Very little is known about this obscure module from Yamaha's history except that it was an expander designed to accompany the company's well-known range of Electone organs.

The CVS-10 offered upper, lower and pedal organ sounds which could be played over MIDI. By default, these were channels 1, 2 and 3 respectively but could be changed if preferred. The manuals could also be layered by setting their channels the same.

The CVS-10 came with a variety of preset organ sounds but sounds could be user-programmed using 'virtual drawbars' that appeared in the LCD (the labelling below the LCD shows the various footages) and you could also add reverb, chorus and tremolo. These could be stored and selected from an Electone's front panel allowing it to integrate well with this range of organs. As well as storing settings for each manual, you could also store entire configurations of both manuals and pedals for quick and easy recall.

Quite why Yamaha released an expander module that produced only organ sounds to accompany a range of organs is something of a mystery - all we can imagine is that given the very preset nature of the Electones, they lacked a drawbar facility and this, presumably, is where the CVS-10 fits in. But this is mere conjecture.

The unit is much smaller than it appears to be from the photo above and measures a mere 135x200x63.5mm (5.3"x7.9"x2.5"). It only had a stereo output with no individual outputs for the different manuals - whilst this might seem like a major omission in our circles, I doubt that any users in the intended market gave it a second thought.

Despite having two (presumably) standard MIDI inputs, there was a warning on the serial number sticker that stated: "CAUTION: FOR USE ONLY WITH ELECTONE ORGAN" !! Quite what the penalties were for disobeying this, no-one knows but it can, of course, be used with any MIDI keyboard!

The upper and lower manuals offered 8-voice polyphony each whilst the pedal sound was monophonic (in keeping with the organ tradition).

Release dates for the module are unknown but inside, the ROM is labelled "1989" which should give us a clue! The synthesis method is described as "Wave Memory and Frequency Modulation". Whatever... the sounds are pretty good. They won't compete with 'the real thing' of course (or even any of the new modelled B3 software emulations) but it does appear to be able to create some competent organ sounds which you might find useful especially with the appropriate treatment.

Given Yamaha's tendency to re-cycle their technology in different markets, it is surprising that they didn't promote this in a more 'rock n roll' environment as it could have been quite successful, especially if it had been re-packaged with 'real' drawbars. But they didn't and, as such, it remains a rare and obscure little module.

As always, I am indebted to the undisputed king of rare and obscure modules, Louis Van Dompselaar, for this rare donation.