Yamaha CS-80 – The Ultimate Synthesizer

In this video, Syntaur‘s Ron Peter offers his take on the majestic Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, starting with a version of Vangelis’s Blade Runner Main Titles theme, and a brief history of some of the famous artists who have used it, including Vangelis, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Toto and others.

There’s a comment early on in the video that may be a head scratcher for some viewers, but watch further and you’ll get an overview of the CS-80’s synthesis capabilities, history of Yamaha’s CS synths in the ’70s and audio demos.

Is the Yamaha CS-80 ‘the ultimate synthesizer’? Share your thoughts on the CS-80 – and ‘the ultimate synthesizer’ – in the comments!

Topics covered:

00:00 – Blade Runner Intro
02:50 – Introduction
07:07 – Yamaha CS Series
07:58 – Toto Africa
08:22 – Overview
19:08 – Sound Demo
21:54 – Outro Jam

25 thoughts on “Yamaha CS-80 – The Ultimate Synthesizer

  1. New to the Blade Runner Soundtrack, the only synth player who does not have those sounds encoded in their DNA, but has a CS-80. Life’s cruelest Irony? That said, sweet collection there and keep up the good work my Syntaur folks!

    1. The ultimate synth? There are many, new poly hardware synths that I’d rather have than a CS-80. Heck, I’d prefer any of them over a CS-80.

      1. 40 years later, there haven’t been many synths that come close to the CS-80, in terms of expressiveness. The combination of the keyboard, poly aftertouch, good routings for expression and the ribbon make it one of the greatest synths ever.

        There are lots of modern hardware analogs that are powerful and sound great. None of them have the expressive capabilities as the CS-80.

        I’ve played the Osmose, and its going to blow some minds, because it’s so playable and expressive. It beats every other aftertouch I’ve tried. They’ve just figured out the technology to do it right.

        I’d love to see the Osmose keyboard paired with a good analog synth engine. That to me would be the ultimate synth.

  2. There is no doubt about, that the design of the real thing here is astonishing and it sounds great. A shame that Yamaha has stepped out of this market, im sure Yamaha could take their new VCM technology and make some incredible products.

    If I was in for a Yamaha CS-80, I would proable rather take the path down to Deckard’s Dream or wait for the Behringer release and I guess this goes the same for most, as this item is not a light weight price-tagged.

  3. Really,
    How can you take anyone seriously discussing electronic music keyboards who has not heard of Blade Runner
    or Vangelis.

    1. It’s a joke. It’s Syntaur dude, they know more about synths than most people. They are also jokey folks, I recommend their other vids interview with Glen Darcey or their mega feature about String Machine Madness covering a lot of details I didn’t know

  4. Ultimate synthesizer? Alesis Andromeda and if I had a second and third choice, probably the Polybrute and the REV2. Wouldn’t it be awesome if analog workstations with 128-256 note polyphony was made out of one of them? Dream, dream, dream…

  5. It’ s somewhere a highly bizarre statement for saying NEVER seeing the movie Blade Runner with THE iconic cs-80 soundscape and music of Vangelis that gives the Yamaha cs-80 his legacy due by this filmscore and proclaming this in a way for being proud of it and seemingly with no attentiin at all to see in the future one frame of this movie… or is it just me?
    Just look some YouTube excerps of sequencies to make a cover version if it… I don’t understand that someone with such a audio studio with unique synthesizers and as owner of a Yamaha cd-80 makes this kind of opening or introducing statement on an video about this legendary Yamaha cs-80. I’m the second commentwriter here on this very bizarre matter. It’s a once in a lifetime obligation for every cs-80 owner to watch that movie enterely!

    1. It’s you. Actually, not knowing usage around some instrument, nor its cultural context, might be freeing situation, where someone comes to instrument with not even slightest hint of route musician should take. But I guess it’s like someone mentioned – they are just making fun of the state of things. Anyway, you are worrying about insignificant things.

  6. Its a gorgeous piece of history with a matching sound, true, but the upkeep is for big pockets only. Unless you’re just in love with the organ-like GUI, the real prizes are the keyboard mechanism & touch strip. The Hydrasynth comes close, with style. It depends on how many players start demanding more of that and fewer backpack controllers. Unlikely.

    The sound itself is easy to reproduce well, but that connection while playing is much less common. A cheap retrofit kit away, it ain’t. It can handle a lot of the usual synth things, but as a piano/organ type to begin with, I think Yamaha wanted to appeal to people from both camps with a keybed that felt a little like both. It really massages your butt while you play! 😀

    1. Oh i would take a backpack controller with knobs, buttons and poly aftertouch keys and Bluetooth midi in a heartbeat. 😉

      But the thing is polyphonic aftertouch is still rare.
      If aftertouch is supported it’s usually mono aftertouch (play chord and aftertouch isn’t individual per key).

      I don’t need most of the mpe stuff
      But sliding up and down on keys and polyphonic aftertouch are very interesting.

      1. The new Hydrasynth Expolorer might check a lot of the boxes you just mentioned. I have the 49 key version and it is great.

  7. BTW, Yamaha bolted their gear onto dense, heavy wood for years. That’s part of why the CS-80 weighed 200+ pounds instead of a mere 75 or so, maybe? Its a design decision that launched a million hernias. I had one of their earliest CP pianos, so I know. Ouch.

  8. The Ultimate Synthesizer? Nope – Roland System 700 – complete, in perfect condition… and found in garage sale going for $1000 because the owner doesn’t know what he has…

    (then I wake up and I realise I’ve just had a nice dream, but now feel frustrated that’s all it was)

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