Yamaha Montage Vs. Roland Fantom:

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Hi Guys,


Time to update my Keyboard selection: "NEED ADVICE"......

I have been looking into the Yamaha Montage & the Roland Fantom. I have previously owned several keyboards brands, Roland, Korg, Moog & Arturia. I have never owned a Yamaha. So first things first, I believe that the Layout & the Logic to how everything is laid out and connected thru keyboard controls ex. Oscillators, Filters, Faders, ADSR are important as to the how friendly & easy the work flow can be in 2 aspects.
1. How you get around in creating actual Sounds & Scenes.
2. How the workflow works while actually using the keyboard in live situations, ex. pulling up sounds & patches for the next song on the "Set-List" etc.

I do not have any experience with the Logic & Workflow in Yamaha Keyboards. I do have decent knowledge with Roland & Korg using these keyboards, and keep in mind the boards I am referring to are either a combination of Analog & Digital or totally Digital. I have to admit, I find the work flow a bit easier on a Roland. To me the Logic just seems to work with my brain better...LOL... Now Moog on the other hand ex. Minimoog, Moog Prodigy, are fully fledged Analog Synthesizers. In some case I prefer the use Digital or Digital/Analog and some cases, the use of Completely Analog Synthesizers, but that's another discussion for another Post...LOL....

I like the Sounds of both keyboards so far that I have heard on YouTube online demos. I have had a chance to play on a Montage over at Sam Ash for about an hour, but for the first time I feel I only got a slight taste for it, which was very tasty....LOL.. The Roland Fantom I have not been able to try out yet.

The Yamaha “Montage”: I like the features it offered and the "Superknob" which I like the idea of connecting it to a Pedal. One thing that concerns me and you will understand when I get to the Fantom is that on the right side there seems to be an abundance of buttons that are small and trying to read them was difficult in the store. But I think I prefer actual analog knobs as well. Both keyboards seem to have awesomely Great sounds. So if we get past the Sounds and focus on the Layout & Logic, I think that's where I get a bit Hung up. I also like the feature is the ability to synchronize the input of an Audio signal coming into the Keyboard. Ex. a mic placed in the Kick Drum allows the Montage to Sync up the Sequencer (tempos) together for pre-programmed type music with a live drummer.

The Roland “Fantom”: I like the fact that after owning several of Roland's Drum machines, that they have incorporated the same type of button set up for use with Drums & for Sequencing, known as TREC. They also have incorporated on the right side of the Keyboard what appears to be a decent amount of Analog control knobs like for ADSR Filters etc. The Pads are a nice touch, but I am not sure how useful they could really end up. I own an Arturia MkII Kybd with 16 Pads and I rarely if ever use them if ever. Also having a Pitch Bend and the Wheel is nice but adding the second Wheel opens up other possibilities.

Concerns:
Maybe someone who have played one or the other or both, can help me answer some of these concerns of mine.

1. The size of the Display Window. Is one bigger and easier to read then the other? The eyes are not what they use to be...LOL..

2. The Keyboard Beds themselves: I played the Montage but not the Fantom. The Kybd bed on the Montage seems OK, Typical, decent maybe a cut above some of the older type of Kybd beds. I also own a Korg M1 and it seemed close to the same with after-touch, but without having them side by side I cannot fully compare them.

3. Does the Fantom also have the Audio input ability like the Montage to Sync its internal Sequencer (Tempo) with a Live Drummer? I could not find that info. anywhere.

4. Can anyone explain or compare the 2 boards, as to which one is more user friendly as compared to the Logic & Workflow as I mentioned before above? If you have played on both kybd's, which do you prefer? Being fairly New here I see that when posting there's a choice for a "Poll". Maybe a "Poll’s” is in order?

5. Then there's the $Price. As a reference, I will use the 61 key versions of both kybd's.
The Yamaha "Montage-6" generally seems to sell currently at $2,999.99.
The Roland "Fantom-6" generally seems to sell currently at $3,399.99. ($400.00 more)
The prices go up equally the same for these kybd's in all sizes at all of the big Music retailers.


6. Lastly I have found the Roland "Fantom 6" being sold at "Pro Sound Gear" - Pro Audio & DJ Gear down in Florida for $2849.99 compared to the price at all the other stores for $3,399.99. The only thing is I have read about "Horror Stories" and "Really Bad Reviews" from people who have had major issues after they have made a purchase. Theses reviews are on their own "Website", "Trustpilot", and the "BBB". People say that they received floor stock, used or damaged equipment & just trying to get there Customer Service on the Phone is very difficult for a resolution. But for all I know this could be a small percentage of the overall purchases. As you know you can do 10 great things and 1 bad & which do you think gets talked about.

Unfortunately the savings is quite substantial, almost a saving of over $766.00...After Ship Chgs. & Taxes.. (That's A lot more $Money to spend on Equipment) I am just really concerned after reading all of that & then speaking with Roland's Customer Service trying to verify if they are indeed a registered dealer, which Roland's Customer Service says they are. Years ago I had owned a small music store, so I have some experience with these Manufacture's as well. When I asked if they have had and issues with them she refused to say anything about them, except they are a dealer. However the Tone in her voice led me to believe that they are not happy with them... Especially as I mentioned all of the bad publicity.

I am not trying to knock anyone, that’s not my style. However with regards to a Kybd that locally cost almost $3700.00+ and I can save over $766.00+
I want to hope that the bad rap they have is just some people with anger issues. But with that amount of money I think you can understand why I am concerned.

Has anyone ever had any dealings with "Pro Sound Gear" - Pro Audio & DJ Gear down in Florida? If Good I would Love to save all of that money....LOL...

Thx
ElectricEddie
Long Island, NY
 
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Look at AltoMusic. They offer 15% discount called "Altobucks". You just have to respend the 15% back at Alto. I buy whatever I can from them. Especially items that are seldom discounted.
 
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I'm a faithful customer of Sweetwater. Brandt Miller offers great advice and is knowledgeable of the industry and the equipment. They have competitive pricing and thats an industry standard now.

Unless I am picking something up locally (NJ), I am suspect of large dollar purchases from little known or mixed review sources. If the deal's too good to be true...

Of course I HAD to source parts from several countries for my Vickenbacker bass build. So I will take a chance on a $50 purchase, but am hesitant on anything over a certain level.


Good luck and I hope you get a great keyboard and even better service.
 
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**EDIT** Just saw the date of original OP.... missed this thread. All of the below MAY still be of use if choice hasnt been made, but if it has hey ho :)

OK - i can shed some light here. Caveat is that I am a little bias maybe as I ended up with a Fantom - and I can give a lot more info on that than the montage - but I did go through a considerable A/C (and in fact C) with Montage/Fantom before purchase.

1. Sounds... Montage has the edge in acoustic sounds - quite a bit one. It also have FM (in the DX7 style) that Fantom doesn't (at least bot yet). Synth sounds are better on Fantom, and the Tone Wheel is as well. Pianos are taste... V-Piano on Fantom is great IF you like its sonic flavour (some love it some hate it) and does take some work to get the absolutely best from it. Yam sample based pianos are always good - and they have the edge over the sampled piano variations in Fantom.

2. Display - not a lot in it. Similar size, similar response. I think the UI on Fantom is somwhat better - much more intuitive.

3. Fantom does have audio input - a Left and right (or duel mono) that hag gain levels, a couple of things in line. This is also where youd put a mic for the vocoder sounds if you need that though - so bear in mind. I didnt really look at Montage as its not a feature I was interested in (and havent actually used it more than a couple of time son Fantom) but if theres something specific you need to know capability wise on Fantom - I can look at it for you.

4. Keybeds... The Fantom8 is far better than the Montage 8 for a piano/graded hammer action. The Fantom 7/6 compared to Montage 7/6 is closer - but again as a pure keybed I think Fantoms is better. Its fast and with a premium feel. The down side is after touch.... being fast, the strip is hard rather than squishy (Montage is on the squishy side) so its not as controllable...to the point many feel its pointless, an on/off switch. HOWEVER it does "bed in over time" I use it regularly and IMO its fine for "traditional" AT type use - ie adding a little vibrato BUT your never going to control filter sweep or a smooth volume swell with it on Fantom - Montage is better in that respect. Consequently it really depends how important AT is v the base keybed feel.

5. Those real controls... There is a bug in the latest FW (that brought N Zyme) and they only work on a single oscillator at any one time. It is a bug, it will be sorted. Pre 3.0 you could assign "active" partials (single oscillator path) ie those the sound, and control partials - ie those you control. So you could have 2 not affected and 2 affected, or all affected, or just 1 etc. They messed that up. If you dont want N Zyme though you can use FW 2.5 and its fine.

6. N Zyme.... Adds a wavetable synth engine - its no hydrasynth/iridium but it is good. It is a "pay for" extra though, so be aware of that.

7. Sound design. Fantom is light years easier. A scene is 16 zones (or tracks) each populated with a sound. Each zone can has its own "keyboard" area (no limitations) and each can be on or off (so you can have different songs set up in a single scene). The sliders control zone volume by default but other zone control can be added (2nd slider function and one encoder per zone). Each TONE is up to 4 partials (Oscilators) that can be VA or PCM..... Each Partial has its own independent path - so filter, amp, envelopes, 2 LFOs (that can be step), which means you can get really creative using different filters and envs and lfos for each "Oscilator". You can link them to the same settings if you want a more traditional flow. You do have to be careful with polyophony as EACH Oscilator is 1 voice (fo 4 Osc uses a minimum of 4 notes polyphony) and the filter is the choke point... So use more complex filters and it uses more polyphony. If you go crazy you can get as low as 5 or 6 notes..... BUT its not a real limitation unless your sequencing loads of sounds at ones with complex patches.,

Tone design is on the screen - with pages for each aspect. So one for Oscilator, one for filter one for filter Env, one for amp pone for amp env etc. 2 layouts for each, a "simple" view which is a pseudo synth (ir dials as youd see on a hardare synth) or pro - which is a list and contains more option in some cases. Its not as easy as reaching for a filter knob, then reaching for an attack slider BUT its by far the best/easiest UI Ive seen on a workstation to design synth tones.

Some tones are designed differently. Piano (pianos designer) Supernatural (limited as there baked in) synth models (still have the tabs but the UI is hard coded to be like the original), Tone Wheel (again set out as a Hammond, real sliders operate the drawbars, though there on screen too, and the knobs underneath operate things like percussion - there are push knobs so its push to engage//disengage and turn to change setting - like the reverb/chorus or rotary speed). N-Zyme has its own tne design screen - I dont have that as I have Hydrasynth so dont feel the need right now.

8. Live... Fantom is BRILLIANT.... Firstly each zone can be set to internal or EXTERNAL sounds (on assignable midi channels) so you can integrate a multitude of other gear, all controlled (volume and keyboard area) by fantom , which can send PC changes on each channel so changing patches automatically. To access Scenes (you cant access tones directly, you populate the scenes - but its really easy to change which patch/tone is assigned to each zone) you use the screen - either directly OR you have set lists, which reference the original.

i can get some screen shots or even short videos of specific aspects of workflow on Fantom if you wish.

So - yeh, more info on fantom that montage for sure, and both do have strong and weak points. Depends what you priorities are. To sum up:

Montage for acoustic sounds, FM sounds, Aftertouch.
Fantom for synth sounds, organs, wavetable, sound design and control

Personal for Piano and actual keybed.
 
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Great!!!! Thank for the info. I am still on the fence, as I am now contemplating buying a Fantom-7 & Montage-6. So it sounds to me like the screen is easier to read which is important since my eyes are not as good as they once were. Also it sounds like the navigation of the Menus is easier on a Fantom as well. I may have misunderstood, but are saying that the Fantom does not have Aftertouch issue still has issues and has not been resolved?

Thx
Ed
 
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Forgot to mention Switch groups.... Those pads have multiple functions. You can use them to select "partials" when working on sound design and turn each on/off to isolate. They are used to trigger samples (in a different mode). Most importantly, you can assign "groups" to them - a group being ANY combination of zones active. So, On pad 1 you might just have piano in zone 1 active. Pad 2 might have that same zone 1 piano plus zone 3 strings under it. Pad 3 might have the tonewheel only. Pad 4 might have the strings but a lead as well - and a brass part. You have to configure the "split/layer/key zones" on the zone edit - BUT its another great performance tool... 1 press can change which combo of sounds you have active at once.
 
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Great!!!! Thank for the info. I am still on the fence, as I am now contemplating buying a Fantom-7 & Montage-6. So it sounds to me like the screen is easier to read which is important since my eyes are not as good as they once were. Also it sounds like the navigation of the Menus is easier on a Fantom as well. I may have misunderstood, but are saying that the Fantom does not have Aftertouch issue still has issues and has not been resolved?

Thx
Ed
it has aftertouch. by design its a HARD AT strip not a squidgy one, as that makes the actual feel of the board faster/nicer when it bottoms out. As its hard - its not easy to control the touch (and its a hard press to activate). It means the control you have is hard. Goes from all to nothing quite quickly. As such applying an effect its fine for, but control of levels its not.

By all accounts it is a hardware issue, they missed off a resistor in the final CAD drawing........ not an easy fix. They are working on a FW solution though - but no idea how long this will take.

Honestly, Fantom 7 and Montage 67 would be a great combo..... you could control Fantom sounds from montage if you needed better AT control for a certain sound, you get all the piano options, you get the DX7 style FM engine, you get more arpeggiators (Fantom has 1 global only, montage has 1 per channel - so 16 I believe). You can add the wavetable engine as well if you like. You get round any weakness on one board by using the other (either completely or controlling it via the other). You can use whichever you prefer as the "master" as well - so whichever is more natural to you.

Not the cheapest option lol - but If you are considering it, it would be great.

As Ive said, If you want some "specific" info on Fantom i can answer that, and I can do screen shots of vids of particular functions as well if yo want.
 
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Montage has the edge in acoustic sounds - quite a bit one.
I have not made this comparison myself, but from what I know, yes, I'd expect the Yamaha to generally best the Roland on sample-based acoustic instrument sounds. For one thing, I believe Roland's sample-based sounds are limited to 4 velocity layers, whereas Yamaha's go to 8 for single-part instruments, and can go beyond that for multi-part instruments (the CFX piano has something like a dozen velocity layers, IIRC, plus additional elements used for other purposes). BUT... the Roland also has some "SuperNATURAL Acoustic" instruments, which incorporate behavior modeling, so I wonder if it might be a closer call on those particular sounds.

Live... Fantom is BRILLIANT.... Firstly each zone can be set to internal or EXTERNAL sounds (on assignable midi channels) so you can integrate a multitude of other gear, all controlled (volume and keyboard area) by fantom , which can send PC changes on each channel so changing patches automatically.
Montage does that as well, but only with 8 keyboard playable zones instead of 16. But the Fantom is still more flexible when controlling external sounds, i.e. in terms of how you can assign the sliders and make use of other controls.

There are also differences when their sounds are being controlled BY an external source (i.e. triggering some of their sounds from a different keyboard). Montage has a limitation where each part can only be triggered over the MIDI channel that corresponds to its Pert number (e.g. the sound that you have loaded into Part 9 can only be triggered by a MIDI coming in on channel 9), whereas any Fantom zone can be triggered on any channel. This also means that, without some other outside device, a simple single-zone controller is only capable of playing a single Montage part, you would need a more capable controller (or other interim device) to be able to play combinations of sounds from that controller. (There are some exceptions to this, but this is typically how it works in practice.)

OTOH, when the Montage is triggered externally, it will sound only over the key range you specify for that sound in the Montage, whereas on the Fantom, it will sound over all keys, regardless of any key ranges specified in the Fantom. Practically speaking, this means that if you want your external keyboard to play a split of two Fantom sounds, you have to set up the split ranges in the controller rather than on the Fantom. This creates two complications... One is that again you can't use a really minimal controller, you have to have one that, itself, supports zones. The other is that, when you're ready to play the song in question, you need to call up the desired patch on the Fantom AND separately on the controller as well.
 
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WOW.... That's a mouthful. I am a bit concerned with the Aftertouch issue. I would like to find out more about that. MIDI is not a really big concern other than maybe having a patch possibly called up on the Montage when a patch is selected from the Fantom. Like a B3 sound on the Fantom and a String sound automatically is called up together from just one button push on the Fantom. I wonder if that MIDI issue works the way I would like it to work on another keyboard model, another words is the issue with MIDI just with the Montage? Otherwise the 2 boards together, each as a stand alone kybd sounds like the way to go, a Great combination. Just not sure how the MIDI issue may become for me down the road.

Thx
ElectricEddie
 
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MIDI is not a really big concern other than maybe having a patch possibly called up on the Montage when a patch is selected from the Fantom. Like a B3 sound on the Fantom and a String sound automatically is called up together from just one button push on the Fantom
That would work fine.
I wonder if that MIDI issue works the way I would like it to work on another keyboard model, another words is the issue with MIDI just with the Montage?
I'm not sure which MIDI issue you're referring to, and whether it's about having the Montage send data to another keyboard, or having the Montage receive data from another keyboard. But the Montage and MODX are both far more capable than simple controllers, so using either one as a controller for the other eliminates many of the concerns I mentioned which were sometimes only relevant for people who want to use very basic controllers.
 

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