RetroLinear is working on a Yamaha CS-80 voice card clone

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RetroLinear, a US-based gear shop for vintage instruments, shared a video announcing work on a clone of the Yamaha CS-80 voice card.

Many vintage synthesizers are coming back as clones/replicas from various companies (Behringer, Black Corporation, etc.). The Yamaha CS-80 is one of the most legendary analog synthesizers ever built and is at the top of many musicians’ comeback wish lists.

Black Corporation already has a clone/replica on the market, and Behringer is working on the project. With RetroLinear there is now a third company that will bring the legend back. For now, only the voice card.

RetroLinear Yamaha CS-80 voice card

The latest project completed from RetroLinear’s design lab, our CS Voice card designed from the ground up! Tim Warneck describes and demonstrates our latest innovation. Our hopes are to convert this into something much more!!

RetroLinear Yamaha CS-80 Voice Card

It came as a complete surprise to learn that RetroLinear, a US-based shop for vintage synth parts, is working on a CS-80 project. More precisely, they authentically cloned the Yamaha CS-80’s voice card. 

In the original unit, you can find 16 voice cards, referred to as “M” circuit boards, two of each voice. They include the VCO, VCFs, (lowpass & highpass), two envelope generators, and six VCAs 

For this, they created a test console that mimics the CS-80’s internals and how it drives the voice cards. From here, then, they cloned/replicated the voice card. According to RetroLinear, they replicated the card using discrete circuitry with a full analog signal path.

They recreated the voice card and took care that all the original circuits’ strange glitches, envelope behaviors, filter distortions, etc., are part of it.

The new voice card also has improvements. One is about stability. According to RetroLinear, they archived tuning stability across the entire keyboard. There are also LEDs on each voice that shows which voice is triggered.

Of course, questions arise: Is RetroLinear bringing a CS-80 clone onto the market? No, not at the moment. The voice card is intended to make defective units functional again, but it could also be used for a new CS-80. 

First Impression

The fact that there will soon be a 1-to-1 clone/replica voice in modern could open the door for a new CS-80. I’m excited to see when this will come onto the market and which company will use it in a possible CS-80 rebirth in the future.

More information will follow here: RetroLinear

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