YamahaSynth.com Forums

This is the place to talk about all things related to Yamaha Synthesizers!
  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)
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Lets remember; back to 2016 prior to Montage release that it was originally promoted as the successor to the Motif XF- and that series. Montage is- a synthesizer. Not a workstation. Nor is this new Fantom the old workstations of the past- and yes I'd put Kronos as one of those. (The Combi/Program setup has been on EVERY Korg Workstation. - old). So its not an apples to oranges with a few key comparisons.

1. I got my Montage 8 - because it felt that for the 1st time, a dedicated audio interface was built under the hood for computer integration. The FA series failed at that given the need to adjust the DAW of your choices preferences too much. The Motion Control, interplay with the Arp animated sounds so differently. It felt musical in a way i had not enjoyed on my Kronos.

2. The Sounds- beefed up from the XF were really incredible. And the non-mode, open (plus sign button) to freely add sounds on top of other sounds, allowed a free creative spark.

3. And as a former Guitar Center employee- the market between Montage and MODX, has been stale. MInilogue XD and Krome EX (same Combi/Prog setup), from Korg. Roland gave us an FA-07, Aerophone, and Boutique synths. Sequential gave us the Prophet X, and XL. Nothing new - well, rephrase, nothing fresh. Companies just putting new gear out there. Kurzweil's new PC -based workstation is not on par with Montage, nor MODX.

So what is Fantom?

Its 2 Zen Core chips - 1 the V Piano chip which is listed as unlimited in polyphony. The other is a new Zen Core synthesizer chip which is supplemented by the BCM/ACB chip technology that allows recreation of any Roland synths of the past which much more power and clarity. Think: The System 8 can "become" legendary synths. This is the idea behind that pairing. Other than some XV/Integra sounds (similar to the XF tones being Montagi-fied) - these tones have been restructured to play in this new frontier. Beyond that 90% of the sounds left are absolutely new. Designed to take advantage of no-modes, and this powerful core based chip tech. Each "partial" is a full layered tone. Its not a copy of FM architecture, but the tree-like graph we see when we discuss FM, has been rethought and not for FM. The architecture in Fantom beefs this tree up exponentially. Each 'Scene' has 16 parts. Represented by a touch button. That is a 4 layer full- effected sound. 4 other layers to that same tone can be added and split (like the plus sign-buttons empty slot in Montage). each partial, and element can max the LFO to 4 each- totalling 8- so that in all 16 parts, 128 LFOs!!

Path remain is tied in with Seamless Sound Switching. Its got a 16x3 Audio interface. 2 Arps, a TR-based Step/beat sequencer, pattern/real-time, and loop (tied to pads). External eurorack/analog gear can be routed in thru CV/Gate in and out- and Fantom can capture those tones and use with Fantom tones.

Look its not apples to oranges, but it totally rethinks "workstation"
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 61
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
https://www.smstrumentimusicali.it/reportage-roland-fantom-jupiter-xm/?fbclid=IwAR38RAbhlf6srkyH__9jh-B61Yoejx4UAwTICQfdaD7FbC0PdjHCKQfNQSo

Looks like extra models have been confirmed for the Fantom... no info on when these will be released though.... also multisampling mentioned. :-)

(JX-8P, JUNO 106, JP-8 etc.. I have a feeling these will be along the lines of the amazing ACB technlogy from Roland Cloud)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 62
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
And I've stated, in this forum, that the Montage OS is pretty much finished. I would love to be proven wrong. Prove me wrong Yamaha.:)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 63
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Phil Clendeninn absolutely has stated, in this forum, that the Montage has, in reserve, new and amazing things upcoming in new firmware. He stated this with no uncertainty. He actually guaranteed it.
Can't find the post, but he remembers for sure. Phil is not the kind of guy to make such statements unless true!
We shall see. Also, since he has stated so, we then may proceed to ask him to explain himself. no?
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 64
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
There is precedent here; this is almost exactly what Yamaha did 9 years ago between the Motif XS and XF. An announcement soon would be right on schedule too; the XF was announced 3 years after the XS was released.
In that case it spelled the end of updates for the XS firmware, though. I'd like to believe that they wouldn't make that mistake again.

If they ended updates to the Montage OS soon, that would be really bad!
Usually with every new Synth or Workstation that Yamaha release, they change the file name and compatibility; such as the Montage .X7L is compatible with the MODX, but the .X8L is not compatible with the Montage. If they did a "Montage +" as was mentioned as a possibility above, then I would guess this new Synth would save as .X9L and likely no longer be able to load into the MODX. This would be a really bad move on Yamaha's part, to have a new flagship synth that their hottest selling MODX can't load libraries from...

Until I hear otherwise, I am going to remain hopeful that things stay as they currently are with the hardware and that they only provide updates to the OS for both the Montage and MODX. Hopefully it's all good news for everyone in a few days after their 24 Hour Live Stream Event! ;)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 65
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Actually, they could do both- do an incremental update of the hardware of Montage (like doubling the amount of Flash Memory to 8GB physical, thus offering more space for user samples), this would be "Montage+", and at the same time provide OS update for both new and old Montage with new features like a VA engine and a fix of the Midi receive channel issue. I think that would be the best road.
There is precedent here; this is almost exactly what Yamaha did 9 years ago between the Motif XS and XF. An announcement soon would be right on schedule too; the XF was announced 3 years after the XS was released.

In that case it spelled the end of updates for the XS firmware, though. I'd like to believe that they wouldn't make that mistake again.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 66
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Actually, they could do both- do an incremental update of the hardware of Montage (like doubling the amount of Flash Memory to 8GB physical, thus offering more space for user samples), this would be "Montage+", and at the same time provide OS update for both new and old Montage with new features like a VA engine and a fix of the Midi receive channel issue. I think that would be the best road.

Yeah, that is a possibility and would really not be good if they did that, because I bought my Montage only 6 months ago and could really use the extra User memory seeing as my sampling of a VST piano has some major drawbacks due to size limitations. I had to cut back the size by using less velocity layers, shortening the length of the lower notes and changing the steps to 3 on most of the layers. Turns out that using 3 step samples stretches a bit too much and when you hit a chord, it sounds like you did a really quick arpeggio, because the 2 or 3 notes you press at the same time, don't quite sound out at the same time. So I basically have to scrap my plan to use SampleRobot to capture and import 2 VST piano libraries, and just capture one piano library without the steps. I really could have used an extra 1GB, but I will forgo having the Bechstein and capture the C7 piano instead...
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 67
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
No need to have a crystal ball. Comparisons between the two instruments should focus on what's available today. If changes are made, those updates can be noted.

I agree most comparisons should be regarding what's currently available. At the same time, when deciding to purchase a new Synth, I had to factor in the age and longevity of the synth, because I didn't want to buy a synth that was 2+ years old only to have a new better one come out 6 months after I made my purchase. Another big factor of why I chose the Montage over the Kronos 2. So for buyers in today's market that are deciding "do I buy this new Roland Fantom that is guaranteed to have life in it for several years, or buy a Yamaha Montage that potentially could be replaced soon", it's a legit concern and question to ask when making such a big decision. The cost of those synths is quite high, and unless you're rolling in the dough & can afford every new synth, every time one comes out, then I think the longevity of a synth & not just it's current capabilities, needs to be factored in to some degree...

Until I hear otherwise, I am holding out some hope that the Montage is not going anywhere anytime soon and that there is still plenty of life left in it with new updates to come at some point. But I am not holding my breath and waiting for the updates, as I am quite happy with what it currently does and I'm still learning. Sure there are things I'd like to see in an update & I've added them as ideas on ideascale, but I am with what I have now and still hold out hope for more future left in the Montage.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 68
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
No need to have a crystal ball. Comparisons between the two instruments should focus on what's available today. If changes are made, those updates can be noted.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 69
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Actually, they could do both- do an incremental update of the hardware of Montage (like doubling the amount of Flash Memory to 8GB physical, thus offering more space for user samples), this would be "Montage+", and at the same time provide OS update for both new and old Montage with new features like a VA engine and a fix of the Midi receive channel issue. I think that would be the best road.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 70
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I'm pretty sure that Roland will increase features on FANTOM with further upgrades
But who knows if also Yamaha will do the same with the montage?
I think that potentially also montage can featurs new sound engine, the point is, will yamaha procede along this road or will shitch on a newer platform abandoning montage?

My crystal ball is currently broken :p , but I am fairly certain that Yamaha will be continuing with their road map of providing new features/enhancements via OS updates on the Montage, and not designing, engineering, programming, testing and releasing a new hardware Synth.

It makes more sense to me that they continue with developing & enhancing the Montage/MODX, as these Synths are connected in many ways. The Montage is Yamaha's flagship & the MODX is their economically priced version of the Montage, containing the same sounds/Performances, and is compatible with Montage libraries. I can't see Yamaha investing all this money & time in the Montage, and then just replace it, especially seeing how well the MODX is selling...

My gut tells me that this conversation will change drastically early next week after the Yamaha Synthesizers 45th Anniversary 24 Hour Live Stream Event..! ;)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 71
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
I'm pretty sure that Roland will increase features on FANTOM with further upgrades

But who knows if also Yamaha will do the same with the montage?

I think that potentially also montage can featurs new sound engine, the point is, will yamaha procede along this road or will shitch on a newer platform abandoning montage?
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 72
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Also keep in mind that you grow into any piano sound you spend a lot of time with. I've never loved ____ pianos (fill in the blank with some major manufacturer that has a reputation for great pianos -- not important to call out any particular one) - but if I played that keyboard exclusively -- I'd probably grow into preferring at over other pianos as I acclimate. Or at least, this could be a component of bias.

There's definitely some truth in there about growing into a piano you spend time with and get used to the sound/feel. At the same time, I think back to when I first got the NI Bechstein/Bose/etc. VST piano library. I grew into & thought the Bechstein was the best piano on the planet, and that the Synthogy Ivory C7 was good, but not quite as good (I had only heard demos of the C7 at that point and never actually played one). Then I finally gave in and got the Synthogy C7, and my 'growth' towards the Bechstein shrunk in a matter of seconds. I still love the Bechstein as it sounds/plays great and it has it's own unique sound (I am all about variety), but the Synthogy C7 needed no time for me to grow into it to be my all time favorite. The Montage CFX is the closest to it that I've heard & played since. The CFX is probably a better sampled and truer huge grand piano that gives the best experience of feeling like I'm playing an actual acoustic grand; however the bell-like harmonic tones on the Synthogy C7 in the lower notes are second to none for me.

I just finished experimenting/testing and capturing the Bechstein via SampleRobot last night (I didn't want to do the C7 until I mastered SampleRobot first, so I can capture it perfectly). Wow, I didn't realize how hard it is to capture a piano and keep it under 500MB. I started out with 9 velocity layers, which was good because it allowed me to pick the best ones more easily. I tried to do 8 velocity layers, but it was way to big. I finally got it down to 5 layers, but still too big. I took all the layers down to 2 steps instead of every note, but still too big. Took down the length of the lower notes from 30 to 20 seconds, but not quite there. I took the bottom 3 layers down to 3 steps, which brought it down to 450MB. Now I just have to load the library and program the piano using the CFX Stage as a shell to work with...

So now just thinking about capturing the Synthogy C7, I am considering using some CFX velocity layers for the softer "pp" & "mp" notes because it is the closest in sound/tone to the C7, and I can EQ those layers to match pretty closely, thereby allowing me to capture the top 2 or 3 layers of the C7 (instead 5 or more layers), which are the most important and unique sounding ones with the bell-like harmonics I mentioned...
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 73
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Disclaimer for the truth police ...

For me, I think Yamaha pianos have always played in a mix better


BTW: when I compared "Yamaha pianos" to other manufacturers who do modeling - I was comparing the flagship synth (Motif, Montage) vs other manufacturers' flagship synths that directly compete with Yamaha. Yamaha has done modeling in past CP series and perhaps other keyboards. "Yamaha pianos" I mentioned before -- better in the mix (without modeling) should have read "Yamaha flagship synthesizer/workstation pianos as in Motif and Montage and derivatives".

Also keep in mind that you grow into any piano sound you spend a lot of time with. I've never loved ____ pianos (fill in the blank with some major manufacturer that has a reputation for great pianos -- not important to call out any particular one) - but if I played that keyboard exclusively -- I'd probably grow into preferring at over other pianos as I acclimate. Or at least, this could be a component of bias.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 74
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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


This one I did not see yet, so definitely the best I've heard so far of the V-piano! That one definitely brings it closer to the Montage, but I still give the CFX the win IMHO

The V-piano definitely has great resonance. What I plan to do with the Montage pianos is combine the enveloped based resonance from the Epic Grand piano with the effect based resonance of the CFX, cut the volume/amount of each type in half, thus mixing the two...

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 hear this a lot on forums, and maybe there is a lot of truth in it due to the type of piano it is, and the quality of the samples & programming Yamaha have put into it; however I just love the sound itself of the CFX more than most other pianos...except for the Synthogy Ivory C7, which I am working on capturing via SampleRobot. Maybe it's my style of playing whereby I love the dynamic & sometimes hardest notes in the mid to lower end of the piano, or that I grew up on Journey, Chicago, Night Ranger and other piano heavy bands, but this is what I want to hear come out of the Montage, with the bell like overtones in the bass notes, etc. (the CFX is a very close 2nd IMHO):
https://soundcloud.com/synthogy/pursuit-i2
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 75
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Fantom Cv outputs vs montage no cv outputs

I did call it an upside. :)

My clarification is that it's more like:
Fantom limited CV Outputs vs Montage no CV Outputs

This opens a clear avenue for Yamaha or another company to improve upon what Roland has started here. Maybe they might even add CV tools to Cubase in order to compete with Ableton and Bitwig.

I've just noticed that the analog filter has its own discrete L&R outputs on the back. From a computer, the audio interface only presents 6 outputs (3 stereo pairs) so this pair is apparently not independently accessible that way or at least not at the same time as the others. But at least for the onboard sounds, and maybe in combination with appropriately routed audio coming into the A/D inputs, it appears that the Fantom effectively has three pairs of assignable outputs vs the Montage's one.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 76
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Fantom Cv outputs vs montage no cv outputs
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 77
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
There's an apparent limitation to one of Fantom's upsides: the CV/Gate outputs. They are not exposed to the computer as part of the audio interface (as is the norm with computer CV output), so they cannot be used as CV outputs with software like VCV Rack.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 78
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
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.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 79
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
When modulating pitch, Fantom provides details how to achieve specific note values.


1. Want. I remember your unsuccessful trials with this. Yamaha should have gone the extra mile with the scaling values. Too late now, no doubt.

2. Fantom's PWM on samples is notoriously bad unless you're into aliasing. I wouldn't call that a point for the Fantom, given the very narrow sweet spot.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 80


There are no replies made for this post yet.
Be one of the first to reply to this post!
2021 © Yamaha Corporation of America and Yamaha Corporation. All rights reserved.