Cherry Audio releases the GX-80, a new synth plugin that emulates the Yamaha CS-80 and the monster keyboard that came before it

OK, the bad news is that Cherry Audio hasn’t released a plugin emulation of the Yamaha CS-80. However, the good news is that it’s gone one better and also drawn inspiration from the GX-1, the instrument that the CS-80 was derived from and an even bigger, badder sonic proposition.

Hence, we have the GX-80, a hybrid instrument that promises the best of both synths/worlds. Most notably, you get the GX-1’s dual-layer architecture, which effectively makes it two CS-80s in one.

Other notable features from the GX-1 include its filter, which Cherry Audio says can deliver timbres that even the CS-80 isn’t capable of, resonant high-passed pulse and resonant band-passed sawtooth waves, octave-up triangle wave, and filter envelope inversion.

In response to requests from its users, Cherry Audio began work on a software CS-80 back in 2021. However, during his research for the project, DSP designer and developer Mark Barton was quickly drawn back to the GX-1, and it was soon decided that both instruments were worth emulating.

The end result is a synth that offers 16 voices for each of its two layers, each of which can generate a different sound. These layers can be stacked or split. More than 1,000 are supplied, along with “studio-quality” effects.

There’s also a split keyboard mode (the GX-1 had a triple-tiered keyboard) and support for polyphonic and monophonic aftertouch controllers. A last-note priority mode, meanwhile, simulates poly aftertouch response with a monophonic channel aftertouch controller.

"With the GX-80, Cherry Audio have modelled and captured the nature of the GX-1 while bringing so much usability to it," reckons Michael Whalen, a film/television composer and recording artist who’s been using the instrument. "What's interesting is that by putting the GX-1 roar under the hood, their CS-80 emulation sounds so much more realistic.

“The CS-80 is quirky and too many companies have 'smoothed out' the sound of it in trying to capture its nature,” adds Whalen. “On the GX-80, Cherry Audio have really brought out the raw nature of the synth engine while giving the user so much more control. Frankly, this is the instrument that Yamaha should have built."

The GX-80 is available now for the introductory price of $59 (regular price is $79). It runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX and standalone formats. Find out more and download a 30-day demo on the Cherry Audio website.

Cherry Audio GX-80 synth plugin

(Image credit: Cherry Audio GX-80)
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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