Yamaha Montage 8 Review


Yamaha makes solid instruments with beautiful tones.  This is no exception.  Is it better for synths than analog synths?  Not in my opinion.  Is it a better than a baby grand for piano sounds?  Of course not, but… it has so much to offer for the live performer and producer that you won’t have to buy thousands of expensive instruments to produce incredible sonically pleasing music.

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Nowadays, the Yamaha Motif has become one of the best keyboards for professional musicians, studios and venues.  When I tour theaters and clubs around the country almost every venue has a motif for backline, as its known as one of the best synthesizers.  So Yamaha took the Motif and expanded on the Motif and come up with the Yamaha Montage 8.  This keyboard oozes inspiration as it’s loaded with features that make playing and programming easy and enjoyable.  With the programmable Motion Control matrix, you will have easy control over the two synthesis engines.  The board has 88 Balanced Hammer Action keys with an option for aftertouch which is very useful.  Like any good synthesizer, the parameters are able to be modulated in real time.  While keyboardist will love this for live performances, this is a great tool for songwriters, EDM producers and sound designers alike.  Its very easy to program this board and it comes with a “Live Set Organizer” which lets you order and arranges your presets in a way that you can put in setlist order for live performances or for studio sessions.  This is one of the best features for making sure you can quickly transition from song to song of any keyboard on the market.



Motion Control Synthesis, AWM2, and FM-X

The Yamaha Montage 8 has two sound engines, the AWM2 and the FM-X.AWM2.  For most players, knowing the names of the sound engines are less important than what they provide.  For this keyboard the sound engines have amazing compression and sound playback, which helps create very realistic sounds and tones.  Amazingly, the Yamaha Montage 8 has almost ten time the waveform capacity of the Motif workstation, which is crazy because I found the Motif to be quite powerful.  There is a robust and expansive sound design arsenal at your fingertips with this keyboard workstation which includes an amazing synth engine that also has a diverse sound bank.

The “Super Knob”

While the name could seem pretentious, “The Super Knob” it actually is quite fitting.  With one hand, you have a ton of control  with this knob as you can control sound modifications on a vast spectrum, simultaneously control multiple parameters, effect ambience on an instrument or vocal or much more.  You can also sign the super knob controls to a foot controller which is an incredible feature, especially for keyboards in a live setting that want to be using both their hands for playing.

Motion Sequences

The Motion Sequences on the Yamaha Montage 8 are fully customizable control sequences that are brilliantly tempo-synched and can be assigned to any parameter.  With this feature, it is so easy to morph your patches in an interactive way that is all right there on the front-panel controls.

Motion Sequences Data Compression AWM2

Data compression becomes very important when you really start turning out songs and moving ideas from computer to computer.  With Yamaha, they really knocked their data compression technology out of the park.  The AWM2 can compress data massively without losing sound quality and that is super important.  This is one of the features where the Montage hurdles the Motif, which is a great board in it’s own right.

Envelope Follower

The Envelope Follower on the Montage 8 is one of the most impressive features, especially for the songwriter and producer.  You literally can take any audio (and I mean any) and creat any synth parameter you want.  From a drum loop to the sound of you slapping your stomach, you can push it through any of the available FX parameter and create some wild stuff.  This can be especially fun to play with on your vocals.  With the keyboards A/D input you can make use of this feature in a live setting too!

DSP effects engine

In some ways the effects engine in the Yamaha Montage is as useful and Pro Tools, Logic or Ableton.  In conjunction with those programs, you have unleashed a beast.  The built in DSP effects engine has such a wide range of effects with a sound quality that can rival any.  Ive found many of the effect to be particularly effective for EDM productions but really anything.  From amp simulates to bit crushers, it’s all there.  Even the piano effects can make you feel as close to a real piano as almost any workstation I’ve ever used.

Pure Analog Circuit

Pure Analog Circuit, also known as PAC is built for the conversion of sound from digital to analog.  The Yamaha Montage has done a great job with balancing their frequency response and harmonic reproduction which creates such a beautiful analog sound that many digital workstations struggle with.

USB Audio/MIDI Connection

The USB connection is essential in today’s modern workflow, especially with this keyboard being a staple of many home recording studios.  The ability to easily connect to your computer is essential for the modern songwriter, musician and producer.  The USB driver built into the Yamaha Montage can send 16 channels and receive 3 channels of 24 bit/44.1khz digital stereo audio.  It’s a beautiful thing, and even better, you don’t even need a driver or extra hardware.

The MIDI Connections are standard and are capable of making this workstation a full MIDI controller.

Touch Screen

The value of the touch screen can be lost.  I myself love a good vintage analog synthesizer and I used to think that touch screen were an unnecessary and sometimes clumsy feature.  The Yamaha Montage has created a very functional and user friendly touch screen that often comes in handy, especially when playing gigs when you need to organize your performance without messing up your sets, or having to copy or change anything.

Yamaha Montage 88 Key Synthesizer Features:

  • Motion Control Synthesis, AWM2, and FM-X yamaha 88 key keyboard
  • Aftertouch-enabled, 88-note Balanced Hammer Action keybed
  • Stereo 128-note polyphony, for full stereo sound without note stealing yamaha keyboard 88 keys
  • Super Knob lets you modulate multiple parameters in real time yamaha piano keyboard 88 keys
  • Motion Control matrix gives you fluid command over 2 powerful synthesis engines: AWM2 (waveform synthesis) and FM-X (frequency modulation) keyboard yamaha


FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a good board for live performances?
In my opinion, this board is better suited for live performances than studio work.  Not that it’s bad for studio work, there are just a lot of different options, some cheaper that I prefer.  There reason this is so good for live performances is because of some of the essential built in sounds like the piano and the ability to save your presets and have them in order of your song list to make transitioning from song to song as easy as possible.

If you can’t afford a room full of analog synths and vintage instruments, this synthesizer workstation is going to cover a lot of ground.  I find the piano sounds to be very strong too, which is important for a board like this that is intended to cover a lot of ground.  If your main attraction is for MIDI use, I’d steer you to some other options.


8.9 Expert Score

This is a quality workstation.  It’s got a ton of great features and has some amazing tools.

  • The Super Knob is dope!
  • The ability to program for live setting is amazing
  • I'm not in love with ALL of the tones...just saying