by Stefan Wyeth | 4,0 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 4 Minutes
Yamaha CS-80 Alternatives: Ways to Get That Classic Sound

Yamaha CS-80 Alternatives: Ways to Get That Classic Sound  ·  Source: Arturia / Black Corporation

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With Yamaha CS-80 Alternatives, we’re exploring some different ways to approach recreating this iconic synth in plug-in, keyboard, and desktop module format.

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The fabled sound of the CS-80 makes it easily one of the most desired synths of all time, and through users like Stevie Wonder, Vangelis, and Toto it’s become immortalized in the annuals of recorded music.

Yamaha CS-80 Alternatives

Although it’s reached beyond legendary status, the CS-80 was introduced in 1977 and was only produced for 3 years – which is one of the many reasons they fetch such a high price on the collector’s market.

At the time, this polyphonic analogue monster struggled as synths like the Prophet 5 and OB-X entered the industry to rapturous applause. Nevertheless, the CS-80 still offered many unique features apart from its sound, with a dual-layer architecture and ribbon control.

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Cherry Audio GX-80

The Cherry Audio GX-80 is their flagship synth plug-in, bringing features from the Star Trek-esque GX-1 into the CS-80 workflow. This promises to be “more than a replicant” as the manufacturer suggests and brings you the coveted sound at a more than reasonable price.

All the GX-1 and CS-80 parameters are at your fingertips, but even if it wasn’t a meticulously vintage-modelled plug-in it’s still a great-sounding softsynth with plenty of creative sonic potential.

Cherry Audio GX-80

Cherry Audio GX-80

Cherry Audio GX-80

Arturia CS-80 V4

Arturia has an excellent reputation for recreating classic synths and studio gear, so you can imagine that they put plenty of time and effort into their software version of the famous CS-80.

There’s certainly nothing antiquated about the CS-80 V though, from MPE support to its advanced modulation section and extensive onboard effects, it’s a plug-in that goes far beyond the scope of creating vintage synth sounds.

Arturia CS-80 V4

Arturia CS-80 V4

Arturia CS-80 V4

Yamaha Reface CS

Yamaha’s Reface series brings the classics back in a compact and relatively affordable 37-key format and the Reface CS uses the AN sound engine for modeling the sound of the classic CS series synthesizers.

Besides 8-voice polyphony and 5 oscillator types, the Reface CS has a phrase looper and a range of effects including distortion, VCM chorus/flanger, VCM phaser, and delay.

Yamaha Reface

Yamaha Reface series

Yamaha Reface CS
Yamaha Reface CS
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Arturia Polybrute

The Polybrute is the flagship Arturia polyphonic hardware synth, with a design that draws inspiration from the CS-80. With 3-axis morphing and an impressive mod matrix, the Polybrute is certainly a modern analogue synth.

You have different ways to approach sound creation with a 61-key keybed with aftertouch and a 64-step pattern sequencer. What’s more, there’s a digital effects section with reverb, chorus, and delay.

Arturia PolyBrute Noir Edition

Arturia PolyBrute Noir Edition

Arturia PolyBrute Noir
Arturia PolyBrute Noir
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Black Corporation Deckard’s Dream

If you want a top-quality vintage analogue CS-80 replica, you’ll certainly pay dearly for it. However, the Black Corporation Deckard’s Dream brings the classic into the modern era in a far more practical desktop format.

The sound bank is rather limited for a synth in this price range, so if you’re only planning to use it for a few vintage pad sounds maybe this isn’t for you. The idea is to encourage creative sound design and in this area, it certainly excels.

Black Corporation Deckard's Dream Mk2

Black Corporation Deckard’s Dream Mk2

Black Corporation Deckard´s Dream MKII
Black Corporation Deckard´s Dream MKII
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Like the idea of pitch glides and ribbon control? Check out the Continuum Controllers from Haken Audio

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Image Sources:
  • Cherry Audio GX-80: Cherry Audio
  • Arturia CS-80 V4: Arturia
  • Yamaha Reface series: Yamaha
  • Arturia PolyBrute Noir Edition: Arturia
  • Black Corporation Deckard's Dream Mk2: Black Corporation
  • gx-80-ui-01-pluginboutique: Plugin Boutique
  • pb: Plugin Boutique
  • cs-80_v_main_plugin_boutique: Plugin Boutique
Yamaha CS-80 Alternatives: Ways to Get That Classic Sound

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4 responses to “Yamaha CS-80 Alternatives: Ways to Get That Classic Sound”

    Diki Ross says:
    1

    A large part of the CS80 experience was tactile. Even when the sound source is bang on, that poly AT keyboard and non linear ribbon (it pitch bent up one octave, but down all the way to sub-sonics!) made it unique to play.

    Be nice if manufacturers started concentrating on making controllers with the FEEL of the actions that drove the classics. Still waiting for something that feels like a clavinet, or CS80 or a Wurli 200.

    The sound was only a part of the whole. The action on most vintage instruments dictated what you could and couldn’t play almost as much as the sound.

    Joseph Arsenault Ruel says:
    0

    Nice article, but i can’t help but notice most of these “alternatives” aren’t analogue, and don’t sound anywhere near a CS-80. Meanwhile the absolute best alternative is not mentionned. I tought I would mention it ;), here it goes: take either a JX-10 or a mks-80 (rack version of the JX-10), couple it with a Retroaktiv controller and BAM! You got yourself a better than original, authentic CS-80 alternative. You’re welcome.

    Edd English says:
    1

    The Deckards Dream is analog

    Ralph says:
    0

    Joseph, much as I like the Roland MKS-80, it does not respond to polyphonic aftertouch nor MPE. Plus, they are almost getting as rare as the CS-80. And that is assuming we buy your premise. So I’ll stick with my PolyAT keyboard controlling my Arturia CS-80 simulation for now.

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