Yamaha CS-80

Yamaha CS-80 Image

A very old and very huge (over 200 lbs.) classic synthesizer. Considered Japans first great synthesizer. It had some pretty amazing features for its time such as eight voice polyphony, patch memory storage and polyphonic aftertouch. It can generate great analog strings, brass, drones and pads with that instantly recognizable classic polysynth sound. No synth sounds greater. Some examples of its extremely fat sound can be heard in "Blade Runner" and "Mutiny on the Bounty" by Vangelis as well as "Dune" by Toto. The thing that really made this synth sound so powerful was its "natural" detuning....thus its brass and string sounds were unparalleled not only for authenticity, but for pure width! Unfortunately for the CS-80, it was released the same year as the more programmable and cheaper Prophet 5.

With two analog oscillators per voice, the CS-80 has the potential for some really thick sounds! A great VCF (filter) with independent hi pass and low pass resonant filters, a powerful ring modulator and plenty of modulation controls further enhance the CS-80's sonic potential. There are 22 preset sounds (6 user) selected from bright and ugly colored buttons above the keyboard. The keyboard is weighted and has a full 61 keys with performance controllers for vibrato, pitch, brightness and volume. Surprisingly there's also a long ribbon controller for the pitch-bending, located above the keyboard. There is no MIDI or cv/gate control. The only way to MIDI it is via a rather complex retrofit receive-only kit from Kenton.

Yamaha CS-80 Image

It has been used by Vangelis, Chicago, Jethro Tull, Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Bon Jovi, Simple Minds, Paul McCartney, Michael McDonald, Brian Eno, Toto, Eddie Jobson, Doug Johnson (Loverboy), The Crystal Method, Jean Michel Jarre, Geoffrey Downes (Yes, Asia), Rick Wakeman, Stevie Wonder, Phish, Daft Punk, BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and Tony Banks of Genesis.

Check out Arturia's CS-80V - an amazing, totally authentic and realistic software synth plug-in modeled after the CS-80, with major enhancements including stereo voices, non-drifting oscillators, advanced modulation abilities, MIDI/Tempo sync, patch memory, total recall, controller automation, and much more - all for less than $250!

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50 Visitor comments
March 31, 2014 @ 9:59 pm
This was the keyboard used to write the song "Africa" by Toto's David Paich and Jeff Porcaro
October 29, 2013 @ 1:44 pm
@alex: it was the EMS 5000 vocoder that was used on Peter Howell's studio recording. The footage seen in the video clip you linked to was part of the British TV-program THE MUSIC ARCADE - episode 4: "Electricity In Music" which was produced in 1981, about a year after the music was recorded. Also, the liner notes for the CD Doctor Who at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop Volume 3 - The Leisure Hive, mention the use of the EMS vocoder on Howell's new arrangement of the theme.
Besides the bassline, the CS-80 (layered with Jup-4) was also used for the chordal parts.
October 15, 2013 @ 4:41 pm
Peter Howell uses the Roland SVC-350 vocoder on the recording, not the EMS. Here is a cool video with Peter Howell demonstrating how he recorded the theme.
September 30, 2013 @ 1:05 pm
Any Whovians in here? You might want to dig this fact: Peter Howell owned this synth (and probably still does), and used it for his arrangement/cover/remix of the Doctor Who theme for the 1980-81 season, along with the ARP Odyssey, Roland Jupiter-4 and EMS Vocoder 5000 (even though the latter isn't a synth, of course).
It was used for the bassline (and possibly also the second part of the main melody, by him basically 'shape' the sound using the vocoder, connected to this synth)
Here's the theme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4On0uLqH_I (the aforementioned sound is about 16 seconds in).
July 1, 2013 @ 7:04 pm
You can add Fred Falke to the list of CS-80 users!
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=600568663306949&set=a.27579390 5784428.70872.128580127172474&type=1&theater
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.58 (1366 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 8 times two patches
  • Oscillators - saw, square, sine wave, noise, PW and PWM, LFO
  • LFO - 5 waveform function LFO can modulate either or all of VCO, VCF and VCA
  • Filter - HP, res, LP, res, filter ADR envelope
  • VCA - mix in for the VCF out and the sine, ADSR
  • Keyboard - 61 weighted keys w/ velocity and polyphonic aftertouch
  • Memory - 4 Patches
  • Control - external modulation input
  • Date Produced - 1977-79
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from

    Additional information provided by DAC Crowell and Tony Orant.

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