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Top 10 Vintage Synths (Under $10,000)



Yamaha CS-80 (1977)

Yamaha’s most in-demand early entry in the polysynth wars was the CS-80,  one of several models released in 1977. It’s truly polyphonic, and its 61-note wooden keyboard responds to velocity and aftertouch. Although the CS-80 has no pitch-bend or mod wheels or levers, it does have a pitch ribbon and comes with a pedal to control expression and filter cutoff. Buttons on the front panel select any of 22 fixed factory patches and 4 user patches. On the control panel’s left, you’ll see a flip-up panel concealing four rows of miniature sliders that control 26 user parameters for the user patches—no digital memory needed.

The CS-80 is 8-note polyphonic, and each note can layer two voices. Each voice has one VCO with a suboscillator, an ADSR amplitude envelope, and resonant lowpass and highpass filters that share an ADR envelope. You can apply chorus, tremolo, and delay effects to the stereo output. All told, the CS-80 weighs 220 pounds with all its accessories. Yamaha made fewer than 800 of them, and most of those need to be salvaged or restored. Vangelis, whose score for the 1982 film Blade Runner has his CS-80 all over it, called it “the most important synthesizer of my career.”

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