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
October 13, 2009 @ 1:15 pm
I'm pretty sure Eddie Jobson from the band UK originally used the CS80 on such songs as "Alaska" and many more.
October 3, 2009 @ 12:16 pm
Another CS-80 user was Frank Zappa, who used it extensively in his band and on his records between 1979 and 1982. It was Zappa's long-time keyboard player Tommy Mars who played it. You can hear it on records like "Tinseltown Rebellion" and "Them or Us".
Poopy Watson
August 31, 2009 @ 8:08 pm
Just to add in general...referring back to the comment on page three about Arturia's VST being 80-98% of the original...NO VST ever even comes close to any analog synth, unless we're talking newer analog gear...maybe then. I've been through the whole lot, there are nifty ways to trick listeners, but not a chance that any vst ever even gets that close. I give VST's 50% at best in general. maybe others would disagree but for me there is a soul in analog gear that the models just can't capture.
June 23, 2009 @ 10:10 am
Most of the synth parts on Spark's album No. 1 Song In Heaven was in fact done with a Moog modular. I think Dan Wyman (the synth-programmer) owned a CS-80 at the time but I'm not sure whether
it made it onto that album.
Their next album "Terminal Jive" (also produced by Moroder) does feature the CS-80 though. This is confirmed by Ron Mael in an old Keyboard magazine.
June 22, 2009 @ 11:36 pm
Also used by Ron Mael on the seminal disco/electronica album No. 1 in Heaven by Sparks.
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  • 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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