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
June 6, 2010 @ 4:41 pm
I don't own this, but I like the sounds played on this by the band - Crystal Castles. The vocoder makes her voice heaven. Only 4 voice polyphony, but it has a sequencer. The only thing I have to compare it to personally is my Korg DS-10 which emulates the MS-10,20 on a Nintendo DS. My hardware synth is a CZ-101 from yesterday through an ART Processor into a 4 track lo-fi cassette.
June 1, 2010 @ 4:59 pm
this synth is really underappreciated! I have really top synths, virus, moog, kurzwiel ect and this is a great littlesynth! It takes time to learn how it works and what it does, people seem to struggle with this synth and write it off as a toy simply because it isnt very stable, really its not, its all over the place, but you can get sounds out of it that are just incredible, real low phat bass lines, crazy vintage ms 20 sounding noises, soft pads and good strings. 16 step sequencer and an arp and vocoder... come one thats great! everyone needs to take some time and learn how to use this amazing synth.
June 1, 2010 @ 4:09 pm
+1 to Steve and Benny.

Let's be honest, though - the synth is not "fat" in the sense that a minimoog is "fat". It is certainly capable of very rich, big bass sounds, along with a lot of other sounds outside the core scope of the instrument (analog drums, for example, and lush pads).

Generally, I think it's a fair criticism (trollish and ignorant delivery aside) to say the synth is a bit on the brittle side; it's not an absolute limitation, just that it's widest range of sounds are "thin" compared to a true analog synth bass. What do you expect, though?

Criticising the screen is a bit silly. You want a touch screen for a device with over 9000 knobs? The screen is fine.

As for the build quality... I've been afraid for a long, long time that my clumsy [beep] fingers will snap off the flimsy-feeling knobs during mad tweaking. After years of abusing this thing, I'm starting to think those fears are a bit irrational.
Steve K
May 27, 2010 @ 11:15 pm
Can someone please delete P6's dumb newbie [beep] post?

I own the rackmount version of this and it's a powerhouse for the price. It has a ton of routing possibilities, arpeggio, fx and polyphony, plus the sound quality can be as FAT you take the time make it. It simply takes experimentation and patience, just like any good synth.
May 25, 2010 @ 11:51 am
I have owned this synth for years now and I always find a way to make new and interesting (also useful in production) sounds. People who complain that it is 'thin' sounding haven't really explored what it can do. I will agree that it is quite capable of 'thin' & 'digitalesque' sounds but it also does the overly-hyped 'phat' sounds as well (if you know what you are doing).
Many of the controls are also mappable to your DAW (amazing foresight by KORG I think). I can't imagine wanting to let go of this thing ... ever!
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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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