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
April 27, 2009 @ 11:39 am
Used by Tony Banks (Genesis)
March 4, 2009 @ 10:54 am
The CS-80 is the queen mother of them all to be sure, I mean, where would the Bladerunner soundtrack be without it?

But regarding a previous comment about that John Foxx video, I think they hired (rentied) some cool-looking keys for a video shoot. It's a typical thing to do now as it was then, of course, but I don't think there's a Yamaha CS-anything anywhere near that song in real life!

I've read that John had but a few pieces of kit around for his first record, most notably the Arp Odyssey and Solina String Ensemble. Take another listen, I believe that most (if not all) of the synths on Metamatic come from just these two classics!

Now, ELO yes, you can hear it all over Discovery AND it's prominent in the accompanying videos to that record. They were millionaire superstars at the time, and could easily afford to buy one or two...
January 23, 2009 @ 5:17 am
Owning a Cs80 is like having a ferrari. You go faster but you pay for it at the garage. It never stayed in tune. It liked a warm room. Its filters were 12dB but sounded very natural. This synth sounded like a real instrument. But not immetating a real instrument. It sounded organic. the mixing of Sine to other waves was the key to the best sounds. The interaction they brought, cancellation and addition, between waveforms was its magic.
January 14, 2009 @ 3:41 pm
This synthesizer is top notch, just as his little brother the CS50/60. And I agree, the people at Arturia did a great job on recreating this monster in a vst. Okay the ring modulator is not as powerful as the original but for the rest the normal synth tones come close like 80 to 98 % of the original. SO there's nothing to be ashamed of the buy the Arturtia version.
January 12, 2009 @ 8:59 pm
Wish I had one. I played it in early 1980's. VST is better for these days than dreaming. I think. Nothing is like the original. However accesing programming and storage of programs etc is better on VST. The VST sounds very similar, they did a good job.
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 4.58 (1365 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
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    Additional information provided by DAC Crowell and Tony Orant.

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