Yamaha CS-60 Polyphonic Synthesizer

A worthy substitute?

In 1982 during rehearsals for the DeFilm project, my main synth -the notoriously flaky PPG Wave 2.0 – needed a break for firmware updates and fixes. I needed a poly synth, so I was offered to borrow the Yamaha CS-60 during the repair period. So I took the rather heavy unit to the rehearsal room, and tried to recreate the essence of the sounds I was using with the PPG.

An organ or a synth?

Although equipped with synth parameters and features, the feel of the CS-60 was more like an organ, with it’s bright primary colored flip buttons in the center. And sound wise I found it rather thin and pale sounding, compared to the sparkling wavetables and biting gnarl of the PPG. With not too many parameters it was quick to dial in a rough sketch of the sounds, but with no patch memory except for one hardware setting hidden behind the panel lid, it was no fun to recreate the complex live sound I had gotten used to with the PPG.

So I was very happy when the PPG returned – with it’s weirdness and quirks.

The sound

I never found the sound of CS series too appealing – except for the monstrously heavy and expensive CS-80, that has far superior sound shaping and features compared to the CS-60. The dual layers in the CS-80 offers a much more detailed and complex sound. Still only 4 patch “memories” though – arranged as 4 hardwired sets of buttons hidden under the front lid, each replicating the main synth parameters. These 4 user presets are available along with the brass, strings and piano factory settings on the coloured buttons.