|Dates||1976 - 1980|
|Polyphony||8 voices, dual layers|
|Oscillator||2 per voice|
|Synthesis type||Analog subtractive|
|Aftertouch expression||Yes, polyphonic|
|Storage memory||22 preset|
|Keyboard||61-note with velocity|
and polyphonic aftertouch (on a per note rather than per patch basis)
|Left-hand control||Ribbon Controller|
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 each with its own set of front panel controls, in addition to a number of hardwired preset voice settings and four parameter settings stores based on banks of subminiature potentiometers (rather than the digital programmable presets the Prophet-5 would sport soon after). It has 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.
Production of the instrument ceased in 1980. Vying with the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, and Oberheim OB-X polysynths, the CS-80 is regularly described as the pre-eminent polyphonic analog synthesizer, and commands amongst the highest prices of any polyphonic synthesizer.
There are two plug-in instrument software emulations of the CS-80 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, 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. At the 2018 NAMM Show, Black Corporation showed Deckard's Dream, a rackmount synthesizer with CS-80 inspired architecture and features and supports polyphonic aftertouch via compatible third party external keyboards.
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."