Korg MS-20 Mini - Analogue Mono Synth

Korg MS-20 Mini

£599

Electronic music technology can sometimes be guilty of focusing on the past to the detriment of progression. We probably don’t need any more software emulations of vintage drum machines, sample packs based on classic sounds or new synths ‘inspired by’ classic models, but some sounds and instruments are woven so inextricably into the history of electronic music that they’ve become staples. Sometimes when a tribute to an iconic synth comes along there’s nothing retro about it; it’s just making a classic available to a new audience.

At this stage there’s very little left to say about the Korg MS-20, first released in 1978 and resurrected by Korg in 2013. By anyone’s standards the MS would surely rank in the top ten classic monosynths of all time, largely because of its uniquely aggressive tone. The MS-20 isn’t so much smooth and funky like a Moog but sharp and spiky, thanks in no small part to the resonant low-pass filter, which can howl and wail with the best of them.

Along with the sound itself, the MS is immediately recognisable by the huge chunk of front panel real estate dedicated to a semi-modular patchbay, which offers access to a wealth of modulation sources, control voltage inputs and the versatile envelope follower section.

The major benefit of the semi-modular setup is that you don’t have to get serious with the patchbay – the MS-20 is seriously flexible without even going near it – but when you do you’ll realise the mind-blowing versatility on offer. We won’t pretend we’re clever enough to figure out how many potential modulation routing options it equates to, but let’s just say it’s a lot. If you get bored of this synth you’re doing it wrong.

With original MS-20s regularly hitting four figures on the second-hand market, the Mini represents excellent value for money. As the name suggests, the reissue is scaled down slightly from the 70s model, but despite the smaller form factor the sound is an incredibly accurate clone of the original.

 

 

28th July, 2014

Comments

  • No love for the Vermona mono lancet? Wicked dual osc mono synth with one of the best square waves around imo

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  • My two cents…. I’ve heard some pretty terrible things about Cyclone Analogic TT-303… and I would personally take a x0xb0x over it any day.

    Also… Korg Monotron? Top ten best analog monosynth? I guess SH-101 and MC-202 were too close to the 303 or what? I agree that the Mono Lancet should be in there, perhaps instead of Monotron. Well, actually there are a bunch of better candidates.

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  • Borg – new synths only in this one, so 101 and 202 don’t qualify.

    As always with our Ten Of The Best features these are our favourite options at a range of price points, listed from cheapest to most expensive.

    We like the Mono Lancet too but as far as modules go the Dark Energy and Pulse 2 get the nod here.

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  • got the bass bot since a while and must say the sound is quite good, creamy and very 303 authentic, the filter is good as well. probably better to test it for yourself than judging on it by “hearing terrible things”. the rest of the list seems to fit as well.

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  • Monotron is my favorite synth of all time. I have plenty of synthesizers (also some which are mentioned in this post).

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  • Future Retro’s XS should be on there too IMO

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  • Analogue Solutions Leipzig S is a killer monosynth !

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  • Can definitely recommend ANYTHING from Studio Electronics.

    SE-1 is a great and cheaper alternative to the minimoog + has an SEM filter in there!

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  • Mono lancet should be there imo

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  • Really surprised the Moog Minitaur didn’t make the list…

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  • For something e little different, check out an Eowave Domino. It has an interesting character

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  • vermona mono lancet, eowave domino, mfb micro/nanozwerg (price is ridiculous) just to name some very strong contenders for this list.

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  • Analogue Solutions Telemark ? Happy the Dark Energy got in their tho

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  • I am surprised not to see the EMS’s Synthi A, or VCS3 on the list. When it comes down to sonic flexibility, those two remain peerless.

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  • No DSI Pro 2???

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  • BASS STATION II …All the way! it’s amazing.

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  • The MicroBrute is made of very solid metal not plastic. And the MiniBrute also has only one oscillator.

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  • lol cool article

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  • x0xbox its better than cyclone!

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  • Waldorf Pulse 2 is the best sounding synth from all of those however it would be beneficial having more knobs. Pulse 2 is proper analog modular synth with the patch memory.

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  • If you think the analogue revival started with the MonoTron you must have just jumped on the bandwagon recently.

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  • Hypersynth Xenophone should be on the list, I would say in place of the Mopho which is bland and undistinguished. Or if you want a DSI, put the Evolver up there, the best monosynth for under a grand. I would put both; remove the Minimoog which is always admirable but overpriced and does not have a place on this list of affordable monosynths.

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