GAK REVIEW: Yamaha Montage Music Synthesiser

Yamaha Montage Review & In-depth Look!

Yamaha’s current flagship synthesiser, the Montage, is as you would expect a titanic slab of deep dive digital synthesis in all of its beautiful complexity. Huge in its 88 note incarnation, still quite the behemoth even in its slimmest 61 note form, in modern synthesis terms it is certainly your chiropractor’s friend.

The given here is that the sound engines Yamaha has put under the hood of this beast ensure it is as heavyweight in its sonic output as it is the material world. As high fidelity as it is bombastic and multi-layered, but also, in its 88 note form, arguably one of the finest stage pianos in the world too.

GAK REVIEW: Yamaha Montage

But with no virtual analogue engines, no modelled organs or strings, no true workstation capability, no fashionable CV/Gate or trigger based clocking capabilities and a synth engine based around AWM and FM (tech from the 70s and 80s at best, the geeks will argue 60’s and 70’s and win,) you may well want to ask the developers at Yamaha if they actually know what century it is. But, the answer to that question is, of course, yes; yes they do thank you very much. Furthermore, if you really truly do love ‘synthesisers’, the Montage may well be the keyboard you have been looking for for quite a while whilst patiently waiting in line for the next analogue poly-synth to come along… 

As a straight up performance keyboard, the Montage is supreme. The breadth and quality of its traditional voices are arguably unrivalled, and the depth of its new AWM and FM implementation impart it with a flexibility in a ‘rompler’ I have not encountered since the likes of the unicorn that is the legendary Hartman Neuron. Its deep dive sound design possibilities are simply matchless in hardware form in the current market.

Imagine; all of your favourite trusted sample based and digital synth plugins crystallised into a single rock solid boot free operating format. A full blown wave import as complex as you want to make it- sample engine. A world-conquering digital synthesis engine with an evermore fashionable legacy in its 8 operator FMx engine, found here in its most complex, yet accessible form ever with world-class effects processing to boot. Marry that to one of the finest keyboard actions in the world regardless of the iteration you choose and you have a super deep dive sound design and performance tool every player and synth lover should try. All in a package that is so roadworthy robust and reliable I would suggest it may actually bulletproof IRL.

GAK REVIEW: Yamaha Montage
If you are an analogue fanatic, the Montage is everything you do not have in a synth, everything you have not been looking for in a synth. It will fill a vacuum in your sonic palette that you did not realise was there because you simply had not looked in that direction for so long. This synth will scratch an itch neither a 600hp Eurorack system or a 5k home piano can reach, it really is that expansive, expressive and flexible.
The components needed to connect this Matrix-like digital world to our currently beloved voltage controlled analogue sandbox are no more complex than the articles required to stick USB audio or an analogue clock system on to say, a Roland boutique. Plus the Montage’s ability to clock itself from its built-in AD input to pretty much any rhythmic track you choose to route into it is a boon.
The largest market for the Montage since launch has been the trusty Yamaha synth enthusiast, and the pro session player, it is as bizarre as it is understandable that this instrument is often overlooked by modern ‘synthesists’. This maybe in part due to the fact it simply looks like it is more of ‘Motif lineage’ than an ‘all-new’ power synth, and the front panel, despite being replete with encoders and faders is perceived by some as less ‘approachable’ than many of its competitors. That said, however, in this instance, fortune truly does favour the brave. As touched on before, if you do truly love synthesisers, then the Montage is impossible to ignore and if you do love synths and have been ignoring it, or simply were not aware of its awesome potential, check one out as soon as you can. As we all very well know, even Rocky had a Montage…