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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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Well, as intelligence is quite a meter of how fast one adapts to a new condition, you could use it so as to quickly find a solution to such a MISPLACEMENT, so to speak...

1. My darling, would you please just push key number 14 in that pad as soon as you see my right hand pushing these keys here...? You will hear a female choir, then you push number 14. Thanks....

2. I was having my right hand standing still on D5 waiting for a female choir to sing along a compass when I felt there would be something that would allow me to move while their singing and soon I searched and discovered OFFSET.
Then I ordered a 40 units delay and by striking and releasing the D5 key I heard that very choir performing the assign duty while my right hand was suddenly free to move to trigger a tower bell. a thundering church and a pipe organ, rolling drums ....

3....

4...

5...
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 41
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I've had a Fantom 6 now for about 6 months, I love the thing to death. I'm currently using it with a Kurzweil Forte below, but lately thinking I might venture back to a Montage, not because I don't love the Fantom, but mainly because I;m wanting to lug less gear. Currently the Ipad integration with the Montage is better so I'm thinking a Montage 7 and a decent Ipad running synths and B3-X might do the trick without the need to lug a second board. I prefer the Montage scene buttons location VS the keyboard switch groups using the pads on the right hand side of the Fantom. Top right hand side is not the most convenient location to quickly switch sounds IMO.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 42
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Got my replacement new Fantom 8 on January 10th.
Serial number Z7K2287. Updated to OS 1.5 yesterday.
Connected to a 90 watts Philips stereo amplifier [my beloved Denon died recently and turns out it is still being fixed] and to a pair of DefinitiveTechnology Mythos STS...
Flawless performance. Outstanding sounds. Easy to match and perform own ideas...Lots of fun.
Best toy I have ever had...so far.
:D :D :D :D
Standing-by for a new Yamaha synth....2023 will do.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 43
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The shop where I bought my Roland Fantom 8, serial number Z4K0888, has confirmed it is faulty, just after receiving it.
A new keyboard has been shipped based on my request to replace the returned one.
I hope the incoming new Fantom behaves as it is supposed to and I will not be commited to writing a song in Dm like "Blue day, sad days, your boomerang won't come back, my Roland Fantom won't power up “
I will let you know....
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 44
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Sorry to hear that my initial "10 minute" kicking-the-tires of a Fantom and having it lockup on me is not an isolated event -- and not just limited to the first firmware. There's at least one other report that upgrading the firmware should fix some lockup issues. I haven't seen lockup fixes mentioned in the firmware release notes although this may not want to be something Roland wants to advertise too heavily.

I really do want to see Roland and any other gear succeed. Solid competition and compelling choices for the keyboardist is healthy for everyone.

Hoping this gets straightened out soon. I can't bet my gigs on Fantom due to personal experience and now based off of others reporting similar issues.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 45
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I have recently reported on a message that in trying to start my synth path away from an old Yamaha CVP96, I had chosen a Roland Fantom 8 to start with while waiting for a Yamaha Montage replacement that should come sooner or later, matching at that time a better knowledge from me to work on it.
Yes, it has been reported that Fantom was easier than Montage, and also it was recently released, while Montage was born in 2016.
After being much happy during a week, I started suffering what had already been reported by other buyers: freezings while playing, locks during power up,
Today my Fantom 8 is not working anymore. It is locked with many lights glaring and a black screen. And not even the power switch responds.
I am returning my Fantom 8.... Version 1.11. The latest so far.
I am so sad I cannot tell you.
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  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 46
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The initial look at the Fantom, I experienced some significant buyer's remorse, as I purchased my Montage on July 8, 2019 and the MIDI receive limited flexibility, not adequately addressed in 3.0, was a shocker. Then I had to give it some thought for myself. I have owned Rolands since initially using synths (Jx3P, Juno106, JV 80, and subsequent modules and expansion cards). I abandoned Roland in 2001 due to being sick and tired of purchasing an amazing, updated machine only to discover "expansion slots" that seed the "if-I-only-had" urge.

Then I purchased a Yamaha Motif Classic in 2001. Only other Yamaha I owned was the DX7. Although the Motif had expansion slots, few players used them, because Yamaha gave you a fairly completed product. My Motif Classic 7 is still a relevant machine and controller. I currently own the Montage which is my bread and butter.

So I had to ask myself why I wanted the Montage. The main reasons were, having an updated, real DX7 on hand (fm8? Nah! I own fm8, DX7 was hard enough), a flexible integrated excellent quality audio interface to merge my Laptop based VSTi's and some updated natural and synthetic instruments. I already own Omnisphere 2 and Blue3 with IKmultimedia Leslie and Amplitube4 which offer the absolute best pads, granular synth and Hammond B3 sounds. Do I need another analog synth? No. If I did, it would be an Access Virus.

Never seen an onboard sequencer used live since the release of Ableton. Why would you? In the studio, I use a DAW. Sequencer is only a scratchpad.

Montage detects BPM on the fly in a live gig so that my aprpeggiator stays in sync with the slightly vacillating live drummer. Really need this. I have an aux to my A/D in from the drummer with A/D volume disabled.

What concerns me about the Fantom is the expansion slots. Is this the old Roland trick coming back? Put out a great product, then seed the expansions as "now, if you only had this!" Forget it. I'm out.

I don't tweak a lot of knobs when performing, other than faders for drawbars, (B3 patch) adjusting distortion or engaging an LFO for funk. I don't tweak a lot of knobs when using PT12 or Cubase Pro 10. I guess the only hardware thing I miss on the Montage is the drum pad area that's on the Fantom. I would use them to launch Ableton scenes during a performance.

Drum sounds on Montage are plenty and absolutely stellar (haven't used EZdrummer for a while) as are the natural instrument sounds (even the dreaded keyboard sax solo can be pulled off with the velocity nuances Yamaha programmed for a more fluid sound without the stupid pitch bend).

Can the Fantom support a touchscreen? Maybe it can. Would I like a Fantom? Absolutely! Seeing the video of the Fantom elicited the "I want this thing! I'm sorry I got the Montage!" But that is what a sales video is supposed to do. However, what am I actually doing when I am using my instrument? Got my audio interface, DX7, VSTi's, killer synth and natural instrument sounds. All I set up is a controller keyboard, the Montage and a laptop and send a R/L to the soundman. The Fantom has much more, little of which I would actually use, and no DX7. Anyone adjusting the resonant filter live with a knob rather than a foot pedal? Or at all?

That's just me. Thinking it through. If Yamaha doesn't get their s*&^ together on the MIDI receive, the Fantom is going to crush them. It probably will anyway.

Update:
Well. I am an FM synthesis person. The workflow on the Montage in the FM-X is far better than poking through the DX-7 for days to finally get "that sound." Fantom probably does not have the Yamaha FM-Synthesis engine in it. For that, alone. I wouldn't get a Fantom.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 47
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One interesting aspect of the Fantom piano is that you can have only one piano part with the modeled piano. That is okay in most situations but in some it can be limiting...
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 48
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I like Scott's playing more - but this run in this first impression I thought I heard more dynamics in the interaction of the body of the piano and maybe string-to-string. Montage simulates this somewhat, but for this aspect of the sound - I prefer a modeled approach (various resonance).

https://youtu.be/0spqtaHkH5A?t=1383

Piano sounds are, as you say, highly subjective. Having options is great - so it's nice to have more libraries in Montage or other keyboards that each have their own approaches/character.

For me, I think Yamaha pianos have always played in a mix better. If I was doing solo work - some of the modeled nuance may be helpful/"better" - but this sort of thing tends to get lost in the settings I play in.


I completely agree... I've had some experience with Roland's older flagship products and while I loved their overall capabilities and workflows, I usually turned to Yamaha for piano for exactly that reason. That said, I've reached the point that I'd really prefer a dedicated digital piano for piano sounds (Kawai, Nord, etc.). It is nice, however. to have most of what you need on one instrument.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 49
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Got a bit more info today from the Sud-Claviers video on youtube. I guy on facebook was nice enough to translate some of it.

The French Roland Rep confirmed the Fantom has 8 expansion slots, which will be used for Plug-Outs, Axial Sounds & New Filters... look forward to some of these rolling out

This is going to be one killer machine in the future.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 50
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but I will say that there's much less in-it than you might think.

what exactly do you mean with this statement?
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 51
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I am sitting in front of both right now. I'm going to do a little review later on comparing the two, but I will say that there's much less in-it than you might think.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 52
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Thanks Scott, yes it seems to me with the Roland its really easy, but i thought the same about the Montage/MODX when i saw all the YT videos, those guys like Scott Tibbs etc.. they make everything look so easy :-)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 53
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I also had the KORG Kronos 2 and it was a nightmare. You can do anything with it but with a very steep learning curve. so i really like what i see on YT about the GUI of the Fantom and hope its a lot easier than the Kronos
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 54
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Hi guys, for me as an average user the main question is the "easy to use" factor. I had the MODX8 but honestly it was too complicated to use, so i sold it. On the othter hand
i had a couple of Roland products in the past and they were really easy to use and understand. So can someone who owns the Fantom comment if its easy to use or better one who knows both boards. Many thanks in advance.


I own a MODX and Fantom 6. If you are familiar with Roland Architecture then the roland is a lot quicker to edit on. The Fantom simplifies novaigation on a new scale once you learn all the short cuts,.... I love programming it. I also own 2 x Kurz Forte's... have to say the MODX is easier than the kurzweils to follow, Kurzweil are still the kings of flexibility and control, but difficult to understand at times.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 55
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Hi guys, for me as an average user the main question is the "easy to use" factor. I had the MODX8 but honestly it was too complicated to use, so i sold it. On the othter hand
i had a couple of Roland products in the past and they were really easy to use and understand. So can someone who owns the Fantom comment if its easy to use or better one who knows both boards. Many thanks in advance.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 56
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I wouldnt have believed it until today but Yamaha upped their game in this last firmware update. New effects and a sequencer. I think even some other enhancements that havnt been mentioned. Nice. It also shows they can add things entirely unexpected into the Montage/Modx so at this point it is advised to keep submitting ideas but we have to be patient. If our ideas werent adopted they were heard and emphasis was put on a way to get to where we want to be musically nonetheless. That is a big deal to me +1 Yamaha. Thank you.

Some things are not adopted but I might say they are not yet adopted. Maybe they wont ever be brought in but maybe a working solution will be found by us either way to make the tunes!
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 57
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**The no.1 advantage of the Fantom over the Montage is the screen, hands down. Since like 90% of the editing and navigating is done using it (even though Montage has many buttons, Yamaha themselves gathered that most users just use the screen mostly). So, a better, faster screen that supports more gestures such as the Fantom's is a breeze to work with. Saves time, frustration, and more music making/inspiration that way. It also doesn't help that Montage's screen is sometimes laggy/sluggish.


Not only that - but the button/knobs below the Fantom touchscreen allows for one to navigate through the interface (in most cases) without actually touching the screen. Some prefer not to use a touch screen (for a number of reasons) and having an either-or choice is beneficial. Montage chose to take away the function key buttons below the touchscreen which could have also evolved to the push button + rotary encoders of Fantom. Therefore, most editing work you see substantial use of the touchscreen where Fantom editing you see it both ways - some using the button/dial approach - some using touchscreen.

**Triggers Pads, +1 Roland. Honestly I didn't use them at all back when I had the FA-06, but it's a feature nonetheless with the Montage you have to resort to using a touch screen and not physical pads.


As I keep up with reports from owners of the Fantom (in other forums) - I see reports of the Fantom pads being sub-par. Useful perhaps for DAW or macro control - but not as pads to trigger drum samples or anything musical. The reports seem to indicate the feel is bad, triggering sometimes double-triggers, and are not dynamic. This seems to be coming from folks that are accustomed to pads of dedicated gear that primarily triggers samples with pads and doesn't have other responsibilities (like Akai MPC). Between nothing and bad pads - maybe bad pads are better. For DAW control - it's good to have more buttons. Yamaha top tier synth/workstations have never really had these pads - but it looks like it would not be difficult to "one up" in this department if well executed. That's if the market cares for multi-function pads or not. I currently trigger one-shot type samples using piano keys and might rather keep my keybed "clean" and delegate this to a pad or button instead. The summary statement is that it seems this is a luke-warm physical pad implementation of Roland vs. none in Montage.

Guess it's worth mentioning that some of the modes of these pads in Fantom are available as buttons on Montage. The mute/solo or zone (PART in Montage) selection.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 58
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Its going to boil down to what people want in a keyboard and their sound preference.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 59
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Personally speaking, here's my take on it (just as a disclaimer I never played the new Fantom, so I am feeding upon my knowledge and sound demos on YouTube)

**The no.1 advantage of the Fantom over the Montage is the screen, hands down. Since like 90% of the editing and navigating is done using it (even though Montage has many buttons, Yamaha themselves gathered that most users just use the screen mostly). So, a better, faster screen that supports more gestures such as the Fantom's is a breeze to work with. Saves time, frustration, and more music making/inspiration that way. It also doesn't help that Montage's screen is sometimes laggy/sluggish.

***likewise, the no.1 advantage of the Montage over the Fantom is actually the FM engine. Since FM is generally a more rare inclusion in synths, and considering it can result is more various and unique sounds, I personally like it both for its ability to sound traditional, cheesy, classy or avantgarde at the same time. FM-X is hands down the strongest FM engine there is with 8 (!) OP, and the Yamaha multi stage envelopes dating back to the DX7 are still genius ... with a boring ADSR, how can you create evolving sounds? I also prefer Yamaha's implementation of FM over the Korg's Kronos, regardless of the 'only 6 OP' and less overall FM options of the Korg, I know the implementation is different... I'm not a tech guy but Yamaha's sound better.

***I wholeheartedly agree with YAMAHA's not having XLR outputs,every once in awhile I recheck my Montage 8 and forgot I don't have them... I miss them. I really think a keyboard that is intended for live use at that price range has to have them. CV and Phantom power are much less important for most people including myself though. +1 Roland

**Triggers Pads, +1 Roland. Honestly I didn't use them at all back when I had the FA-06, but it's a feature nonetheless with the Montage you have to resort to using a touch screen and not physical pads.

***Keyboard action and bulid quality: now I'm not really sure, because I haven't played the Fantom but I think Yamaha might take this one, because from my experience with Roland keyboards and Roland higher end digital pianos, Yamaha is just better in bulid quality and keyboard feel in the vast majority of the cases. Will have to wait and see.

*** Roland has a VA engine, but seriously it is way inferior to the Yamaha's FM. a digital synth emulating analog? why though? I mean sure but the montage does that well with the AWM and has great sampled prophet sound waves.... just a missed opportunity to do something original by Roland. Overall I was never impressed with Roland sounds, I was only using modern Roland gear, exclusively except I had a DX7II at some point, then sold everything and bought the Montage 8. Never looked back. Yamaha pianos are the best for my taste as a pro player... The pads/brass/strings are gorgeous, they delete the Roland... Organs and EPs are actually very good (not sure while people seem to complain, prolly copy paste other commenters) but not the best I ever hear - that is Keyscape Rhodes and Pianet hands down, or Nord organ clone modeling (the one thing Nord is good for).

EDdit Oh, and a full featured sequencer on a keyboard? for me personally... useless . Cubase is wayyyy faster, and more intuitive. I like having separate designated "modules" for each type of work that has to be done. There's the synth, that's for making sounds, effects, shaping them, layering and making performances live. And there's the sequencer which is the studio. a PC is way better suited to handle it due to having mouse + keyboard, the 2 best inventions in controlling DAW tech.
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  3. # 60


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