MATRIXSYNTH: New Yamaha CS80 Rackmount Clone In the Works

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

New Yamaha CS80 Rackmount Clone In the Works


See the Update and spoiler alert in red further below for why this name is absolutely brilliant.

Note this is not an official Yamaha product, it's a clone from Sputnik Modular's Roman Filippov. It will be available in both DIY and completed form.

Update2: more pics including a close-up of the display, PCBs, motherboard, PSU card, and IO card added below.

Update3: just noticed there are no ring mod controls on the front panel like on the CS80.

Update4: via Roman: "ringmod, delay, chorus and spring reverb are coming in a separate 1U rack also DIY" and pre-built.  Also, according to Roman, the price for any of this is not currently set at this point.

Update5: I asked Roman if polyphonic aftertouch would be supported. He said he was looking into MPE, or Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression. You can find more info on MPE here and here. This is what the Haken Audio Continuum, Roger Linn's Linstrument, Madrona Labs Soundplane and the Roli Seaboard use. Not sure if this will translate to traditional MIDI keyboards that support poly aftertouch like the Kurzweil MIDIboard and CME's XKeys.

Update6: Manufactured front panel pic added below. And some additional info via the AH list:

"Serial #0001 is going to Jóhann Jóhannsson to help with scoring of a certain film.

MCU will auto tune oscillators to keep voices from drifting.

With the expander port you can chain 2 units for 16 voices and to connect a ribbon controller"

Some pics and initial info sent my way via Roman:

There will be a pre-built system for sale. The DIY kit will consist of 12 pcbs with MCU and 72 dacs preinstalled. The MCU is the 'multi control unit' - the controls on the panel have to control all eight voices at the same time.

You might notice the lack of basic CV and Gate on back. However, you might notice the "Expander" jack. Roman tells me he is thinking about making a complex CV expander unit for it. Complex implies more than basic CV and Gate. This will likely be a patchable CS80 in the end.

Note this is analog and it is eight voices. Roman cloned the original Buchla Music Easel, which many in the know, say is closer to the original than the BEMI Easel. Roman knows his stuff, so this is likely to be as close as it gets to the original in sound. Of course part of the charm of a CS80 is the expressive keyboard including poly aftertouch and what can be argued as slightly more ergonomic controls, mainly the levers used for expressive control. That said, the original does lack CV, and of course, is quite a bit more expensive.

Update and spoiler alert: If you haven't seen the director's cut of Blade Runner do not read the following. If you have, then the name DECKARD'S DREAM should make complete sense. Harrison Ford's character, Rick Deckard, has a unicorn dream sequence, in which it can be interpreted that he is actually a replicant himself. via Wikipedia:

"Deckard's unicorn dream sequence, inserted into the Director's Cut, coinciding with Gaff's parting gift of an origami unicorn is seen by many as showing that Deckard is a replicant – as Gaff could have accessed Deckard's implanted memories.[21][33] The interpretation that Deckard is a replicant is challenged by others who believe the unicorn imagery shows that the characters, whether human or replicant, share the same dreams and recognize their affinity,[34] or that the absence of a decisive answer is crucial to the film's main theme.[35] The inherent ambiguity and uncertainty of the film, as well as its textual richness, have permitted viewers to see it from their own perspectives.[36]"

The soundtrack for the film was by Vangelis, and the Yamaha CS80 was the prominent synth used in the score: "The most prominent synthesiser used in the score was the Yamaha CS-80, which can be heard in the opening scenes, and subsequently throughout the rest of the film."

Deckard's Dream reveals that Deckard is a replicant. This synth is a replicant of the CS80.

Deckard's Dream PCBs

Deckard's Dream motherboard

Deckard's Dream PSU card

Deckard's Dream I/O card



  1. MUST have the Ring Modulator AND be able to respond to Polyphonic Aftertouch, or you are missing two of the most important characteristics of the CS-80.

    1. not just the ring mod and Poly AT, but also the 2 sustain types (i ii) the analog chorus section and pedal inputs for volume wah and sustain...

  2. I want one now !

    How much will they cost as a pre-built unit ?

  3. Can't wait to build this baby and add it to my studio! I may even build it as a keyboard version!

  4. Love to have one, but the price isn't probably ok for me :D (and need the 2nd rack for full functions)

  5. no ring modulation? what about sustain i and ii ??

  6. Deckard is a human! the movie makes no sense otherwise!

    Next thing you know, Ridley Scott is going to add Jar-Jar Binks to the 40th Anniversary Edition!

  7. and tw whacking great touch/bend strip please.

  8. Not even close to a clone.

  9. Everything looks on track then. Those boards look mighty fine.


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