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
Mark
October 1, 2013 @ 1:46 pm
The MS 20 is a classic and I can't live without mine!
Daniel Fletcher of DS
August 10, 2013 @ 2:40 am
The MS-20 is used by Depeche Mode a lot... You can here it very clearly on many track from
Playing The Angel album and etc.
Analogue Crazy
July 24, 2013 @ 3:38 am
Had my MS20 Mini 2 weeks now and am extremely Impressed! Always wanted an MS20 but was never willing to pay the overpriced amounts the originals commonly sell for. Anyway i just want everyone to know how great the Mini sounds, its a matter of taste but to my ears the MS20 is one of the best sounding monosynths ever made. The patch bay is its best and worst friend, it can take a few patch leads to get simple effects going, but overall this is worth it as it leaves plenty of room for experimentation. Highly recommended!
Tom
July 7, 2013 @ 6:46 pm
The seemingly low volume on the triangle wave is actually a problem of the perception charecteristics of the human ear or more precisely the brain. A triangle wave is peceived as lower in volume since it only contains even integers and as a result very few overtones. Odd integers provide a much denser spectrum of overtones in the midrange. The human brain perceives those frequencies as louder. Trangles are best used at high pitches where they are quite audible or as a low bass foundation to boost a sawtooth or square wave bass.
mumy
July 4, 2013 @ 8:26 am
korg ms 20 mini sound not same as old korg ms 20 but very similar. ı prefer original ms 20 or ms 10 i/o mini , old ms 20 have more vivid sounds than mini ,
 
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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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