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,

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

  1. I’m more excited about this than I am about the Sub Phatty, and not only because of the reported price ($599). I love the Moog sound, but at the end of the day, it always sounds Moog-y. The same could be said of the MS-20, but I personally find the MS-20 sound to be more varied than the sounds of a Moog. Plus the patch factor allows it to be used so creatively. I think the Mini MS-20 is a must buy.

  2. Is may be the best of show….I think it will be really cool to be able to come up with patches on my ims20 wherever I am and then reprogram them on hardware.

  3. Thank you Korg. I have wanted an MS20 since I got into music production a few years ago but I could never justify the prices people have been asking. This is really great news and hopefully just the start of things to come in terms of modern analog.

    1. No re-issue – it’s a remake and I would be surprised if it sounded just like the original. Lot’s of components in the old one that no longer is available and therefore has to be replaced by others (and often more precise ones – wich can affect drift and other “faults” that gives the synth personality). But on the other hand these kind of improvements can be positive too… 🙂

      1. Good point about the components and stuff. Still, if this is basically a new MS-20 and it’s analog… even if it’s close, but has the real fat sound of analog circuitry, that would be amazing! The new Oberheim SEMs are really good, and in some ways better than the originals!

        1. My friend showed my his diy synth, that his brother (totally elecronic dev virgin) made. I loved it`s sound so much, that I ordered similar one. I bought NEW resistors, condensors and other stuff and hand them to him. The effect was that my synth didn`t sound as good as I expected, it was too clean, ‘with no soul’. It turned out that the first synth was made of bunch of old radios and other electronic garbage.

    1. Who in the world would any one give this comment a thumbs down…it’s a positive valid comment about an exciting aspect of synthesis in the future. There are some real losers w no life out there….good comment!

  4. Fucking Mini keys. Seriously?? Korg just has to do a little something to fuck up every great idea they have had in recent history.

    1. Umm, if it’s either, it’s obviously the “Mark II” (not that Korg ever even referred to their MS20/MS20fiilters by those terms). The “Mark I” had a completely proprietary sealed, potted filter module using old, obsolete components. The “Mark II” (as you call it) used commonly available commercial components (at that time). Most modern-day replicas of the MS filter are a modern-day recreation of your “”””MARK 2″””” filter. If Korg were to re-issue anything, it would be a modern-day equivalent of the ‘second-generation’- or as you call it- “Mark II”- filter using modern component equivalents (most likely SMD).

      1. The Mk 1 used the Korg35 fiter, which is in the Monotron and Monotribe-it will be in this one as its discrete components are ironically easier to source now than the OTAs in the Mark II.

  5. Damn Korg, not only analogue but modular…Obviously its not an MS20, just inspired by…but just damn. Sold. I’m just completely sold. When it comes to the giants, Korg has always been my favorite. Always awesome. This is gonna be fun to make this thing have sex with a Monotribe.

  6. Korg, Bravo! I would like to see an analog synth product war between Korg and Roland. Now can someone get Roland to stop making digital crap synths (we all have vst synths and don’t need them) and lets get this analog battle going. Ooooos!

  7. They went Voyager on this one–one of my favorite synths finally remade. I was hoping for this last year (and this summer/autumn when the Krome was announced), and finally it’s here.

    Now I’m not sure if I should get this or a Pittsburgh…so many compelling analog synthesizer systems coming out this year. It’s a breath of fresh air. Finally there are electronic instruments around that will be inspiring to play. It’s been a while.

  8. This is what we all have cried for! Thank you Korg for listening. Keep the analog stuff coming:) would love an analog sequencer as well!

    1. holy yes! can you imagine a sequencer/electribe styled in the analog monotribe fashion?!! now THAT is a line of gear I’d have to buy.

  9. Will be interesting to see how this stacks up against my original MS20 which I love but kinda sits there as I am primarily all virtual… if it allows you to create on this and transfer to ipad (and vice versa) it will be brilliant… I tried to do this on the Legacy controller a few times without much luck (but that may just be me)
    If its an actual standalone synth, then well done Korg for letting people have the enjoyment of the MS20 all over again…
    Now all I want is Roland to start doing something similar and do a decent JP8 recreation… hey.. I can dream 🙂

  10. Glad you like it folks 🙂

    It’s interesting that it has MIDI, I look forward to more details on the implementation. If it’s going on the market in February the review models are already out there, can’t wait for the demos!

    1. On a german KORG site are all the specs… it says that MIDI is only MIDI Note on/off… no velocity, so it’s absolute basic… gate and pitch…

  11. I approve. Its a game changer, esp at this price. What if new affordable modulars came out and dethroned the 3U? I’ll take 2. And I hope they make the sequencer and Vocoder as well.

  12. Midi was a must. I was about to buy 2 monotribes with midi kits, now I’m waitin! I think this will be this years minibrute. Less wait time tho, I hope.

  13. The final nail in the coffin for VA IMO. I need to sell my R3 and get one of these to use with my iPad! Especially if the knobs send MIDI (which I doubt at this price)

      1. It’s definitely mini keys if this pic is accurate. Easy to see.
        Mini keys are kind of just the new trend I guess. I personally dislike it, but meh, ms20 remake? I’ll buy it. With midi implementation it doesn’t really matter anyway.

  14. The keys are not mini keys like on other korg synths. They are 86% the size of the originals, so that’s pretty big. The keys on the iMS20 controller must be 50-60% size of large keys, so these keys will b very playable.

  15. Brian, where do that info regarding key size come from? – When compare my MS20 controller with the leaked picture and have a closer look at the size of the patch sockets compared to the keys, the keys seem to be the same size on the new Mini MS20 as on the controller, just the shape of the keys seems to have changed.

    1. I also have the ms20 controller. Take a good look, the keys are longer. Also look up the spec, the case is bigger, so the keys are bigger.

      1. Sorry, I haven’t found any specs yet. And I don’t want to offend you, but I don’t believe that Korg will introduce another key-size than the standard “normal”-keys or “mini”-keys. And as written before, if the patch cords are 1/8″ (as on the controller) than the keys will not be bigger than the controllers keys, because the proportion patch-socketkey is the same at the controller and the picture of the Mini MS20. But let’s wait and see…

        1. They stated on the German korg site that these are in fact new keys, not the ones used on the legacy controller and not full sized.

        2. The German page was up yesterday evening for ages. I translated all the pages and in the spec they state very clearly that the keys are new keys designed specifically for this synth. So they are not the keys from the micro range. The dimensions were also up and I compared them to my own legacy controller. Its bigger all round by a couple of CM. Also the photo of it next to the original MS20 the MIni was at an angle and you could clearly see the keys were longer than the iMS20 controller. Also the translation of the german magazine article (on Matrix Synth) states that this is not made using the old legacy controller case, its a brand new case. It also comes with the original manual and the box is also a replica of the original. This is an anniversary gesture, they’ve gone to great lengths, its not a thrown together effort using existing parts. Unlike the original though it uses a 9V wall adaptor, power isnt built in. Thats a shame.

  16. I don’t get it. Why would you spend €600 on an analog MS20 with all of it’s flaws when you can have the same sound minus the flaws on the far far cheaper iPad app, plus all the extras like running other iOS plugins and keeping ontop of your handlift social profile online like Soundcloud/Twitter. You can pretty much do all this modular stuff now on just iOS and the soundstage is so much better particularly in the high to low mids. Plus you can transport it to the local coffee shop. Who’s going to see you owning a real MS20?

    1. The world has gone mad with retro and stagnation all over the place.
      Moog is doing the same. A new synth with even less features then the phatty.
      The Phatty had LED-encoders that show you the actual value of a parameter.
      I want more of that feature and polyphony. Oh my.

        1. yes! electronics 30 years ago were well designed and became obfuscated over time with an over implication and attempt to hide the depth of synths behind plastic veneers.

          the appreciation of these old models is that they are hands on and sound like unique instruments, not trying to copy violins and other instruments.

    2. Dubsteisthefuture is obviously trolling…. pushing all the right buttons on the average synhtopia reader including myself! I mean, dub step is the future? keeping ontop of your handlift social profile online like Soundcloud/Twitter? Better sound from the app?
      Well played.

  17. yes! electronics 30 years ago were well designed and became obfuscated over time with an over implication and attempt to hide the depth of synths behind plastic veneers.

    the appreciation of these old models is that they are hands on and sound like unique instruments, not trying to copy violins and other instruments.

  18. I wonder if you will be able to sync this up with the iMS20 to make an MS40! A 4 oscillator MS20 kind of thing. Hardware and Software making peace at last. Everyone would be happy! (except the haters). 😉

  19. The other NAMM synth from korg, the king korg is supposed to have gate and CV out, so I guess this will solve the “mini key” issue if you buy the bundle and use the 61 keys of the KK to control the MS 😉

  20. “Patching is done with scaled-down 1/8? cables.”

    Not sure what this means exactly? Hopefully it has true CV and is compatible with eurorack gear. Guess we will find out soon enough!

    1. It is still control voltage, just using 1/8th inch patch cords… The real question is whether it wil be 1 v per octave to conform to the doepfer standard.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

    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.

  23. 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…..

  24. 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!

    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)

      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.

      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. 😀

    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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    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?

      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.

  27. 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?

    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 🙂

      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.

  28. 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.

    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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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.

  33. 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?

  34. 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

    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.

      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.

      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.

  35. 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!

  36. 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 . . .

  37. [email protected] 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 😉

  38. 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 . . .

  39. 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 . . .

  40. “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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