10 – Korg MS-10
Years of production: 1978-1981
Spec: single VCO analogue monosynth
Key features: vicious low-pass filter; fat PWM; semi-modular design
Current second-hand price: £450-650
The fact that it’s already widely regarded as a classic means the MS-10 can only appear near the bottom of our list, but even in the context of its classic status, we still don’t think the baby MS gets the credit it deserves.
The reason is simple: it’s the age-old tale of a more popular sibling stealing the limelight. Like so many younger brothers, the MS-10 suffers because the MS-20 is bigger, tougher and more popular. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great synth in its own right.
The MS-10 may not be quite as versatile as its big brother, but it makes up for it with immediacy. It’s too easy to focus on what the MS-10 doesn’t have in comparison to the 20: only one oscillator, no high pass filter, only one envelope generator. But that misses the point that this is still an amazingly versatile monosynth with the famous semi-modular design which makes things even more flexible.
From subwoofer-melting pulse wave basslines through to screaming resonant leads, the MS-10 can turn its hand to just about anything. The setup (before you start plugging cables into the patch bay) is so simple that it’s hard not to come up with amazing sounds. With MS-20 prices already exceeding £1,000, the MS-10 is your best choice if you want a more affordable alternative.
Image courtesy of retrosynthads.blogspot.co.uk