The CS-80V manages to combine a confusing user interface with being one of the most user-friendly synths out there. It should be impossible, but it does.
The blame for the unwieldy interface is squarely divided between Arturia and Yamaha. Arturia's miniscule, almost unreadable fonts makes sure you have to learn the interface by heart if you are to get up to speed programming your own sounds; That the English version of the manual is predominantly written in classic Gibberish does not help.
Yamaha brings some non-standard terminology, filter controls and performance functions to the mix, though they have an excellent excuse considering the synth really was designed before any de-facto standards had evolved. Point in case: To make an ordinary sustain pedal perform as expected, you first have to set two (2) rocker switches and one slider in their proper positions!
So, 5 out of 10 on the GUI on that score, but then you start to find your way around the performance-tweaking controls, and you suddenly have to add a few more stars to the rating: Basically, the lower part of the GUI is a sophisticated quick-tweak area (akin to, say, the easy-edit page of the FM7/FM8), where you can make RADICAL changes to presets in a very efficient and consistent manner. Add to that an unequaled "plug-and-play" support for performance controls such as expression pedals and polyphonic aftertouch, and you have a true musician's instrument, very responsive to every nuance in playing style and a joy to play live.
The CS-80V manages to combine a fairly basic subtractive synthesis architecture with being one of the true Virtual Analog sonic powerhouses. This should also be impossible, but it does.
First of all, the distinct "squared sawtooth" waveform makes this THE synth for stringy brass (or brassy string) sounds. For "heroic all-synthetic orchestra" film scores, look no further. Also, it cuts through a mix like not much else, fleshing out without muddying or overwhelming. You may not be able to emulate Vangelis 100%, but if you have a roughly Vangelis-shaped hole in your sonic arsenal, chances are this synth will fit admirably.
Even without delving into Arturia's add-on virtual features, the "dual synth line" architecture of the CS-80V means that it more or less expects and encourages you to use layered-type sounds, producing a fat and lush tone. If you want even more majestic sounds, switch to Arturia's "Multi mode", where you can assign a separate patch to each of the 8 voices. Slightly different versions of the same patch -- combined with some tasteful individual voice detuning -- can produce an emulation of the analog circuitry's quirkyness and tendency for sonic shifts from note to note.
If you are looking for a quick "load and play" synth, you may find the price of this one a bit steep. Cheaper, more standardised alternatives may suit you better. On the other hand, if you are a "live keyboard player" willing to put some time into getting to know it, and have the hardware performance controls to tame it, it will reward you in a truly stylish manner.
This is my second review for CS-80V, now on version 1.5 I'm Max , and I'm the guy who people at Arturia mentioned on their site, just to make things clear I tell you I didn't have any reward from my work and my collaboration was totally spontaneous. The fact is I am a big fan of this instrument and I think it has far more flexibility than its hard counterpart, I helped the guys just about verifying some bugs etc and trying to make some closer presets. What's this version like ? I want to say that the work has been done with more attention to some little nuances. I'll save you the obvious describing of debug and improving work, you can read it as well on Arturia site. The main fact is how this synth sounds. My answer is : tremendously powerful : the new typical sawtooth has added a wonderful bandwith quality with an enhancement on higher harmonics, which is given by the little superimposed square , a unique character in the CS series signature sound; the "trimmers" facility in the About Box helps a lot in creating a faithful analog response. The ringmodulator sounds absolutely spine-shivering and the Chorus/Tremolo, now built according the original design has given to effected sounds a fully original quality. The second question is : does it sound like the CS-80? My answer is : they miss just one step!!! I think the hardest work has been done and now there is only a "fine tuning" job to do , like implementing a Touch response feature more faithful to the original and make some little adjustments to Ch/Trem , Filters and for a lesser extent, envelopes. I can nothing more than reccommend it to everybody who are in need for big and full of personality sound!
I'm actually using it as a TDM plug with Pro Tools. Sounds absolutely amazing but is terribly unstable. Causes PT to suddenly quit especially if you try to change presets too quickly. All the Arturia stuff does this although the Mini Moog is the most stable of the bunch. I've used this on several commercials and television projects along with the moog modular plugin. If you need some amazing super fat sounds nothing beats the arturia stuff. Access Virus is probably the closest and perhaps a few of the Logic instruments. There are also a few problems with the arp tempo of the plugin not automatically matching the tempo of the host sequencer. At times this can be a real pain in the ass. Not sure if the VST version locks up. Perhaps someone could comment on that.
Over all I still think this plug is totally worth the price and the problems. If you need to fill the backgound with that really beautiful fat pad to add some depth, this is by far the best.
blah blah blah 21 characters to go to fufill the review requirements.....now.
In my opinion, one of the greatest products of 2004. Unfortunately I cannot make an A/B comparison with the original Yamaha instrument, but with this virtual synth you won't regret spending your money. Great sound, warm, powerful and subtle at the same time. A lot of additional features (like you expect from Arturia's products), a lot of useful presets (and you will start making your own soon).
Most of all, an inspiring machine.
Cons: it requires a fast cpu, the patch storage system could be better (like in other Arturia's products), sometimes I get white noises changing quickly from a preset to another, and a few other little things that I'm sure will be fixed in a next upgrade. None of these things must discourage you from trying it, you'll be thanking Arturia for having made such a great job!
The manual is good, it could be better, but it's useful especially because this CS80 is really a powerful "beast" with a lot of features. Be sure to read it if you're not an expert user, you'll discover nice things to love this instruments more...
Support is not the quickest in the world, but I have had just one problem once. It's a shame their forum on the site is still down after a couple of months.
With all of the virtual synths available - both free and commercially available - it's all too easy to become jaded.
Well, this synth has made all the difference for me.
Like its sister product, the Moog Modular V, this "feels" substantial and classy.
Although it sounds like a cliche, the sound is unusually warm sounding and very flexible. The delay and chorus FX enhance the sounds quite a bit, but the unprocessed sound is great as well.
The CPU usage, though a tad heavy, is nowhere near as taxing as some reviews I have read. Granted, it is much more efficient when run as a VST than when run in stand alone mode, but I have never been able to peg the CPU usage past %70 with mega-polyphony.
The presets are exceptionally good, and if they sometimes bear a resembance to the Moog Modular, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
It is quite stable (so far) in Cubase SX 2.01.10
The GUI is similar to the Moog Modular V in that it intends to be a "photo-realistic" recreation of the original - which is good and bad. One major improvement is that the drop-down arrows are MUCH larger than the Moog Modular, which is a very good thing. There is also an "ALL" option in the preset list - two things that Arturia should include in the next update of Moog Modular V.
The bottom line: the thing reeks of class. Go out and buy it.
Arturias products are GREAT. The recreation of the original circuitry is very good. (I'm almost that old so I can remember what analog synths used to sound/feel like)
But foremost, to my experience so far, CS80v (and other Arturia products ) are very CPU friendly and Incredibly stable. Great coding in other words.
The plugin LOOKS great but I wish Arturia would do some sort of optional GUI to their products that works better on a computer,keyb and mouse. Of course you can easily assign the knobs to your favorite hw controller but I'm pretty sure that most people still end up "whipping cream" with their mouse for hours....
I've been using the V Collection for a few years now. Love the Modular, Quite like the others, especially the Prophet. But I can't get my head round the CS80. Can anyone explain what the fuss is about.? Is this just not a very good emulation? I haven't heard a single preset I want to use, and I've yet to get a decent sound out of it myself. Maybe I'm missing something?
Hi - the ribbon controller is like a pitch wheel. I guess you need a controller with a ribbon on it to use it. I think Paul McCartney used one (with a moog) on some of the tracks on Abbey Road, and Keith Emerson used to use one live to make silly noises - eg on Pictures at an exhibition.
To get aftertouch vibrato, open the panel on the left hand side - this gives you access to the modulation matrix. Select aftertouch from the first source menu and LFO 1 as the destination. In the next source box select LFO 1 and select VCO 1 Freq as the destination.
Repeat the entire process in the next two rows, but this time select VCO2 as the final destination.
Can we be honest here? This VST is broken, right? This is the only VST I have ever paid money for where, after 3 years of updates and trying again and again, I am convinced it is actually just not put together properly. I'd say stay away from this VST. It's unbelievably frustrating even for experienced users. And not frustrating because the original synth was too complex. It's frustrating because it was not make properly. It is genuinely missing some virtual screws.
If you think I am kidding, just try the demo patches for yourself. Do those sound like patches you would here in a retail synth VST? Think about it, and don't just assume it must be right because it is Arturia, or based on a famous synth. This is the worlds most broken and frustrating VST. Prove me wrong.
Actually, I figured it out, and decided to come back and post about it. Cubase 6. Quick Controls. TURN THEM OFF. I must have fiddled with them years ago to try and record the control changes I played live to be more like Vangelis. Instead, they ended up manipulating certain control changes that I didn't want, and restricted others to only what was set in the quick controls. I couldn't get vibrato to work to save my life, even though I was setting it up correctly. This was because of the Quick Controls I had enabled. They permanently stole my modwheel for filter control and it was driving me mental. Again, this was my doing, and my misunderstanding of how Quick Controls were supposed to work (I never did get them working like I wanted).
So I figured it out, turned that crap off, and was FINALLY able to make a Blade Runner patch in really no time at all. Vibrato on the modwheel, filter on the after touch. Pitch bends finally worked as expected too.
So, I take it back somewhat. I still think the age of this VST combined with the quick controls caused some more unusual things than you would expect, but in the end, it all worked out and finally I am happy to own this synth.