature to well used, at least not on anything but factory presets.

      It doesn’t seem like the control over the FM part is that great. But I haven’t tried one, so I don’t know.
      However I have a feeling that FM synth softwares will probably be easier to grasp or getting close to grasp compared to Yamahas implementation in the montage.

      I just feel bored by this product. To me it doesn’t offer anything new that is useful. And workstations in general are quite boring these days.

      Nord have had a lot of success by simplifying, making their devices keyboards for musicians that don’t want a computer on stage.
      And Dave Smith Instruments, Moogs and such are pretty basic in their nature as well.
      This feels more like a dumbed down computer for musicians that don’t want computers on stage. I don’t get why anyone would pick this over a computer.

      One can’t really become a one man band with workstations. Not unless you prepare with sequences and setting up midi and a lot of stuff before the show. And all that is done easier in a DAW, and then you can even have audio tracks to play along in your daw, instead of midi-tracks controlling parts of the synth you are playing at the same time.
      Neither can adopt with you or be set-up on a fly, to play a song you wasn’t prepared for.

      If one is looking for the latest and greatest workstation from Yamaha, this would be it. It’s better than what was around before it. It has bigger samples, FM synthesis. It has that Super knob feature, useless or not, compared to older one it’s an extra feature. That can be used for switching between two sounds. It has that sound switching without cutting out sound. Other things are surely improved as well.
      The latest and greatest workstation in general depends on your preferences, but I would probably pick the Kronos, as I could use that as a bunch of different synths, instead of mostly as a bread and butter sound module.

      If one is looking for a cool synth, that can make spectacular sounds, I would say that software is definitely the way to go, over both this and the Kronos.
      If you want good analog sounds, then there is also the option of getting one of the good analogs that are out now.

      So if you are looking for a Yamaha that is better than what you could previously find. The Montage is just that.

    • Let me enlighten you. Montage IS NOT a workstation as most people tend to believe. It’s a sound box. It uses two engines that are not even new technology rather an upgrade of old Yamaha products. Montage DOES NOT have a full blown sequencer which is the most valuable technical piece when programming, editing and recording. I couldn’t stress that enough! Not having a full sequencer means permanent hook up to a computer. By doing this it takes away the most important thing – the intimate relation with the instrument and the ability to do everything and anything with it alone without getting endless crap involved in order to make it happen! Those who can connect emotionally with a desktop/laptop will find Montage fantastic. Montage lacks sampling abilities. A nice collection of high end software (think Omnishere 2, Nexus 2 etc) paired with a real workstation (Motif XF) will render Montage useless. Super Disco Knob makes the whole thing look like a cheap $200 Casio. Should I go on?

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