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NAMM 2024: “A gamechanger for musicians” - Yamaha has released a free plugin version of its Montage M synth, but you can only download it if you own the hardware

 Yamaha Montage M ESP.
Yamaha Montage M ESP.

NAMM 2024: One of the great things about workstation synths like the Montage M is that they enable you to do a lot of playing, performing and production work without using a computer, but now, in a move that it’s describing as “a gamechanger for musicians,” Yamaha has released a free plugin version that runs in your DAW. However, there is a pretty sizeable catch: you can only download this if you own the hardware version.

Released last year, the Montage M contains Yamaha’s new AN-X virtual analogue engine, which is designed to emulate the classic synth sounds of yesteryear (the name itself is a nod to the AN1x, a classic Yamaha VA keyboard from the ‘90s). The AWM2 and FM-X engines from the previous iteration of the Montage are in here, too.

Now, these sounds can be accessed via the Expanded Softsynth Plugin (ESP), which replicates the Montage M in software. As you’d expect, it syncs nicely with the keyboard itself, but once installed, it can also be used without the hardware, so you can take your Montage M sounds with you wherever you go.

A limited edition of the plugin is available now, with the full version (which will offer more comprehensive editing capabilities) landing in the summer.

ESP sounds like an excellent bonus for Montage M owners; the question, of course, is whether it will ever be made available to everyone else, too? There is precedent for this - Arturia initially said that its MiniFreak V soft synth would be an exclusive for owners of the hardware, but then changed its mind a few months later - so if you’re desperate to get in on the Montage M action but can’t afford/don’t want to buy the keyboard, we wouldn’t give up hope just yet.

Those who do already own a Montage M, meanwhile, can find out how to download and install the Expanded Softsynth Plugin on the Yamaha Synth website.