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Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby R_A » Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:19 am

I'm looking for a master keyboard / workstation. The most important features for me are - keyboard action (piano like), piano sounds and electro-mechanical piano sounds (Rhodes / Whurlitzer).

Is the Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte a better choice?

I'm planning to ask a retailer to open so that I can play both instruments, but interested in owners perspectives.

The Kurzweil Forte seems a little dated in comparison to the Montage 8, however given my crucial features are quite narrow it could still be an excellent choice.

Are the Montage 8 piano engine / sounds, the same as the Yamaha Avant Grand series?
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby IAA » Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:57 am

Not sure why you are limiting your search to those 2 worthy keyboards - if action is key (no pun intended!) then try the Korg RH3 keybed - having tried a few keyboard actions this suited me - I ended up with a Kronos and certainly the pianos don’t disappoint.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby R_A » Sat Nov 21, 2020 11:39 am

IAA wrote:try the Korg RH3 keybed - having tried a few keyboard actions this suited me - I ended up with a Kronos and certainly the pianos don’t disappoint.

Thank you.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby IAA » Sat Nov 21, 2020 12:07 pm

No problem - I think if you get the dealer to open I’d certainly check out as many actions as possible. I’m a pianist by training and obviously prefer my real piano but the RH3 on the 88 note Kronos is quite authentic for feel. I would say the Kronos is quite a complicated synth to program if you want to do loads more tweaking of the (very good) stock presets. I ought to add its a fine master controller too and its the heart of my Studio midi and DAW setup.

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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby Dave B » Sat Nov 21, 2020 1:22 pm

I played the Montage when it came out (there's video evidence from one of the SynthFests somewhere) and I really liked it. Its Rhodes was lovely and playable.

Saying that, I own a Forte. I think that you can't quite compare the release cycles for a smaller manufacturer like Kurzweil to that of the Yamahas/Korgs of this world - they tend to throw everything that they can at an instrument and it lasts longer. Also, and this is purely subjective, but I would say that Kurzweil have a better history of the raw samples. They are able to use fewer, but more suitable, samples that actually sound musical on their own. Which is why I shocked one guitarist by noodling on a 'rhodes' patch on an old K2661 years ago - when it was an old unit even then.

Saying that again (!), I also own a Kronos which is roughly as old as the Forte (they may have stuck a '2' or an 'X' or changed the case slightly, but the actual insides haven't changed since it launched). I would say - and as an old Kurz lover, this genuinely pains me - that their Rhodes and Wurli have an edge as they are modelled instruments and just seem to respond nicely - the Wurli especially and I own one so I am comparing like for like here.

If I were given a few grand and pointed at a store, which would I buy?

TBH, any of them are going to be great units which will have loads more power than I could need. I use both my Forte and Kronos live and both are great sounding. My heart will always belong to the Forte for a few technical reasons and I personally prefer the grand piano sounds on the Forte. But that is a very personal thing.

Lastly, I am a really bad person to comment on weighted keys - I really don't notice the difference between the Fatar in my Forte and RH3 in my Kronos. I know that other people do though. So you really need to either be ready to learn to love the one you get, or go and try them out.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby N i g e l » Sat Nov 21, 2020 1:44 pm

Check the key width. I think the Montage has narrow keys, which may not suit.

I dont think Yamaha consider the Montage as a workstation, more of an FM & AWM synth with a Midi recorder although later OS updates have improved on the features.

The Montage shares Yamaha's SoundMondo patch exchange website with the Reface CP mini-key electro piano & I get the feeling the synth engines are related. The Reface Cp is very well respected for its electro sounds and some professionals use it as a sound module.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sat Nov 21, 2020 7:04 pm

As an ex-professional pianist, in my opinion the current Fantom 8 has the best keyboard feel of anything-that-isn't-an-actual-piano that I've tried, by a significant margin. That includes the Montage 8, and it's a lot better than my first-generation Kronos 88 but I've not tried a Korg Forte.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby R_A » Sat Nov 21, 2020 10:03 pm

Thank you all.

Dave B wrote:I also own a Kronos which is roughly as old as the Forte (they may have stuck a '2' or an 'X' or changed the case slightly, but the actual insides haven't changed since it launched). I would say - and as an old Kurz lover, this genuinely pains me - that their Rhodes and Wurli have an edge as they are modelled instruments and just seem to respond nicely - the Wurli especially and I own one so I am comparing like for like here.

I love Wurlis - the Kronos is sounding very promising. I'm a little perturbed by the size of the Kronos screen, though I guess I might be alone in this.

Dave B wrote:My heart will always belong to the Forte for a few technical reasons and I personally prefer the grand piano sounds on the Forte. But that is a very personal thing.

I like dark sounding pianos - kind of of a 'European high classical' sound... Though I guess all of the pianos can be tweaked to taste with the eq options etc.

N i g e l wrote:I dont think Yamaha consider the Montage as a workstation, more of an FM & AWM synth with a Midi recorder although later OS updates have improved on the features.

Interesting, it sits in the Synthesizer section of their website. There might be a new Motif one day.

Eddy Deegan wrote:As an ex-professional pianist, in my opinion the current Fantom 8 has the best keyboard feel of anything-that-isn't-an-actual-piano that I've tried

I am very surprised by this. I've never though of Roland (or Korg) pianos as being particularly capable, though I'm happy to learn that I'm wrong.

I'll hopefully be able to set up a demo between the Kurzweil Forte, Kronos and perhaps the Fantom 8. Given the positive responses for all of the instruments I don't think I can make a bad choice.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:36 am

R_A wrote:
Eddy Deegan wrote:As an ex-professional pianist, in my opinion the current Fantom 8 has the best keyboard feel of anything-that-isn't-an-actual-piano that I've tried

I am very surprised by this. I've never though of Roland (or Korg) pianos as being particularly capable, though I'm happy to learn that I'm wrong.

I'll hopefully be able to set up a demo between the Kurzweil Forte, Kronos and perhaps the Fantom 8. Given the positive responses for all of the instruments I don't think I can make a bad choice.

I'll reiterate, it is my opinion only. Keyboard preferences are extremely personal of course and trying out as many as you can is wise. I don't like the sound of Roland synthesizers as a rule (well, at least in the last couple of decades), but I have played excellent Roland keybeds on more than one occasion during that time and I found it hard to stop fondling my friend's Fantom 8 in particular.

I was specifically impressed with the tactile nature of the material it is surfaced with, the dynamic range I was able to coax from it (which may well have had something to do with the default velocity curve) and most importantly the physical action of the keybed. I found the latter to be absolutely wonderful as well as the piano sound it was generating, which was something of a surprise to me.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby R_A » Sun Nov 22, 2020 1:42 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:I'll reiterate, it is my opinion only.

Indeed, but a very valid one given your musical background. I'll be sure to give the Fantom 8 a whirl.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby Dave B » Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:44 pm

R_A wrote:I like dark sounding pianos - kind of of a 'European high classical' sound... Though I guess all of the pianos can be tweaked to taste with the eq options etc.

I find that when manufacturers are showing off their grand piano sounds, they play classical pieces with lots of trills and runs. I go the other way - I play a big chords and hold it. I tend to listen more to the 'body' of the sound than the attack, which is why it took me a while to warm to the Kronos - beautiful attack, very bright but thin body. The Kurz sound is more rounded to me.

And I find that with pianos, eq only goes so far - it can thin out things nicely, but if the sound isn't there to start with, I find it hard to add it in. These days, it still pays to get the sound right at the start.

Obviously YMMV. And it's worth noting that Eddie D turned me onto an excellent - and free - set of grand piano samples for the Kronos for when I really need something better.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby R_A » Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:52 pm

Dave B wrote:I go the other way - I play a big chords and hold it. I tend to listen more to the 'body' of the sound than the attack, which is why it took me a while to warm to the Kronos - beautiful attack, very bright but thin body. The Kurz sound is more rounded to me.

And I find that with pianos, eq only goes so far - it can thin out things nicely, but if the sound isn't there to start with, I find it hard to add it in. These days, it still pays to get the sound right at the start.

Oh absolutely, I find that I'm spading eq at 200Hz + 315Hz onto my current digital piano sounds to get the body of the sound and the sense of the instrument actually being in a room. My piano music is sparse it demands thickness for sustain. I'm not a purist, so I do use reverb which helps... but yes better to get it at the source.
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Re: Montage 8 or Kurzweil Forte

Postby N i g e l » Sun Nov 22, 2020 3:55 pm

R_A wrote:Interesting, it (Montage) sits in the Synthesizer section of their website. There might be a new Motif one day.

I dont know. The Montage has all the Motif sounds in it and is the successor to the Motif ?
Yamaha also have a file conversion web app that convets the DX7, DX7II, TX802 and TX816 to Montage format, to provide a migration path to Montage " by leveraging the content you've already created"
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