MATRIXSYNTH: Yamaha CS60: most expressive synthesizer I’ve ever played! by Stephen Coker

Monday, August 06, 2018

Yamaha CS60: most expressive synthesizer I’ve ever played! by Stephen Coker


Published on Aug 6, 2018 Stephen Coker

Follow-up to this post.

"1977 Vintage Yamaha Cs60 Synthesizer demonstration by Mix Lord. “Stephen Coker”.

Recorded through a Universal Audio LA-610 Channel strip into a Apogee Ad8000 with waves reverb and, a slight chorus plugin. Mastering was simple and minimally done to preserve most of the dynamics of the instrument for this demonstration.

The Yamaha CS 60 is a landmark in synthesis history. This is the very first 8 voice fully programmable polyphonic analog synthesizer available to the general public.

This instrument changed the world and, set the standards for synthesizer companies that come afterwards. Though, no other synthesizer ever reached anywhere near what this and the CS80 synthesizers do. The sheer range in tonal possibilities are endless. From soft perfect moving pads to, hi-fi cutting edge textures.
From Moog type leads to patches that are indistinguishable from a saxophone. I’ve even programmed an exact replica of a fretless bass with complete ease.

The CS60 has 8 VCO’s that make up a single identical layer of the CS80’s dual Voice architecture. With extensive real-time performance controls, this synth was designed for the performing musician and composer in mind. Pulse and ramp waves are available simultaneously with a dedicated LFO for PWM and a beautiful noise circuits that is extremely useful.

The dual filters may be the most important aspect of the CS sound. The high pass and low pass filter act as a band pass filter “ in series” that cannot be matched in pure tone and power. No matter where you have the filter cut off, it always sounds musical and, amazing.

The envelopes are extremely musical. From the snappiest plucks to The perfect brass patch. No doubt these envelopes were designed with mimicking instruments in mind.

The ability to overdrive the amplifier allows for extremely aggressive yet, musical tones. Add to that, the ability to add in a sine wave and, you have one of the most unique and well thought out synthesizer architecture, ever devised by man.

The performance controls are where the CS60 really shines. Having the ability to assign a sine, saw, ramp, square, noise or, external LFO modulation source and apply that to the touch response is avast part of the CS60’s performance magic. Along with the ability to add “brilliance” to the Touch response gives the ability to open and close the filters with aftertouch and, have velocity affect the filters while simultaneously routing the LFO to the VCO and VCF after touch gives extremely musical expression to every performance.

Add to that the ability to control the volume of the instrument with a foot pedal and control either the sustain and or, control the portamento and Glissando and, you have a full fledged musical instrument.

You have one physical memory location which is a compartment underneath the left of the top panel to store your own settings.

I bought this synthesizer in 2014 and I’ve almost completed my restoration. I started by rebuilding the power supply which needed all the electrolytic capacitors and op amps replaced. Then, I started working on the KAS and Sub board.

I still have some CMOS chips on the KAS board to replace that should be in anytime now. So, I can recalibrate the instrument one more time and have everything back to factory specifications.


Every detail was thought out when creating this instrument and, Yamaha obviously spent vast amounts of resources to develop these instruments. The entire CS line is some of the best instruments in the world. My favorite obviously being the CS 80 but the CS 60 truly is a keeper in the studio. Pure tone that surprises me every time I play it and, it sounds exactly like the CS80 and has the same amount of expression. The only difference being that it doesn’t have polyphonic aftertouch. Luckily though it does have aftertouch that can be affected by velocity and, just like the CS 80 the aftertouch can be applied to pitch, filter and, amplifier individually or, simultaneously.

This synthesizer begs to be played and, it’s a workhorse in the studio. Used on countless tracks over the past 41 years by top charting artist and is in many of your favorite songs. Most of what vangelis did with his CS80 can be achieved with the CS60 because most everything he did was only a single layer.

I believe that the CS60 Will gain more attention by the musicians of the world as, the only viable authentic way to achieve the CS80 experience that cannot be replicated any other way. So, I believe the value of these instruments will skyrocket.

There are many CS60 videos on YouTube but, the vast majority of them never come close to what this instrument actually sounds like. That’s why I decided to start making some videos to Bring light to this amazing yet, overlooked instrument.


My name is Stephen Coker and, I’ve been a full time Producer since 1994.

Contact me here on YouTube if you need a synthesizer technician, mix engineer, mastering engineer, Composer, instrument sample lib"

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