Korg MS-20 Mini vs Korg iMS-20 For iPad

In this video, Marcus Padrini compares the Korg MS-20 mini and iMS-20 for iPad – and demonstrates that you can’t rely on your eyes to get patches to match, but if you use your ears, you can get a very close match. 

Here’s what Padrini has to say about the video:

The Korg MS-20 mini is an analog synth, the reincarnation of the classic MS-20. The iMS-20 is the iPad version of the same machine.

If you just try to use the same settings on both, the first thought will be “The iMS-20 simply can’t sound like the real thing”. But in fact, they have different behavior for the same settings on the filter and envelope modules. Don’t expect to make the same sounds using the same settings on both!

With some work and listening carefully you can make the iPad app to sound much closer than before.


O Korg MS-20 mini é um sintetizador analógico, a reencarnação do clássico MS-20. O iMS-20 é a versão para iPad da mesma máquina.

Se você simplesmente tentar usar os mesmos ajustes em ambos, o primeiro pensamento será “o iMS-20 simplesmente não pode soar como o instrumento real”. Mas, na verdade, eles possuem comportamentos diferentes para os mesmos ajustes nos módulos de Filtro e Envelope. Não espere conseguir o mesmo som usando os mesmos ajustes!

Com algum trabalho e escutando cuidadosamente você pode fazer o app para iPad soar muito mais próximo do que antes.

13 thoughts on “Korg MS-20 Mini vs Korg iMS-20 For iPad

  1. Oh man! I have just recently given up on the iOS synth lure, but I thought that I would skip this one as I thought it would be so old, that surely it must be kind of obsolete compared to the new ones, but this really does sound like MS20.

    I wish, that they would update it for polyphony though, as well as add MS50 on top of it.

    But please! More of these comparisons, and add Kronos to the comparison as well! Polysix next, please!

  2. I’m generally skeptical about these things, but this is a great comparison. Most users would not be able to tell which version was being played without the visual.

    It does make me wonder, though, why Korg didn’t get the knob positions on the virtual model to be a closer match with the hardware. Would they be a better match for the original MS-20, instead of the mini?

  3. To my ears, the MS-20 Mini sounds a bit “Tighter” and “more defined”, but in all honesty, they both sound pretty good. I have to start saving up for the iConnectivity thingy.

  4. iMS20 for £10 or whatever it was, is an absolute steal, and this is probably as much proof as anyone is ever likely to need. But then, all the top synths available on the iPad generally sound pretty darn good! Nave is stunning, as is iSEM, Magellan, Sunrizer, etc…

    Nothing quite like playing with hardware, but there’s certainly no real argument agains the iPad as a truly innovative musical instrument any more – good times 🙂

  5. The real one sounds way better. Much warmer tones. it’s due to the patch cord allowing the signal to collect warmth from the subtle interference drift in the current.

    Though the older iPads like this one don’t sound as good as the newer versions. So this comparison is very fair to the iMS20 software. They really should discontinue support for iPad 1 and 2.

    1. why discontinue support for iPad 1&2? I have a newer iPad , but i think its great that I can still use my venerable iPad1 for the iMS-20 and iSEM etc… Lots of newer apps don’t support it, but it still works fine for those, and with the iConnectivity 2+, it great!

      1. i can squint and see the joke, but it wasn’t phrased very well if it was, leaving open too much “straight” interpretation…..

  6. I have been wondering if the difference is in the filter selection between the two. There were at least two filter versions for the original MS-20. The new full-size kit ships with both.

    I wonder if the mini is emulating one and the iMS-20 is modeling the other.

    If you look at the screenshot that shows the original iMS-20 settings vs. those where the sounds is nearly identical, you’ll see that much of the difference is in the filter settings.

    Does anyone have the kit – or two original MS-20s each with the different filters – that can try the same test?

  7. With all this fuss over the MS-20 mini, and the iMS20, and even the original MS-20, don’t forget that there is still the Legacy Collection MS-20 for the Mac and PC. iPad synths have a place, but any the iPad has a way to go before it has the processing power of a low-end PC. The software MS-20 is polyphonic, and the Legacy Cell version combines two MS-20s or 2 Polysixes, or one of each, with effects. My favorite of the legacy synths is the Mono/Poly, and the software version solves the big problems of the original. It is massively polyphonic – when it wants to be, and you have virtually unlimited patch storage, plus you have options with velocity and aftertouch, including polyaftertouch, that you don’t have on the original. The entire Legacy Collection is still a free download when you buy the 61 note version of the Microkey keyboard.

  8. It is such a strange time for musical equipment. With the availability of computing power existing along side with the trend to ‘return to hardware’. The computers are busy emulating old hardware, and old hardware is lusted after as though it were brand new ground breaking technology, At the same time there are all sorts of far out synths coming out in both hardware and software that really do push things further forward. An utter universe of sound is available at our fingertips right now, and for relatively little cost. Yet the ‘hot debates’ are still about whether the sound of an iPad synth emulator matches the real (old) machine. I get it, but really, who gives a fuck anymore? Just make sounds and forget about where it came from.

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