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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150 Visitor comments
December 15, 2010 @ 4:54 pm
for all the MS2000 critics out there: why do many of those who once owned one come back to it? I know 5 other synthesists inc myself that have done this. Why? Most everything today is a huge disappointment, while this beast endures with its subtractive simplicity and killer mod sequencer. Ive played and owned dozens of synths, both soft and hard, both analog and digital, and this one has a vibe that can't be matched.
December 2, 2010 @ 11:54 am
I hate when people gripe about a VA not being an Analog, no S#$#T it's not an analog. This is a VA, and for what it is it is pretty good. It is a little limited in sound-scape architecture, but i am comparing it to my Yamaha AN1X(A VA!!). However, it happily makes up for that with its front panel set up. This synth is actually fun to program, and not a lot of VA's out there are. I owned a bunch of analog's back in the day, and this thing has a nice feel reminiscent of an old analog. Mine is a MS2000b and i looove it. My only real grip is the Polyphony, it is tiny(only 4 voices!), the smallest of any of my VA's I have, but it is fantastic at leads and Bass so that makes up for it. I can get much thicker bass then i can on my Nord Lead, or my virus, or my Nova. Not thicker than my AN1X, but then again i am yet to hear a thicker VA than the AN1X.
October 14, 2010 @ 10:41 pm
I have decided to get an MS2000b. I loved the microKorg's sound engine enough to get another one when it got stolen. Finally the tiny keys got to me and I sold it. But missed that sound. Anyway the MS2000b seems better because of the 3 track old school style step sequencer and knobs, it actually has an LCD screen. Also has 7 more keys than the microKorg.
Digi Fan
October 13, 2010 @ 12:48 pm
Awsome delay included with the ms2000, Rythmic delay's real nice n tasty. Its own funky sound the Korg ms2000 has. usefull indeed.
September 27, 2010 @ 2:52 am
Bought this recently as my first hardware synth. I've had it for about 2 weeks now and what an awesome instrument. The features are plentiful and sound possibilities are almost endless. You can even use the virtual patches to make basic analog-ish drum machine sounds. Don't expect the presets to just give you great sounds, you've got to tweak this machine. Use the knobs.

Cons: definitely the limited polyphony and it not being true analog but there are higher end synths for that. I wouldn't use it as a main synth but it could definitely compliment one, as a mono lead synth.

I recommend this for anyone interested in getting into sound synthesis and who generally like to experiment and/or are actually willing go through the work of tweaking sounds/learning how to alter sounds.
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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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