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Behringer DS-80 3rd design

Behringer DS-80 3rd design  ·  Source: Behringer

Uli Behringer has been working on a tribute/clone/reimaging of the classic Yamaha CS-80 polyphonic synthesizer. The first design kept the bank of preset sliders and had a very small ribbon, the second design sorted out the patch system and ribbon but put the performance controls out of reach. Uli is hoping third time’s the charm.

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DS-80 round 3

Yes, this is looking pretty good. The ribbon has been resized to sensible dimensions and over to the left where it’s most likely to be used. The performance controls like Touch Response, Keyboard Controls and Brilliance are back within an easy reach just above the keyboard. He’s added pitch and mod wheels that people keep asking for even though they were not on the original. And the top left section now has a sequencer, arpeggiator and some Tremolo and Chorus effects that were to the left of the keyboard.

All-in-all it looks pretty good to me. The design is sticking with sliders rather than the original paddles for the performance controls. The comments on Facebook are overwhelmingly positive so far although I’m sure there’s still plenty of room for criticism if you try hard enough.

Behringer DS-80 3rd design

Behringer DS-80 3rd design

I think it’s amazing that Uli Behringer had an urge to build a CS-80, probably in response to Yamaha absentmindedly broadcasting that they were thinking about, and has thrown together a couple of designs, submitted them to the community and changed and adapted to the comments and suggestions. In the space of a couple of weeks he’s got a design that seems to be pleasing people and is likely to be very well received if it ever makes it to hardware. You’ve got to hand it to the man really I guess.

More information

  • Latest Behringer Facebook post.
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3 responses to “Behringer DS-80 round 3 – is Uli getting the hang of his CS-80 clone?”

  1. Destinkeys says:

    Glad to see a return to sanity with the strip!

    Something not alluded to yet (and which obviously doesn’t have from panel controls for) is the unstable nature of the oscillator cards. The old CS-80 and CS-60 were temperamental beasts, highly sensitive to temperature fluctuations and handling. They had individual cards for each voice, with trim pots for tuning and scale on every one, and constantly needed adjusting. The end result of this was that it is rare to hear one on recordings where the tuning for each note (and the scale) was 100% perfect. The ability to micro tune and scale each voice would go a long way to emulating the delicious imprecision that made it sound like a real instrument.

    It’s kind of like a piano… too ‘perfectly’ in tune rarely sounds as good as a tiny little bit out. There’s a sweet spot just a hair away from perfect that is, well, even MORE perfect! Back on the original, that sweet spot was as close as we could practically get, ‘perfection’ was usually unattainable! But modern instruments have much closer tolerances and less temperature and vibration sensitivity, so I hope that Uli takes this into account and has a section where scale tune and stretch can be micro-adjusted.

    It is the nature of vintage synths to be imprecise. Please allow for this!

  2. Mike Metlay says:

    Well! This is a huge improvement over the first two. The one thing that’s still missing are the paddles. This is nontrivial in both directions: it’s not trivial to omit them, because the arc throw and smooth travel, VERY different than a slider, is critical to smooth sound modification as one plays, but it’s not trivial to include them either, as the paddle is actually a very complex mechanical and electrical design, one of the most expensive components to repair or replace when servicing a real CS-80.

    If Uli wants to go no-holds-barred for this design, he really should think about adding paddles, but both he and his potential audience should also be very aware of the added cost that will be carried over to buyers.

    • Destinkeys says:

      To a fair degree, the CS-80 wasn’t from the era where the arpeggiator or sequencer played the notes and you spent the majority of your time jacking around with the controls. Part of it’s dominance at the time was that it was polyphonic in a world of monophonic and paraphonic synths. It was expected for you to play full chords, two handed stuff, actually PLAY, not the more contemporary style of having something else play while you manipulate the controls.

      As such, the difference between paddles and the infinitely more affordable sliders isn’t quite as big as you would think. Hopefully, the sliders will be of high duty cycle, high quality, especially for the ones most likely to be messed with live, but be aware that, under the recessed plate were sliders (micro-sliders!), not paddles for the user sounds. Yamaha seemed OK with that, I think, for the sake of affordability, Behringer should be OK with it.

      To emulate the paddles, perhaps shorter throw than most of today’s sliders could be used? In truth, the CS-80/60’s paddles were a PITA at times, and it’s no coincidence that they were quickly dropped even by Yamaha for future synths. Dialing in micro adjustments to certain sensitive parameters was quite tricky on the real thing at times, with few benefiting from being able to make huge adjustments (basically full off to full on!) more rapidly than a slider often makes it.

      There are definitely things about the original that shouldn’t be messed with (strip size and ballistics for instance) for fear of losing what you could do on the original, things that remain to be seen if they can be set up to give the tactile feel of the original (the keybed itself was an extreme departure from what its contemporaries had, and even few modern synths come close to how well it felt to play), but I have a feeling that, if you play the CS-80 the way it was played back then, the difference between paddles and sliders will be minor.

      And if you want to play in a more contemporary fashion, with the emphasis on parameter live tweaking, nowadays that is all done by knobs and sliders anyway, so apparently, paddles aren’t exactly in high demand these days!

      I think there are ways to capture the spirit of the Dream without basically just going for a 240 lbs exact replicant. Those are banished to Offworld planets, anyway..!

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