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The Yamaha CS-80 is a polyphonic analog synthesizer released in 1976. It supports true 8-voice polyphony (with two independent synthesizer layers per voice) as well as a primitive (sound) settings memory based on a bank of micropotentiometers (rather than the digital programmable presets the Prophet-5 would sport soon after), and exceptionally complete performer expression features, such as a layered keyboard that was both velocity-sensitive (like a piano's) and pressure-sensitive ("after-touch") but unlike most modern keyboards the aftertouch could be applied to individual voices rather than in common, and a ribbon controller allowing for polyphonic pitch-bends and glissandos. This can be heard on the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis, in which CS-80 is featured prominently, as well as the composer's soundtrack for the film Chariots of Fire, and the bassline of Peter Howell's interpretation of 1980 theme tune to BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who.

Yamaha CS-80
Yamaha CS-80 (1977) 8-voices dual-layered analog polyphonic synthesizer, with 22 preset sounds & 6 user patches - VINTAGE SYNTH @ YAMAHA BOOTH - 2015 NAMM Show.jpg
Dates1976 - 1980
Technical specifications
Polyphony8 voices, dual layers
Oscillator2 per voice
LFO1 multi-waveform
Synthesis typeAnalog Subtractive
Filter2 High-pass
2 Low-pass
Aftertouch expressionYes, polyphonic
Velocity expressionYes
Storage memory22 preset
4 user
Effectschorus, tremolo
Keyboard61-note with velocity
and polyphonic aftertouch
(on a per note rather than
per patch basis)
Left-hand controlRibbon Controller

Production of the instrument ceased in 1980. Vying with the Prophet-5, and OB-X polysynths, the CS-80 is regularly described as the pre-eminent polyphonic analog synthesizer,[1][2] and commands amongst the highest prices of any polyphonic synthesizer.[1]


Software and hardware emulationsEdit

There are currently three plug-in instrument software emulations of the CS-80 in existence for usage in digital audio workstation, music sequencer, and other software which supports the plug-in formats that these instruments were implemented and released in: the "CS-80 V" from Arturia[3] which was released in 2003, the "ME80" from memorymoon which was released in 2009 and the "Arminator" which was released in 2017.

There are no known hardware clones of the entire CS-80. At the 2014 NAMM Show, Studio Electronics premiered their new Boomstar SE80 synthesizer which includes a cloned filter section of the CS-80.


The Greek electronic composer Vangelis used the Yamaha CS-80 extensively. He praised the instrument for its capabilities, describing it as "the most important synthesizer in my career — and for me the best analogue synthesizer design there has ever been. It was a brilliant instrument, though unfortunately not a very successful one. It needs a lot of practice if you want to be able to play it properly, but that’s because it’s the only synthesizer I could describe as being a real instrument, mainly because of the keyboard — the way it’s built and what you can do with it."[4]

Notable usersEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "The World's most desirable and valuable synthesizers and drum machines". attack magazine. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
  2. ^ "The Schmidt synth and the CS80". synthtopia. 2011-04-07.
  3. ^ Magnus, Nick; Reid, Gordon. "Arturia CS80V - Software Synth (Mac/PC)". Reviews : Software: ALL. Sound On Sound. No. April 2005.
  4. ^ Dan Goldstein (November 1984), "Soil Festivities Vangelis Speaks", Electronics & Music Maker, retrieved August 22, 2016


External linksEdit