Yamaha CS-80 Hands-On Demo

This video, via Computer Music Magazine, takes a look at the classic Yamaha CS-80, one of the most expressive synthesizers ever created.

In the video, CM Editor Joe Rossitter and MusicRadar’s Simon Arblaster discuss the CS-80’s features and architecture, with lots of audio demos. 

Arguably, much of what we think of the CS-80’s iconic sound comes from how it was used by Vangelis in his classic 70s and 80’s work at Nemo Studios.

Here’s an example of a synth improvisation by Vangelis from that era, that showcases how Vangelis was constantly ‘playing’ the controls on the CS-80 to achieve the sound that he wanted:

13 thoughts on “Yamaha CS-80 Hands-On Demo

  1. Now all I need is a full-sized CS-80 controller for running Arturia’s CS-80V, pitch-bend strip and all. It’ll surely weigh less than the original’s 200 pounds. Its unlikely that we’ll see a Behringer clone of this one!

  2. what baffles me is HOW IS IT THAT the vast majority of synth users have no frigging clue how to play chords or melodies? ? ? It’s incredibly sad that Synth become the ‘bass guitar’ equivalent of the keyboard world in terms of actual playing ability. All these guys with beautiful expensive gear yet no idea how to play a chord or piece of music on it . . . .

    (before hating me, yes I DO try to bridge both worlds, and really it’s just a matter of learning and growing vocabulary to get a more beautiful sound . . .)

    1. I agree, the demo is useless without some high level playing. The guy was hitting the keys like a kid.
      The sound take is weird also (from microphone ?).
      Beside, Vangelis is a dream player. I love him.

    2. Holy Cow – both of these guys went through the ENTIRE review only using one finger! Tap, tap, tap, tap – the contacts on some of those keys are going to need to be replaced. Tap, tap, tap, tap………taptaptap. Infuriating.

  3. Most overrated instrument of all time. Sounds as bad as a Yamaha home organ of that time. Of course a great artist can even play great music on this thing, but nobody will become a great artist by using it.

    1. No, but……….
      Dont blame the CS80 for what other people now think of it. In its day a lot of the most interesting players used them. Also some of the most commercial users did too. However, those who had the choice chose it.

      If you worry what others say about instruments, then fair enough. I listen to others but I also listen to my own ears. Sometimes there is more to an instrument than you think. I never thought 303s were all that, then you know what happened. This rebooted my love for my 101- one oscillator could be good (it was a long time ago).

      The slightly different architecture to what we are used to gives different results. I have only used the Arturia version and I really enjoy it. I would love to play the real thing. Poly aftertouch! proper sized controls! Ribbon controller! Gliss! Ring Mod! Dual filters! 200lbs!

        1. And that is absolutely ok for me. I went to school in High Wycombe- the current home of Novation. Their synths are usually great. I’ve got a lot of time for them. I prefer the Supernova because I like a knob. I haves and payed a Peak yet but I imagine it will be great.

          It isn’t surprising that modern instruments can compete with old ones. The Cs80 weighs a ton and is very drifty because that was the limits of technology at the time. Progress happens. With synths, progress wasn’t always forward. However with the CS 80s rarity, age and famous users it’s always going to have some allure. Novations might have a good synth engine but there’s no joy of knobbage or admiration of the shear hard work and innovation that went into them. If you don’t understand the charm of classic cars, you won’t understand the lies of the CS80. Don’t worry, I’m not saying old is always good.

  4. One of the greatest sounding synths of all time in my opinion, plus all the innovative features like 8 voice polyphonic aftertouch make it a very expressive instrument. I’m saving up for the Deckard’s Dream synth which is a modern rack unit take on this classic Not an exact clone with the original weighing about 200 pounds, it also has modern features like MPE support and alternate/microtuning. Check out deckardsdream.com or look up some demos on youtube.

  5. Deckard’s Dream sounds to be the way to go to get the CS-80 sound without selling an internal organ – plus it does not constantly go out of tune or break down. Team it with something like a Roli Seaboard controller, and you’d have a very powerful instrument. I love it when the major synth companies re-issue old instruments, but I wonder whether a re-issued CS-80 would really sell all that well, given that it would probably start around $5000 USD (unless Behringer do it, in which its a under a thousand).

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