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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 (113)
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Fantom = 9 synthesis engines (Sampler, PCM Rompler, Supernatural, V-Piano, VA, 4 x Model Expansions)

I am waiting for a new additional engine in my MODX (but please no organs) :)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Further... I think the FM-X and Motion Sequencer put the Montage/MODX in an entirely different class of sound designer tool than we've ever seen before in hardware.

And that Yamaha should embrace the complex programming and geeking required to grok what's possible and start exploring and creating within it.

It's one thing to explain how FM works. It's an entirely different macro and meta level to explain how (and imbue comprehension of) the creative enormity that FM-X + Motion Sequencer + Effects Control brings to sound design.

It is a sort of linking based visual programming.

And whilst I'm not a full-time programmer, I know several coding languages quite well. Yet that's not helpful for this, because it's much more like designing dynamic and responsive visual effects within a combination of particle system and post processing than it is like "programming" per se.

So it can be taught, probably relatively easily, because most of the abstractions are surfaced through the UI. The biggest downside is the lack of visual representation of resultant values from the Motion Sequencers modding them. That little blackhole is a bit annoying at first, and slowly becomes infuriating as more complex efforts are made to link and mod parameters.
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@Jason, yes....

Agree... it's an interesting first step to "morphing intelligently" whatever that means.

it's got all those new fangled catch phrasery stuff hanging off it "AI, Deep Learning, Machine Intelligence" guff that everyone is spewing out, without there being much truth to that.

Yamaha couldn't even come up with a compelling usage demo of the feature when announcing it. Just yammering on about how "cool" it is and how incredible the morphing deep sense of it all is, and how it's computing and figuring out stuff. etc.

Worse, I've not seen anyone since using it in a musical or even interesting manner that doesn't suffer from that horrendous aliasing, nor anyone finding a way to make that aliasing useful or fit in with something else.

Not sure there's enough processing power in the Montage/MODX to do this kind of parameter morphing fast enough to get rid of the aliasing issues.

Further, even in my own experimentations with the FM-X morphing within sound effect design and random experimentation, it's not been anymore beneficial than doing everything methodically, manually and an in a labour intensive focused manner. I haven't managed to get morphing to produce any 'magic' sounds. Just differentness, and that's in the realm of sound effect design, where sometimes differentness can just randomly be good... yet that just hasn't happened, not even once.

It reeks of a "because we can" without a "why should it be?" line of questioning wrapping around the design of it that might have made it into something commonly useful and controllably creative.

And it's even odder when you think how much unused firepower exists in the fact that almost nobody has been busily figuring out how to use even a significant portion of the Motion Sequencer's prowess with 8 Operators of FM-X.

Surely getting a few sound designers busy with the Motion Sequencer, Effects and FM-X will lead to hitherto unheard signature level sound developments, and demonstrations of the potential of the Motion Sequencer.

I'm not nearly a sound designer, let alone good at it, and I'm getting some amazing results with super simple FM algorithms and the Motion Sequencer modding and messing with various aspects of the operators.
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This is deviating a bit from the subject - but if FM-X morph is a platform for things to come, a higher resolution smart morph of VA or AN engine would be cool and maybe a similar randomizer system. Higher resolution to get rid of those aliasing issues. And also better than single-straight-line automation. I think it's a good start for all of its perceived shortcomings.

It's also only newish (or a new spin) as older keyboards had parameter morphing features too (EX5's scene morphing).
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  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 4
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On the FM-X "morph" function...

Whilst it's somewhat interesting, the aliasing is horrendous, when morphing, and much of what it makes is closer to random than musical.

I can see why it can be done, I'm not sure that it's beneficial for much more than noise making experimental 'music'.
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Regarding your post containing "The Montage never put in a VA engine and instead focused on the DX7 sounds. Roland just put in 4 new engines just like that", remember that the Montage added FM-X Morph functionality in the last OS 3.5 intermediate update, which is not a major X.0 update, so I would not consider that their 'Focus'...

I agree that Yamaha should soon provide Montage owners with something new in response to Roland's latest update & they better make it a good one, or at least not wait too long. If acoustic is what they want to be known for, then ok, the better provide the C7 piano library or some kind of new library/preset waveforms as a response to stay competitive, at least for the flagship Montage if nothing else.

That being said, regarding new engines, Yamaha have told one of their reps (who is a moderator on another forum) that Montage/MODX are capable of additional engines. He wouldn't say any more than that, so he either doesn't know any more or is not at liberty to say at this point. This rep has also personally seen Yamaha's roadmap for the Montage & MODX, and from what I've heard him say over the past couple of years (although he is very careful not to say more than he's allowed to), both synths look quite promising for the future. ;)

Also, regarding the acoustic vs EDM type tones, I have had no problems finding or programming any sound on any song out there on my Montage. I have programmed both AWM2 and FM-X PARTs and made them sound nearly identical to the recording. As per synth sounds, I have captured every sound you hear in both these JB recordings, of which both have a lot of synth work. His keyboardist uses mainly a Kronos (plus at least 2 or 3 other keyboards on stage), but I've been able to do these songs (everything in them except vocals) on a single Montage. Some of the sounds I found worked better with FM-X programming and others I've found easier via the AWM2 engine. With some of them, I think my PART(s) actually sounds a bit better than the recorded sound, although they are so close, most people wouldn't be able to tell them apart easily.

(Edit: Unfortunately I had to post the links separately, because I kept getting the "Sorry, but the system detected your content as spam" error trying to post those YouTube links in this post, so see my additional link post below)

- Intentions:
Intentions Link/Post

- Sorry:
Sorry Link/Post

Regarding this second song "Sorry", I only did the intro on this one btw because I am not planning to play that one live, but I am using the intro to start into "Intentions".

I'm not sure what the exact effects/synths they used in the studio for lower key & bass synths sounds for "Intentions", but the new 'Wave Folder' effect in the Montage/MODX came in really handy to help emulate those. Also, interesting note I found when programming the intro for "Sorry", I started looking for trumpets/horns/brass when I first tried to find the brass sound they are using. It turns out, it's not an "acoustic" trumpet/horn/brass sound, but rather it's the exact same "synth" sound from a Roland JX-8P that Europe used in "The Final Countdown", and on the Montage/MODX, that waveform is named "XP Brass". It is EQ'd a bit differently and the AEG is modified a bit on "Sorry", but after making those adjustments, I can barely tell my Montage apart from JB's recording. It's probably one of the closest sounds that I have programmed.

Anyway, long story short, I feel confident that there is nothing that I can't program on the Montage with anything that I've heard out there. The Montage continues to be a monster synth and with using multiple engines and all 16 parts + sequencing (as I've done with "Intentions";), there is more Polyphony on the Montage than on the Kronos. It's the main people on the Korg/Kronos forum that told me the Montage would be better suited for polyphony for my needs based on how I planned to use the synth with sequencing & multiple engines much of the time. The Montage Adds polyphony with each Engine used, whereas the Kronos supposedly goes to the lowest common denominator polyphony when using multiple engines...
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 8
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
ok 4 expansions that sound like 4 different synths..I corrected my post above.
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  3. # 9
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Is this a reference to Fantom's v2.1 f/w addition of the "Model" tone type?

Looks like this adds some specific emulation of different properties of vintage synths - then you can load expansion banks that utilize these to emulate a Jupiter 8, Juno 106, JX-8P, and SH-101.

As much as emulating the sounds - I understand part of this is also changing how the controls interact/work.

This is really one "engine" and some expansion packs to utilize the "engine" - but still an interesting addition.
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  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 10
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Heres a new point to add. Michael on another post on this forum said that the Montage puts "greater overall emphasis on acoustic versus EDM type tones."

I believe this was confirmed when Roland added 4 expansions to their VA engine into the Fantom this month. But if you like 100 pianos and string symphonies, and old tunes then look to the Montage. Dont get me wrong. I can make modern music on it and it sounds great. but it feels like work. (edit)

Also consider the Montage never put in a VA engine and instead focused on the DX7 sounds. Roland just put in 4 new engines just like that, with probably more coming. That is how you truly can make any sound - a sound I would want to make anyway. I dont need a banjo or an accordian.

The only thing I can think of what I dont like about the new Roland Fantom is that if you edit presets used in performances, that you have to individually save those preset sounds first or you lose the dits when you call up a performance. That was a dumb move. and no velocity pads? Another dumb move considering all that Fantom has in it already.
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  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 11
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The MODX/Montage backlit buttons have three states of "brightness"

The SuperKnob's lighting has brightness, color and flashing strength adjustment.

There is a setting to turn off onscreen blur and anti-aliasing, and animation "effects".

Understand Yamaha, within the context of the above, neglected to provide screen brightness control AND failed to provide themes of low, high and normal contrast.


There are two obvious needs, amongst the many others, and the common sense provision of brightness controls for a screen being normal:

High Contrast and strong brightness for those with challenged vision and/or those working in bright environments (eg under strong daylight, under stage or film lighting or an otherwise brightened room).

Low Contrast and low brightness for differently challenged vision and/or working in dimmed environments.

Wearing sunglasses at night and/or in a dimmed room to operate the MODX/Montage, is necessary, and a bad joke.


Further, Ideascale is being deliberately used to hide issues of poor design, poor implementations and other problems like this. It shouldn't take submissions and votes and promoting of attention to an internet dark hole in order to remedy something so absolutely antithetical to good user experience. It should have been done on day one.
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  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 12
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This would be the Yamaha advantage. If Roland's key range must be Range Lo<=Range Hi.

Yamaha allows for Lo>Hi - and when Lo>Hi - the range is "inverted" (notes from lowest note through Hi - which is the lower value, and also Lo through highest note) where the range is more defining a "dead zone" in the middle. The advantage is that you can notch out a range and have the same sound on either side of this "hole".

Montage/MODX's synth parameter manual explain it this way:
Note Limit Determines the lowest and highest notes of the keyboard range for an Element.
The selected Element will sound only when you play notes within this range.

If you first specify the highest note and then the lowest note, for example
“C5 to C4,” then the note range covers both “C-2 to C4” and “C5 to G8,”
with no sound for the Element between C4 and C5.

I copied the description for the element range - the Part-level note range is similar but applies to the entire Part. Arpeggio note limits work the same way.
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  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 13
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No screen dimming, Montage...?
Didn't know it...Hard to believe.

Anyway, if I were to choose between screen dimming and keyboard range, I would choose the latter.
Montage accepts, say, D3-D5 and D5-D3 while Fantom still admitting only D3-D5.
Then two zones are needed in Fantom to accomplish D5-D3 by setting a zone to A0-D3 and another to D5-C8.
A pity.

Montage is truly outstanding.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 14
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Regarding contrast - a generic ideascale item was submitted in 2018 to keep in mind high contrast for design in general. I pointed out a specific issue with Montage - but the idea is broader in scope.


I also had this idea to allow for "skinning" the interface. This is difficult to implement - but would provide a mechanism for the community to create high-contrast menus


... I agree that high contrast in physical design and high contrast modes for screens (when feasible - as with Montage/MODX) would enhance usability for many users.

I'm not sure if there's a tie-in for the Fantom.

As a tie-in, I do see Fantom has added LCD brightness control since an older firmware release last year (2020).
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  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 15
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It seems they don't know how to find and retain great programming talent, nor what to do with it when they have it.

Want evidence of this?

Where's the brightness control for the screen on your MODX or Montage?

A primarily live focused instrument, primarily operated through its touchscreen doesn't have a brightness control for its only screen, a quite dominant feature.

Nor does the Operating System have differing contrast themes.

Think about how that decision could possibly have been made. That's the kind of thinking that's going on at Yamaha.

It's a miracle that the Montage exists.
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Roland just released 4 modal expansions for free on the Fantom! (JX-8P, Jupiter-8, Juno-106 & SH-101)

Yamaha, why don't you release the C7 library for free in response, as is available on all your other major keyboards (Genos, CPxx, YCxx)..?
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Roland just released 4 modal expansions for free on the Fantom! (JX-8P, Jupiter-8, Juno-106 & SH-101)
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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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  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 19
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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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