Synth Site: Yamaha: CS-80: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 4.8 out of 5
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Richard Clews a hobbyist user from United Kingdom writes:
I owned a CS80 for about seven years, and after an initial service, never had any problems with it.

It is a wonderful machine, but I think in some ways I am better off without it. For instance, Yamaha in the UK have now almost run out of parts and there are no plans to make new chips. I felt that there was a sword hanging over the CS80 and I didn't want to be there when it fell.

The sound of the beast is tremendous, BUT quite a few of the presets are possibly of limited use. Take the 'electric piano' sound. For a start, it is much quieter than some of the other presets, and is also similar to the guitar preset - a waste of circuit space.

There are a few other synths now that can recreate the CS80 sound. I know this because I've searched very hard for a replacement since I sold mine. What you have to do - and it's hard - is stop seeing the CS in terms of its external appearance and keyboard, and think about the chips inside. All synths ultimately are a collection of chips and ways to control them, and the CS had more chips and controllers than most. The point is, modern synths have better chips!

I think the Andromeda, Waldorf Q, Nord Lead 3 and new Virus KC are all fine substitutes for the CS80 - especially the Andromeda with its ribbon and CS80 presets.

I will always love the CS80, but you have to be careful, because the synth can turn into an enormous burden. The sheer weight of it is a sick joke, you have to be careful to ventilate it properly, and as for playing live... forget it.

The sad truth of this synth is that Yamaha could and should have built a successor to it. The DX1 was a successor, but it was unaffordable. However, here's an intriguing thought for CS80 fans: it was designed by Phil Nishimoto, who co-designed the DX7. The last synth he worked on for Yamaha was the FS1r, on which he worked for TEN YEARS! Now, if the man who designed the CS80 puts that much time and care into an instrument, you know it's got to be special. And it doesn't weigh 220 pounds!

Remember - the magic is in the chips.

Rating: 4 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Mar-26-2002 at 05:18
Iczer one a professional user from NYC writes:
Well I have owned a cs-60 before and loved it. I could only wonder what an 80 sounded like. anyway I wound up selling that 60, with hopes to find an 80 some day(that was three years ago)..... I walked into a music store the other day and nearly droped when I saw a mint cs-80 just sitting there,turned on,warmed up and ready to go. Before I touched it I rushed to get a sales man and asked for a price, at $921 it was sold on the spot. I then got in front of this monster to see why all the other owners love this synth so much and let me tell you amongest all the other va's and work stations there the CS-80 fuckin blew every one of them away. So much so that people left what they where doing just to see where the sound was comming from. Half the people thought the cs-80 was just an organ and passed it strait, others just thought it too big and ugly to do anything special. By the time I was packing it up and ready to leave thoes same people where asking about purchasing it. Its the sounds of the 80 that gets you, its incredible. I never thougt I'd own one and prayed to have someday. Well that day came in nov 2001 and let me tell ya "The cs-80 is the best polyphonic synthesizer ever made" If you can find one buy it. Its fat full robust sound makes it organic. The filters are great, keyboard action is excellent, modulation programing opens a welth of sonic beauty. I'll never sell this one, There gonna have to berry me with it or should I say berry me in it. Its pretty big and weighs alot. I think it should stay in a studio and used in recordings, besides I keep reading how they go out of tune when moved around and I dont want to fuck it up. Vangelis is the man, Blade Runner rules and so does the CS80

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Nov-25-2001 at 05:11
miraz a professional user from Hollywood writes:
Wel guys, I have taken some serious time with my CS-80. and it is amazing. Even a proper set up of the patches is amazing. I played some prliminary tracks for my music partner suzanne doucet and she was amazed. The guitars, harpsichord with proper use of the bottom level levers made it one of the most advanced acoustic sounding synthesizers from its day. Now I see why Vangelis makes his synthesizer programs so ...human. It is totally a hands on instrument. and the Analog programmer is just an interesting concept. So far mine has been a good girl and stays in tune and no weird stuff. It will for sure be on our follow up to "Resonance" which was mostly Moog, Roland and Kurzweil. but really, do not be turned off by the presets there is an incredible machine with heart and soul in there. But it also counts on who is playing it. I know this a plug but to check out "Resonance" by Doucet and Miraz go to It is also released in europe on the Prudence label.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Saturday-May-26-2001 at 15:31
Andrew a professional user from USA writes:
I was one of those synth maniacs that actually purchased a CS-80 new about 1976. I have had it ever since and will never part with it. It is truly a heavy (I mean HEAVY - 220 U.S. pounds) duty synth. It has a huge sound that is truly unique. From 1976 to 1985 this was my main synth. The only reason I have not used it lately is it lacks MIDI and it is in great need of getting tuned and serviced. Also, it has got some noise in the audio that is most likely due to some old components that should be replaced. I am also considering adding a MIDI retrofit (made by Kenton Electronics), so I can control the unit via MIDI IN. I welcome any introductions to qualified technicians with CS-80 experience.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Monday-Apr-02-2001 at 21:02
Scott Rider a hobbyist user from USA writes:
I recently acquired my CS80 and feel I must debunk some of the bad-mouthing the machine gets in regard to servicing and reliability.

First off, while the calibration trimmers on the sixteen 'M' (master) boards that are the synthesizer voice cards have their arc of rotation in the same plane as the floor when the machine is sitting vertically on its casters, this does not contribute to the (de)tuning problem as much as one might fear. The trimpots are 'skeletal' (uncased) single-turn rotary trimmer potentiometers and their plane of rotation is horizontal when the machine is sitting vertically. This is the best position for the trimmers to be in when moving the unit. What needs to be avoided is bumping or jarring the machine when it is sitting on its stand during normal use--this is when the arc of rotation is perpendicular to the floor, and more susceptible to vibration-induced movement.. The minor vibrations the machine would experience when playing the instrument aren't going to cause problems, however; it would take a shock of a few gravities to knock the trimmers out of alignment.

Also, contrary to what you may have heard or read, the weighted keys are not wooden. The plastic key shells are attached to 35cm steel 'ribs' that have counterweights at the far end to simulate the piano action.

I've repaired another CS-80 prior to purchasing mine, and I can say that Yamaha did an amazing job of making the circuit boards of the CS machines easy to get to and work on. Aside from opening the machine and extending the rack to the tuning position and unbolting and rotating the keyboard up so as to get at the circuit boards in the bottom of the case, there are no tricky connections to unsolder. All the circuit boards have 'service loops' in the wiring bundles that allow sufficient room to detach a circuit board from the case (or rack frame) and service it while still electrically attached to the rest of the system.

*Most* of the problems ailing the CS80 as it approachs 25+ years of age can be fixed without the need for any of the custom Yamaha chips are are used liberally throughout the machine. CS-series owners might wish to read the information I've written for my website in regards to synthesizer upkeep and repair:

I've only begun to explore the potential this venerable machine has to offer, but I can say that no other polyphonic machine in my collection, even the DX1, has the degree of control over sound expression this machine does.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Sunday-Mar-25-2001 at 04:20
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