Korg MS-20

Korg MS-20 Image

The MS-20 was one of Korg's first major successful portable analog monosynths and even today it is still a great little machine! The MS-20 is the big brother to the MS-10. It is an analog two-oscillator monophonic lead and bass synth with hard wired and patchable connections. The hard-wiring can be overridden however, using patch-cords. This type of hard-wired but patchable design was similar to the ARP 2600 of the late seventies. Of course the 2600 was much bigger and better. But the MS-20 offered a lot of flexible control and great sounds at a more affordable price.

In addition to two analog oscillators, the MS-20 featured two resonant VCFs (filters), two VCAs, sample and hold, a noise generator, an assignable mod-wheel and lots of knobs! The VCF (filter) section is capable of high-pass, low-pass, notch and band-reject which is unique and different than your basic lowpass style filter. External sound sources can be routed through the filter section as well. In fact William Ørbit uses the filter in his MS-20 relentlessly to filter and tweak his samples, beats, delay returns, vocals, etc.

There's also a Pitch-CV converter for triggering sounds from external sources. Aphex Twin makes quite a bit of use of this, feeding the input stage of his MS-20s with drum sounds and other untrackable audio to get the synth to make a wide variety of crunch/squawp/screech noises by mistracking the filters, etc.

As for its sounds, the MS-20 sounds great! It makes a great alternative for Minimoog-seekers. The MS-20 is great for just about any type of analog synth sound you could want! Fat round bass sounds, percussive bass or sounds, noise effects, squiggly-bubbly sounds or sinuous-worm leads are all waiting to be unleashed from inside this classic beast. The MS-20 is not only a great sounding instrument, but a great learning-synth. It is fairly easy and intuitive to operate but in doing so you can learn and understand more about synthesis and signal-flow. It is used by William Ørbit, Aphex Twin, Hardfloor, Air, SkyLab, Stereolab, Vince Clarke, Astral Projection, Biosphere, Apollo 440, Mr. Oizo, Jimi Tenor, The Prodigy, OMD, Freddy Fresh, Luke Vibert, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Add N to (X), Daft Punk, Coldcut, Die Krupps, Skinny Puppy, Electronic Dream Planet, Jimmy Edgar, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, The Legendary Pink Dots, KMFDM, Severed Heads, Royksopp, The Faint, The Shamen, Jean-Michel Jarre, Soulwax and Portishead.

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114 Visitor comments
Autolycus
July 3, 2013 @ 2:45 pm
One thing i have noticed on the MS 20 mini is that Oscillator 1 Triangle, does have noise
which according to korg forums is normal due to the Korg 35 filter, but also the volume seems to be much lower on Triangle Wave Form compared to saw, square etc. Anyone having the same issue? Could be the way the Original MS 20 was but i wouldnt know.
Fabaian
July 2, 2013 @ 8:42 am
Got my MS20 today. Build quality is amazing. only difference between this and the original
The mini has 3,5mm jacks and no dirt /dut on the surface. Keep in mind there are also differencers between the old models! So the mini sounds more like an original then you might know.
Autolycus
June 18, 2013 @ 4:23 pm
If anyone happens to know where the serial numbers start on the mini's i'd appriciate it greatly.
Autolycus
June 18, 2013 @ 4:19 pm
Just got my MS 20 mini last week (I ordered Jan 28th). Its exactly like the original in my opinion. Build quality is very good I believe. Knobs on mine don't wiggle as some reviews stated. No Midi out and 1/4" jacks in the back which would have been nice. But Korg to thier credit kept it as absolutely original as possible. Sound is fantastic, i literally get lost on it for hours. You can however get some really crazy stuff from this monster.
commodorejohn
June 14, 2013 @ 3:28 pm
Put in my order for a Mini today - I just want to put in a good word for Sweetwater, who offer free shipping and a free two-year extended warranty for the same price other retailers sell the base unit :)
 
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  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 2 VCO's + noise
  • LFO - One LFO w/ multiple waveforms
  • Filter - 2 MultiMode VCFs: Lowpass, Highpass, Notch, BandReject; with ADSR
  • VCA - 2 VCAs: ADSR + Sample and Hold with an envelope follower
  • Keyboard - 37 keys
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Control - CV/GATE
  • Date Produced - 1978-83
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from a Korg product brochure and

    Additional information provided by DAC Crowell.

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