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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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The other things that may come into play for consideration and potentially change things when comparing the Montage & Fantom, is the "Yamaha Synth streams 45th anniversary event" Sept 22. If they announce some of the things I've suspected they will in the next OS update, that could be a game changer and level the playing field, or possibly give the Montage the edge..!?

It will be interesting how this discussion changes (or not) in a week's time! ;)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 81
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I know this is somewhat subjective, but I've watched quite a number of videos of the new Fantom, and have not heard any V-piano that sounds nearly as awesome as the CFX on the Montage8. This was my number 1 consideration when deciding to buy the Montage over the Kronos several months back, as well as over the MODX8 (i could have saved a lot of money and had a synth 1/3 the weight, but the MODX8 was a fail on pianos & the User memory to maximize how many piano libraries could be loaded at once). If I had to do it all over and decide against the Fantom with it's V-piano, I would still pick the Montage8.

Having said that, I do love Roland and would certainly want the Fantom if I could afford a second synth!
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 82
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LFO Modulation.

Waveforms: Sine, Triangle, Saw Up, Saw Down, Square, Random, Trapezoid, Sample & Hold, Chaos, Sine with randomly varied amplitude, Step (fixed pattern with 16 steps)

Along with "normal" settings like offset, rate, and sync - there are interesting "spice" parameters like "rate detune". This will vary the rate of the LFO each time you press a key. You can set how much change to expect from every key press (subtle change to a higher degree).

When modulating pitch, Fantom provides details how to achieve specific note values. Examples: when pitch depth is 51, step values in multiples of 6 will achieve up to one octave of change (6*12 = 72, the maximum setting - so each step of 6 is a chromatic note or semi-tone. Steps of 3 - you can do microtonal exactly half-way between two notes). Different pitch depths have a "table" of how to achieve a range of 2 or 3 octaves total. Each of these tables get you to chromatic notes. For a 3-octave note range, your steps are limited to 2 - which gives you only quarter tones and not other microtones (like available for 2 or 1 octave range).

LFO can affect pitch, filtar, pan, amplitude, or can be a source for "matrix control". In this sense, the LFO is similar in high-level operation as Montage's motion sequence.

Other than LFO1/2, "matrix control" sources (maximum count of 4 at a time - compared to Montage which has many more possible sources. 8 assignable knobs per PART, mod wheel, pitch bend, aftertouch, buttons, etc -- lots more - 16 at a time per PART) can be:

Sources:
CC1-95 (excluding CC32).
Pitch bend, Aftertouch,
Syscontrol 1-4. This one is a bit different. You can set 4 MIDI messages as system control messages and this counts as one source (4-in-1), MIDI messages are CC1-95(except 32), aftertouch, pitch bend. Suitable for control by an external MIDI controller.
Velocity (Montage doesn't have velocity as a source - you have to use an envelope follower to simulate this - not quite the same),
pitch envelope, filter envelope, amplitude envelope (Montage doesn't support these as sources).

Destinations:
Pitch, Cutoff, Resonance, Level (volume), pan, chorus amount, reverb amount, LFO1 or LFO2 pitch depth, LFO1 or 2 filter depth, LFO1 or 2 amplitude depth, LFO 1 or 2 pan depth, LFO rate (if LFO is not set to sync to note values - can speed/slow down the LFO), Pitch Envelope attack/decay/release time, Filter Envelope ADR time, Amplitude ADR time, PMT (crossfade type when fading between two partials), FXM (depth of frequency modulation produced by FXM - FXM applies a modulating waveform to the current waveform - to sort of "FM-ize" sounds. FMX color 1-4 makes sounds more "metallic" to more "grainy" ) ... Montage doesn't have this but FM-X may be able to come close, MFX control 1-4 (effects modulation), PW (pulse width = duty cycle for waveforms), PWM (pulse width modulation depth) ... Montage does not have provisions for applying PWM to arbitrary waves or ability to modulate these, FAT (low frequency boost amount for virtual analog), X-MOD or X-MOD2 (Crossmod depth when using carrier/modulator partials), LFO 1 or 2 step position - so can offset the current LFO step position, supersaw detune, pitch/filter/amplitude depth.

Since LFO can be a source and a destination - it appears there's some ability to make "recursive" functions - maybe useful for generative music/synthesis.

Finally, you can control the sensitivity of the 4 matrix controls (sources). There are negative values - so you can change the polarity.

Montage allows for translating a source through a curve to a destination. Fantom does not have a curve you can translate source controllers from incoming values to outgoing values applied to destinations. LFOs, for the matrix control, are similar to the "pulses" which define the movement of a lane in Montage. But in Fantom, these LFO modulations (Lane-like) do not have any curve they can pass through. Nor do other Fantom controllers as sources (pitch wheel, aftertouch, etc) have an ability to pass through a curve like Montage's system. Fantom's modulation is more direct - which means that some controllers are better than others for certain modulation results.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 83
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Fantom has something called a "structure" where half of the partials (2) can act as modulators and half (2) can act as carriers. The relationship of the modulator to carrier can vary: "SYNC" mode will reset the carrier's oscillator according to the modulator's pitch cycle. I'd have to have a demo to make sense out of that. There's "RING" mode where the modulator's output multiplies with the carrier. Then there's "XMOD" (cross modulation) where the modulator's output affects the pitch of the carrier. "XMOD2" is cross-modulation of the VA (virtual analog) engine only. Most other modes apply to both VA and sampled (PCM) modes. There are other parameters to control the depth/level of various partials in the structure along with phase control for XMOD2.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 84
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Still we have no real details on modulation comparison
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  3. # 85
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I think I just didnt word it correctly. Yes the tone must be resaved if you change the MFX setting otherwise when you load the scene that contains the scene the old MFX will still be there. People need to know how this affects things. +1 Yamaha for not doing this on the Montage. But i understand why it is the way it is on Roland products.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 86
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Montage lets you save a performance with fx edits and all no problem. The Fantom requires you to save an individual tone (part) with fx changes first and then save the scene (performance). Otherwise you will lose any effects changes you made. With only 512 user save slots that pretty dumb IMO.


Incorrect, in the Fantom you can have offset values for most used tweaks eg cutoff, resonance and amp envelope settings which can be tweaked without altering the original tone. The only effect that is tied to the tone is the MFX the other effects (IFX1, IFX2, reverb, and chorus) are tied to the scene. This means the tone will be the same when you bring it into the scene. If you tweak the sound more than the offset settings then yes you save a new version of it, but not always a bad thing as then it doesn;t effect other sounds that use the tone you changed.

I really like the Fantom architecture, we are all different, but so far I am loving programming the F6, its a breeze to program. I still have a MODX which will become a backup board, but the Fantom does sound extremely good....
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 87
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Regarding ADSR, filter/cutoff knobs ...
This is very significant for synth tweakers.


The 6 knobs (that have built-in buttons) under the touchscreen on Fantom are also great for real-time control. They assume different roles depending on what you have selected - but can also tweak/shape the sound. For V-pianos I believe the 1st knob is generally how open the piano lid is. And others have generally standard assignments for their presets depending on the type of sound loaded.

Montage's approach was to, for the most part, ditch too many buttons that interact with the touchscreen and rely on the touchscreen itself. There are a few exceptions - like using sliders to adjust custom user curve step values (or inflection points for linear curve). So sometimes the sliders interact with the touchscreen. And data dial, inc/dec, cursor keys do - but those are not really built for real-time tweaking of synth sounds. They're more for editing in the studio when you're programming. Fantom's choice to throw more knobs at the interface provides more real-time control over different things. It does provide more choices for future engines (even if they never come) and also provide more useful controllers when using as a master to VSTi slaves (or even other keyboards).

Pivoting to the expression pedals - Fantom has 3 combo switch/expression-pedal jacks while Montage has 2 expression pedal jacks plus a footswitch jack. Fantom is more flexible as it allows for more footswitches at once. The functions of these switches can include going to the next or previous "performance" (scene). Alternatively, standard 3-pedal (damper, sostenuto, soft) can be used and still have an open port for expression. Damper in both keyboards is fixed-function so damper was not previously listed in the port count. The addition of more foot switches overall gives Fantom more flexibility - something which has been requested by Montage users (inc + dec, or sostenuto).
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 88
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The Fantom requires you to save an individual tone (part) with fx changes first and then save the scene (performance).


Sort of true. The tone contains one effect (MFX). The other effects are not part of the tone. IFX1, IFX2, Chorus, Reverb, Master Comp.

So, yes, there's one effect that's tied to the tone - but most of the effects are not and are outside of the tone.

Overall, there's less flexibility since - to compare to Montage - it's like you have one insertion effect and then 4 system effects. The master effect (Master EQ+Master Comp) in Fantom is more limited. Just compression and EQ. Montage's master effects stage has EQ and also compression, delay, spiralizer, bit crusher, and more. Fantom's non-tone effects: IFX1, IFX2, Chorus, and Reverb are all shared across all zones - so it's like you have more system effects in Fantom. How flexible this arrangement is depends on the number of tones you use - but overall is less flexible than having more effects at the individual "tone" (PART) level. I haven't reviewed what the 90 effects are on the Fantom. It's possible that there are many "multi effects" that equate to combining two of Montage's insertion effects. Someone can dig more deeply into this. Fantom has a less than 30 "multi effects". I would say not quite as flexible as Montage even with a collection of multi-effects.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 89
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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.
This is very significant for synth tweakers. The functions are logically grouped and labeled, and consistent from patch to patch. The buttons that let you switch the ADSR from pitch to amp to filter mean that those 4 knobs actually have the functions of 12 knobs. Yes, you could assign these things to assignable knobs on the Montage, but once you assign the 12 envelope controls, the filter cutoff/resonance, and some of the other dedicated controls of that section, you'll have pretty much used up the 8 available knobs and 8 available sliders on the Montage. On the Fantom, you have all those controls all the time, without using up any of those other knobs and sliders, leaving them free for still other functions. So between that and the fact that it includes a real VA engine, plus the real analog filter that I don't think has been mentioned, the Fantom would seem to have greater appeal to the traditional synth folks.

Fantom has more aux audio outs. Helpful for click track and other uses. One extra output compared to Montage.
Worth noting, it's an additional stereo output. So you have a total of 4 channels of assignable output, vs. 2.

One more Fantom advantage I don't think has been mentioned... yes, as mentioned, you can mix-and-match up to 16 internal sounds to be played from the internal keys instead of 8, but also, you can play up to 16 external sounds instead of the 8 supported by Yamaha's zone master function.

One more point in Yamaha's favor that I haven't seen mentioned is that a single instrument sound can have many more component pieces. Yamaha supports 8 Elements per Part; and the concept of multi-part single instruments means that, for example, a four part instrument could have 32 elements. A single recallable instrument on the Roland consists of a max of just 4 Partials (their equivalent to elements).

And my favorite Yamaha advantage: You can get the bulk of the Montage's sounds and capabilities in a MODX that costs and weighs far less! ;-)
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 90
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Montage lets you save a performance with fx edits and all no problem. The Fantom requires you to save an individual tone (part) with fx changes first and then save the scene (performance). Otherwise you will lose any effects changes you made. With only 512 user save slots that pretty dumb IMO.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 91
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Saying Roland has a history of not adding firmware updates is complete bull****, and sounds like the ramblings of a jealous child.


That's one opinion.

I think it's responsible to introduce skepticism for promised future development. One has to take this sort of thing with a grain of salt from Roland or any other company. Making purchases based on what's not in the product - and banking that something you need will be updated in a future update - is discouraged. Reports of Roland's history comes from dedicated Roland users on Roland support forums. This isn't meant to be mud slinging - but fairly unbiased accounts from Roland users themselves.

Yamaha has their moments as well. At one point Yamaha suggested a future update for compatibility with WXC/LPC waveforms. That did not materialize and has since been backed-out. Many promised items did materialize - but that one stands out as an exception to the rule.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 92
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Well i just think Fantom and Montage are just great Synths... i would like to get them both :p
Agreed :D . For now I cancelled the Fantom order until they integrate proper multi-sampling. But this thread is useful for those who want to decide between the two.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 93
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Well i just think Fantom and Montage are just great Synths... i would like to get them both :p
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 94
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Some of you are blatantly grasping at straws here. The shortcomings of the brand-new Fantom are easy to add with software updates, which many insiders have said are coming in droves. Within a year it will crush everything in it's class. Saying Roland has a history of not adding firmware updates is complete bullshit, and sounds like the ramblings of a jealous child. I own a Montage, but I have no problem admitting there is a much better choice available now, and I 100% will be owning it.

Fantom is the new KING- you have no choice but to bend the knee.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 95
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Not entirely true, the Fantom has some offset settings where you do not have to alter the original tone for basic things like attack, decay, release, cutoff, resonance and so on. So you can use a tone then alter those settings in your scene without having to save another version of the tone.
Yes, that's correct. It's similar to what the Integra had. But for me it was too limited ok most cases. Still it makes things a bit easier!
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 96
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In the Montage the parts are stored with the performances. So if you edit a part which is part of a performance and then store the performance, the changed part is stored with the performance. In the Fantom the zone (roughly equivalent to a part) stores only some parameters like transpose etc. The rest like waveforms, envelopes, filters comes from a tone which is referenced from the zone and not stored with the scene (equivalent to a performance). So if you want to change a tone you have to store the tone so that later the changes are audible when switching to a scene. Those tone changes are shared with all scenes using the same tone. So if you want to change only the tone used in that one scene, you have to store it to a new tone and change the tone referenced by the scene.

While this sounds complicated, it means that deep editing the sound inside a performance is easier in the Montage. You cannot accidentally destroy other performances or lose changes in a tone. Both things happened to me in the Integra-7 which has the same concept.

On the other hand the Fantom concept is more traditional and may be easier to grasp for some people. Also if you want to edit a tone which is shared between multiple performances and actually want to affect all performances you can easily do that on the Fantom. This is impossible on the Montage, you have to apply the changes manually to all performances.

I personally much prefer the Montage way after working with the Integra-7 for a couple of years. But other may prefer the alternative.


Not entirely true, the Fantom has some offset settings where you do not have to alter the original tone for basic things like attack, decay, release, cutoff, resonance and so on. So you can use a tone then alter those settings in your scene without having to save another version of the tone.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 97
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The Montage has the scene buttons which can be used to change quite a few settings between scenes. Like ARPs, volumes, effect settings, super knob settings and much more. It does not allow to store the key control state, though.

The Fantom allows the Pads to be used for a similar purpose. I think it only allows to store the key control state, though, nothing else. Both would be ideal :D. And if you use the Pads for that it is a global setting, so they cannot be used for anything else like triggering samples.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 98
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In the Fantom it is possible to store the song with the scene. This has been requested for the Montage but is not there (yet?). Something similar is possible with the audtions but the workflow to get there is quite ... involved.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. MONTAGE Series Synthesizers
  3. # 99
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On the Montage you can search for performances by name. I did not see anything similar on the Fantom. Considering that you only have 512 scenes that's probably a smaller limitation than on the Montage which has something like 10000 performances. But for tones there is also no search, I believe. You can go by category (same as in the Montage) but not by name.

On the other hand, the Montage only has the "favorite" classification while the Fantom has 4 stars for rating.
  1. more than a month ago
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  3. # 100


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