Yamaha MODX review: The Best Lightweight Synthesizer?

Check out our Yamaha MODX review

The Yamaha MODX is a compact, lightweight synthesizer that packs a big punch.This synthesizer borrows many of the Yamaha MONTAGE’s incredible features and offers them to synth-enthusiasts at a much more affordable price.

But is this a synth that’s worth the money?  Well, we’ll help you figure that out in this review!  And, to better help with your decision, please use the table below to directly compare the Yamaha MODX to other notable synthesizers on the market.


Roland JUNO DS61
Roland JUNO DS88
Korg Kross 2
Korg MinilogueKorg Minilogue
roland-jd-xiRoland JD-XI
Yamaha MX88
Behringer Monopoly
Novation Impulse 61Novation Impulse 61

Noteworthy Features of the Yamaha MODX

The Yamaha MODX is offered in 61-key, 76-key, and 88-key models. The 61-key and 76-key models have semi-weighted, synth action keyboards and weigh in at 14 and 16 pounds respectively;  the 88-key model has a graded hammer action keyboard and weighs 30 pounds. Despite being roughly twice as heavy as the other two keyboards, the 88-key MODX is still extremely portable and is easy for performing musicians to transport to and from gigs.

All three of the MODX models have the same specs and features, so players have the same freedom of creative expression no matter which version of this synth they choose. The MODX has two powerful synth engines, the AWM2 and the FM-X; both of these engines are also found in the MONTAGE. 

These engines offer plenty of sounds that players can spend endless hours exploring, but the MODX is also compatible with libraries like the Yamaha MOTIF XF and players can load in sounds from retro synths, like the Yamaha DX7. Owners of the MODX can download additional sounds from yamahasynth.com and have access to Soundmondo, a social sound sharing site. 

Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling synthesizers online.  And then, see how well they stack up to the Yamaha MODX.

1) Yamaha MX88
2) Korg Minilogue XD
3) Roland JUNO-DS88

More Control with the MODX

The Yamaha MODX uses Motion Control to put rhythmic and multidimensional control into musicians’ hands. With Motion Control, players can create sounds in a way that Yamaha asserts was not possible on hardware synthesizers until now. Essentially, anything in the MODX can modulate or be modulated by anything else. 

Motion Control is largely controlled by the Super Knob. The Super Knob, a macro control knob that lets players make changes in real time, makes it possible to control up to 128 parameters in a single performance at a time. Performers can control everything from volume, pan, and filters (by the way, the MODX boasts an impressive 18 types of filters).

Motion Control also uses Motion SEQ (Motion Sequences), which are customizable, tempo-synchronized sequences that can be assigned to almost any of the MODX’s synth parameters. 

These sequences can be controlled from the controls on the synthesizer’s front panel. Envelope Follower converts audio into control sources for almost all of the MODX’s synth parameters; for example, a drum loop can be used to drive the effects for a complex beat. The Super Knob, Motion SEQ, and Envelope Follower combine to make Motion Control a truly innovative way to approach music making on hardware synths.

The MODX has 192-note total polyphony, with 128-note polyphony in the AWM2 engine and 64-note polyphony in the FM-X. It’s worth noting that the FM-X has 128-note polyphony in the MONTAGE, so the FM-X synth engine’s polyphony is cut in half for this more affordable synth. 

The Yamaha MODX uses Seamless Sound Switching (SSS) to help players to switch between Performances seamlessly without experiencing any sound cutout or cutoff in envelope and effects. However, only Performances with four parts or less can use Seamless Sound Switching. 

The MODX has an incredible number of effects, including 12 types of reverb and 5 bands of Master EQ. Musicians will have plenty of effects to choose from to customize their playing with this vast offering of effects.

This synthesizer has no sampling capabilities. While this isn’t necessarily a major drawback, synth enthusiasts who prefer to have onboard sampling capabilities might be let down by the MODX’s lack of sampling capabilities.

The MODX is bundled with Steinberg’s Cubase AI, a compact version of Cubase Pro. Cubase AI provides MODX owners with the basic tools that they need to record, edit, and mix their musical creations. 

The 61-key MODX is $1,299, the 76-key is $1,499 and the 88-key is $1,899. This price might seem a bit daunting to beginner keyboardists, but intermediate to advanced players would be more willing to pay this much. Considering its price range, the MODX has quite a lot to offer its owners. 

With plenty of effects, Motion Control, and powerful synth engines, the MODX is worth more than it costs and is a valuable addition to any synth collection. With the addition of Cubase AI, Yamaha makes it easy for players to record the music they create on their MODX and share it with the world. 

Yamaha MODX vs Yamaha MONTAGE

The Yamaha MONTAGE is the brand’s flagship synthesizer. Like the MODX, this synth comes in 61-key, 76-key, and 88-key models. Because this is Yamaha’s flagship, the price is quite a bit higher than that of the MODX. The 61-key, 76-key, and 88-key models are $3,499, $3,999 and $4,499 respectively. 

The MONTAGE is noticeably heavier than the MODX. The 61-key model is 33 pounds, the 76-key model is 37 pounds, and the 88-key model is a whopping 63 pounds.

Like the MODX, the 88-key MONTAGE has a hammer action keyboard, and the 61-key and 76-key models have an FSX keyboard (a term created by Yamaha for semi-weighted, synth-action keyboards).

The MONTAGE is driven by Motion Control much like the MODX is and uses the same synth engines, AWM2 and FM-X, that the MODX does. As such, both synthesizers offer an incredible array of sounds and are driven by powerful synth engines. Sounds from both the AWM2 and the FM-X can be zoned and layered freely across eight parts in a single Performance.

The AWM2 has 128-note polyphony like on the MODX, and the MONTAGE’s FM-X has 128-note polyphony, which is double what it has on the MODX. 

This doubling of polyphony does give the MONTAGE an edge over the MODX in this regard. With twice the polyphony on the flagship synth, keyboardists have greater freedom of expression and can play without fear of note dropout or cutoff in envelope and effects.

Seamless Sound Switching also works to prevent note dropout and cutoff; the MONTAGE applies Seamless Sound Switching to Performances that have a maximum of 8 parts whereas the MODX can only use Seamless Sound Switching for Performances that have a maximum of 4 parts. 

The MONTAGE boasts an incredible amount of effects including:

  • 12 types of reverb
  • 76 types of variation
  • 15 types of Master Effect
  • 5 bands of Master EQ
  • 18 types of filter

Like the MODX, the MONTAGE does not have sampling capabilities. Still, this is not necessarily a deal breaker for players who do not typically use their synthesizers’ built-in sampling capabilities.

The MONTAGE boasts a highly evolved arpeggiator. It comes with 10,000 factory-programmed arpeggios, and owners of this synthesizer can store 256 of their own arpeggio creations. With this incredibly high number of available arpeggio patterns, players can explore this synth’s arpeggio offerings for hours on end. Also, the MONTAGE lets keyboardists play up to 8 arpeggios simultaneously to create backing tracks within the synthesizer itself. 

This feature will undoubtedly appeal to performers, especially those who put on a one-person show. By letting people create backing tracks within itself, the MONTAGE frees artists to create backing tracks and customize them with effects in a fraction of the time that it would take to produce similar tracks in a digital audio workstation (DAW); players can also control all of the parameters of these backing tracks with the controls on the MONTAGE’s surface, like the Super Knob. 

This synthesizer has a MIDI Performance Recorder that lets musicians record and store up to 64 songs. However, this recorder has no editing capabilities and can only record in real time. Like the MODX, the MONTAGE is bundled with Cubase AI. 

The MONTAGE, of course, is noticeably more expensive than the MODX. However, this flagship synth is also a bit more powerful. The most important difference between the two synthesizers is the amount of polyphony within the FM-X synth engine.

Also, the MONTAGE offers an incredible amount of factory-programmed arpeggios and lets players store plenty of their own arpeggios. 

Still, the vast majority of musicians will be satisfied with what the MODX has to offer. However, the MONTAGE will likely win out over the MODX for advanced players and those who play really dynamic, complex live shows.

Yamaha MODX vs Yamaha MOXF

In the MOXF, Yamaha combines the best features of their MOX series with the technology of the MOTIF XF. All of the voices from the MOTIF XF are on this Yamaha digital piano, and the MOXF has 136 brand new voices. 

There are two models of the MOXF, the 88-key MOXF8 and the 61-key MOXF6. The MOXF8 is $1,999 and the MOXF6 is $1,499. 

The Yamaha MOXF8 has a GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) keyboard and the MOXF6 has a semi-weighted keyboard; both MOXF models are extremely lightweight with the MOXF8 and the MOXF6 coming in at 31 and 15 pounds respectively.

The MOXF includes a built-in 16-track sequencer. This sequencer makes it possible for musicians to record without using a computer or any other external devices. Of course, this digital Yamaha piano is bundled with Cubase AI, so Yamaha makes it super easy to pursue computer-based recording with the MOXF.

Both the MOXF8 and the MOXF6 have 128-note polyphony, which is quite good for a keyboard at this price. Players can layer up to eight parts, and each part can have effects applied to it eventually. 

Also, the MOXF boasts nearly 8,000 unique arpeggios. These patterns can provide endless inspiration and can be worked into countless songs. All of the arpeggios can be recorded into the MOXF’s sequencer and can be changed to fit whatever the keyboardist is working on.

The MOXF comes loaded with effects including:

  • 9 types of reverb
  • 22 types of chorus
  • 9 types of master effect
  • 5 bands of Master EQ

The MOXF is fairly close in price to the MODX. The MODX has the advantage over the MOXF because it is a more powerful instrument. With two synth engines, the MODX has more to offer those who are looking to experiment with their synth’s onboard sounds; also, the MODX has more effects, which makes for a more customizable playing experience.

Yamaha MODX vs Korg KROME

Korg’s KROME music workstation is available in 61, 73, and 88-key models that cost $1,499, $1,799, and $1,999 respectively. 

This Korg workstation includes a 16-track sequencer. The KROME also has 120-note polyphony, which is perfect for preventing note dropout and cutouts in effects.

This workstation uses a KRONOS-derived library and contains realistic, dynamic acoustic pianos, electric pianos, synths, drums, and more. Musicians can use the KROME editor to edit all of the workstation’s onboard sounds from their Mac or PC.

This workstation uses 3 modes: program, sequence, and combi (short for combination). In combi and sequence mode, two arpeggiators can run simultaneously.

These arpeggiators can be used for guitar and bass riffs, drum patterns, or to build backing tracks with pads, sound effects, and synths. Like the sounds in the KROME’s library, all of the arpeggios can be edited in the KROME editor.

The KROME boasts 139 effects including four filter types, three bands of EQ, 2 master effects, and 5 insert effects.

Overall, the Korg KROME is a powerful instrument, but it is the least impressive of those listed here. This workstation is roughly the same price as the Yamaha MODX, and the MODX is definitely the best of the two options. With more effects, two synth engines, and the included Cubase AI, the MODX has more to offer musicians.

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