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
JOE
September 20, 2009 @ 11:36 pm
love this synth,one of my favourites.use it all the time for mainly bass and lead.only problem with it is you have to faf around alot before you get a decent results.i cant beleive the price that they go for these days,not sure if they are worth more than £600. compared to the yamaha cs 10 sonically the ms 20 is not any better for bass. on the cs 10 you can have instant fun and get great results fairly quickly without to much fuss, leaving you more time to get the job at hand done (making music) in saying that the ms 20 is great fun to if you have all year! being a proud owner of both the ms 20 and a yamaha cs 10 i would go for the cs 10 each time just for its edge. with the spare change you could buy an extra oscillator to plug into the cs.but in saying that dont underestimate the ms. recommended!!
audiobomb
September 14, 2009 @ 3:54 pm
and Simian Mobile Disco also uses this one! i guess that answers my first question!!! haha
sitonka
September 9, 2009 @ 9:15 am
Had one of these for only a couple of months and it shows me new tricks everytime i use it. sometimes it feels like it plays itself! The depth of the subs you can create can only be heard on big speakers. I actually scared myself the first time I used it live as I thought I had broken the sub speakers on the P.A.
Alex
August 27, 2009 @ 6:03 pm
Solar Fields use it too
AndrewCameronZahn
August 17, 2009 @ 2:27 am
ALSO "THE FALL" USES THIS (I CLEANED ON UP FOR THEM BEFORE A SHOW A FEW YEARS BACK IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK)
 
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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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