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, and Portishead.

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113 Visitor comments
front 242
October 27, 2009 @ 8:46 pm
sorry Aiden I would have to agree with Joe- although the MS20 has a great filter and patching capabilities, the Cs 10 or 15 for the money? you'll get a hell of a lot more+ you can link them to throw the Ms20 off course.
Grimly
October 25, 2009 @ 12:30 am
Trentemøller uses one of these extensively.
aiden
October 9, 2009 @ 9:21 pm
the yamaha cs10 sounds amazing on bass joe! but it doesnt sound better than the ms 20. the cs10 is an amazing bass sound that is very original !! but its not better than the ms 20. i would say they are on par but if anything the ms20 has the slight edge with the extra oscillator.
Matt
September 24, 2009 @ 8:03 pm
My favourite synth in my entire collection. Looks, sound and capabilities make my jaw drop everyday time I as much as touch it.
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!!
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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 Perfect Circuit Audio.

    Additional information provided by DAC Crowell.

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