Korg MS2000 & MS2000R

Korg MS2000 Image

This beauty from Korg combines state of the art analog physical modeling synth sounds with a very vintage Korg appearance. Yes, this sounds as good as it looks! Remember Korg's MS-series (the MS-10, MS-20 and MS-50)? That's right, the MS or MonoSynth series are some of Korg's most sought after analog synths. They were some of the only compact Patchable monosynths of their time, and had a great Korg sound too. While the MS2000 is somewhat "hard-wired", it offers just as much and more flexibility while maintaining a straight forward and hands-on approach towards old-fashioned editing via dedicated knobs, buttons and flashy lights. In place of actual patch cables and input jacks, the MS2000 features a cool "Virtual Patch" mode in which signal can be routed to various sections of the synth (ie: LFO, Filter or Keyboard Velocity) using the LCD display and paging through various screens.

The MS2000 actually comes up against the similar Roland JP-8000 and Novation SuperNova & Nova synths. Despite its amazing look, the MS2000 has some surprising limitations. It has only 4-voice polyphony so you won't be creating very lush or complex pads and sounds with it. In spite of this, its sound is clean, crisp and very flexible. It can easily conjure up beefy basslines, sub-basses, wonderful sweeping leads, pads and hits. Classic features include a 6 pattern arpeggiator, a very flexible LFO with sample and hold and even vintage wood side-panels and printed block diagrams and programming data on the face.

Programming seems just about as classic as its look. The two oscillators offer up to eight waveforms plus noise. A great self-oscillating filter section provides 12dB high and band pass filtering and switchable 12 or 24dB low pass filtering. A typical set of Envelopes modulate the filter and amplifier. Extensive modulation is provided by the two LFOs. A 16-band Vocoder section (a la VC-10) is also on-board and it does an excellent job! There are also on-board effects which include chorus, flange, phaser, delay, distortion and EQ. It also features a "Modulation Sequence" mode which is a 16-step pattern or sequence you create in either step- or real-time and any tweaking or editing can also be recorded into the pattern to add movement to it. The MS2000 is a very well designed and flexible synth with a look and functionality that not only honors but transcends its classic predecessors. It is used by BT, Depeche Mode, Apollo 440, The Crystal Method, Placebo, the Faint, Royksopp, Adrian Belew, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Saga, Klaus Schulze, Rick Wakeman, Yes, Yesterdays, Keith Emerson and Snoop Dogg.

Korg MS2000R Image

The MS2000R is, of course, the rackmount version of this beast. Although there is no keyboard and no real need for one, the 16 function buttons on the front of the unit can be switched into "Keyboard" mode in which they function as keys, mainly for demoing sounds while you're programming it. This is a really great feature since most rackmount synths either don't allow you to hear your progress from the actual unit or they only feature a one-note demo button to hear your sounds. The MS2000 is truly a well thought out instrument for musicians of any level looking for classic and new sounds within a quality digital synth with a sleek vintage look that'll turn a few heads!

Korg MS2000B Image

Released in 2003 with an updated sound set, a sharp new black metallic color scheme and dedicated vocoder mic, the MS2000B and MS2000BR provide a combination of playability, expression and sound manipulation that is at once familiar, yet ready to open a new universe of possibilities. It is also worth mentioning that an MS2000 and MS2000B can be connected synchronously for eight voices of polyphony, as long as the two units have the same samples installed.

Korg MS2000BR Image

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151 Visitor comments
May 17, 2010 @ 4:35 am
one of the most awesome hardware synths i've ever used - no wonder so many pros use it. the sounds are clean, the filter is great (for a VA), the layout is user-friendly. cleaner than roland synths i feel. i don't know, i just have a thing for Korg. all 128 preset patches can be overwritten, so i don't know why people are complaining about the presets - if you buy this unit, i would think you're a synthesist and is interested in tweaking your own sounds, not use presets. i have thin fingers so i don't find the knobs so flimsy. i don't mind the limited polyphony either because i'm using it with a software setup where i sample it while tweaking it or play it live into my arrangement. i can layer to my heart's content. it's more versatile than people here describe, because they music they make are limited to a specific genre, and so they use the synth in a limited way. other synths may come and go, but i'm never going to sell my ms2000.
May 15, 2010 @ 1:07 pm
Soilwork can be added to the list of users...you can see/hear an MS2000 near the beginning of their video for "Rejection Role".
May 4, 2010 @ 3:10 pm
Hadn't been using my MS2K for a long time, didn't have a place for it to be plugged in so it just sat in a corner looking sad, but I yesterday I decided to plug it in again and its all coming back to me now, what made me fell in love with it in the first place, how much fun tweaking this synth is, how f-ing crazy and weird the sounds are, I have played an Alesis Ion a lot the last month and it really strikes you how different they are, the Ion is such a deep synth and has a lot more you can do, but for sheer enjoyment and mad science the MS is the clear winner! Just such a lovable weirdo that spits, squeaks and screams while the Ion is grown up and polished in character, two very different machines, but I love them both :)
synth player
May 2, 2010 @ 12:44 am
great light to any live or recording, awesome arpeggiator, vocoder, vintage style, very nice collection of analog feel, easy to program, best leads for the price, rack units are goin for about $200.00 in the USA (used) a must piece to have on any MIDI Rig, Alex Jansik uses this unit for recording and live performance
March 28, 2010 @ 3:09 pm
I just picked up the MS2000R for $250. It is really lightweight, and the knobs are right on the edge of cheap, although the buttons seem strong. I wouldn't physically challenge it much. It's sort of a bridge between digital and analog synths because most of the presets are harsh sounding, including some very dated techno/trance mod sequences. The bass is not analog bass period, but if you toil, you can end up with some good cold leads, strings and pads with some distinctive tweaks. There's certainly a lot of parameters to work with, with dual sound layering and arpeggiation and modulation effects.
The onboard delays adds to its core sound, about which I can understand the criticisms. It IS fundamentally digital and brittle, although you can tweak it outboard. The distortion feature sounds like digital distortion as well. At the price though, its versatile with a long list of features for experimentation.
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User Rating

Rated 4.47 (1969 Votes)

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  • 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 - 4 voices
  • Oscillators - Analog Modeling Synthesis System: 2 osc. plus 1 noise generator (8 waveforms: sine, tri, saw, pulse, human voice and 64 DWGS waves)
  • LFO - 2 LFOs with sample and hold
  • Filter - High and band-pass (12dB), low-pass (12 or 24dB) with resonance and ADSR
  • Effects - 3 types modulation, 3 types delay, EQ, vocoder, 6 pattern arpeggiator
  • Keyboard - 44 keys with velocity (rack has 16 emulated keys, no velocity)
  • Memory - 128 programs
  • Control - MIDI (2-parts)
  • Date Produced - 2000
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