CS-50 60 owners

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Bitexion » Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:24 pm

I spotted a CS60 in a store once and played it for a while. At first I couldn't even figure out how to make all the panel controls work! Because the preset buttons seem to disable all the settings except for the AT controls?

But that one was so horribly out of tune that you couldn't play a chord without it sounding like a horrible mess.
And alas, sadly when I went back there the week after someone had bought it. Never seen one in the wild since.
They sold it "as is" for $2000 and he said the buyer was the happiest guy he'd seen walk out of his store.

I imagine the tuning thing would be easily solved with a screwdriver and some patience.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by knolan » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:10 pm

Yes - these instruments can sound horrid when out of tune, or broadly uncalibrated. It's only when they are 'voiced 'and calibrated, and fed through some "staple" effects, that they transform into something magical.

Thankfully, Kent Spong took me through the tuning of a CS "M-Board" so I can now tune my CS80s when they may need it. It's not half as challenging a procedure as I imagined - a huge relief.

I really do hope that Yamaha return to CS technology - or a "System-1 equivalent" of it. The world of electronic musicians deserves it, and I believe they would sell if a good enough job was done on it. In fact, the basic sound of the CS range, without the performance capabilities is not all that special - it's the performance attributes of the range that gives it its character and that should be reproducible.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by madtheory » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:07 pm

knolan wrote:In fact, the basic sound of the CS range, without the performance capabilities is not all that special - it's the performance attributes of the range that gives it its character and that should be reproducible.
Agreed 99.999%, the filter has a sweetness but it's not hugely characterful. At one point I had 2 CS-5 a CS-10 and a CS01. A 5 and a 10 together MIDI'd from a weighted keyboard with AT was nice, but the onboard keyboards were just switches, and the pitch bend level was terrible. CS01 had breath control which was cool, but an even worse pitch bender than the others.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Bitexion » Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:55 pm

I had a CS-15 for a couple of years, found it kind of underwhelming and I used it mostly for "minimoog" type lead or bass sounds. AFAIK alot of late prog rock bands used the CS-15 as a Minimoog replacement because it was alot cheaper to get, more pitch stable and could get in the same ballpark for prog lead sounds. Both Magnum and Marillion were heavy CS15 users in the early 80s.

I dunno what I had expected, kind of a "semi-CS80 ish" sound. But it was just two VCO's and a filter really. No ringmod even. It couldn't really do anything crazy, just bog-standard stuff. The LFO could go pretty fast but not fast enough for real filter/VCO fm madness either.
Sold it to a friend who wanted a 2 VCO analogue synth for his band.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Cumulus » Mon Apr 20, 2015 3:06 pm

Not multi-tracked to emulate a CS-80 but here is a track that uses the CS-50 for everything except the drums (and even one of the percussion sounds is the CS-50).





The video was originally meant to be a backdrop for part of a live performance tha never materialized.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Mon Apr 20, 2015 3:58 pm

There is plenty of CS50 on Human League's "Travelogue" album which is instantly recognizable as Yamaha CS.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by madtheory » Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:12 pm

Except I'm 99% certain it's a CS-15 then, they didn't like poly synths for a long time. Back in mid nineties the 15 was on their gear list, no 50.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Micke » Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:58 pm

I've seen some live pics from the summer of 1980 where "the League" use a CS-15 on stage (alongside the Jup-4, system 100 etc.) so they might have used one
on Travelogue which was recorded at the beginning of that year. However, they did use a CS-15 on 1981's "Dare".
Afaik, the only polyphonic synth used on Travelogue was a Jupiter-4.

Men without hats used a CS-50 quite a lot on their first album and so did Loverboy (first two albums).

Examples of the CS-50 can be heard in the following Loverboy tracks:

- "Take Me To The Top": the beefy bass riff in the beginning (in fact, this track was recorded in march 1980 and was originally meant to be on their debut album).

- "It's your life": fast chord sequence in the intro (double-tracked and played in octaves)

- "Lady of the '80s": evolving pad texture

- "Turn Me Loose" opening sound
"The (Yamaha) CS-80 is a step ahead in keyboard control, and a generation behind in digital control" -- Dan Wyman, Jan 1979

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by HideawayStudio » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:51 pm

The CS-50, 60 and 80 all share the identical voice cards so with the obvious exception of not being able to layer sounds the 50 and 60 have a very similar basic sound character.

It is for this technicality that many CS-50s have very sadly been scrapped for spare parts over the years to keep CS-80s going.

One thing I will say about all three instruments is that keeping their calibration sufficiently consistent across the voice cards is more of an art than many polysynths. This is because their architecture is more akin to early voiced polyphonics such as the Oberheim 4-voice in that they are effectively a number of pretty much self contained monosynths held together under very basic centralised control.

In later synths such as the Chroma this issue was addressed by centrally generating the envelopes for all of the control parameters in software on an embedded processor and by doing so threw in the concept of parameter memory almost for free.

But that said, part of these instruments' charm is the slight shift in timbre between voices which I doubt even with expert calibration is likely to ever be perfectly matched.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Bitexion » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:20 pm

Cumulus wrote:Not multi-tracked to emulate a CS-80 but here is a track that uses the CS-50 for everything except the drums (and even one of the percussion sounds is the CS-50).





The video was originally meant to be a backdrop for part of a live performance tha never materialized.
That's a great little track. is the main lead sound a PWM wave? It sounds so alive.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by madtheory » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:26 am

Ya that's the classic CS PWM. Even the CS01 can do it, with its DCO. I think as Kevin says a lot of the character comes from the VCA, and I think the filter has some character too but not a whole lot. Or maybe it's just the way someone at Yamaha likes their oscillators!

Here's a CS-10 doing a deep bass (admittedly I boosted the low end a bit with eq) Crumar Bit One doing the plucky octave arp thing:
http://music.madtheory.com/track/aphelion

And here's a CS-5 doing a 303 type of line, with a CS-10 doing a guitar like plucked sound:
http://music.madtheory.com/track/monkfish

And a CS-10 with CS-5 as second oscillator doing bass in the intro, and also the arpeggiated chords PWM wave with echo:
http://music.madtheory.com/album/madtheory-besides
The last track also has the CS-5 doing various swept pitch and LFO effects.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by mmp » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:03 pm

In comparison to my other polys, the CS-50 has a more saturated tone that gives it weight in the way distortion does a guitar. As Kevin has pointed out, the real magic is in the performance using the aftertouch and the modulation sliders on the lower row. With the resonance up on the high pass filter, it can sound quite fat, but for me the appeal is in the quirky way this thing can play and wiggle chordal parts in songs. It just has an unique signature.

This conversation has me reconsidering the sale of my SY-2.
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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:51 am

I did a whole boatload of CS-50 demonstration videos on YouTube.
(And, they were approved by Kent Spong!)

While everything Knolan said is totally true, I will tell you my CS-50 tale (probably again).

I got my first CS-50 because of an absolutely terrible eBay auction page created by a very nice person with a very nice CS-50 who was not only not descriptive in his auction title, but also spelled "synthesizer" wrong. I got it for under $200 at a time when they were going for about $500. (Ha ha, people back then were all "IT ONLY HAS ONE OSCILLATOR." Morons.)

I don't know if this CS-50 had ever been serviced, but it looked like it had never been used (yes, it's the one in the videos). It was clean and completely functional. The oscillators were a bit out of tune with each other, however.

I found Old Crow's CS-80 tuning procedure somewhere on the then-smaller Internet, and found that it is relatively easy to tune a CS-50.

After that, I have only ever had one problem with my CS-50. I plugged something into the back at some point, and the CS-50 totally failed. I was horrified. But the fact that it was totally dead reminded me of my eBay dealings... if a synth is totally dead, it's probably just a fuse. So, I opened it up. Inside, stapled to the back in neat little plastic bags were several different fuses that Yamaha had provided. I plugged the appropriate one into the slot with the burnt out one, and pow. CS-50 totally restored. 100% functional to this day. I've had it for probably 13 years, now. Dragged it all over. Played it live once. (also bought another one back in the aughts which I played on stage a lot... not a single problem, ever... sold it for a lot because it was perfect even though it had been played live).

There is something very special about a polyphonic synthesizer with a resonant high pass filter and a resonant low pass filter. There is something very special about an analog polyphonic that will cycle through voices with each note played (if you play one note over and over again, you're getting a different oscillator on each hit). There is something very special about a polyphonic that allows high and band pass functionality but provides you with sine waves to bring the bass back in after you've taken it out. There is really nothing like this synth anywhere, ever.

But overall, my primary point is... the thing is as solid as a rock. I've owned two CS-50s, and have never needed a repair. They are like the luxury synth of the 1970s.
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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by Cumulus » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:36 am

Bitexion wrote:
Cumulus wrote:Not multi-tracked to emulate a CS-80 but here is a track that uses the CS-50 for everything except the drums (and even one of the percussion sounds is the CS-50).





The video was originally meant to be a backdrop for part of a live performance tha never materialized.
That's a great little track. is the main lead sound a PWM wave? It sounds so alive.
Yes, it is PWM and thanks for the compliment.

I love the ring mod on this synth. If I remember correctly, I used just a little bit of it on the lead sound.

I started off just trying to see if I could use it for a base line but then just recorded track after improvised track of the CS-50.

Before I knew it the song was done.

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Re: CS-50 60 owners

Post by nvining » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:37 am

I nearly bought Loverboy's CS60 several years ago - or what I was told was Loverboy's CS60 - but somebody apparently stole it a couple of days before I was set to complete the transaction. I can only assume they stole it very slowly.

I've had a CS50, and currently have a CS60 (for sale but buyer pending) and a CS80 (no way, no how) The CS80 absolutely has a lot of magic that the CS50 and CS60 don't, due to the polyphonic aftertouch/second oscillator/etc. but there's a lot of good stuff to also be wrung out of a CS50 or CS60. The CS60 has the ribbon which I think is wonderful and essential, in conjunction with the ring modulator and other goodies.

I will also point out that the CS80 can do a lot more than just Blade Runner, you know. :)
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