WNAMM13: The Korg MS-20 Is Back!

MS-20 mini recreates analog monosynth in a smaller size complete with patch cables   24-Jan-13

WNAMM13: The Korg MS-20 Is Back!

Korg's MS-20 monophonic synthesizer, first introduced in 1978, is still coveted to this day for its thick, robust sound, powerful, iconic analog filter, and versatile patching options and the great news is that it has now been reborn as the new MS-20 mini. Korg tells us that the same engineers who developed the original MS-20 have perfectly reproduced it in a body that's been shrunk to 86% of the original size, yet retains the distinctive look of the original.

The MS-20 Mini offers the same distinctive synthesis that made the original MS-20 popular: two oscillators with ring modulation, and envelope generators with delay and hold. The VCA (Voltage Controlled Amp) maintains the original basic design, but it's been modified to produce less noise. Particular attention has also been paid to delivering smooth parameter adjustments, which are a distinctive feature of analog synthesizers. Special care was also taken to completely reproduce the original specifications of the MS-20, to deliver the same powerful sound, from deep, growling basses to crisp, rounded leads.

One of the most well-known – and still most sought after - characteristics of the original MS-20 was its powerful filters, which provided both high-pass and low-pass with peak/resonance. Maximizing the peak/resonance would cause the filter to self-oscillate; producing a distinctive and dramatic tonal change that was acclaimed as inimitable, and was used many years later on Korg's monotron and monotribe. The filter circuit was changed mid-way through the production lifecycle of the MS-20; the MS-20 mini uses the earlier filter, which was felt to be superior due to its more radical sound.

The ESP (External Signal Processor) functionality carries on the experimental spirit of MS-20, allowing users to utilize the pitch or volume of an external audio source to control the synthesizer. For example, an electric guitar can be used as an input signal, and the MS-20 mini can be used as a guitar synthesizer, or the mic input can allow it to be used it as a vocal synthesizer.

The patching system enables the creation of complex sounds by allowing the rerouting of both modulation and audio (both the internal oscillators and external audio). Different combinations of the modulation input/output and trigger, sample and hold, and noise generator can produce an incredible variety of sounds. By patching according to the MS-20 flow chart printed on the panel, musicians of all levels can take advantage of these possibilities right away.

To make it even more approachable, the MS-20 mini has been shrunk to 86% of the size of the original, with meticulous care taken to accurately reproduce the knob design and the printing. The patch cables have been changed from 1/4" phone plugs to mini-plugs, and the newly-designed keyboard is 86% of the original size as well.

The MS-20 mini is equipped with a MIDI IN jack for receiving note messages, and a USB-MIDI connector that can transmit and receive note messages. Users can also connect the MS20 mini to a computer and play it from an external sequencer.

Korg tells us that, for added authenticity, the MS-20 mini packaging replicates much of the original. Also included are the original MS-20 owner's manual and settings chart.

Pricing and Availability:

The Korg MS-20 Mini will be available April 2013 for a U.S. Street price of $599.00

More information:


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19 Comments... Comments are closed while we transition to Disqus


HOLY AWESOME!!! I WANT ONE!!! I hope that if Korg hasn't already made it possible to use this as a controller to directly edit the VST version of this synth as well, that they eventually will. Even if they don't, I'll still buy one. I've wanted something like this for a long time. Although I gave up on hardware synths years ago, this one belongs in my studio.

24-Jan-13 01:30 PM

Peter K.    Said...

This is getting purchased. This is not even a discussion. This is like the Minibrute of 2013, only even better.

I hope the keys feel ok...

24-Jan-13 01:39 PM

xyzzy    Said...

YYYEAAHAHHH finally a Japanese music company producing something other than a ROMpler! (and, okay, other than something like a Monotron)


24-Jan-13 01:43 PM

Benny    Said...

Need one! http://youtu.be/hA-owDEGpac

24-Jan-13 01:53 PM

Rob    Said...

$599? Holy cow! I really hope that means the sound lives up to the original.

24-Jan-13 02:13 PM

GTRman    Said...

Korg just keeps putting out more & more toys. How many MS20 apps, soft synths and hardware toys can one have? Have people shrunk 14% in the last 20 years that they made the keyboard that much smaller? Stop making toys and get back into professional instruments for professional musicians. Just another toy for the kiddies that have Minibrutes.

24-Jan-13 02:18 PM

Synthman    Said...

GTRMan, go troll somewhere else. If you can't make music with one of these perhaps you are on the wrong site.

24-Jan-13 02:31 PM

Peter K.    Said...

And the Minibrute is a great little, inexpensive instrument that feels reasonably solid and good to play. The other manufacturers had to respond to it, I think. Moog's new synth is very good, and this is going to be incredible. As long as it feels good to play. The new Microkorgs are okay to play on. The length of the keys on this look to be even better than that, and it's a newly designed keyboard. I'm getting one regardless...

24-Jan-13 02:37 PM

phraggle    Said...

Take my money!

24-Jan-13 03:05 PM

JrPeters    Said...

GTRman you are correct, what has happened to the musical instrument industry. Everything is designed like a toy anymore. What ever happened to real full size expressive instruments? 86% what is that about? The MS20 is like beating a dead horse, give me something new and innovative.

24-Jan-13 03:08 PM

al_bot    Said...

Hooray! Next they should re-release the Korg SQ 10. haha. Just because it's shrunk doesn't mean it's a toy. Not everyone can afford $2000+ workstation or needs one. I rather Korg put out these "smaller" hardware than soft synths. To each their own.

24-Jan-13 03:45 PM

Benedict Johnson    Said...

The Korg MS-20 is my favourite of all the analog synths in Spectrasonics Trilian.

Get used to it: we'll be seeing this thing re-released in every conceivable, minutely-differing iteration over the next few years (perhaps the next version will be suffixed by a "+")

24-Jan-13 04:07 PM

robgs    Said...

I'm having an extra early birthday present!

24-Jan-13 04:15 PM




24-Jan-13 04:22 PM

Gustavo    Said...

Already went to change my pants and inmediatley pre-ordered it on Sweetwater!

MS-20 has always been a dream keyboard of mine. Always loved the sound in all recording, albums and demoes of it. Had the Korg DS-10 (nintendo ds emulation) and it was mental. Cant wait to get the real thing.

24-Jan-13 04:38 PM

Lagrange Audio    Said...

Holy crap, they actually made it. Well done Korg, I'm so there!!!

24-Jan-13 08:55 PM

Sean    Said...

They had me until the "the newly-designed keyboard is 86% of the original size". WHY? WHY GOD? WHY!!!!!!

25-Jan-13 05:25 AM

Peter K.    Said...

Yeah but it's $599.00!!!!

26-Jan-13 03:38 PM

whitenoise    Said...

I WANT ONE I WANT ONE I WANT ONE! One question, is the CV still Hz/V or did they change it to V/octave? Not a deal breaker, just a point of curiosity.

28-Jan-13 03:18 PM

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