The Yamaha CS-80 is considered by many to be the finest analog synthesizer ever manufactured. The CS80 was the flagship synth from Yamaha’s CS family from 1976-80.
It’s best known as the signature synth of Vangelis, but has been used by many other electronic and pop musicians.
- The CS80 is a 2 * 8 Voice Polyphonic synthesizer. Each synthesizer has its own set of VCO, VCA, VCF, EG and Velocity response controls. It is possible to have two completely different sounds played to the keyboard (and sent to separate outputs).
- 5 octave fully weighed action keyboard, with polyphonic after touch, allowing say, different amounts of vibrato to be applied to different notes depending on the individual finger pressures. After touch can apply modulation (VCA, VCO and VCF), modulation speed, as well as VCF cutoff and VCA level. The keyboard is also velocity sensitive (to both VCA and VCF cutoff levels, each individually controlled for each of the two 8 voice synthesizers).
- Ring modulation is to a synthesizer what distortion is to an electric guitar. It’s a specific type of effect, but with the four controls dedicated to depth, rate and EG, the CS80 modulator is unique among synthesizers.
- 0.6 meter Ribbon controller.
- Unique envelopes containing an ‘Initial Level’ slider as well as the ADSR envelopes, allowing for brassy and ultra sharp percussive envelopes.
- The CS80 ‘sawtooth’ wave has a character that sets it apart from other analogue synthesizers a component to the CS80 sawtooth wave, an ‘imperfection’, that is frequency independent.
The CS-80 is also known as being a beast to move, at about 200 lbs, and near-impossible to keep in tune.
You can hear all the possibilities of the CS-80 in Vangelis music, especially the synth’s brass and string sounds, the polyphonic aftertouch and the ring modulator.
A great resource for CS-80 information is CS-80 page at Knect’s site. The site offers sections on:
- CS80 Features
- CS80 User Manual
- CS80 Overview Block Diagram
- CS80 Overall Circuit Diagram
- CS80 Service Manual and Circuit Diagrams
Another great CS-80 resource is Old Crow’s site. This site has very detailed information on repairing the CS-80, along with calibration tips and other maintenance info.
Arturia’s CS-80V is a virtual emulation of the original CS-80.