Korg MS-20 Mini Recreates The 1978 Classic

At the 2013 NAMM Show today, Korg officially introduced the MS-20 Mini – an analog recreation of one of their classic synths.

Korg’s MS-20 monophonic synthesizer, first introduced in 1978, is an vintage classic. Over 300,000 people experienced a virtual version of the MS-20 via Korg’s MS-20 plug-in synth, or the iMS-20 iPad app.

Now, the sounds of the MS-20 have been reborn in hardware, as the MS-20 Mini. The same engineers who developed the original MS-20 have reproduced its circuitry and fit into a body that’s been shrunk to 86% of the original size, yet retains the distinctive look of the original.

korg-ms-20-mini

Features:

  • Overseen by the engineers of the original MS-20, a complete replication of the original analog circuitry
  • 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure
  • Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion
  • External signal processor (ESP)
  • Extremely flexible patching system
  • Miniature MS-20 that’s 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

Comments from the developers:

Fifty years have passed since Korg was founded, and we have once again put our hand to an analog synthesizer. We took particular care to deliver smooth parameter adjustments, which are a distinctive feature of analog synthesizers. We also took special care to completely reproduce the original specifications of the MS-20. The analog circuits we designed 35 years ago still deliver the same unbeatable, powerful sound, from the ultra-low to the ultra-high range.

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


94 thoughts on “Korg MS-20 Mini Recreates The 1978 Classic

  1. In the words of the top youtube comment…. I’m throwing my money at the screen! I’d buy 3, right now!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 1
  2. 300,000 people bought the app? It cost me like $17 when it was 50% off. No wonder they remade the hardware synth, they had some good start up cash :)

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2
  3. The mini keys really ruin it for me. I love the idea of a reborn ms-20, but HATE mini keys. How are you supposed to shred on that? Having to connect an external controller betrays the whole idea of all those immediately accessible controls… Sorry, but I’d rather buy a Future Retro XS…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 27
    • those aren’t mini-keys. They aren’t full-size either, but they definitely aren’t miki-keys like you’ve seen before on the microKorg.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3
        • nope, they aren’t. Smaller, but not “mini” spec either

          “the newly-designed keyboard is 86% of the original size as well.”

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1
          • Measure your full size keys, they’re probably around 14cm. 86% of that is 12cm. Mini keys are around 8cm. THEY’RE NOT MINI KEYS!

            Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
            • Yes, but personally I have problems with the width of mini-keys not with the length. Because the width is what lets you target the right keys without looking at the keyboard while playing (if you’ve learned on a standard piano or normal-size-keyed keyboard). ;) Btw that’s what I was regarding to when we were discussing earlier this day, Brian.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4
              • While your opinion is obviously legitimate, I’ve trained on full-size keys my whole life, and have never owned anything “mini.” That said, I have gigged on a microKorg and did not have *too* difficult a time finding my way around the keybed.

                The width of mini-keys is still wider than the tail of a piano’s white keys. I would think that anyone trained on a full-size piano would have no problems since being able to play on the tail of the white keys is crucial to speed and open chords.

                Plus, since this is monophonic, you won’t really be having to stretch your hands for any reason.

                Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2
              • But doesn’t the 86% apply to the width as well as the length? Average keys are around 2.25cm wide, so these could be around 1.9cm if the 86% follows through, which isn’t really mini either. I think the fact that they’ve made a point of stating these are new keys specific to this synth means they’re not mini keys as we know them. Midi-keys may be a better description.

                Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4
    • Yea I wish Roland would get back into analog stuff. They could at the very least re create some of their classics on the iPad like korg has.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1
      • OBTW…If Yamaha would create a modern version of the CS-80 we would be in Analog Heaven!!!!

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2
        • A fully analog CS-80, regardless of internal improvements, would still require a lot of labor to build and could easily run $5000+. That’s in 2013 dollars, not 1980s dollars. Would that still strike you as Heaven? Um, ouch.

          Even if Yamaha modeled it to the Nth degree, made a great go of it, kept the pitch ribbon and the sumptuous keyboard and retailed it at under $2k, people would be at their doors with torches and pitchforks because it was not pure analog. C’mon, people in Darfur have no chance at a SubPhatty. Don’t moan because near-MAGIC doesn’t come in the right shade of green to match your eyes. I have a pipe organ, an orchestra, several decades’ worth of synths and a toy box in a 12-pound computer on a table. That’s magical enough.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2
      • SERIOUSLY. If Korg can remake the MS-20 and sell it for $600, it can’t be that expensive to remake an 808 or 909. I would certainly buy one.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  4. Korg has been innovative and progressive in their productions. They actually listen to what we want.
    Korg Is the KING!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2
    • Yea, I couldn’t believe it when they added audiobus to their apps out of the blue. I also thought they were just kind of playing around when they released the monotrons, but I guess they were testing the waters, all leading up to this moment :)

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2
        • I think the monitoring were less about testing the waters than developing components. Especially when you consider the midi I the monotribe. What was that there for if not a future product. It was hidden inside the case not really marketable but cost money to add. The only conclusion I could draw was that it was the guts of a future product.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
            • (sorry for my poor iPhone typing, I was in a hurry and didn’t proof it) Seeing the MS-20 mini, I don’t think it has Monotribe guts in it (where’s the step sequencer?), but I do feel there’s room for a Monotribe Mega in the future, using the original circuit board but adding a better keyboard and actually midi jacks (to say nothing of a more robust control surface). Continuing from my previous post, it was clear Korg had larger aspirations when they designed the Monotron and Monotribe. Perhaps we are only seeing the beginning of Korg’s analog lineup. One can hope.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    • Don’t worry, you’ll get your share – in 10yrs time, Euro and US kids will be soldering these (or making fireworks) during school days too.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3
  5. This is very welcome news indeed. We will potentially get (at least! :-) ) one of these for the studio and it would make a very welcome addition to our Analog Synth course which already makes use of the iMS-20 app and MS-20ic controller alongside other synths and synth apps to teach the principles of analog synthesis !

    Wonderful in every way. Well done Korg.

    Derek Jones, Owner: MusicInclusive LLC

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 10
    • Ummm, … why all the negativity? Genuinely confused….

      Is it *not* wonderful that Korg have done this?

      We like Moog and Roland and DSI and Arturia and others too. :-)

      Apologies if I offended anyone. All I was saying was that *this* is great news the same as the Sub Phatty is great news the same as the Prophet 12 is great news for analog synthesis all round. It’s a great set of releases at NAAM this year.

      Derek.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
    • not sure how you come to the conclusion they will be reissuing those. it´s delusional.
      maybe, but maybe we can expect polysix but i wouldn´t bank on it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5
      • Don’t be so sure. the hard work is redesigning and sourcing the components for things like the VCO, CVF etc. Once you’re happy with the circuit designs, laying them out differently on the circuit board is trivial. There’s nothing in the MS-50 that isn’t already in the Ms-20 – the ‘Integrator’ module is just a 1-pole low pass filter with a very small sweep.

        I’d bet $10 that within 3 months of the Ms-20 mini shipping date that someone with a Dremel and basic electronics knowledge will have modded their 20 into a 50. Looking at the pics of the circuit board in Korg’s promo video, the layout of the components is quite spacious.

        Korg won’t make an MS-20 because the manufacturing cost would be almost identical to the MS-20 but people wouldn’t pay as much, so it makes no economic sense. However, people would pay a bit more for an MS-50, or they could put it out at the same price as the MS-20 and save money by leaving out the keyboard (the most labor-intensive component).

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  6. Finally one of the big guys has woken up and given the people what they want. Your turn Roland.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1
  7. this is a dream come true. man i am so happy. i mean shit like this does not just happen, it´s unprecedented.
    also love those nerdy engineers. they actually look proud.
    this will sell like hot cakes. congratulations korg. you actually redeemed yourself a bit for the absence of emx mkII.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1
  8. Yeah, i love it when a company listens to the people. Finally. This is what we want. An affordable good analog synth. First the Minibrute, now this beauty. What’s next in line? Sure it’s gonna be an iteresting time to come. Roland SH-101 with some funky new features?

    Think my Sherman Filterbank 2 is gonna love my future mini ms20 by the way :)

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
  9. There are almost too many new analogs on the market now, which is great but deciding which to include into my rig is gonna be tough. My dream would be for someone to release a modern ARP Odyssey, but this will do for now. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Roland to follow suit, but if Korg sells a pile of these you know Roland will take note. Anyway, it’s a good time for synthaholics. Rejoice!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
    • If you want an Arp you should look at the Studio Electronics Boomstar 4075, which has an Arp filter and lots of nice sound making goodies. They are finally supposed to start shipping this month and I can’t wait to get mine!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
    • I told a rep at Behringer that they should do an ARP Odyssey clone (you should do the same). I’m no lawyer but my understanding is that making a clone of that synth would be perfectly legal and cloning seems to be part of Behringer’s marketing strategy. Since they recently got into drum machines, a synth is a logical next step. I really hope they do it because it would be very affordable too.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
      • I don’t know who owns ARP nowadays, but I’d take a Behringer clone in a minute. True the build quality would be inferior to my “78 Oddy, but I would like to leave the beast in the studio where it’s safe. Those slider pots are too rare and expensive now. I will try to contact a Behringer rep too. Cheers.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  10. Def. the most exciting announcement of WNAMM13 so far… I’ve recently started a journey into the world of modulars so prob wont buy this in the foreseeable future, but great Kudos to Korg for having the guts and the insight to do this!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0
  11. Think this is retroism in its best form, it is a game changer and I think we just seen the beginning when it comes to remakes of synth classics.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
  12. Oh o get it… Yer comments turn yellow if you post words like shit or f#%k!!! That is funny!!!

    With the signal input and the ability to control sounds with a guitar or bass… I want one!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12
      • It changes colors from the likes or dislikes. Yours is now pink because no one likes that you’re rambling about the forum graphics rather than discussing the release of this synthesizer — topic at hand.

        BTW… AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I already pre-ordered it, I can’t fucking wait!!!!!! It’s driving me bananas. I used to go on ebay and drool over those vintage ($2,000+) MS-20’s they’d have for sale… I actually even said to myself many times “I’m gonna save up and buy one one day”

        Wellllll don’t have to worry about that anymore!

        Honestly, this is a complete dream come true. I was looking at those ebay entries for like 3,000 bucks sometimes, and thought “Why is Korg making these weird little plastic synths now?? What’s going on?” and, as if they heard my plead, they re-released it! :)

        Well, enough of that.
        I will say though, this marks the beginning of a return to the Synthesizer Age that we had through the 70’s and 80’s. 10 years ago, if you talked to people about synthesizers, they’d be asking “what is that?” And now, it’s coming back to the mainstream! All my guitarist friends wondered why I was so into synthesizers, and now they want to learn them :P

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  13. I called this when the Monotron came out and started flying off the shelf.

    Even happier to see the pricepoint!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6
    • it means people like your comment, red if they dont. hidden if they hate it. it’s all based on the thumbs up/down

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
  14. Roland seems content to service the workstation/church keyboardist/home entertainment market. I can’t see what they could offer on the monosynth analog side that would be that popular, even if they decided to relaunch the sh-101. Although it would be lovely to see them re-release the 303 & 808 just to see the resale price of the vintage models drop. I still kick myself for looking at those in the shop display case 30 years ago and dismissing them as utterly useless gadgets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2
  15. I wasn’t looking to buy any mono synths and now I want a sub phatty and an ms20! Got damn it!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0
  16. I will believe this when I see some serious demos. As an owner of the MS-10 I have always wanted a Real MS-20. I just hope that the size has nothing to do with the sound. I want a Beast!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3
  17. I think Korg has hit upon a brilliant master plan: get everyone hooked for cheap via apps/plug-ins/emulation, then deliver the REAL HARDWARE.

    I wonder what’s coming next? mini-Polysix, maybe?? ;-)

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  18. I’m going to scare some people here, but I’m starting to think the minikeys are cool. A lot of great organs I’ve played have a solo synth with minikeys. Heck, the GX-1 mono keyboard was good enough for some top notch musicians. Would be cool if somebody figured out how to do the side to side pitch bend as a simple mod, like pressure sensors on either end. Either way, I’m sold.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
  19. I love this synth, but I have to say that it is 2013 now. Why not take the best of the MS-20 and develop it a bit further? Look at Dave Smiths prophet 12, thats going to be a new classic. I know people are going to get offended by this, but dont you want to be able to create new sounds instead of recreating sounds that was done 30 years ago? Anyway, Im going to buy one when I get the money:)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5
  20. Reborn…. hmmm!!!! Bob Moog did the same with minimoog,…but only the first is ever the best.
    Reborn analog beasts is only the begging. I hope Roland and Yamaha follow the project.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4
  21. When all is said and done, Ipads wipe the floor with these synthesisers.
    Long live Steve Jobs!
    Dada………………..

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 18
    • Well, I guess somebody has to end up with all of those crappy iPads in 30 years. Glad to know all of my synths wont be outdated like the iPad.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  22. judging by the specs on korgs website, the control is 1oct/volt so interfacing it with your modular or whatnot shouldn’t be too hard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1
    • I can’t wait to run the patchbay connections through a few FX pedals like we used to with the MS-10 a bandmate had in the 90’s. Maybe add a few monotrons for extra oscillators and filters. i am really happy that this is the new Nord Micromodular, bringing modular synthesis to a whole new generation of young artists for very little pocket money.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  23. This I like! ipads are cool (though I find ipad users annoying in real life) but the feeling of twisting a touch screen isn’t the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
  24. So if this remake was created based on the popularity of the iMS-20 app one can only hope the poly-6 will soon follow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
    • The new hardware “PolySix” is probably the KingKORG. A true analog poly-synth would be so expensive, it’d be relegated to the boutique section. Don’t feel like you’re missing some great, magical experience. I’ve played most of the legendary vintage keyboards. Both the modern hardware and plug-in versions are extremely accurate when it comes to getting the feel right. I was a bit dubious until I got to try out the CS80v, playing through quality monitors. It still thundered like the real thing did. Everything has a rough spot or two, but when you’re hitting 98%, call it Good, Real Good.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4
  25. So the completely unanswered question i have is….does the USB port give you the ability to save and import patches? Is there any way to save patches? That is the biggest power of new modulars like the Nords and simulations. I still use the Legacy controller that I picked up cheap along with IMS-20 on my Ipad and that powerful combination can save patches.

    That said I can’t wait to have this alongside my digital simulation.

    My hope is that I will buy this along with four modded monotrons for 4+ more oscillators and filters. Since all the pathways are analog and 1/8 inch, i can see a lot of possibilities for lining up a few monotrons especially the delay, on the top of these for a modular powerhouse that can easily tuck under the arm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
    • There is no way to save and load patches electronically. The only data the usb midi sends and receives is note on/off.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
      • Darn, if they had a way to save the patches to iMS-20 i would ditch the legacy controller in a heartbeat and buy two of these. Event if the patches only saved one way to the iPAD. As it is I guess there is still a use and advantage for my Nord Modular and iMS-20 combo that i currently use.

        Well thanks for the answer. Not toooooo disappointing. But for all the people dissing the cost of the new Buchla Music Easel, well i guess one thing you get is the ability to save patches. (sort of)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
      • Hey this is real analog period. NO patches (thank God). New Prophets and Moogs are analog but they have a digital part on top of the analog part that takes care of the patches thing. But with all analog and no patches I see two main advantages:
        1. You don’t loose anything in the process. Since analog voltages are almost infinite by definition, you have to convert say the filter cutoff analog voltage into a digital number between 0 and 127 so you are loosing lots of analog information.
        2. You have to know what you are doing!!! This can be difficult and even frustrating at first, but belive me, the reward is that you will end up playing YOUR sound, not some other people patches. Besides everytime you play the thing it will be different, not a snapshot you took three years ago.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • Hey this is real analog period. NO patches (thank God). New Prophets and Moogs are analog but they have a digital part on top of the analog part that takes care of the patches thing. But with all analog and no patches I see two main advantages:
      1. You don’t loose anything in the process. Since analog voltages are almost infinite by definition, you have to convert say the filter cutoff analog voltage into a digital number between 0 and 127 so you are loosing lots of analog information.
      2. You have to know what you are doing!!! This can be difficult and even frustrating at first, but belive me, the reward is that you will end up playing YOUR sound, not some other people patches. Besides everytime you play the thing it will be different, not a snapshot you took three years ago.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  26. BTW – There is No reason for Yamaha not to reissue the CS-01 and the breath controller for it.

    I’d buy one just so i could use the BC on my other stuff.

    Don’t think HUGE CS-80 when suggesting re-issues to Yamaha. After all Korg is re-issuing one of their small units. It’s not like they are re-doing the Korg PS-3300 (as much as i would love to play one of those again) .

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Korg_PS-3300.JPG

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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