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Review: Yamaha Montage 2.0
Matt Vanacoro on Wed, July 4th 0 comments
Yamaha's free update for its Montage workstation synthesizer brings a ton of new features to the table. Matt Vanacoro has been playing with it, and here's what he discovered.

Yamaha shows no signs of slowing down in offering new features, sounds and fixes to the Montage lineup. The trend in the industry for keyboards has been to build out the flagship line with updates and new features, even as new models are worked on and introduced - and this is great for the end user. Montage 2.0 is a huge update, and I’ve had my hands on it for a while now. Here’s what you can expect.

Feature First

Programming the Montage has been a different experience from any other synth, even from day 1. Now that I’m used to it, I feel comfortable enough calling it more streamlined than most keyboards. It has always been fairly easy to see what is controlling what, and to find out why a particular sound is being modified in a certain way. This just became even easier, if you can imagine, with the new screen modes specifically made for quickly assigning parameters and controls.

When you select a part, you now have a ‘control assign’ screen that essentially works like a ‘MIDI learn’ function on a computer. Jumping around your various multi-part sounds and quickly assigning controllers to do things has never been easier. The global setting for the A/D input can now override performance level settings, and this is extremely convenient if you are using the audio input to process a mic or second instrument as well as for the tempo analysis feature of the Montage (one of its best features, if you ask me!).

New (and old) Sounds

The 2.0 update drops a host of new patches into your Montage (so make sure you back it up first so you don’t lose your current ones!). The new sounds are fantastic, and they really show off the Montage’s multitasking ability to control a ton of things, sequence a lot of motion, or reproduce an acoustic instrument faithfully with many layers of complexity.

One of the coolest feature updates allows you to import Motif multi-part performances in their entirety. This now allows for full backwards compatibility with the Motif range. Due to the enhanced A/D and output stage of the Montage, the Motif patches actually all instantly sound better. There’s a lot more presence and you can definitely feel a bit more dynamic range when listening.

Yamaha has also launched their (beta) of the Yamaha FM Web Converter. This is truly awesome, because now you can simply drag and drop your favorite DX7 patches directly into a browser and have it output Montage patches that are ready to go. I still have my trusty DX7 and I can verify that the web converter worked seamlessly. I had my slippery harmonica sound ported over in mere minutes.

These two features can’t be overstated - there is a HUGE library of both Motif sounds and FM/DX7 sounds out there in internet land, and we were all just handed decades of synth history ready to be ported over into your user bank. With the 2.0 update you can also take advantage of John Melas Tools (definitely worth a look) to manage the sounds on your Montage and create new ones. If you’re going to be shuttling sounds back and forth (which you should be, with all this new stuff!) the Montage Total Librarian is absolutely the best way.

Price: Free to all Montage owners
Pros: Fantastic library of new sounds, new features make programming even easier, ‘MIDI learn’ has come to a physical keyboard, Motif and DX7 patches now readable on the Montage!
Cons: Be sure to backup your sounds before you update!

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