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
dunknoe
July 26, 2011 @ 8:00 pm
another artist who used this synth was Coldplay on the album X&Y. There's a picture on the slipcase of the LP of Chris Martin playing it.
ian
April 6, 2011 @ 12:31 am
I don't see why people complain about drifting oscillators and tuning problems on analogue gear, its things like that which make it sound more human and less robot. I doubt many guitarists ever finish a song without a string loosing pitch. I wish they start making these things again, surely there is enough demand for it.
erik
March 26, 2011 @ 6:40 pm
You can add Electric Light Orchestra to the list of artists that have used this synth! It's visible in a lot of their music videos
Bohemian86
February 20, 2011 @ 4:52 pm
Yeah the E70 can be a quick shortcut to the CS sound. They also might be useful for parts for a non-working CS polysynth. I have one right now, unfortunately had to disassemble that beast to fit it down the steps.
Mike Thompson
February 13, 2011 @ 7:46 am
I got the chance to play a CS-80 yesterday. VERY expressive, and sounded huge. What I've noticed about it is that is sounds very airy, if that makes any sense. It's like even in preset-mode it's just a huge, auditorium sound.

I also recently obtained an Electone E-70, and I am glad I played the CS-80 so I can now appreciate the similarities between the two...
 
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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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