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Yamaha CS-80, Make Noise Bruxa & More: Synth Journal


Yamaha CS-80  · 

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Our new weekly column Synth Journal continues with all of the latest synthesizer news that was too small to warrant its own story but too interesting to let die on the vine. This week we’ve got tasty synth bonbons about a new Yamaha CS-80 clone, Koma Elektronik’s hot-wired hot plate Chromaplane, Roger Linn makes a beat on an MPC and more. 

Yamaha CS-80 Clone

One of the most desired synthesizers on the planet is the Yamaha CS-80. Because of its complex discrete circuits, the 1978 polyphonic Blade Runner-soundtracking beast is notoriously hard to fix, let alone copy. However, circuit design company RetroLinear has brought us that much closer to a one-to-one Yamaha CS-80 clone reality with its new CS-80 voice cards.

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A true functional clone of the original Yamaha CS-80, the new cards are physically compatible with the original and sonically the same, the company claims, but with more stable tuning.

Each card is a full synth voice and replicates the original IG153 oscillator chip of the Yamaha CS-80, the IG156 filter chip plus houses recreations of the envelopes and a waveshaper circuit. The same voice cards were used across the original CS series, so these should work not only in a Yamaha CS-80 but also a CS-50 and CS-60. RetroLinear has also added LEDs to the boards so you know which one is triggering when calibrating or problem-solving.

RetroLinear hasn’t made any announcements about price or future instruments although they do hint that they may “turn this into something else in the future,” according to the video (above).

If you can’t wait and would like something Yamaha CS-80-like, there’s always Black Corporation’s excellent Deckard’s Dream.

Koma Elektronik Chromaplane

What’s up with instruments that detect electromagnetic fields? Last week I told you about the Eternal Research Demon Box. Now here’s Chromaplane from Koma Elektronik, a freaky hot plate that you play kind of like a theremin.

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Looking like an old MacBook Pro flipped upside down, you play it using two pickup coils that “detect a cloud of electromagnetic fields emitted from the surface,” according to the intro video by Koma Elektronik, who developed it along with experimental group Passepartout Duo. There are 10 EMF emitters, each of which is a square wave oscillator. It also has a lowpass filter, delay and audio-in jack for processing external sounds.

Koma actually debuted this at Superbooth last month but have recently made an official announcement on their website. No word yet on price or availability.

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Alex Ball Studio Tour

Composer, musician, YouTuber and all-around nice guy Alex Ball has finally posted a tour of his studio on YouTube. The hour-long video is pretty thorough, covering every aspect of his setup from his computer and DAW through acoustic instruments and guitars… and of course synthesizers.

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Studio tours can sometimes be tedious – and honestly, when I saw the runtime on this video I hesitated to watch it – but Alex makes it worthwhile by including a lot more than just synth porn and studio eye candy. He gets into how he routes everything around the studio, including mixers and patchbay. The explanation of his guitar pedal rack is worth the watch alone. If you’re like me and have guitar pedals that you never use because it’s a pain to hook them up, this will be extremely enlightening.

Oh, and stick around to the end for the blooper. That poor, poor Juno. (Alex, you may want to go with something with less keys like a JU-06A if you plan on doing more dancing in the studio.)

Giorgio Sancristoforo Creature From The Id

Giorgio Sancristoforo makes weird and wonderful experimental software synthesizers. I won’t say plugins because all of his creations are standalone – and proudly so. His latest, Creature From The Id, takes the 1950s generative experiments of Louis and Bebe Barron and turns them into an instrument.

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If you’ve seen Forbidden Planet, which features the pair’s music, then you’ll have an idea of what to expect. Two oscillator-like sound-generators with sine and saw waves plus all kinds of freaky modulation and instability work with high- and lowpass filters as envelopes, tape delay, a mixer and a reel-to-reel recorder. The results are wild and experimental and perfect for your next sci-fi adventure or free form freakout.

Currently, MacOS only but Giorgio is apparently working on a Windows version. Costs €19.50.

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Make Noise Bruxa

And speaking of freaky noises. Remember Strega, Make Noise’s experimental synthesizer collaboration with Alessandro Cortini? They’ve taken the delay circuit from that, tweaked it and released it as Bruxa. Let the teeth gnashing begin.

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Lasse wrote about this in a separate story but I wanted to mention it as well. A Eurorack module, Bruxa is a multi-tap delay line with more than 12 feedback paths plus multiple filters inside those feedback paths that allow for build-up of noise, saturation and all kinds of wild signal degradation. This is the kind of thing that modular excels at: experimental effects and sound manipulation.

Bruxa is available for pre-order for $399 and will be shipping in October 2024.

Roger Linn Makes a Beat on an Akai MPC Live 2

Here’s something you don’t see every day. Famed drum machine designer Roger Linn surprise uploaded a video to his YouTube channel this week. Usually, he talks about his Linnstrument controller, and while this video did feature a Linnstrument, it was mostly his thoughts on something else: an Akai MPC Live II.

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Roger helped create the MPC60, MPC60 MKII and MPC3000 back in the day. Due to a following out with Akai he hasn’t been involved with other versions. However, he did say that recently he has been in touch with Akai and they offered to send over a Live II for him to try out. Spoiler alert: he really liked it, and was happy to see how Akai has preserved many of his original ideas in the new model while also updating it for modern users. He then goes on to make a beat, which made me really happy.

As someone in the comments pointed out, the father of the MPC making a beat on an MPC on Father’s Day. Excellent.

Also, does this mean that Roger is working on something with Akai or could maybe in the near future? Now that would be cool.

Yamaha CS-80 standing

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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