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Yamaha CS-80 Synth

The Yamaha CS-80 is a polyphonic analog synthesizer released in 1977. It is known as being one of the heaviest analog synthesizers weighing around 100 kg. It seems ironic now, but the CS80 was actually introduced as a more portable version of an even bigger synth, Yamaha's GX1 :)

The CS80 itself was expensive (five grand), but it found wider acceptance among other professional players, most notably Vangelis, Stevie Wonder, Kraftwerk, Eddie Jobson etc. The annals of history show that Sequential Prophet V, Moog Polymoog and Oberheim synths prevented the CS80 from becoming the most popular polysynth of the 70'.

The CS80 had some pretty amazing features, for it's time, such as 8-voice polyphony, patch memory storage (based on bank of micropotentiometers) and polyphonic aftertouch. Range of features controllable via aftertouch is highly impressive - modulation speed and depth, volume and brightness, are all at the mercy of your fingers. Overall, it was a great synth for players.

One of the most notable issues is the tuning. "If an unprotected CS80 is transported in an 'upright' position, with its rear panel pointing to the floor, you may start your journey with a machine that's in tune but you definitely won't end it with one!" :)

It can generate great analog strings, brass, drones and pads with that instantly recognizable classic polysynth sound. Even harmonica and saxophone sound are possible - this can be heard on the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis, in which virtually all the sounds are created from the CS-80. It was discontinued in 1980.

Software plugins inspired by CS-80:
1. Arturia CS-80V2 - 229 EUR
"A perfectly emulated ultra-rare synth that -quite simply- sounds different. There's a place for its smooth strings in every track." - [Future Music, 2007]
2. Memorymoon ME80 - 40 $
The instrument was developed by Gunnar Ekornĺs, Max Fazio and Georges Poropat over a period of 2 years. Max Fazio has done much research in available data and expired patents. He has programmed the ring-modulator and the tremolo effect. I have discussed every detail of the synth with Max, and he has been the driving force in this project. In many parts of the synth I have just followed his instructions. Georges Poropat is a CS80 owner. [Gunnar Ekornĺs]

(ME80 demo)

ps. If you know some other vst instruments inspired by CS-80, let me know :)


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