Yamaha MODX Synthesizer In-Depth Demo

At a special event on Sept 14th, Yamaha introduced their new MODX line of synth keyboards – a more affordable version of their Montage synthesizer.

The MODX line features three models, differentiated by their size and number of keys. They include: the MODX6, tailored to synthesists; the MODX7, tailored to live performers; and the full-size MODX8, which offers a graded piano-action keyboard.

At the event, we talked with Yamaha’s Blake Angelos, who gave us an in-depth look at the new synth, explained how it compares to the Yamaha Montage and demonstrated how it sounds.

He also talks about using classic DX7 sounds on the MODX, and how you can use the MODX’s capabilities to add effects and new performance possibilities. And he explained how the MODX is fully compatible with existing Montage sounds.

For more on the MODX line, see our coverage of the Yamaha MODX introduction and the Yamaha site.

20 thoughts on “Yamaha MODX Synthesizer In-Depth Demo

  1. This is a great keyboard, but between this and the Devine video, it’s making me reevaluate the Montage.

    Even though the MODX has the same synth engine, they’ve done a much better of showing the synth side this time around.

    1. You may want keyboards to go back to the 90s, but manufacturers are trying to give people what they are looking for – DAW integration and performance features, not complicated workstation sequencers.

      Nobody buys workstation keyboards anymore, because it’s easier to sequence and arrange on your computer with a giant screen.

      This has 10 in, 4 out audio to your computer, which is more than most people will ever use.

      1. I’d agree with the idea that traditional workstations are obsolete, but I’d love to see something like Ableton Live style sequencing in keyboards.

        The Elektron Analog Four sort of has this, but with just four voices and a complicated UI.

        Imagine if you had the 192 voice polyphony of the MODX and a clip launcher view!

        It was cool to see how Richard Devine was working in the other video – external sequencer so you have hands-on sequence control of both your keyboard and modular.

        1. > I’d love to see something like Ableton
          > Live style sequencing in keyboards.

          juno ds. only 8 tracks, but pattern-based. no swing/shuffle. workaround: mx1 or sbx1 as master.

      2. “Complicated” = full-featured
        “Nobody” = fewer people (i.e., below some market threshold)

        A powerful on-board sequencer needn’t be complicated to be deep. It all has to do with how the functions and UI are structured. You make logical defaults, put all the obvious features on the front page, and give users access to a full set of recording and editing functions in some nested editors.

        Workstations and desktop DAWs have coexisted for years. Two things have changed, people CAN sequence using a laptop or iPad, and people increasingly use software instruments for sequencing now that VI’s are getting better and better. Why connect your live-gig keyboard to sequence, if the VI’s sound better? At least now keyboards are catching up as far as more copious sample storage. That said, this keyboard does provide a higher level of FM synthesis than is available plugin VI’s (that I know of)

        The reason to include a powerful, full-featured on-board sequencer have to do with live-performance options. Also, a built-in sequencer can give you some interesting integration opportunities. There is also that feature of being able to sequence rehearsal patterns, quick-sketch ideas, or if you are on the road, do some full-on demo tracks. I really like sequencing ideas on my Kurzweil K2661, and I use the on-board sequencer fairly often in live shows to trigger little phrase things that I don’t have free hands for. That sequencer is best-in-class.

        The reasons they don’t include a powerful, full-featured sequencer on this are the same for why they don’t include it on those consumer keyboards for little kids. They assume, rightly, that most of those users don’t want or need it.

        And we get to that question, “Which rarely used features, should be eliminated?” And for a large company, this will always be the ones that have the highest cost. In the case of a decent sequencer, it is all development cost. However, if they built a kick-ass sequencer, they could repurpose it for many different products in their line. So they could say, “includes Yamaha’s DK Sequencer!” (DK stands for desktop killer).

        1. The reality is that there’s no real-world examples of successful traditional keyboard workstations anymore.

          If no one is buying them, why would any company make them?

          The only reason to make a keyboard workstation these days would be if you’re going to try doing a new approach.

          1. Kronos

            You’ll see it in many acts (amateur and professional) around the world. What I guess few people is using is the sequencer. A lot use the sampler though
            That is why nord keyboards are so popular.
            Maybe you mean no real world examples where someone uses the sequencer. And i guess there are.
            I crave for a kronos but not for its sequencer but its masterkeyboard capabilities

          2. Kurzweil still sells workstations, I think Korg is selling workstations, not sure about Roland. You may be right about the trends. And you may also be right about the “new approach” thing.

            But I think even with the “old approach”, a modern workstation should have a powerful, versatile sound engine, ample storage for both ROM and large user sample RAM (or flash ROM)– and a very capable sequencer. (perhaps Kurzweil gets there with the Forte line)

            I will ALWAYS want a powerful sampler/rompler/sequencer workstation over any other kind of keyboard. It’s just how I like to work, and I’m sure I’m not alone. A new approach wouldn’t be necessary, just more, better, etc. As we discussed in another thread, I’m not sure I would reject a great all-around keyboard if it lacked a sequencer. I just know that having it integrated would add considerable value to me– because I’d prefer to have access within the keyboard and access to those knobs and buttons rather than attach an external iPad with a touch screen. YMMV

            I’ve been lucky to have had some great workstations over the years.

            1. > I will ALWAYS want a powerful sampler/rompler/
              > sequencer workstation over any other kind of
              > keyboard. It’s just how I like to work, and I’m sure
              > I’m not alone.


  2. I understand that this is probably a good keyboard…but this is 2018…please put some effort into the design. It just loops so generic…boring. Not trolling by the way…

  3. The plastic body bothers me as well, makes me think it could be even cheaper. Montage looks a lot nicer, but this is much more affordable. Just give me an $800 rack.

  4. I have too many keyboards, so no room to add another and my only Yamaha gear these days are my AN200 and my DX200 which I pretty much use as sound modules. I would definitely be into buying a rack version of the MODX.

  5. Why is Yamaha the only major gear company that features musicians that can really play anymore?

    Seems like every demo from Roland or Korg these days is trying to pitch their gear to the edm crowd or something.

  6. Does he have a continuous controller pedal modulating the sounds? On a couple of the sound demos, he goes from one sound to another and doesn’t take his hands off the keyboard.

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