Neha Patil (Editor)

Yamaha CS 80

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8 voices, dual layers

2 per voice

1976 - 1980


Yamaha CS-80

US$6900 UK£4950 JP¥1,280,000

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; the 1980 theme tune to BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who; as well as the composer's soundtrack for the film Chariots of Fire.


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 manufactured, and commands amongst the highest prices of any polyphonic synthesizer so far made.

Software and hardware emulations

There are currently two 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 which was released in 2003, and the "ME80" from memorymoon which was released in 2009.

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."


Yamaha CS-80 Wikipedia

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