Thursday, March 28, 2013

Roland Vocoder Plus "The Human Factor" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Roland Vocoder Plus "The Human Factor" full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the November 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine.

This Roland Vocoder Plus ad has a lot in common with other Roland advertisements from the same time period, like that Jupiter-4 ad I blogged about last Monday. Title, large photo of gear with coloured background and three columns of well-written white ad-copy all on a black background.

Unfortunately, lasting power was not one of the features it has in common with the Jupiter-4 ad. The JP4 ad ran five or six times over a year or so, but this Vocoder ad only lasted through one winter - October, November, December and January 1980.

Some would say that four ads in consecutive issues is better than five or six spread out over a longer period of time. Plus, the Vocoder Plus also had the additional promo bump with it's appearance in the December 1979 Spec Sheet.
"Roland Keyboard. The Vocoder Plus is a polyphonic instrument which has a built-in vocoder and two tone-generating systems, one for strings and one for human voice-like sounds. Each of the three sections may be independently assigned to cover the whole keyboard or one of its halves, top or bottom. Each half of the keyboard also feeds into its won output so that the Vocoder Plus can be run in stereo. The tone and attack time of the strings section is independent of that of the human voice section. The two sections share release times. The upper half of the keyboard has one female and one male chorus and the lower half has two male choruses. The vocoder section processes the spoken or sung human voice and uses this program information to modify the carrier signal (which for the instrument is provided by the human choir tone-generating system). A balance control is supplied for balancing the output levels of the different sections. The microphone input to the vocoder section accepts either a phone plug or an XLR connector. Price is $2,695.00. Roland, 2401 Saybrook Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90040."
Enough about the ad. I'm more interested in the machine itself.

I love vocoders. Probably because many of the things I love in this world revolve around vocoders. Kraftwerk. Robots. Eeeerrr... Did I mention robots?!? Robots are awesome.  Okay, maybe I also love vocoders because I can't sing and its really the only excuse I have to to put a mic in front of me.

Believe it or not, my love for vocoders started with a Korg DVP-1. I picked it from a friend who found it too limiting, but I was more than happy to take it off his hands for a nice price, and it got the job done when needed. I don't even remember what happened to it. Must have lent it to someone a long while back once I found a Roland SVC-350 - in the city even!

What I didn't know (according to Vintage Synth Explorer's page on the Vocoder Plus) is that the SVC-350 is related to the Vocoder Plus! I've never hunted down a Vocoder Plus to listen to but VSE commenter "mike" came up with an ingenious way to get the SVC-350 to sound very similar to the Vocoder Plus:"
"Here is what I done so I can get same tone out of VP-330 in a SVC-350. I bought a AKAI S5000. There is a AKAI CDROM called “History of Roland” in S1000 format. It has all the VP-330 sounds. Load the VP-330 programs up on the S5000 and Plug this S5000 up to your SVC-350 and BAM you have a VP-330 with the same carrier sound on a SVC-350. That is just if you want to have the same sound you get when you turn on a VP-330 and use vocoder without any ext sound. 5/5"
Smarty-pants! Gonna definitely try this!

This then got me even more curious to exactly how the Vocoder Plus sounds. Especially when the ad itself says that "The Human Voice section literally defies description with its uncanny resemblance to a chorus of human voices".  Add to this the fact that another commenter from VSE says that the Vocoder Plus was used extensively by Vangelis on the Bladerunner soundtrack. And another says it was used extensively by Underworld. I just had to know how this thing sounds.

Thank you Youtube and for a great little demo of its functionality.

Yup. Very Vangelis.

I'm hooked.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Roland Jupiter-4 "Never has the universe been so near" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Roland Jupiter-4 synthesizer "Never has the universe been so near" full page colour advertisement from page 23 in the October 1979 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.

So it seems that after the blog's latest run of Roland SH-101 ads, I'm still on a bit of a Roland kick. Not even a dude in tight blue spandex traveling at high speeds down a hill playing a keytar using ski gloves could stop me.

Initially this Jupiter-4 advertisement ran inside the October and November 1979 issues of CK, but then Roland seemed to have decided to give the synth a bit of a boost the following spring by making it the first Roland advertisement to be placed in the coveted front inside cover of the magazine. It ran in that spot through March, May and June 1980, and then, to put icing on the cake, Roland decided to run it again in the January 1981 issue.

An okay run by most standards.

It might not be the most creative advertisement with a basic title/photo/3-column layout on a black background, but at least its in colour. Unlike the Jupiter-4's first ad that appeared almost a year earlier. To me, Roland's Jupiter series is all about the colour pallet. Even the small amounts of colour on those buttons "pop", and you need to see a photo of the Roland Jupiter-4 in a colour advertisement to really appreciate it's beauty. 

Another thing about layouts in general that I always notice is when an ad doesn't use all of its space. I've tried to scan this ad with as much of the outside edge of the ad as possible so you can get an idea of just how much space was left on all sides. It's almost too much. Almost.

The theme of this advertisement is about as creative as the design - price/performance/function. You may be inspired to yawn at this point, but as my friend Dave would always do to me, if you don't cover your mouth while you are yawning, I'm going to stick my finger in it. And then slap you across the face.I started covering my mouth pretty quickly.

My point is, it may be an old message previously used with ads for monophonics developed and their prices began to fall, but its also an effective message to be used on polyphonics that are now starting to follow similar price drops.

If there is one thing that bugs me about this ad, it's that tag line "Never Has the Universe Been so Near". First, because they've decided to only capitalize some of the words. Sure, some style guides will tell you to do this - but I'd be more inclined to keep everything in small letters after he first word.

Never has the universe been so near.

Or, break the rule book altogether capitalize everything.

Never Has The Universe Been So Near.

But its not just the capitalization. It's that the tag line doesn't really have anything to do with the rest of the ad-copy. The "universe" is never referenced again.

Yes, I get it. Roland is telling me I can have it all with the Jupiter-4. It costs half as much as a similar synth from another company, and yet includes features not found in the competition. But just pull the "universe" into that first paragraph somehow. You've got the room.

In the big picture though, capitalization and on-going references to the universe are small potatoes.  The ad-copy in this ad is all grown up. First and foremost, another Roland product, the Compu-Rhythm makes a great cameo appearance. And its not just thrown in there in some half-assed way, its used as a tool to keep the main focus on the Jupiter-4, and one of its most awesome features - the arpeggiator!

Also, many foreign companies got razed a little for their disjointed ad-speak back in the 70s, but this one from Roland definitely isn't one of them. Not only does it speak well to a North American audience with lines like "rolling in money", Roland also seems to be getting a little scrappy, willing to poke the eyes of the other big synth companies by throwing in cheeky comments like "features our competition somehow forgot". And that final paragraph delivers the final blow:
"But if all of this still isn't enough to make you try out a Jupiter-4, this one fact will be: It costs $2895.00. Why do the others cost so much more? You'd better ask them that question."
Bam! Yo mamma!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Roland BLUE SH-101 "Takes you where you want to go" ad, Keyboard 1984

Roland BLUE SH-101 synthesizer "Takes you where you want to go" full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the March 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Okay...lets recap.

The first blog post in this series of SH-101 ads included that guy on the scooter who looked a little uncomfortable. And, I think we also all generally agreed that 80s contemporary dancing was an all-around bad idea.

Then, in the second ad of the series, the hottie blonde skateboarder playing the SH-101 was, if not a bit more practical, at least a little more natural looking.

But in this third and final ad in the series... Skis?  Really...? SKIS!?!?! This dude is cruisin' for a bruisin' traveling at high speeds down a hill while trying to play his SH-101.

I just can't believe that the the marketing geniuses behind the "mobility" concept running throughout this ad campaign couldn't come up with something better than skis?!?! It's a good thing I'm not a genius, or someone may ask me to come up with a substitute. :)

Like the previous silver SH-101 ad, this blue advertisement only appears to have ran once, in the March 1984 issue.

Red in January. Silver in February. Blue in March. And then red again in April. And Roland was lucky enough to land that blue ad back on page 7 after the dismal page 91 showing of the silver ad.

This Q1 1984 campaign wasn't the first showing for the SH-101. If you go through the SH-101 label on the blog, you will see that it was beginning to appear in print as early as November 1982 when it popped up on the back page of the now-classic Roland Rhythm Machines brochure, that was highlighting the TR808, TR606 and TB303. Sure, it has a small foot print on the back page, but it is sitting there right next to other Roland big guns like the Jupiter 8, Juno-60 and Juno-6. I dare say it's holding its own.

The next month in December 1982, the SH-101 was also featured in its own "We Design the Future" brochure, sitting there on a futuristic chair and drinking Jack Daniels (no kidding!). But it's the inside pages of that brochure, with its large photo of the SH-101 and all those juicy specs that steal the show. Gah! I can't stop thinking about it.

I so want to go on eBay right now and just buy the first one I see. The only thing stopping me is the $1000.00 price tag for a good condition synth with mod grip. 

As you might expect, if the SH-101 started popping up in brochures as far back as Q4 1982, it must have made its advertising debut earlier than these Q1 1984 "Takes you where you want to go" ads. Sure enough, it looks like it first made it into a Roland ad in a supporting role for Roland's "Product line of 1987" - a cheeky-titled 1983 ad campaign promoting Roland's family of products as so futuristic that users would be able to sync them up together for years to come (remember, MIDI was just launching and syncing all the pre- and post-MIDI gear was a real mind-bender at the time). The SH-101 gets listed first in the ad, so maybe Roland already had it destined for greatness in some solo ads.

It also received some more face time with readers in Keyboard a month after that Roland "Product Line of 1987" ad started appearing when it appeared in the August 1983 issue of Keyboard report.

This one-page review, written by the always informative Dominic Milano, goes through the synth's features in quite the detail, including sections on the keyboard itself, left-hand controls, panel controls, LFO, VCO, Source mixer, filter, ADSR, VCA, sequencer and arpeggiator, outputs & inputs, and miscellaneous (modulation grip and batteries). After reviewing all that... his conclusion?
"The SH101 is small and surprisingly inexpensive. It would make a great instrument for beginners as well as for experienced players who want something portable to play onstage. It has a great punchy sound and some surprising features , including a choice of keyboard triggering modes, adjustable modulation amounts, and a versatile, transposable sequencer and arpeggiator.  The body is made of gray molded plastic that feels fairly strong and impact-resistant".
And that "surprisingly inexpensive price"? $495.00. OR $595.00 with optional hand-grip. Not too shabby.

The SH-101 definitely got a good ride from 1982-1984.  It probably would have even had a longer shelf life if MIDI hadn't come along and punch all those cv-gate synths in the face.

But, there is always hope for a re-run. Just like Korg brought back the MS-20, I think the SH-101 would be the pefect synth for Roland to resurrect in 2013 - with MIDI of course.

And, just to show they have a sense of humor, Roland should add army-green to the colour pallet. :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Roland SILVER SH-101 "Takes you where you want to go" ad, Keyboard 1984

Roland SILVER SH-101 synthesizer "Takes you where you want to go" full page colour advertisement from page 91 in the February 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Ah, yes. And so Roland's "Takes you where you want to go" 1984 campaign for their SH-101 continues to rock the Miami Vice among us with this second ad in the series.

The previous month, Roland's Red SH-101 promo (right) appeared on page seven of Keyboard, but this February advertisement got pushed almost to the very back of the magazine on page 91. A shame because it's just as powerful as that first advertisement.

No, there are no bright splashes of red (or any other bright crayola colour for that matter), but the silver colour is still such a contrast to the black background that it would catch the eye just as easily. Plus, let's not lie to ourselves, the mostly male-readership's eyes of Keyboard would be instantly drawn to the low-cut t-shirt of the young 80s blonde hottie riding the skateboard. And I'm not convinced the pattern on her shirt isn't a deliberate attempt to pull the eye downward toward the SH-101 itself either. But I'm a full-on conspirator when it comes to ad design. In a good ad, *everything* is done for a reason.

Unlike the previous ad, where *everything* down to the socks and shoes were also red in colour, the photographer decided that white socks and shoes were acceptable, not to mention the black skateboard. The reason I point this out is that it makes this image almost believable. She is standing the way a person would be standing on a skateboard, and she is playing an SH-101 the way a person would be playing a synthesizer strapped around her neck. The photo becomes more natural, and to me anyways, easier to look at. Now compare that to the red SH-101 advertisement, with it's uncomfortable contemporary-dancer-like positioning, and this silver ad becomes even easier on the eyes.

The theme remains the same as the original - it's all about mobility (compact design, lightweight) and battery-poweredness (so too is a word!).

The ad-copy remains the same between the two ads as well, but its still interesting to look at because it's a good exercise in how design can dictate how lines and paragraphs are broken up. In the red SH-101 advertisement, the column of text slowly gets thinner, and it actually becomes more readable to split the ad-copy into more paragraphs - in particular the break between the third and four paragraphs at "With the Source Mixer...". But in the silver SH-101 ad, the width of the ad gets slowly wider, and those two paragraphs are merged even though there is easily enough room to keep the two separate. Part of it is probably that the final line of the third paragraph would have left the word "ways" hanging by itself. But for me, the decision to merge the two paragraphs would have been made just because it "looks better" from a design point of view.

There are a lot of things that annoy me in the world besides 80s contemporary dancers, and one of my little synth pet peeves is when the silver SH-101 is referred to as "gray". Or "grey" for that matter. Many sites and auctions use the "G" word when describing the colour. I know... a piddly thing to get ruffled over, but that's why they call them "pet peeves". It's not like I loose sleep over it.

Wikipedia's page is guilty of this (as of the date of this blog post):
"The SH-101 was produced in three colors: gray, blue, and red." 
As is Vintage Synth Explorer's SH-101 page:
"They come in three different flavors - gray, blue or red..."
The VSE page also mentions that the synthesizer also came in a "very rare white version". This was news to me, and a quick Google search brought up a few pages of white SH-101s. One on includes a photo (including white mod grip), but it was customized - not factory-original. Same with one I found on Analogue-Addict's site.

Looking through the comments section, back in back in April 2010 "Skunk3" also mentions a rare green version:
"It should also be noted that there are white SH-101s in existence, as well as SUPER rare green ones, which were released in Japan only. (As well as many versions of sunbleached red and blue 101's that range from pink to light blue)"
 White and green?!?!

That made me recall a very recent forum post on Vintage Synth Explorer around an army green SH-101.

Back on Wednesday, March 6, "cre8tor" posted in the forum that he/she had an army green SH-101, noting that it was not painted or discoloured - "clearly army-green" - and wondering if collectors would pay a premium for it.

Reading through the comments, which include a few photos of the apparently army green SH-101s, some suspected that maybe it was a bad batch of the gray (SILVER!) plastic pigmentation in the factory. Others theorized that the gray (ahem - SILVER  :) plastic naturally turns green over time, possibly due to exposure to UV or sunlight, noting that the inside of the battery compartment, or optional modulation grips, did not turn green.

One of the best pieces of evidence is presented by "Cumulus" - a close-up photo of blue switches on a Minimoog that have partially turned turned green over time. You can clearly see the blue-to-green discolouring depending on what position the switches were in during the discolouration process.

That photo was pretty much the slam dunk for me - definitely discolouration and not factory green.

Myths about synthesizers, like white and green SH-101s - are like any other Internet meme, recycling over and over again. I've seen this happen ever since I came across back in the early days of the Internet.

Poster Stab Frenzy probably said it best in the forum:

"I love that this topic comes up like clockwork every year or so."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Roland RED SH-101 "Takes you where you want to go." ad, Keyboard 1984

Roland RED SH-101 synthesizer "Takes you where you want to go." full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the January 1984 issue of  Keyboard Magazine.

I guess I still have a little bit of my battery-operated synth fetish bubbling deep in my gut. The anti-dramatic ending to Yamaha's Producer Series blog posts, with the once-featured CS01 synthesizer pushed to the side lines, left me wanting more.

In other words, I have a fever and the only prescription is more battery-operated synthesizers. And while flipping through old issues of Keyboard this advertisement for Roland's SH-101 synthesizer caught my eye.

I mean, really, how could it not catch a reader's eye. This ad scream's "80s" from top to bottom. The large bright splashes of solid colour. The angular design elements. Even the angled ad-copy with lines like "get up and move", "no strings attached" and "more than just a pretty face" - all very 80s.

But its those contemporary elements that today makes this ad look so dated. Kind of like looking back at your 80s haircut. You may still think you looked cool and bad-ass back then, but you sure don't want your coworkers to find your school yearbook.

In particular, I'm talking about the dude on the scooter. His clothes, even how he is sitting... er... dancing...?
Very 80s contemporary-dancer-like. He looks a little uncomfortable actually. Like he's about to fly off because they are taking a sharp corner.

But whatever emotions might be evoked now doesn't really matter. The ad is well past its expiry date - it served its purpose. Like most magazine advertisements, inherently had a short shelf life.

Looking at the ad now just like I did back then, I can't help but only think about how much I still want an SH-101. I've always wanted one. Forever. And regretably never picked one up when they were going cheap way back when.

For some reason they weren't that common around these parts - or at least people weren't selling them once they got them. But I recall a time when I could walk into a pawn shop or music store and it wouldn't be too uncommon to see a used 202, 303, 606, 808 or 909 sitting on the shelf. And sometimes, even as a student, I would have enough cash to actually buy one when I saw it.  Probably the best investments I've ever made - if I could ever actually convince myself to ever sell 'em.   :) 

This is actually the first in a series of SH-101 ads. Like the SH-101 itself, the ads came in a variety of colours and imagery. And interestingly, only the red version seems to have appeared more than once. Twice to be exact. In the January and April 1984 issues of Keyboard.

Up next - silver! 

End note: Hmmmm - look at that scooter again - I wonder if "TB303" is available as a vanity license plate in my province. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Yamaha Producer Series "Production Values." ad, Keyboard 1984

Yamaha Producer Series "Production Values." full page colour advertisement from the back cover of the February 1984 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Interesting fact: It's 1984, and yet this appears to be only the second Yamaha synthesizer advertisement to appear on the back cover of Keyboard Magazine. But once Yamaha got this ad onto the back cover, it kept it there pretty regularly from February all the way through to October.

It seems that Yamaha decided it wasn't exactly through with the promotion of its Producer Series line of products. But instead of reanimating those fun, illustrated ads from a few years ago, they decided it might be better to switch gears a bit and begin promoting both the old and new Producer Series gear towards the professional studio musician. And probably a good thing, because you can't really roller skate with a four-track recorder. At least not this Yamaha four-track. 

It was time to bring those roller skaters back into the studio to cut all those tracks people had been working on for the last two years with their CS01 synthesizer, MA10 headphone amp, MM10 portable mixer and MH10 headphones. They are all still available as part of the Producer Series, so they must have been selling okay.

But the bulk of this advertisement's ad-copy is all about the new studio gear:
  • MT44 4-track cassette recorder.
  • MM30 4x2 mixer with built-in analog delay, 7 band equalizer.
  • RB30 system rack with patch bay and accessories compartment.
I really became intrigued with this 4-track system after seeing this ad a few days ago. I loved my Tascam four-track - I cut my teeth in music production on that that thing. But this system with patch bay and mixer sounds and looks really cool.

It didn't take long for a Google search to bring up that RB30 manual and it turns out the RB30 is the Ikea equivalent of studio furniture. It makes me want to find all the parts and recreate it even more! Gah!

Also - I found a great little German blog that included some good pics. Google's Chrome browser with its Translation feature is *awesome*. 

Almost as intriguing as this studio system is the one other piece of gear they kind of just slipped in here. As far as I can tell, it wasn't part of the original line up of Producer Series gear, but yet never really got any promotion on its own whenever it came out.

I'm talking about that MR10 drum machine! It kind of just got thrown into this ad

Well, in Yamaha's defense, it has been two years since that last batch of ads ran and they were releasing products as fast as humanly possible. And then some. They probably just didn't have enough ad space. But, we can get an idea of when that MR10 drum machine was actually released from when it appeared in the Spec Sheet section of the magazine in February 1983.

It actually appeared as part of a long series of Yamaha new gear, including mixers and power amplifiers, but those other items were not part of the Producer Series (but maybe precursors to them?), so I've only included the drum machine info:
"Yamaha Drum Machine, Mixers & Power Amps. The Yamaha MR10 is a battery-operated rhythm unit with twelve preset rhythms, plus five finger pads for playing live fills or entire rhythm parts. Preset rhythms, which can be combined with one another for greater variety, include disco, jazz, swing, waltz, march, and several Latin rhythms. In addition to the master volume, there are separate volume controls for the bass drum and cymbal. A tuning control governs the pitch of the snare drum, high tom-tom, and low tom-tom, and a tempo control governs the speed of the automatic rhythms. automatic fills can be activated every four or eight bars if desired...."
What the devil? No price?


That's enough Producer Series for now. On to something else in the next blog post. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Yamaha "Producer Series" 12-page brochure, 1983

Yamaha "Producer Series" 12-page brochure from 1983 featuring the MA10 Headphone Amplifier, MM10 Mic/Line Stereo Portable Mixer, and CS01 Micro-Monophonic Synthesizer.

Just in case you couldn't get enough of the illustrations from Yamaha's 1982 "Producer Series" ads that ran in the June, August and October issues of Keyboard Magazine, I thought I would post this awesome 12-pager.  It took a bit more time than normal to scan, but I figure that allows me to blog a little bit less.  :)

Illustrations aside for a second, this brochure is also currently in my top 10 because it also gives readers an up close and personal look at each piece of gear. Labels for every knob, lever, dial and input and output are all clearly visible. And each piece of gear has a page or two devoted to detailed info. Can't beat that. 

But as much as I like that first half of the brochure, its the last half that is a joy to read. I really like diagrams. But I *love* these diagrams.  I'm talking about the "Six  Producer Series set-ups". The illustrator that sketched the imagery in those Yamaha ads was clearly running on all cylinders when asked to come up with more imagery for this brochure.

To me, the punch line comes in that sixth set-up (bottom of page 10) for "Amplifying TV sound". Two couch-potatoes lounging in front of a TV, beer and cigarette in hand, and head-phones securely on their heads so they can listen to their TV "privately and in synthesized stereo". Brilliant. And I'm also kinda crushing a little on the country singer in the second set up. Those are some serious birthin' hips.

The brochure was the perfect end to this series of illustrated Yamaha ads. If they had kept them going on longer, they might have become as epic as the John Mattos period of Sequential Circuits ads and brochures. Almost.

My biggest problem now is trying to decide which one of these illustrations to make my avatar on Facebook and the Cakewalk forum I just joined.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Yamaha CS01, MA10, MH10 and MM10 Producer Series "Before. After. Affordable Alternative..." ad, Keyboard 1982

Yamaha CS01 Synthesizer, MA10 Headphone Amplifier, MH10 Stereo Headphones and MM10 Stereo Mic/Line Mixer "Before. After. Affordable Alternative..." Producer Series two-page colour advertisement from page 8 and 9 in the October 1982 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Okay, it definitely wasn't Yamaha's original intent, but I *really* want that synthesizer the dude in the bucket is playing in the "Before" illunstration. It's like a cross between a Kord MS20 and some computer panel from an early James Bond flick that some anonymous henchman would be controlling. It actually brings back some great memories of a time when all my available income would go towards that one... special... synth (which would change when the next best synth came out). A time when I would honestly consider wearing a bucket if it meant I could buy it. Although I'd never not pay for a good haircut.

But Yamaha once again does a fine job of literally illustrating their point - the Producer Series gear wouldn't cost an arm and a leg. It was truly an "Affordable Alternative".

This was the third and final ad in this particular series of "Producer Series" ads. If you recall, each in the series dealt with one particular advantage that the gear held over its competitors. The "Rolling Sound" ad was all about the mobility of the gear, and the "Private Practice" ad pushed the idea of being able to practice without disturbing others. 

Rolling Sound.                             Private Practice.

Each of these ads appeared only once - June, August, and October 1982. And its a shame, because the illustrations are really nice and they all deserved more airtime. But I'm sure part of the problem was that Yamaha was pumping out tons of gear all the time, and needed to advertise all those products. To make the point, during the time these ads were running, Yamaha was also throwing advertising dollars at Keyboard Magazine for the CS70m, Electone 7000, CE20 combo, CP11 and CP12 electric pianos, and PS10 and PS20 portable keyboards. They were running two to four ads per month.

All those different products probably made it a little confusing for the consumer. And I'm not the only one who thought so.

Dominic Milano says as much in the introduction of his March 1983 Keyboard Report on three Yamaha offerings - the PC-100, MP-1 and the lovely CS01.
"Companies, as they get larger, tend to split themselves up into smaller divisions internally, for administrative reasons. This may make perfect sense for their own purposes, but it can be confusing for anybody from the outside who deals with them. Case in point: Yamaha International (which is itself a division of Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd.) has no less than three separate divisions selling keyboard instruments. Depending on what instrument you want to talk about, your phone call may be routed to either the Keyboard Division (pianos and organs), the Combo Division (rock and jazz keyboards), or the Special Products Division (portable battery-operated keyboards)."
Over-lapping departments in a large organization is never a good thing. It just leads to silos. I've not just seen it, I've experienced it.

So, guess which division the portable, battery-operated CS01 synthesizer was a part of. Nope, not the Specialty Products Division which specialized in portable, battery-operated keyboards. It belonged to the Combo Division, which includes rock and jazz keyboards. Go figure. Well, enough griping about that. 

Dominic's report on the CS01 is pretty standard, concentrating on the functionality of the synth. And he did touch on one aspect of the CS01 that really interests me - the breath control. The VCF and VCA can both be controlled with Yamaha's $35 breath controller accessory.
"This handy little accessory, which you blow into, turns the CS01 into a very expressive lead instrument. The amount of signal from the breath controller that is opening up the filter or VCA can be continuously adjusted with a pair of knobs at the left end of the keyboard. Thus you can easily use the ADSR to control the loudness while your breath controls the filter cutoff, or vice-versa. Or you can mix the two for some subtle inflections."
Yeah, sure, you might look a little odd running around the stage with the CS01 around your neck and a giant soother in your mouth... wait... actually, now you wouldn't look that odd.

I'm going to have to investigate that breath control a little further...