The Korg Mini MS-20 Analog Synth Is For Real


Remember the images that leaked out at Christmas last year of a new Korg Mini MS-20 synth?

We can confirm now that the Korg Mini MS-20 is for real, that it’s a new analog mini-synth and that Korg’s engineers have tried to faithfully recreate the circuitry and sound of the original synth classic.

The synth’s structure features two VCO’s, 2 VCA’s, 2 VCF’s, 2 envelope generators and an LFO. Patching is done with scaled-down 1/8″ cables. And circuitry has been added for MIDI support – so you play it with the mini-keyboard, play it with a full size keyboard or sequence it with other analog gear!

Pricing is expected to be about 600 euro (about $800) and the Mini MS-20 should be available in February.

Note: We’ll have full details and specifications when Korg announces them at the 2013 NAMM show. In the meantime, though, let us know what you think of the Mini MS-20 synthesizer!

via reader Edward On-Robinson,

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146 thoughts on “The Korg Mini MS-20 Analog Synth Is For Real

  1. True CV? If it is Hz/V like the original it will not be Eurorack compatible and you would need to purchase extra converters.
    Hz/V effects how each function is configured and different to their linear counterparts in construction. If the stages become linear then it will not be the same beast.
    ? is how faithful will it be, given that sales count and ‘compatibility’ helps sales.
    Still there’s nothing like the real thing.

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  2. Should fit nicely on top of my MS-10… Well I hope its not that small.
    Been wanting an MS-20 for years so I hope they get this right.

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    1. Its CV not Hz/V, so not sure how you’ll integrate it with the MS10. Its also longer, by a fair bit i’d say.

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    1. I love you. How can nobody know you’re joking? I saw your comment 3 or 4 hours ago and thought, “That poor bastard…” then I realized it was you, Sittin on the toilet. By the way, you must be sitting on the toilet at work, I assume. Kudos for that. Unless you don’t work, in which case, kudos for that as well.

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  3. I’ve been an all in the box guy for the last few years, but depending on pricing I could see one of these in my studio…..

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  4. Think this will be this year’s Minibrute? Similarly priced with 2 VCO’s and VCF’s, a reissued classic, semi modular, very aesthtically pleasing…. Yes they will sell a billion. Sooooo excited for this. Thank you so much Korg. Next year, reissue something Polyphonic like the Polysix or a modern day DW-8000!

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    1. Unfortunately a modern day DW-8000 is basically any korg synth. Microkorgs have the DW8000 resources and even the M50 has basically all of its functionality and original waveform.

      I would like to say that I am very pleased korg has released this, I’ve been a fan of the Monotron and the Monotribe. Now having the real thing they are “based off” is very [instru]mental (pun intended).

      I believe that it will sound like the monotron, probably they’ll use the same filter and the OSC will most likeley be similar (with selectable wafeshape of course)

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      1. I know that a lot of newer Korg stuff shares their waveforms and other similarities but without being having analog components, you can hear the difference. DW’s filter is way more musical IMHO.

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      2. >>> Unfortunately a modern day DW-8000 is basically any korg synth. Microkorgs have the DW8000 resources and even the M50 has basically all of its functionality and original waveform.

        I second that. I owned 2 DW8000s plus the MEX memory expander, so I have some real love for that particular turning point, with its inclusion of a very useful digital delay. That wavetable was largely based on resynthesis, which is why they got more mileage out of the alloted memory. That gave you more complex starting points and made even more of the delay.

        Today, that whole set is just another option. Things were measured in megabytes then. Now, you rarely see anything below two gigabytes. This is why some recreations are moot: they’re already in Bank 3. 😀

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    2. Not to mention how slow Synthtopia’s running right now! That’s all <24 hour superhype on this. Just wait til Dave announces his new wondertoy tomorrow. I think Korg at least is a big enough producer of instruments that they'll be able to keep up with production hopefully.

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  5. hooray great job korg.
    keep going with the mini line of analogs
    go for polyphonic next round.

    i am a huge fan of the minis when done correctly
    this looks like it is one of those.

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  6. I know some people feel like this is going to drive down the cost of an original MS-20, but haven’t you guys considered the fact that this new influx of analog is actually inflating the used and vintage market?
    Giving someone a taste will only feed their need for the real deal. In turn, kids spending their barmitzvah money on a Juno 60 (because they heard thats what everyone uses) and driving the used price to near 1000 bucks for something that 3 years ago was 500 bucks. I just had to talk someone out of spending WAAAAYYYY to much on a crappy Russian mono. The cost on ‘entry level’ vintage is realistically not what people are shelling out for it.

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    1. I think the opposite will happen. People will stop searching for old analogs because the new ones will be better, more stable, less weight, MIDI, easier service, etc etc Who will buy a “old” MS20 now? At what price?

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      1. Except for the ones they haven’t recreated (yet)…They remade the Polysix as a soft-synth and owning one I can say for sure that the sound of the original is unrivaled by the soft-synth, even though the soft-synth does have more functionality.

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      1. didn’t they already do that some years back when they spilled an urn-full of “his” ashes on stage?

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  7. Let’s hope that this sells well, so that Yamaha and Roland will think HARD about making analog synths again! Modern analog polysynths like Yamaha CS70 and CS80, Roland Junos and Jupiters …
    The quality and low cost of today’s analog electronics can make new analogs even better than the old ones. Why not add a digital reverb and a step sequencer to a CS80 remake? Or a second envelope and a digital delay on a Juno?

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    1. I may be wrong but the CS80 was all discreet circuitry. Recreating that would be hugely expensive today, as it was back then. I had a YC45d (the cousin of the CS80) and the guts of that thing were packed with thousands of wires and connections. There were multiple wire bundles that were at least an inch thick. I’d guess that a re-released Jupiter 8 would still be priced out of most people’s range and people would still complain that it sounded different.

      Finally, regarding added features on the Juno, I just installed the Minerva update in my Juno 60. It added full MIDI control, MIDI sync, a second LFO and a dedicated filter envelope. Add the cost of a used Juno and all that stuff in and you’re approaching the price of a used Prophet 08, which is far more flexible than an old Juno. As for delay, go buy a $40 delay pedal 🙂

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      1. There’s absolutely no need to use discrete components anymore. The original designs can all be manufactured into analog ICs now. Cheaper, lighter, low power consumption, etc, etc. It is certainly easier, much easier today to make a lighter, more stable and cheaper analog CS80.

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  8. This was inevitable and certainly welcome, but I question the use of 1/8″ jacks. Unless they’re made of something extra-tough, they’re going to be delicate and more prone to an early crap-out. That would seem to go against the grain of the regular re-patching any serious modular user does. If they’ve been designed a notch tougher than usual with exactly that in mind, great, because that’s the only negative I can see. The price is also eminently fair. Wow, a current MS-20 with modern amenities. Beautiful.

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    1. Eurorack, which is arguably the most popular and widely used modular format, uses 1/8″ jacks. As long as Korg builds their connectors well, I see no reason why they should be any less durable than those made by the several hundred Eurorack module making companies out there. Most people getting into modular these days go Eurorack and I think Korg are showing their awareness of that in their choice to go with 1/8″ jacks.

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  9. I can’t help but believe that the success of the Monotron had something to do with this. BTW, if you want “similar” sound as an MS-20, build a MIDI converter and connect your Monotron to a midi keyboard. Then plus the Monotron into a keyboard amp. This is what I do. Voila!

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  10. yesss…. i really was hoping this wasent a PS job when it came up in december. the MSRP sits nicely too. much exitement.

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  11. Got mine preordered… 🙂 No BS here.. I called one of the main sites that sells korg stuff…. spoke to someone who knows about this but hasnt gotten certain details from Korg.. but there is already a waiting list that is growing very fast

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  12. time to sell my original, i could buy this, an mfb drum thingy and a tetra for the price id get for it before this is released lol

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  13. If I had the money I would get one. Even though I have the Korg Legacy Collection, this little synth looks like plain fun, and if fun ain’t what it’s all about, what the hell is rock’n’roll for? With its patch cords, this is in the same league as the Doepfer, Buchla, and Euroracks. It’s FUN, folks. FUN. Remember fun? Those of us who buy classic synths enjoy fixing and maintaining them almost as much as playing them. Here’s a classic retro that tucks under the arm and doesn’t need fixing. All those knobs? Patch cords? Yeah, I’d get one. As long as it’s less than the original, which doubtless it will be.

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  14. I’d like to see a sync in and out pulse to sync with my monotribe. What a great, affordable set-up the mini ms and the montribe will be! With the monotron delay… Is it wrong to process this thing through a digital processor?

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  15. One of the big 3 has finally released an analogue synth (this does not count the monotron which is a toy and the monotribe which is not much better).

    I am impressed with Korg. However I think if Roland were to jump on the analogue bandwagon we should all be scared, very scared. Roland are powerful. If they could channel some of their energies into creating analogue synths using modern technologies, I think they would be totally unique an original. Not just a remake of one of their originals with smaller keys and jacks

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    1. Totally agree, I’ve never understood the MS-20 obsession, it was a good little mono synth, but Roland’s SH series were wonderful, and ultimately this is going to sound like like a big monotron, NOT an MS-20.

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      1. You have clearly never used a real MS-20. I love old Roland Analog gear, but the MS-20 eats the sh series for breakfast. Put a Monotron next to an MS-20 and the oscillators and filters are hard, if not impossible, to tell apart.

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      2. The SH is nice, but it’s nowhere near as sonically flexible as the MS-20. It’s great for bass and lead sounds, and maybe the odd sound effect, but the MS-20 has some fantastic features that the SH just can’t compete with. Build in ring mod, dual filters, a patch bay, audio to CV converter, the list goes on and on.

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  16. this is amazing, I thought I was going to stay away from analog synths for a while but an ms-20 clone by Korg themselves for $600? count me the fuck in!

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  17. I think for every good reason (far, far too many to list) this whole idea sucks !
    Either do it right or don’t do it at all . . .

    And for you fanboys and girls … Just stick to your iPads . . .

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  18. what do you have ? & I hope prices are decent …

    Anyway Korg WAS a really great company,.. This MS-20 Mini nonsense is clutching at straws,.. Kronos sucks, cheaply built, purposely hobbled,.. Shitty plug-in editor, Legacy is FINALLY becoming 64 bit,.. Hardware is dead,. & if analog is to continue it needs to be polyphonic & DONE RIGHT !!!!!

    These are mere toys ! The last great product Korg made was the Triton’s & thee OASYS PCI,. Which they also hobbled . . . The M3 is GARBAGE ! And the Krome ? LOL !!!!

    Digital is getting so good that hardware digital synths are useless now,.. Reason 6.5 has proven that !
    Analog is great but as I said above ….

    In less than 5 years OASYS could be an iPad app,.. But why ? Closed end & proprietory is well … Limiting as all hell,.. DAW’s will get better, 3rd party integration will too,.. And uh,. new analog will die & just be resurrected as toys as it is now,.. Sad, sad, sad . . .

    In 20 years or less digital & PC processing will get so good that analog emulations will be better then real analog,.. Wait & see 😉

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  19. This whole MS-20 mini thing is GARBAGE !!! Analog being resurrected as toys,.. How lame !!!
    Korg USED to be a great company but no more,.. The last great products were the Triton’s and thee OASYS PCI which were both hobbled by Korg,. The M3 IS GARBAGE !!! The Kronos is Garbage & the plug in editor is HORRIBLE !!!!! And Krome ? LOL !!!! Legacy is now FINALLY coming out as 64 bit …

    Digital hardware is now useless & Reason 6.5 has proven that,.. DAW’s will improve as will 3rd party integration,.. Digital & PC processing within less than 20 years will be so good that it will rival true analog,. Just wait 😉 Do REAL analog right or not at all and make it polyphonic !!! Anyway OASYS could be an app someday but why bother,.. Proprietary sucks just like being in a box sucks . . .

    This analog resurrection trend GARBAGE brought back as over priced monophonic toys is just insulting !!!
    It is the sound of a death rattle . . .

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  20. It’s desperate,. & a step backwards,…. Maybe if it was at least 4 note polyphonic and had a VST plug in editor it would “maybe” be worth it,.. Either way it’s an overpriced toy . . .

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  21. “I can hardly believe no one knows about this already. It is possible to control an MS-20 from a V/Octave keyboard or MIDI/CV converter without a special interface. If you don’t believe it, try it . .

    When I first got my MS-20, I noticed that the filters don’t track the keyboard at all. I plugged the keyboard cv to the filter cv in, but then the filter tracked the keyboard slowly in the lower octave, then went screeching off in search of tweeters to kill! I soon realised that the filter was tracking exponentially. I looked at the schematics and sure enough, both the VCO’s and the VCF’s have exponential converters on the modulation inputs. (You can tell this is the case, because the synth also goes radically out of tune when you plug the kbd cv to the TOTAL input, and wind up the MG / T.EXT knob in the FM section.)So, if you stick a V/OCT input into the modulation inputs and adjust the MG level for correct scaling, it all works and the filters track too.

    Here’s how you do it:

    1. Plug the performance wheel into the keyboard cv input (middle, right) to disconnect the keyboard.
    2. Plug the V/OCT cv from your MIDI/cv converter or another synth into the Total jack (top left).
    3. Plug the s-trig. from your MIDI/cv or synth into the MS-20 trigger input.
    4. Play a note on your MIDI keyboard or the controlling synth, and adjust the MS-20 performance wheel until you get a sensible pitch.
    5. Adjust the VCO mod. levels until playing an octave on your MIDI (or other synth) keyboard gives an octave out of the MS-20. Then adjust the MS-20 performance wheel to coarse tune the MS20 and use the tuning pot to fine tune it.
    6. The filter mod level pots adjust filter tracking in the same way.

    You lose use of the performance wheel on the MS-20, but that’s not a big problem if your MIDI/cv converter or your other synth has pitch bend. You will need a v-to-s trigger converter (i.e. the MS-02 Interface) to control the MS-20 from synths without s-trig. outputs, but they’re simple to make (two resistors and an NPN transistor, plenty of circuits posted elsewhere).

    I don’t have the MS-20 in front of me, so apologies if the names of pots and jacks are not exact. Believe me, it does work!”

    (from Steve Ridley)

    Somebody else added:

    “Beware of one thing… the VCF’s are twice as sensitive as VCO’s so that you must bring the VCF’s mod pots to about 5 where as you would have the VCO’s mod pot to 10. I think this can confuse some people the first time they fool around… Actually, if one wants good VCF tracking one has to be careful in trimming…”

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