Welcome back, the Korg MS-20 Mini Monophonic Analogue Synthesizer .
Built to the original spec, this re-issued Korg MS-20 Mini offers synth lovers the chance to own a part of history and experience the original hardware’s fat, raw analogue power. One of the most coveted synthesizers ever produced, the MS-20 has been used by a great variety of popular artists including Aphex Twin, Soulwax, OMD and Daft Punk, heightening the demand for the classic unit. The original MS-20 was only in production for five years, between 1978 and 1983 - since then, the only way to get the much loved sound was to search for a second hand Korg MS-20 on eBay or use an iPad app or VST re-creation.
The MS-20 Mini offers the subtractive synthesis architecture found in the original, along with some welcome new additions in the form of MIDI I/O and USB connectivity, delivering players the tone of a classic analogue synth with the ease of use of modern functionality. Now, in 2013, the original engineers of this legendary synth have re-convened to provide a complete and authentic re-production of the original but at 86% of the original size.
The Korg MS-20 Mini features two improved lower noise Voltage Controlled Oscillators with selectable waveforms including ring modulation and noise, two Voltage Controlled High and Low-Pass Filters, two Voltage Controlled Amplifiers, two Envelope Generators and an LFO. Part of the appeal of the original was its self-oscillating, resonant filters that could be driven into distortion. They remain popular to this day and can also be found in the recent Monotron and Monotribe units as well as on the new MS-20 Mini.
Part of the versatility of the original Korg MS-20 was its flexible patching system, making it semi-modular, and this has been re-created for the MS-20 Mini. It allows users to create uniquely complex, evolving, organic sounds by using patch cables to access and change the internal synth architecture, with the front panel flow chart guiding easy operation straight out of the box. Users can even patch external sources via the External Signal Processor to be processed in the same way as an oscillator, as well as benefitting from the rich harmonics added by the circuitry and filters.
This reissue of a modern classic will be an extremely welcome addition to Korg’s current synth line and, with fantastic sound, versatility and ease of use, the MS-20 Mini is sure to win over many fans old and new.
The main features of the Korg MS-20 Mini include:
- A complete replication of the analogue Korg MS-20
- 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure
- Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion
- External signal processor (ESP)
- Flexible patching system
- Compact - 86% of the original size
- MIDI IN and USB connector
- Replicates every detail of the original, down to the package binding and the included manual
- 36 keys
By Daniel Sherratt