It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a Korg digital piano review, or a Yamaha digital piano breakdown that discusses the latest or most newly released keyboard model. But, how often do these great companies get to have their popular instruments directly compared against one another?
Well, in this comparison review, we’re going to do exactly that, as we’re going to put the Korg Kronos in one side of the ring to face off against the mighty Yamaha Montage 8. Who will win? Which keyboard will emerge victorious? Stick around and find out.
And below, please be sure to use our interactive table to directly compare the Korg Kronos to the Yamaha Montage 8 and a wide variety of other noteworthy digital keyboards on the market.
|Roland JUNO DS61|
|Roland JUNO DS88|
|Korg Kross 2|
|Novation Impulse 61|
Bout 1: Initial Impressions
When approaching these two keyboards, what struck me immediately was how the Montage had more space on the top panel but it did not really take advantage of that space. The Korg Kronos is a bit leaner, but has a larger screen. The Korg Kronos has an 8 inch touchview user interface with adjustable brightness. Though the Yamaha also has a touch screen interface, it struck me as odd that Yamaha didn’t use more of the wasted space. It could be for internal mechanical reasons, but nonetheless, it was the first thing I noticed.
The Korg Kronos, to me, has the look and the feel of a higher end workstation keyboard. It has wood panels on each side, which give it a nice upscale or sophisticated appearance.
For the most part, everything on these two pianos is laid out fairly similarly. On the left side, you have your typical sliders with EQS and other effect/volume controls, while on the right side you have your banks and other sound controls.
Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling keyboards and workstations currently available on today’s market.
|1) Yamaha MX88|
|2) Korg Minilogue XD|
|3) Roland JUNO-DS88|
Bout 2: Feature Punch
The Korg Kronos comes jam packed with an array of features, as it should since it’s a workstation. Korg has crammed into this instrument 9 synthesizer engines. With optimum voice control, the instrument is able to handle these 9 different engines with great ease.
On top of this powerhouse feature, it comes with this as well:
- 88 Key: Real Weighted Hammer Action
- 9 Synthesis types
- Variety of polyphony capabilities per synthesis types
- 314 MB of preset PCM
- Build-In PCM expansion libraries
- Approximately 2GB of PCM space
- 598 User Wave Sequences, 187 Preload
The Yamaha Montage 8 is sort of a step below the Korg Kronos. It has a fair number of features, but it doesn’t come close to challenging the Korg Kronos.
The Montage 8 is limited at 128-note stereo polyphony, which the Korg Kronos beats out with its diverse polyphony capabilities per each of its nine engines. From its STR-1 plucked string engine with 40 voice polyphony, to the PolysixEX CMT analog modeling engine with 180 polyphony, the Korg Kronos is more versatile.
On top of the Korg having an overwhelming amount of capability, it is 10 pounds lighter than its Yamaha counterpart. It is also not as tall and not as wide, making it better for portability if in the event it has to leave the studio for a live performance or a recording session.
However, perhaps where the Yamaha Montage starts to get a leg up in this bout is with its DSP effect engine. The Korg Kronos only has 197 effect options, while the Yamaha’s effect engine adds greater versatility for the player. Whether you need Vinyl Break or other effects for EDM production, or more authentic piano performance effects like High definition reverb, the DSP engine can handle it all.
But regardless of this great feature, I say the the Korg Kronos wins this bout without breaking a sweat. Now on to the most important bout, the battle of sounds.
Bout 3: Bring the Sound
To me, this is the most important round of any keyboard duel. And what sells the Korg Kronos in particular—for me—is Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. Now if you don’t know the prog-rock band Dream Theater, that is okay. Just know they are one of the biggest American Progressive Metal acts around, and any serious piano player has heard of or idolizes Jordan Rudess.
Particularly in their music, Rudess needs the capability to do splits and layers to create massive orchestral sounds. The Korg Kronos can do 16 layers of sounds, splitting brass and orchestral hits in the lower octaves, while having beautiful strings in the middle range, and having another set of sounds in the upper range.
And, if you are thinking that the Korg Kronos would diminish in sound quality due to it combining so many textures, you would be wrong. The sounds are very authentic, and when pumped out in a live setting, it makes you feel like you are listening to a live orchestra.
As Rudess has proved, the workstation is not just for the studio, as I have mentioned before, but is a great tool for any piano player that needs a massive amount of power while on the road.
The Yamaha Montage has great sounds as well, but it is a different instrument. One of its defining features that plays into its sound is the Super Knob, which allows the player to make dynamic sound changes with a single movement of your hand.
As I dabbled with it, you can take sounds that sounds really upfront, and shift deep underground with a single twist. The knob is smooth in its action, and allows you to have optimal control if you want to make subtle or more extreme changes.
This is a great feature, and I think lends itself to live performances, particularly EDM or electronic music performances, which I think this instrument thrives in. Overall though, I think the Korg Kronos is still just too sweet to beat.
Bout 4: The Device Takedown
The Korg Kronos has 2 Type-A USB slots as well as 1 type-B USB slot. The Yamaha only has one of each, which may be enough for most, but it is nice to have an additional type A. Both have MIDI in/out/thru/usb option.
The Korg Kronos has 2 more audio outs than the Yamaha, and it has 1 digital input and output for S/PDIF. However, the Yamaha has one additional footswitch option than the Korg Kronos, but the Kronos makes that up in other ways.
It has direct support for drums and chords from KORG pad-equipped controllers, all class-compliant USB controllers, and has a USB Ethernet adapter compatibility for data transfer between the workstation and your computer.
All in all, the Korg Kronos yet again takes down the Yamaha Montage, getting a TKO in Bout 4, ending the match.
After Match Report: The Final Look
When you put these two instruments next to each other, you can see that the Yamaha does have some really nice features, but it just doesn’t match up against the power of the Korg Kronos. But now it is time for the ultimate question—how much more am I going to pay for the Korg Kronos over the Yamaha Montage?
You be surprised to learn that the Korg Kronos is actually cheaper than the Yamaha Montage 8. This is probably in part to the recent release of the New Korg Kronos 2. Depending on where you buy these instruments, the Korg Kronos should be anywhere from $400-600 dollars cheaper than the Yamaha Montage 8.
This makes the purchase all the sweeter.
Overall, I think the Yamaha Montage 8 is a cool instrument, but when you put it up next to Korg’s beast, there is just no competition. If I had to pick between these two instruments, hands down it would be the Korg Kronos.
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