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  1. Jason
  2. Sherlock Holmes The Voice
  3. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  4. Sunday, 15 September 2019
The thread on sequencers was getting heavy on other items (sampler, etc) - so it may be worthwhile to have a dedicated thread for comparing the two keyboards.

Just a few items to kick things off.

Fantom has a more fully capable on-board set of sequencers. Montage has a recorder with limitations and no editing.

Fantom has balanced audio inputs (my favorite XLR+1/4" TRS combo). Phantom power is supported and each channel (L and R) gets its own level trim. Montage has unbalanced audio inputs. No phantom supply. Level gain knob is applied equally to both L and R. Montage's knob is on the front face - Fantom is behind the keyboard. So probably not something you will use much on Fantom past set-it-and-forget-it.

Fantom has XLR audio outputs (my favorite cable for live use). Montage has balanced - but TRS

Fantom allows controlling all 16 zones with local keyboard. Montage allows only 8 zones under local keyboard control.
EDIT: worth noting that Fantom's zone, made up of a "Tone" can have 4 different "partials" - so some look at this as being the same as Montage since Montage's AWM2 supports 8 elements and if you see "partials" as elements - then 16x4 = 8x8. However, the difference is that all sounds on Fantom work with this - so a single zone is a fully-formed instrument which all are done within 4 partials while Montage gets 8 elements. I think, given this, it's a false equivalency - although worth mentioning. Both Fantom's PCM (sample) based engine and the virtual analog support 4 partials.

Fantom supports "seamless" type Performance switching with less limitations than Montage. Montage, and only when supported, you can only switch to one next Performance while holding the original sound. With Fantom, you can switch many times (seemingly unlimited - more than 5 as demonstrated) while the original sound is still sustained. Also, all 16 zones are supported. Fantom has no limitation based on zone usage - as Montage only allows the 1st 8 PARTs to be used by both the original and final Performances in a switch.

Fantom has a touchscreen operated joystick-like fader between 4 different sounds with ability to record a travel pattern. Montage has superknob which is different. You can realize the same sort of thing with appropriate programming - but also have superknob target many other parameters.

Fantom appears to have ability to chain performance equivalents. Closest Montage has is sequential position of Performances in live set and using footswitch to advance to next Live Set Performance. Maybe a wash here. Would have to learn more about Fantom to know advantage/disadvantage.

Fantom's GUI allows more "touch and drag" operations - which enables editing curves by "drawing" on the screen (such as ADSR envelopes, cutoff curves, etc). Montage doesn't have any touch/drag support so editing is done more indirectly (increase/decrease individual parameters).

Fantom's pitch wheel and possibly other controllers support 1024 values. Montage's pitch wheel supports 127 values. Use of Fantom's controllers results in less "stepping" - more smooth results than Montage. There's a thread on Montage's issues with pitch bend.

Fantom has some dedicated knobs for items which are typically "deep edit" items. Cutoff, Resonance, A/D/S/R, patch select. Montage you can assign different assignable knobs for some of this - but Fantom's more dedicated knobs integrate a bit differently with how different sounds can be selected to apply to their fixed-function knobs. Slightly more "dynamic" than Montage's approach for these functions.

Fantom has an engine supporting modeled pianos. Montage doesn't have this.

Fantom has a virtual analog engine. Montage doesn't have this - but FM-X is the trade - Montage has this and Fantom doesn't.

Fantom seems to have more knobs/buttons. There are the knobs similar to the assignable knobs in Montage under the faders. Then there are a set of knobs in Fantom below the touchscreen. These sport my favorite knob feature to have a push-button integrated so they take less space and can do more. There are the other knobs mentioned before for ADSR/etc. Then there are the pads which can take on many different modes (DAW control, sample playback, etc).

Fantom has tight integration with Mainstage where the Mainstage screen will "show up" on Fantom. You can see the VSTi controls on the Fantom screen. Montage's integration is less. More geared towards having Montage (knobs and sliders) controllers assigned to controlling different things in your DAW - but no other integration.

Fantom ... there's also vapor-ware "rumors". Where reviewers mention that more synth engines are to come in future updates. Not sure what will come of that. Montage does have this - a rumor of a new engine in the future. Relatively speaking, Fantom already starts with more engines.

Fantom has CV/Gate outs. Montage doesn't have this.

Fantom has more aux audio outs. Helpful for click track and other uses. One extra output compared to Montage.

Fantom supports 3 USB ports for external MIDI USB-MIDI controllers. Montage doesn't have this. Technically, the USB port for Montage is for flash drives only.

Fantom has 2 MIDI outs (or 1 out and 1 thru). More possibilities perhaps integrating with external gear. Montage has 1 MIDI out.

Fantom has a joystick control (pitch and mod in one controller) or wheels. Montage has wheels.

Fantom has a sampler built-in. You can edit loop points and such. Montage doesn't have any sampler features. Currently, Fantom doesn't support sampling/editing multisamples on board. The sampler is "dumbed down" to only support loading in one-shot samples for the multi-pads. The keyboard has a lot of beefy support for audio input (balanced inputs, phantom power, XLR or TRS) - "expensive" stuff to only support pad-triggered samples. The vaporware promise/rumor is that multisample editing is to come later. I would think, given what's there, this seems like a reasonable thing to anticipate. That said, Roland's track record of firmware updates and support-after-the-sale has not been stellar. As many complaints I've seen against Montage on this front, Yamaha did a great job of delivering. So great that I think it started to setup an expectation of ultra-frequent updates. I would say relatively, Yamaha (Montage) wins in this category although there's no real data on Fantom yet.

Yes, none of these matter if the keyboard sounds like a tin can stuck the bottom of your shoe. Fantom's V-piano engine sounds great to me. The synth sounds are Roland - they have a characteristic sound I do not personally gravitate towards (which is why I've gone the Yamaha path). But they sound fine and balanced with the other sounds. I think the sound is no slouch and there is vapor-ware promises of updates to bring more/different sounds to the table where the current release sounds are more derivative of past products.

There are more differences to possibly highlight. Those are the main ones I can think of to start the ball rolling.
Responses (95)
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I just took delivery of a Fantom 7 this morning and I'm already doing just about everything I need to intuitively.

My Montage I'm pretty comfortable doing most stuff and just end up scratching my head occasionally but usually figure it out.

The Kronos. Had one when they first came out and got rid of it after about 6 months because I didn't have time to mess about figuring it out.

About a year ago I got to thinking it couldn't be as bad as I remembered so I got a Kronos 2. Still can't make head nor tail of it in most areas so mostly use it as a player for audio backing tracks, which it does exceptionally well.

Don't get me started with the Kronos. :D
I am on my 3rd Unit, the first 2 were duds.

The first unit will not startup after a week. I called the dealership and they sent me another one that was dead on arrival, same issue, refused to start.

Then I got the 3rd one and there was Fan noise.

In the end, I kept the first unit because after I downgraded the Firmware (OS), the startup issues went away,

Between Korg, Yamaha and Roland I have to say Korg has the worse product quality and usability.

It's always Yamaha, Roland then Korg.

The Kronos is a complete mess but I had to own it for bragging rights. :p

Otherwise, the Keyboard is completely useless, the sampling is completely useless.

Speaking for myself, I think for the Montage, Yamaha almost fell into the same Korg attitude, make a complicated machine that is near none musical.

Again, I get the idea of making things next gen but that is why we have DAW's.

I love the Montage except for the small screen; which is just dumb, especially on the Montage 8, a lot of wasted real estate.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 81
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Well, now that the new Fantom has been out over a year now...

It has had 3 updates ...

Is it still "king" as some on here have stated...?
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King or not - Fantom is certainly a different approach with modeling the current Yamaha flagship synth does not have, a different sound set (that's complementary, not redundant), and a different bag of tricks. The approach of being able to VST the "entire" instrument using a PC is cool for sound design without needing the actual keyboard.

The designation of "king" is opinion - so this is difficult to tease out. There are lots of features each keyboard (between Fantom and Montage) bring to the table that the other doesn't do or does worse. How that fits into your musical world is a matter of personal taste.

BTW: Fantom has had more than 3 updates. Removing the update detail:
[ Ver.2.01 ] NOV 2020
[ Ver.2.00 ] SEP 2020
[ Ver.1.60 ] MAY 2020
[ Ver.1.51 ] MAR 2020
[ Ver.1.11 ] DEC 2019
[ Ver.1.10 ] OCT 2019

Version 2.0 was interesting as Roland felt there were enough significant updates to warrant bumping up the major revision number (from "1" to "2" ). And I agree it's a fairly significant amount of additions. Neither keyboard has stayed stagnant - but both have significantly improved through firmware. I don't think either has eclipsed the other entirely through firmware updates. So whatever one's relative opinion was a year or so ago should be generally the same today.
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The most important thing for any istrument; the Montage sounds better!
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It would be great if Yamaha could see value in Modeling and add at least some Piano modeling. Maybe even if just to model everything but the main piano sample layers, such as the resonance, key off/pedal off noise, open/closed lid, etc.

Even better, if Yamaha decided to use modeling technology for the main Piano sound as well, starting with the most recorded piano on the planet for Pop/Rock ... the C7 Grand!!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but has any other Synth company modeled the C7? I've heard Steinway-like & other pianos, but not a modeled C7. This could just give the Montage/MODX THE Edge over all other synths if they did so!?

But, even if Yamaha gave us the C7 library using the samples on the CP88 / Genos, it would be a HUGE boost and a Major new feature/enhancement that many keyboard players would highly consider when choosing their next Synth. Word would spread pretty fast that the Montage/MODX now have the new authentic Yamaha sampled C7 Grand!! Adding modeling would just be a great bonus as well... no need for any hardware changes for this either!!

...what a way to kick off 2021 if they did ;)
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As a nearly one year Fantom 8 user I still think Montage is far much complex.
The videos available clearly shows how deep Montage can be, so deep I often get lost.
I am still planning to get a Montage or whatever might come next, but I need much more understanding of those things involved in music making.

I have some things for Roland Fantom to improve, after my personal experience...if you are somehow interested here are them...

1...Screen off option.

2...Scene lock, only keyboard and screen operational.

3...No partial selected in yellow. Currently at least one must be selected.

4...Chain play for songs.

5...Selection of active zone for each keyboard group.

6...Pads configured with sounds of zones but for each scene.

7...Arpeggio per zone.

8...More recording measures...50...64? or even linear recording.

9...More tuning range (now 415.3–466 .2).
At least 392 for Versaiiles pitch and 485 for Bag pipes?

10...Initial scenes listed on a separate window when saving a scene
or same list as now but highlighting initial scenes... yellowish?

current KEY-OFF-NORMAL and KEY-OFF-DECAY but requesting a HOLD
time to be triggered...almost replacing aftertouch.

In fact I think all current delay modes should have a HOLD TO TRIGGER time, except NORMAL. With NORMAL the sound will play after the delay currently available; but with HOLD, a HOLD TO TRIGGER should be required and then accomplished after the delay time already available. Currently the sound is produced immediately after the delay is done, ruining creativity, so to speak. The same goes for the other two remaining, KEY-OFF-NORMAL and KEY-OFF-DECAY.
Having all this available will allow to sound four partials separated just by playing one single key: the sound NORMAL after a delay; the sound HOLD after a HOLD TO TRIGGER and a delay; the sound after releasing the key and a delay; and finally the sound after releasing the key and a delay IF a HOLD TO TRIGGER was accomplished.

12...Selection of starting chain (currently starting scene is available).

13... Moving through keyboard switch groups by S1, S2, S3...a pedal.

14... Outward keyboard range selection (D5-D3 will play below and up to D3, also above D5 including D5. Within D3 and D5 no sounding. Montage has this already,

15...Assignments to S1,S2,S3 should change values stopping also at the initial
settings. If you have a setting of 15, operating them now will go to -64,
then to +63. It should make -64 then 15, then +64, then 15, then -64...and
so on.

16... Operating manuals available from system settings to be seen on the screen.

17...Fixing the glissando issue. Not working when portamento is selected until
we go out from and back to glissando.

18...Scene names are too short. Memo helps, but it is also too short. Complex
scenes would benefit from a whole sheet [Scene sheet] explaining how
should be performed [D6 triggers arpeggio that will stop holding D5 down
more than 500...and things like that, easily remembered when building the
scene but forgotten after a month].

19...I think perhaps VALVES should be used when configuring VELOCITY.
Often I use many instruments that are call in on the basis of velocity....but if I happen to fail in using the required velocity after a while [my little finger, so to speak, becoming weak] some zones or some partials will not sound.
So selecting a VALVE as active will make any sound previously triggered to keep sounding while its keyboard range is played.
Think of it as a check valve.
Could it be placed after the velocity upper range selector....?
Valve on, valve off....Lovely.
A further step will allow S1,S2,S3 to reset that valves to the start position in order to do the very same from the very beginning....if you wish so.

20... Ability to connect to an external touch monitor.

21...I think perhaps it might be a good idea to place a red asterisk when changes have taken place along the playing of a scene.
That way one will be warned the original performance has been changed before proceeding any further, such as saving the scene or even playing it again.
Same way as you are already shown the yellow asterisk...

22...Copy/paste zones.
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The most important thing for any istrument; the Montage sounds better!

Totally agree there...

The "problem" comes when you look at the Fantom's aesthetics, UI, work-flow, power, etc - all of which are better.
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
It would be great if Yamaha could see value in Modeling and add at least some Piano modeling. Maybe even if just to model everything but the main piano sample layers, such as the resonance, key off/pedal off noise, open/closed lid, etc.

Even better, if Yamaha decided to use modeling technology for the main Piano sound as well, starting with the most recorded piano on the planet for Pop/Rock ... the C7 Grand!!


Yamaha has some of the best sounding pianos in any synth/workstation, etc.

Modeled pianos sound terrible!

There is nothing better than real, sampled pianos - there is a reason that is what Yamaha, Nord, Korg, Kawai, etc. all use.
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Sound is subjective. What sounds great in my ear sounds (potentially) horrible in yours.

What I like about "modeled" anything is the response. Without a sample dictating the dynamics - the model is a lot more "free" to respond to stimulus and interact. I like the response of FM even if I'm not fond of all of the sounds. Likewise, modeled has a place for me even if the core sound isn't perfect.

That's not to say it's wrong to think modeled, for you, sounds horrible. If every modeled sound makes your skin crawl - then don't use it since it would kill your mojo. And I suppose if I hated strawberry ice cream, I'd wish Neapolitan would get rid of it and just give me chocolate+vanilla. So I get not wanting to burden your instrument with excess baggage. However, expanding the choices for sound palette - I see this as a good thing. I am biased - because I like to paint with modeled sometimes. I also understand that resources are finite - and maybe we can't get a long list of engines inside a Yamaha flagship. If it can be done - without throwing something else overboard - it'd be great to see modeled engines (analog, bowed strings, hammered strings, etc). Maybe other products to test the waters and MIDI-into an existing rig.

I see both sides even if I do lean towards the wishful thinking of modeled choices.

Horrible, terrific, or somewhere between - it is a bullet (for pianos, at least) where Yamaha's competitive offering is missing something Roland's product has.
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Yamaha has some of the best sounding pianos in any synth/workstation, etc.

Modeled pianos sound terrible!

There is nothing better than real, sampled pianos - there is a reason that is what Yamaha, Nord, Korg, Kawai, etc. all use.

I don't disagree that the CFX is one of the best sampled pianos out there. It has more an actual real acoustic grand sound as opposed to a recorded piano sound.

What I am mainly saying is that certain parts of what makes up the pianos on the Montage could be improved via modeling to be more realistic and shapeable via adjusting parameters; such as resonance, pedal off noise (doesn't currently exist on the Montage), even the Key off noise needs tweaking for it to behave/sound like a real piano when notes are held for any length of time.
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Totally agree there...

The "problem" comes when you look at the Fantom's aesthetics, UI, work-flow, power, etc - all of which are better.

Fortunately I have both and yes, the workflow on the Fantom is definitely easier to learn but the Montage just, in most categories, sounds better.

Now if we can just shake off this zombie apocolypse I can get back to using them in my native environment; on a stage.
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While Montage is almost dead, the new Fantom is still a bunch of promises... By the way I thought for a while to get rid of Montage and moving towards the new Fantom but, as already experenced with the old Fantom XR, it was abandoned. Nobody developed MIDI drivers for newer OSX releases anymore. We must admit to ourselves that the time for workstation has ended.
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It's very funny to see Mr Jason doing advertising for Roland Fantom on a Yamaha forum !
We all understand you are completely in love with Fantom. So we suppose you are playing on Fantom !! All the better if you enjoy what you get !

Personnaly, when I had the choice betwen both, I've chosen the Montage because of its sound quality far away from the Fantom. My opinion is that the sound quality of the Fantom absolutely doesn't worth 3,000 $. Whatever such or such feature, what is important for me is and always will alway be the sound quality.
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We must admit to ourselves that the time for workstation has ended.

It is perhaps the reason why Korg has just released the Nautilus !!
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I bring in 3rd party comparisons as a way to, hopefully, elevate my Yamaha gear. Some competitive ideas or gaps on the Yamaha side are worthwhile to discuss to help feed user feedback for marketing/R&D to work to bridge the gap if they deem it worthwhile. Without some form of feedback - little will be done unless we're lucky enough some not-yet-realized feature is already on the roadmap. NOTE: I'm aware Ideascale is the place for discussing features more specifically. I started here as a precursor.

I do have a Fantom but it has been sitting unpacked in its box since November of last year.

The Yamaha Montage is my workhorse and the only keyboard I bring to gigs. Even when I unpack the Fantom - it will replace an 88-key studio controller and is not intended to make its way to gigs. I find most 88's - no matter how great they are - weigh too much for me to carry to a gig.

Regarding Roland: I've posted factual differences as well as a few opinions that are fairly balanced (some critical, some not). I agree with your opinion about the sound - I prefer Yamaha's. Certain flexibility in configuration has been historically better on the Roland side. It's a mixed bag. It always is.

You're entitled to your opinion if you think I have some pretense or nefarious motive for introducing and participating in this thread. Others may not come to that conclusion - and I would hope you're in the minority. Still, I respect your feedback even if I don't agree.

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