Arturia Minibrute vs Korg MS-20 Mini Budget Analog Monosynth Smackdown

This video, via Verifyhuman, captures a “budget monophonic synthesizer smackdown”:

How does the new Korg MS-20 Mini compare against the Arturia Minibrute? A veiny arm takes you through the oscillators of these beasts to see just how similar / different they are.

No audio editing or effects were added to the raw sound.

Recorded through Native Instruments Audio Kontrol 1 with Ableton Live 9.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

39 thoughts on “Arturia Minibrute vs Korg MS-20 Mini Budget Analog Monosynth Smackdown

  1. These ‘Comparison’ pieces….they make me smile…..simply putting it, you cannot compare these synths….they are of different generations, components, design…..of course there can be similarities…..but thats a given. No Smack-Down here,.,,,,but worth viewing anyway. BTW…I have two MiniBrutes and just received 2 MS-20 Mini’s…love them both for their diiferences and uniqueness’s….I use them with my larger Euro-Rack Modular…

    Thank you for the interesting video….its worth watching….I like to see others perspectives on things….

    1. Sounds like you have an enviable setup!

      I’d like to see how people integrate the MS-20 Mini with modular gear. Seems like that should open up a lot of potential.

    2. That kind of reminds me of Lewis Black’s observation of his Christian friends gift giving habits: “We couldn’t decide which pony to get our little darling, so we just bought all five! Merry Christmas!”
      Some people (read: most) only have money for one keyboard for the time being. A comparison is a fair tool for those who can’t buy one of everything just because it’s there.
      I thought it was pretty even except for the sawtooth, which seems a bit weaker on the MS-20 Mini. Then I heard that final sound, the sweep down, during which the Minibrute seems to just cut out, and the MS-20 Mini made me go Oh…wow… Were I in the market, after hearing that, I’d buy the MS-20 Mini.

      1. Great discourse going on here! It’s true that no two synths are the same, and each one carries unique characteristics, sound and history…but I find it interesting to know and hear where they are similar, too. Much like commenters on synth blogs, it’s just as enriching to find common ground with others along with embracing different opinions. ; )

        – V

        1. On the first pass of wav forms with low pass and cutoff at 50% it sounds like the korg is letting a bit of noise white noise through. I like the sound of it but am wondering if that is a common character of an MS?

        2. On the first pass of wav forms with lowpass and cut set to 50% it sounds like the korg is letting a bit of white noise through. I like the sound of it, but is this a natural/common characteristic of an MS?

    3. Having been self/un-employed for the majority of the current millennium and only recently back into nine-to-five work again. I have spent the past few years on the internet analyzing and drooling over everything analogue/synthesizer and came to a solid conclusion well before viewing this video. The first things I’m gonna buy (even before getting a car) will be a Korg MS20 Mini AND an Arturia MiniBrute * – it’s the ONLY way!

      * My initial setup will also include a Doepfer Dark-Time Sequencer AND a Doepfer Dark-Energy Semi-Modular, but I’ll be getting these with my second pay-cheque. I’ll get a second-hand car soon afterwards, then thoughts will turn to the mythical MODULAR!

      Roll on Euro-Rack 2014!

  2. Not trying to be negative here, but whats the function of this video? It seems to show that the two synths are similar, but very different, which is useful how? Doesnt that apply to all synths on some level?

    1. I actually find this more interesting than the obsessive-compulsive comparisons between Minimoog apps and their hardware equivalents or the comparisons between the new MS-20 Mini and the original.

      Anybody that’s owned a vintage synth knows that no two sound examples sound alike, so it’s usually more interesting to see how different synths compare, and how some synths might be better for certain types of sounds.

  3. Hey Brian,

    Appreciate your opinion. I made the video as a scientific response to the bevy of forum discussions and questions regarding the two. For those in the market for a budget monosynth but only wish to buy one, I hope the video can remove some of the subjectivity and let the listener determine what sounds better to them.


    1. thanks for the video and i hope you into the finer tests of the filters behaviour on both.
      this could really be useful and show the range these synths can provide.
      thanks again and please dont mind the negativity. this is internet.

      1. Glad you enjoyed the video, Last Ninja! I’m actually working on a Filter video now. I’ll submit to Synthtopia when completed!

        – V

    2. Hey V, thats totally cool, and I respect you took the time to video it and upload it.

      I suppose I never approach synths from a scientific perspective, so the similarities between their sine waves etc is of little interest to me. Its the end result that gets my juices going and I can see great value in having both these synths because they both have very different personalities regardless of some very basic similarities.

      I have no doubt if you put a Jupiter 8 and a Korg 700S side by side you could find similarities in certain sounds at their most basic level, and maybe scientifically thats interesting, but from a musical perspective its irrelevant. They are totally different.

      But if that interests you then this video will be valuable. Me, I just like how they sound when I twist a few knobs and push a few sliders. They all have their own unique personalities, and they can all produce extremely similar sounds if you want them to, but thats not valuable when trying to choose between them.


      1. Hey Brian,

        I couldn’t agree more on the immeasurable joy of actually playing the synthesizers and the result of the work being the ideal end! Especially in the case of these two synths, the workflow is wonderfully different and the interaction of the two can create two completely contrasting experiences. For the vast majority of us who embrace all synthesizers for their differences and unique points, comparison videos may not carry much utility; but, if it helps some people get closer to finding the synth that resonates with them, then I’ll be pleased.

  4. Cute….and Nawwwwwwwwwwwwww…no one is a peasant here, or in my eyes….and I like looking at all the videos submitted….and the info that comes with them….I appreciate all of the folks that share here….its a great place to find out more on gear and artists….

    1. Hear hear! Even the products or videos that miss the mark teach you something. People embrace their gear too fiercely in the wrong places at times. I feel guilty about being bored by pure analog these days. Sure, I can hear some of the subtleties people describe, but how you like an instrument’s basic TONE has always been highly personal. For me, the somewhat limiting square/saw/sine world was a phase I went through, waiting for sampling to mature. Having an acoustic side is vital to me; analog is how I enhance that, or provide good contrasts. Synths are great on their own, but they get much larger with complimentary layers. You have to have more than one instrument or you can sound boxed-in, so these two are good partners. The MiniBrute has a muscular rawness where the MS-20 has more ‘sweetness’ and blend-ability. I once used a MiniMoog and an MS-20, so I get it. Just don’t look at these as being either-or; electronic music is almost all about good blends.

        1. “You really must let us hear some of your music Fungo….”

          *Gulp!* Ah, okay. If I’m going to sling my big fat opinions around like everyone else, I ought to back it up a little. I don’t have a name for my style, because I like several different places synths can take you. It can also feel a bit skeery, because at this point, the technology can do anything you ask of it, so once you have a 12 gb library of everything there is, what next? More noodling, usually.

    1. Yeah! The “Metalizer” and “Brute Factor” pots sure look interestin’.

      On a technical note, the dual VCO set-up of the MS-20, as well as providing the depth of wave-forms available via a separately de-tuneable oscillator, would also allow the connection of an external sequencer to control the pitch of one VCO while the other oscillator is controlled from the keyboard CV-Pitch. The single VCO setup of the MiniBrute cannot be used in this way, and If I were to recommend a monophonic analogue synthesizer to anyone, I would advocate the Korg machine.

      The Korg also has external input and an envelope follower, as well as that beautiful patch bank, so there’s no real comparison between these two machines. Get the Korg!

      But if you’re really short on cash, get the MiniBrute!

      No! Bugger it! Save up and get them BOTH!


  5. Like comparing apples and oranges more often than not. Each instrument has it’s own “sound” and “response”. Appreciation is really a matter of personal tastes and preferences. I presently own an ARP Odyssey MK III, a Moog Source, an Oberheim Matrix 2000, EMU Proteus 2000, a Casio WK-500 several Yamaha synthesizers (including a Motif Rack) and just recently acquired a Yamaha MX 49 and a Arturia Minibrute. Each instrument has it’s own unique musical message and I really like the variety. Regarding “personal’ preference, I’ve always leaned toward being “partial” to Yamaha digital keyboard over Korg and Roland. That’s just me! I live “literally” right down the street from Moog Music , Inc. here in Asheville, North Carolina. I’ve been to the Moog store and factory several times and I’m on pleasant speaking and sharing terms with the president Mike Adams, Linda Lafferty of sales and Michelle Moog-Koussa with her Robert A. Moog Foundation project. if my present domestic budget had “no limits” there would be at least a few new Moog products added to my home collection (namely, a Minimoog Voyager XL, maybe a Taurus Bass pedal system and definitely a couple of MoogerFoogers). Variety (as they say) is the “spice of life” particularly in the world of electronic music!!!

  6. Well, this is just a smack down.

    I’m waiting for the tag team match between these two vs Mopho and Sub Phatty for the Belt!

  7. Vintage square wave designs are almost always better. The steiner-parker filter seems to lose less low end when in self-oscillation. Both filters are really cool.

    I’d like to hear more musical excerpts. Both solo, and in an arrangement context.

    Glad people make these. I’ve thought of doing some myself.

    1. Hey Alien André,

      Thanks for the response and ideas! I’d like to highlight the filters in another video, but then I’d like put down the guns and let these two make some music together.

      – V

  8. I haven’t had a chance to play with an MS-20 mini, but I did get to spend some time with a Minibrute last week. Before doing so, I was really wanting a Minibrute but afterward not so much. I found it to be more difficult to dial in a “new” sound than it is on my Slim Phatty for some reason. I know it should be easier with a knob per function, but it just didn’t work out that way for me. I also didn’t like that patches couldn’t be stored and recalled later. One thing that I did quite like is the LED indicator on the ADSRs. I wish my SP had that feature.

    The Korg in the video sounds a bit muted compared to the Arturia. After my (limited) experience with the Arturia, this video doesn’t give me much hope for the Korg :-/

  9. Things seemed somewhat equal until the square wave, where to my ears, the MS20 sounded much better. And once the filter got introduced on the Minibrute, my vote definitely would go towards the smoother sounding MS20. I like harder edged sounds, but the Minibrute just sounds bad at times in this video.

  10. The filter of the MS-20 sounds really noisy, i give all the credit to the Mini-Brute, except for the Square Wave and the filter sweep in combination with the resonance, those two goes for my to the MS-20 mini.

    Overall for me the mini-brute sounds better but they are really different beautifull beasts.

  11. I recently received my ms-20 and i must say it is definitely pretty noisy. That said i’ve noticed that once you start using the patch cables the noise reduces. Not sure if I am crazy or if I am right. I must say however that the deep bass the ms20 can make definitely trumps whatever the arturoa can do in that department. The subs coming from the ms20 are almost as fat as the ones coming from an sh-101.

  12. I know this is an old one, but as someone who chose the brute over the ms20. I think it needs to be said that:

    1. When you put the oscillator sliders past 30% on a minibrute you are overdriving into the filter. You were listening to a badly overdriven filter sweep.

    2. the perfect 50% pulse (squarewave) is slightly off where listed. turn that pulsewave dial up just a smidge (maybe a smidge and a half) and it’ll smooth out.

    To hear subtle on the ‘brute you have to listen to the demos of the man who designed the guts at

    It really is capable of much more than most of the youtube vids I’ve ever seen of it.

  13. Do you know you are overdriving the waves into the filter on the Minibrute? that’s why it sounds a bit ‘harsher’ at times. When the wave sliders are at max they are distorting, they should surely only be set 3/4 way up for a normal tone for a comparison. Wasn’t too keen on the background noise from the MS20 which is a pity

    ps – sorry just noticed the person above has mentioned this too

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