Buy Boris Blank’s (Yello) Fairlight CMI III


Got $12K to drop on a old synth?

A Fairlight CMI III, described as belonging to “Boris Blank, the musical part of Swiss band Yello”, is currently listed for sale by Horizontal Productions on eBay

Here’s what the listing has to say about the Fairlight:

The particular system being offered here belongs to Boris Blank, the musical part of Swiss band Yello. One could argue that during the 1980’s Yello used the Fairlight more, and more interestingly than virtually anyone else. Every hit single they had (and there were quite a few) used the Fairlight CMI extensively..

So, if you ever lusted after one of these legendary instruments, here’s a chance to acquire one with some serious street cred!

Yello Fairlight III. Signed front panel. There will be Boris’s sounds included, as well as all the libraries listed below, in 4 x hard drives. Boris is on holiday at the moment, however his assistant has promised some more photos and goodies when he returns!

Offered for sale is a very rare, vintage classic Fairlight CMI III computer musical instrument workstation in excellent condition. The system is a late model, in three rack units which are 8U, 8U and 5U for the hard drive enclosure. It has the latest and best in technical innovations, whilst still retaining the classic legendary sound of the CMI. The system is switchable for 110, 220 or 240V so will work ANYWHERE in the world.

The system has the latest 9.34 music software, has 16 voices, mono graphics card and monitor, and 24 output router. Instead of the usual 14 Mbytes RAM memory fitted as standard from the factory, this unit has a brand new 32 Mbyte card, which is the maximum possible in these systems. It also has a digital sampler module and a Turbo-SCSI card: It is therefore fully optioned with the last and best revisions of both hardware and software. There is no music keyboard, however any MIDI keyboard or external computer/sequencer will work brilliantly. I can supply a colour graphics card at additional cost if desired, to enable the system to run with many flat LCD screens. If required, the original mono graphics can be re-installed in minutes..

There are four hard drives installed. Three are original, with Boris’s sounds, and the forth is “My” collection of libraries I normally include with my systems for sale. These are as follows:? Complete Fairlight library, Prosonus Strings, Brass, Percussion, Sound ?Genesis strings, plus many libraries collected over the last 25 years ?dealing with top producers and musicians. These include libraries from: Pet ?Shop Boys, Trevor Horn, Hans Zimmer, Frankie goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise and many, many others. The complete Fairlight IIX library is also included.

The floppy and WORM drive work intemittantly, however these were only used in the 1980’s before more reliable and cost-effective storage emerged. Therefore there is no warranty on these parts. The only other points of note are that some of the keys on the alpha-numeric keyboard are beginning to lose their legends (see picture), and the graphics pad is worn in places. I have however adjusted the keyboard so that the worn spots on the pad doesn’t cause problems.

The system has been serviced, will have a full set of manuals on CD, all leads, latest firmware, and come with 3 months warranty (apart from the two drives mentioned above).

Note: Interested parties should verify any ownership claims for gear listed online.

6 thoughts on “Buy Boris Blank’s (Yello) Fairlight CMI III

  1. I saw this on e-bay as well & had conversation with friend on weather ” oH Yeah ” was on file somewhere, if i had 20k & it was a 2x (analog filter board and 12 bit sampling) version i’d like to buy it from Boris in Sydney, get him to sign it – lol.

    Theres been other famous Fairlights that i’ve seen on e-bay. One was a system used on Micheal Jacksons “Bad” album, which i think was for sale in 2010 and i think it was a 2x??. I’ love one but not enough $ so ipad app it is. Still nice unit

    1. No. It means that Fairlight tech extraordinaire Peter Wielk moved back to Australia a few years ago. He has the spare parts and knowledge to keep these finicky old beasts running.

  2. Its a lovely bit of nostalgia, but I’m not all that moved when $12k can now buy 2 or 3 middling home setups. Can a person even GET $12k worth of music out of this old beast? Sure, somewhat arguably. If that’s not the goal, its going to be one big dusty paperweight soon. I love many of the sounds, but as with modulars, you have to have a certain mindset to really work it to your best creative advantage. I can’t imagine wrestling with a Fairlight in today-terms; I’m spoiled by now having all of the old issues banished by better designs overall. I DO hope it gets an appreciative, working home. No quality instrument should be left to gather mold. Somehow, I think this one will be treasured, which is what it deserves. No one buys a $12k synth by accident! Nah… someone seasoned will ride it to Synth Valhalla.

  3. I used to own a IIx and it takes a lot of studio to make it sound good. The Fairlight has an interesting character but anyone spoiled by modern gear, which mostly sounds brilliant out of the box, is going to hate their CMI if they don’t have a good desk and world class outboard gear. This shouldn’t have to be said but the Fairlight didn’t make hit records. It was the musicians and producers who, excited by a new technology, enthusiastically embraced sampling and made some fantastic records. If the Fairlight was magical then Boris Blank would not be selling his. The CMI was brilliant for its time but that time has passed.

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