Korg MS-20 Mini Review

Here’s a look of the new Korg MS-20 Mini, via CDM’s Peter Kirn.

Kirn is impressed with the MS-20 Mini:

“If you’re in the market for a monosynth, the MS-20 mini deserves strong consideration. There are other interesting monosynth keyboards out there, but the MS-20’s modular patch bay and distinctive sound and filter set it apart. And none of the others can lay claim to being a bit of history in the way the mini does.”

See Kirn’s full review of the MS-20 Mini at the CDM site. He also compared the MS-20 Mini to the original, and says “the original is worse!”

24 thoughts on “Korg MS-20 Mini Review

  1. This is my perception….Korg released the monotron at the beginning as some sort of “fun” with the legendary MS-filter..and it was such the popularity of the lil tron..that they decide to re-create and improve (with everything we monotron lovers request at that time…midi compatibility) the ms-20. At the end…who cares…’cause it is a great old synth for the new “old analogue” days…btw,.,,whats up with the candles in the vid? 0-o

  2. WANT.

    Enjoyed the video, too… especially the bit about people loving their MS-20, because it made them feel exclusive. I would argue most probably don’t feel that way, but I really do hate that kind of attitude.

  3. Mono/Poly and Polysix are unlikely since they rely on obsolete SSM chips. I suppose they could try to redesign them without said chips but then they wouldn’t be the same would they.

      1. why not just make a new synth if a whole new chip must be designed? Seems like it would be a huge gamble on their part, because us consumers would be expected an exact replica.

        If Polysix and/or Mono/Poly came back to say hello again, I’d certainly be excited….but I’d be even more excited by a completely new poly analog synth from Korg.

    1. Designing sound chips and then making the necessary molds is a massive job, the most expensive one in a synth. Once an instrument reaches the end of its sales cycle, those molds go bye-bye. To develop a stash of Curtis-type chips would require a very large pre-order due to the set-up time required. It could be done, but I don’t think you’ll see it due to the work load and economies of scale.

      1. This makes me really glad I forked out for a Polysix recently. There’s nothing like the hardware in my experience.

        The Legacy software does sound great but I do not have the patience for computers. I don’t feel the passion to the same degree as when twiddling the 30 year old knobs and smelling the dust under the keys. This I could do for a week and never get bored or frustrated!

  4. I’ve got a fund going to get one of these. I’ve learned my lesson selling off old gear. I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m just gonna save up and try to find extra jobs until the MS-20 is mine.

  5. “If you’re in the market for a monosynth …” That’s my problem right here; I shouldn’t be in the market, I have a Minibrute that I love, but the MS-20 is so sexy I WANT one anyway. 🙂

    1. Actually it IS an advert. Like all those obviously fake/sponsored Korg “user” channels on Youtube. Noticed all the classic MS-20 videos popping up lately? (Source: I produce advertising.) Can’t wait to get that synth though.

  6. Worth noting, not from a purist perspective, but from a practical one, that Korg says the oscillators are actually digitally controlled for stability/no warm up. Replacing tiny processors within this thing in the future might be complicated…

    I always liked the instability of say, the Moog Rogue, not just because it sounded cool despite being a pain at times, but because all the parts are readily sourced and there is no computer programming/booting required… This is why I had trouble with the Minibrute when I had one; it was computer controlled, so a preposterous flurry of operations could made it crash multiple times even with all updates. Though this is not really an issue (who else plays the whole keyboard worth of notes at once?), the fact that the computer section could have problems in the future that would be near impossible to fix on my own made me really nervous.

    What is everyone’s take on this?

    1. I think even guys like Dave smith have gone to digital oscillators, so I wouldn’t worry about that per se. As for the crashes you’ve had with the minibrute it would be a long shot to assume the designs are so similar that any digitally controlled oscillator would do the same thing. As for parts replacement, I think that home repair on this sort of mass produced instrument is a thing of the past, even though sometimes it’s annoying as hell.

    2. The general 1 / 0 (works fine / dead as a mouse) aspect of digital controlled gear will become an issue in the future I think. All the parts, encoders, processors welded or glued directly to the mainboard of a device will be a serious problem, lets say 20 years from now. Recently I had a broken encoder on my Jupiter 6. Happily found a guy who was professional and reliable enough to to care of this. I paid 60 euros and it worked out just fine. Just try this with your Octatrack or your Strymon super-delay in 2023. These devices will be working fine until they don´t. Then they will be going straight into the bin. I remember reading about a comparison between british and american economy from the 18th century. The author came to the conclusion that the american economy is much more vivid due to the fact that their products were having a much more limited live span than the products of their competitors.

    3. Not to pretend to be knowledgeable or anything, but the following has stood uncorrected for the last 18 months …

      “Worth noting, not from a purist perspective, but from a practical one, that Korg says the oscillators are actually digitally controlled for stability/no warm up. Replacing tiny processors within this thing in the future might be complicated…”

      MS-20 Mini oscillators are voltage controlled — VCO.

  7. aaaaaaand it is the 46478429 review from the ms20 mini. I think even my 5 year old sister will review it next week.
    pls Korg lower the price and the review will look more interesting (especially for people that dont have a good Korg dealer in their country, like me)

  8. A) Korg made a new MonoPoly: the MS 2000. While it deserved a better, less-square GUI, it has all of the upgrade juice I could ask for. The keyboard is too stumpy and the whole thing could use a feng shui-type makeover, but its still potent as a sound source.

    B) I once owned a MonoPoly and a friend had an MS-20, so I can say with a small bit of authority that Korg’s filter is what I call razor-y. It has a peculiar Japanese thinness to it which seems better suited to clarity than lushness, just to my ear. However, as with an early Moog, add a bit of effects and it becomes huge. When we layered the MS-20 with anything at all, the sound usually grew bigger wings. It has its meaningful niche, especially for higher-frequency sounds.

    C) The KingKORG is probably as close as you will come to seeing a hardware Polysix, which seems sensible commercially, like it or not. If you really focus on the details of the sounds, even the iPad Polysix is damned close. Its okay to have GAS, but some of the software versions retain everything about the original synth but the slight smell of ozone. If a Polysix is calling you that hard, its most useful essence can be had. All you have to do is fart $100 bills, sigh.

  9. The MS2000 was not a version of the Mono/Poly it was supposed to be like a polyphonic MS20 with a routing matrix instead of a patchbay, and it was a digital version not an analog. It was not a bad synthesizer, although the build quality was a bit on the cheap side and I agree that layout left something to be desired.
    As far as durability any gear has the potential to breakdown over time, but any gear that is primarily analog will stand a greater chance of being repairable than something that is totally software driven. The King Korg seems like an interesting keyboard, but is in no sense like a Polysix except for the modeled filter. Korg did a great job with the software versions of their legacy collection, but even software will become obsolete and stop working at some point. The MS20 Mini seems like a decent instrument.

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