CS-50 60 owners

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CS-50 60 owners

Post by smith toppleton » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:21 am

Hello,

I've been considering adding a CS-50 to the arsenal but am still on the fence. Of course what I'm really after is the rich CS-80 sound, which I've heard is slightly attainable on its little brothers through multi-tracking, chorus, and reverb. I'm wondering if there are any VSE users who would be willing to post some samples of a CS-50 that has been multi-tracked to see how close it gets.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by synthparts » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:58 am

The CS70M is the best bet because it has the same dual-patch layering set up as the CS80...
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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:43 am

I don't have a multi-tracked example for you but, having both 50 and 80 side by side, I can assure you that the 50 gets there easily (and tends to sound better than the 80 in some respects, perhaps it's a lot more immediate and hands-on where the 80 tends to be a bit too much of everything).

Not sure about the 70... I could never warm up to it but your mileage may vary.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by smith toppleton » Fri Apr 17, 2015 4:50 pm

Thanks for your reply, that's really helpful. It's shocking to hear the 50 is sometimes favorable to the mighty CS-80. :shock:

Regarding multi-tracking, I can see how that would get you in the ballpark, but wouldn't you have to play the phrase twice with precisely the same timing and modulation to get just the right subtle beating of oscillators? With MIDI it wouldn't be a problem, but it might get a bit tedious as is, even for a good keyboardist. Also, I wonder if it sounds the same having the voices summed in a DAW as opposed to in the synthesizer's mixer itself. Anyway, sorry to sound skeptical! Just curious about the process. I guess I should just buy one and try it out.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by philip » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:34 pm

Get the CS70m while they're not so expensive!! The same sound wise as the CS80+patch memory+sequencer. Got them both now in my studio,I maybe will do a comparison video someday.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Bitexion » Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:15 pm

A big review I read once totally favored the CS60 before the CS80. "It's better to have a stable synth with 85% of the features rather than having a totally unstable synth with 100% features"., He had both side by side.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by adamstan » Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:35 pm

Yeah, I remember it. That was old bluesynths review.
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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by tomorrowstops » Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:14 pm

I've only had a 50. Man, what a beautiful set of sounds it produced. One of the most hands on synths I've ever played and maybe the biggest regret I've had, letting it go. Thankfully it went to home nearby, and I'm sure I could coerce the owner to let me play it every once and a while!

I will say, however, that the 4 note polyphony limitation kind of drives me up a wall. But mostly because I'm too stubborn to get my paws used to it.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by mmp » Fri Apr 17, 2015 11:42 pm

Yes, you could! :D
tomorrowstops wrote:I've only had a 50. Man, what a beautiful set of sounds it produced. One of the most hands on synths I've ever played and maybe the biggest regret I've had, letting it go. Thankfully it went to home nearby, and I'm sure I could coerce the owner to let me play it every once and a while!

I will say, however, that the 4 note polyphony limitation kind of drives me up a wall. But mostly because I'm too stubborn to get my paws used to it.
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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:15 am

smith toppleton wrote:Regarding multi-tracking, I can see how that would get you in the ballpark, but wouldn't you have to play the phrase twice with precisely the same timing and modulation to get just the right subtle beating of oscillators?
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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:56 am

tomorrowstops wrote: [...] I will say, however, that the 4 note polyphony limitation kind of drives me up a wall. But mostly because I'm too stubborn to get my paws used to it.
That's true, you have to adopt your playing technique to that in order to make use of this limitation... I've had a couple of four-voice polyphonic instruments in course of the years but sometimes it really is a bit annoying. Then again, there are some settings on the 50 where you wouldn't notice it's just four voices.

I think its immediacy is two-fold. First, there isn't that constant fear lurking in the background of it giving out. Second, the ergonomics of the controls are more immediate to access where the 80 tends to be a bit too inert (also the keyboard that has a touch which is a lot lighter than the 80's -- that makes playing fast lines a lot easier).

When it's in full flight, there is a faint hint at the GX-1's glory audible, and multitracking the same phrase should be no problem when you're a musician. Little inaccuracies during overdubbing probably make your performance sound even more organic. I use multitracking a lot and I've never had an instrument that sounded worse after multitracking it. The beauty of the 80 is that the oscillators are never phase-locked, there always is a lot of drifting and beating involved.

I must confess I originally bought the 50 to be gutted for spares... I would have a really hard time slaughtering it. It's just too beautiful.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by knolan » Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:14 pm

smith toppleton wrote:Hello,

I've been considering adding a CS-50 to the arsenal but am still on the fence. Of course what I'm really after is the rich CS-80 sound, which I've heard is slightly attainable on its little brothers through multi-tracking, chorus, and reverb. I'm wondering if there are any VSE users who would be willing to post some samples of a CS-50 that has been multi-tracked to see how close it gets.

I'm a CS80 owner - and I can tell you, a significant amount of what the CS80 is well known for (in Vangelis terms) is achievable on the CS50 or CS60. That's because the CS80 was used mostly in quite solo, subtle and single line ways by Vangelis in particular. Trawl through his music and you'll find a significant number of his most soulful lines were using the CS80 essentially as a solo / lead synth. The means he was only using one channel, and yes aftertouch - but not polyphonic aftertouch. For all his big "string" sounds, he relied upon VP330 and P10 in particular.

A perception has arisen that the CS80 is so expressive because of its polyphonic aftertocuh - and while I can testify to it being absolutely beautiful; I'd challenge you to find an example of polyphonic aftertouch on any album by Vangelis ( other than on Beaubourg). Rather, what IS vital about the CS80 aftertocuh - and is available on the CS60 and I believe the CS50 (but will stand corrected on it) - is that they all offer IMMEDIATE ACCESS through the levers above the keyboard to adjust, fine tune, setup and indeed perform with variations of amount of aftertouch on amplifier and filter, and LFO depth and rate - all via aftertouch. It is the ready access to aftertouch - and not specifically the polyphonic aftertouch feature itself, that make the CS80 and 60 so expressive. Nobody has heard the CS60 (and 50) sound so expressive simply because Vangelis was truly the expert in expressiveness on the CS80 - but mostly in using it as a solo synthesiser and those features exist on the CS60 and 50 too.

Furthermore, the other dimension to the CS80 expressiveness that is also on the CS60 and 50 is the amazing Ring Modulator - and its 5 realtime control levers.

What WILL be underpowered is the capability of the CS80 to sound huge in the bass end when the two channels are detuned - the CS60 and 50 will sound a bit thinner on that front. Nevertheless, a single CS60 or 50 wave put through a chorus unit with reverb, and then affecting its bass end brightness or vibrato via aftertouch is still huge.

Finally on this front, when you sit at a CS80 you are sitting at a musical instrument in the sense of a piano, fender rhodes or Hammond B3 - you sense Yamaha were thinking that way about it - and that encourages you to 'play' in a way that perhaps other synths so not. So perhaps that is an important and unique feature of the CS80 - it was to Vangelis for sure who is such a performance based composer. But hey, sometimes you can't have it all!


So I would heartedly recommend both the CS50 and CS60 if you are after the range of wonderful synth performance capabilities best know on the CS80. Do not overlook the SY1 and 2 also - and I also own Arturia CS80V and love it - it really does sound and play like the CS80 when carefully setup on a midi controller with sufficient controls (knobs and faders) to map to the many realtime levers on the CS80 just above the keyboard. It can sound huge - though I have to admit that being a CS80 owner has been a help in getting the CS80V to sound convincing - a significant number of the presets on it are NOT convincing because I can hear that they were set up by otherwise excellent programmers, but who I can tell have never played an actual CS80 and don't realise how to configure the CS80V mapping for realtime manipulation of the instrument. Once you map the 20 or so levers just above the keyboard to MIDI controllers - then it performs like a CS80.


I also own the CS70M, and while I love it to - it does NOT sound like a CS80. Firstly, and I can't quite put my finger on it (excuse the pun) - though the CS70M and CS40M (which I also own) use the exact same VCO, VCF and VCA ICs, both the CS70M and the CS40M sound a tad "thinner" than the older CS's. It might be to do with the output amplification stage - the newer CS70M and 40M sound great - and instantly recognisable as CS synthesizers - but perhaps a bit too 'precise' to be 'fat'! Furthermore, because the CS70M is a dual channel programmable synth with memory banks, you tend NOT to use it as a realtime performance synth in the way you do with the CS80, and so it plays differently. Don't get me wrong - the CS70M can be made to sound gargantuan or incredibly sweet - and has exquisite performance features - and was mostly shunned when it came out because a) it didn't match the CS80 and b) the DX7 came out the following year, rather on its own merits which are very strong when you get to know it.


Overall, I believe the CS50 and CS60, as well as the SY-1 and SY-2 all offer a huge amount of the "classic CS" solo features well known from the CS80 - but I genuinely mean it when I say that the Arturia CS80V sounds extraordinarily like the CS80 - its basic oscillator and filters are incredibly similar to the real thing - I'm hugely impressed (and usually do not find plugin synths inspiring) - but as said above - the key to getting it to sound like a CS80 is to map its performance leavers to MIDI CC controllers (at least 16 of them). I have no vested interest in promoting Arturia.



Finally - an important point: all of those synthesisers are VERY old at this stage. If you buy one, factor in getting it serviced. For the CS50 and 60 that can be substantial. The very best restorer is Kent Spong of KSR. I've had all three of my CS80's restored by Kent - and they are all better than new. For example, Kent installs decoupling capacitors that remove the vulnerability of the old CS range to static. I have been over a decade travelling back and forth to Kent to have these three instruments restored. Once serviced or restored, you can expect many years of exquisite performance. The CS80 was unstable in years past because it's so big, heavy and complex, and indeed the CS80 doesn't like travelling - but I recently collected by third CS80 from Kent which and been with him for 2 years (I live far from Kent) and in all that time it dod not need even the hint of a retune. So once in your facility and not gigged, any of the CS synthesisers - including the CS80 - are stable over a long time.

But be warned - buying a CS50, 60 or 80 demands patience, and something extra put by for a service (perhaps a £1000 or more) - so make it a long term plan, if you are really set on getting one. I can tell you, despite the years of effort, saving and restoration, it has been worth it.

For me, every time I see the release of a new synth I'd love like a Pro2, Arp Odyssey or JD-XA - I save a little harder - but not for one of those - I'm now after a Minimoog and Jupiter 8 - and am confident I'll acquire them when I have saved enough over the next three-four years or so. If I want a JD-XA, I want a Jupiter 8 even more, so the decision is made :-)

Kevin.
Last edited by knolan on Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:56 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by smith toppleton » Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:43 pm

Great post. That was very informative and interesting.

Actually, one of the points you hit on is something that has been rattling around my head today. I think most of us end up buying vintage synths because there's a certain sound we're after from some records we've heard in the past. The OB-XA on Jump, the Jupiter 8 on Thriller, the CS-80 on Blade Runner, etc. But more often than not, when you finally have the synthesizer in front of you it becomes clear that there was a lot more to the sound than just the synth; the player's technique, the melodies and songwriting, the outboard processing and mixing, and so on. If that synth happens to be a Juno-106 or some readily available vintage synthesizer it's obvious to most people that having the synth alone won't get you "that" sound, but when it's an incredibly rare and expensive synthesizer it's easy to keep that hope alive--that CS-80 will make me sound like Vangelis or whatever. So because the CS-50 is affordable, it's overlooked as "not having that sound," because the people that have a CS-50 can't make it sound just like Vangelis. As long as the CS-80 continues to be unattainable, it can keep its legendary status as a dream machine. This isn't to say it's not a world-class synthesizer, just that its prohibitiveness helps it to keep its reputation.

Does that make sense? Haha. I guess nothing sounds like a produced album out of the box, and no musician sounds exactly like another.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by smith toppleton » Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:52 pm

Also, by coincidence I also happened to play a CS40m today at a nearby shop. I agree that there's a certain tone missing with regards to the 50/60/80 family. Maybe more a bit on the CS-15/30 side? Even the ring mod lacked the depth and grit of the 50/60/80. Still, a very fun synth in its own right... it seems much more reliable and easy to navigate and play as well, like other Japanese synthesizers of the early 80s. The duophonic function is great too. I'd get both if only I could afford it.

Full disclosure, I've got a lead on a CS-50 and I'll probably pick it up, but it's being repaired at the moment and I need to wait and see if they can get it in perfect working order. The tech is very honest and told me that it's 90% there, but failing a specific part that he's searching for it will have tuning problems when the "2-octave down" button is engaged resulting in two of the voices being sharp about 20 cents (again, only when transposed -2 octaves). Would this be a serious problem?

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by knolan » Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:22 pm

I agree -

There have been enough calls surely over the years to release what Vangelis himself had hoped for - a lighter CS80 offspring with more sounds - but retaining all the important features.

As long as only about of 1000 of them are in circulation, it means that most people can never experience one. it has acquired a quite mythical experience. I was very lucky in buying a few of them when prices were low; and having them serviced. But I can tell you, it is a quite extraordinary experience playing a stable one, run through a Roland Dimension D and Lexicon Reverb - it does not disappoint (apologies if there's a hint of gloating in that :roll: ) .

With Yamaha making rumblings towards entering the synth market gain, and the revolution in synthesis underway, perhaps they may eventually consider a new version (wishful thinking I suppose) - but you never know.

I'd wait to get that tuning thing sorted - being a single channel synth, it'd annoy you I suspect! Unless you try it and find that it's sufficiently "tooked away" form being every used. If it's stable, and you can get it at a keen price, it might be worth buying, with a view to having that last tuning item serviced later ?? Only you can make that call.

Good luck!

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