underwhelming MS20 (mini)?
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Old 10-26-2016, 09:49 AM   #1
Emmanuel G.
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underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

Hi everyone, so in regards to the title, I'd like to say that I have been underwhelmed by the MS20 mini...
at first!

Now this message is for anyone doubting whether or not they should get one, and also for all who got one and for some reason ended up not using it.

I now use mine in pretty much all of my tracks in one way or another, but at first, when it got home, I was underwhelmed and a little angry at myself that I spent that much money on that one synth.

No matter what I did, I always ended up with that "signature" sound, it was so obvious, I wondered why did I get a synth that only did "that sound" (also a little bit of noticeable noise) ?

I stuck with it for a while, it didn't get any better at first, but I guess I didn't want to go through the hassle of selling it and I was also thinking "if all these artists have so much love for this synth, I must be missing something". So I kept trying, looking for ways to use it for anything.

Without even realizing it, I found myself, very often, going back to the MS20 whenever it seemed I was stuck in a track, and for some reason, the MS20 always seemed to provide a solution. Whether all on its own, within its own architecture, often without any or very little patching.

And the more gear I had, the more it became not only useful, but also extremely versatile and a great overall toolbox. Either to sonically compliment other synths, or as an external processor, or even a sub oscillator for another synth (I love using the MS20 and mother 32 together for a single bassline, they don't talk the same CV dialect for pitch, but they both talk midi)

So the MS20 does "the MS20" very well, of course, but I found it it could do so many more things, at times it could even pass as a moog or something entirely alien, even on its very own. But when you give it friends to play with, I think, for myself, it's probably one of the very most important pieces of gear I've ever had.

I'm very glad Korg did that reissue, I'm very glad they added midi and usb, and I'm very grateful to be able to go in my home studio and see it sitting there in good place.

The MS20 is a hell of a synth, a definite part of music history, so inspiring.

if you're thinking of getting one, definitely get one
if you have one and it's sitting in a corner, get it back, use it, learn it, and you'll probably keep it for the rest of your life. It does have a learning curve, or maybe it just needs you to give it its chance.

It's a little bit like some sort of semi-ugly "girl next door" girlfriend, who's amazing in bed, as well as the best person to hang out with.

Much love to the MS20 <3

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Old 10-27-2016, 12:23 AM   #2
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

I agree.

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Old 10-27-2016, 01:42 AM   #3
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

I need to find the money for one of these...

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Old 10-27-2016, 03:38 AM   #4
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

i fully intend to purchase the Arp Odyssey module when it comes out. I've spent time w the Keyboard and I feel the same way about it as you mentioned. It does the Arp Odyssey really well. It can be a little fickle but knowing what you're going to get out of it is all part of it. No patch storage so one has to really be acquainted with what it does well and where one might want to go elsewhere for certain things.

Loads of character.

Glad to hear that you stuck with the MS20 and that it has grown on you, sexist remark aside.

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Old 10-27-2016, 05:19 AM   #5
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

Thanks for the insight
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Old 10-28-2016, 03:55 PM   #6
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

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Originally Posted by chasedobson View Post
i fully intend to purchase the Arp Odyssey module when it comes out. I've spent time w the Keyboard and I feel the same way about it as you mentioned. It does the Arp Odyssey really well. It can be a little fickle but knowing what you're going to get out of it is all part of it. No patch storage so one has to really be acquainted with what it does well and where one might want to go elsewhere for certain things.

Loads of character.

Glad to hear that you stuck with the MS20 and that it has grown on you, sexist remark aside.

I'd be really interested in hearing your thoughts on it, if and when you do get one.

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Old 11-14-2016, 10:24 PM   #7
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

Do you guys think the MS20 mini would be a good first synth? I've only been using software so far and want to get some hardware. Seems like the MS20 is a great synth but would it be good for someone with little experience with hardware?
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Old 11-14-2016, 10:29 PM   #8
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

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Originally Posted by ebben View Post
Do you guys think the MS20 mini would be a good first synth? I've only been using software so far and want to get some hardware. Seems like the MS20 is a great synth but would it be good for someone with little experience with hardware?
no, if I were to recommend a beginner synth, I would recommend the microbrute, not that I like it more, but it is probably the best you could get for a beginner in synthesis, or musicmaking in general...

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Old 11-14-2016, 10:53 PM   #9
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

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Originally Posted by mute machine View Post
no, if I were to recommend a beginner synth, I would recommend the microbrute, not that I like it more, but it is probably the best you could get for a beginner in synthesis, or musicmaking in general...
Thanks, I'll look into it. It's cheaper at least which is good for my bank account
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Old 11-15-2016, 09:57 PM   #10
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

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Thanks, I'll look into it. It's cheaper at least which is good for my bank account
The new korg monologue may be very very good too, for a similar price.

the MS20 as a first synth, why not, but you will feel much more limited at first. even the mini doesn't quite feel like a modern instrument.

The modern analog synths are much easier to use from the get go
but the MS20 is something special, I don't ever see myself parting with it.
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Old 05-01-2017, 07:41 PM   #11
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

MS-20 is quirky and great. The envelope stages are weirdly interacting with each other, so some sounds are difficult to dial in. But then it also surprises with unpredictable sounds. To this day i haven't fully figured out the patchbay, sometimes it does the opposite of what i want.
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Old 05-01-2017, 08:09 PM   #12
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

I'd highly recommend getting some stackable patch cables for your MS20. Opens up possabilities a bit.

Also, I would totally recommend the MS20 Mini as a first synth. Any knob per function mono synth is perfect. Especially if the musician already has some synthesis knowledge.

The noise issue is a non-issue for me personally. In the mix it typically isn't noticeable unless you are doing something particularly sparse, but often I don't even hear the noise in my patches. The only thing disappointing to me is the build quality, which is a bit lacking. Too much cheap plastic and the knobs are a wee flimsy for my taste. I'm not gigging with it though so while it irks me, it isn't objectively an issue.

I do find myself reaching for the MS20 often. It is a synth that rewards small tweaks to parameters to dial in just the right sound. There is a lot of character between the hash marks so to speak

Last edited by relic; 05-01-2017 at 08:28 PM..

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Old 05-04-2017, 01:32 AM   #13
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

All those recent Korg and Arp synths would make great first synths, your choice depends on the budget. I got the Volca Keys and the MS-20 and considered the Minilogue and Odyssey module too. They are relatively affordable and they are great for everyone, beginner, frequent user and they can be used in so many ways, no need to replace them with something else later on.

I hope Korg will continue with releasing analog synths, maybe a Minilogue module (with independent voices a la Elektron, JD-XA and both filters of Mini/Monologue) and another Volca.

Dreadbox would be another interesting manufacturer for a first synth, Nyx, Erebus, Hades all sound great, instant gratification synths.
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Old 05-04-2017, 02:14 AM   #14
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

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Originally Posted by prophonic View Post
All those recent Korg and Arp synths would make great first synths, your choice depends on the budget. I got the Volca Keys and the MS-20 and considered the Minilogue and Odyssey module too. They are relatively affordable and they are great for everyone, beginner, frequent user and they can be used in so many ways, no need to replace them with something else later on.

I hope Korg will continue with releasing analog synths, maybe a Minilogue module (with independent voices a la Elektron, JD-XA and both filters of Mini/Monologue) and another Volca.

Dreadbox would be another interesting manufacturer for a first synth, Nyx, Erebus, Hades all sound great, instant gratification synths.
Dreadbox is on my radar for sure. : )

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Old 05-10-2017, 10:09 PM   #15
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

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Originally Posted by Emmanuel G. View Post
...and you'll probably keep it for the rest of your life.

Much love to the MS20 <3
Hmm...We'll have to see if there will be any working Mini's still around when 40 years have passed.
Besides that, it's an amazing synthesizer.

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Old 05-11-2017, 04:23 AM   #16
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

I like the Ms20, but in terms of modern Korg monosynths the monolouge in my opinion destroys the ms-20 mini. Like it really blew me away, and especially for the price.

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Old 05-11-2017, 04:02 PM   #17
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

Its actually amazing how this synthesizer, that has just one AD Envelope still is able to produce such a variety of sounds. Id say, that two full ADSR envelopes are minimum, because usually synthesizers with less than that are pretty limited in terms of sound design and sonic possibilities. Monologue is different, though.
How they managed to achieve this deserves some respect, I think. Of course they could have designed it with 1 ADSR+1 AD for 50€ more instead... But then it would not be a Korgie^^

Last edited by Schnork; 05-11-2017 at 04:08 PM..

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Old 05-18-2017, 09:26 AM   #18
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

One of the things I like about the MS is having 2 outputs to utilize, like taking the main out and patching it to the external processor. Then, taking that pre band pass filter and plugging it into the external input to give some drive, using the headphone out as the main out, Then, taking the external processor, post band pass filter into a seperate fx processor, giving you the ability to put verb, delay, phaser, flanger, or what ever tickles you fancy on to certain frequencies, while keeping your original sound unaffected. Also you can play with the band pass filters live too.
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Old 05-18-2017, 04:01 PM   #19
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

@[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
norck & NewWorldOrder: Monologue core sound is great, but with all these cut corners, isn't it a one trick pony ?
I haven't checked it out in a store yet, so i am just asking.
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Old 05-20-2017, 03:26 PM   #20
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Re: underwhelming MS20 (mini)?

I had been lusting over an MS20 for quite a while, finding the semi-modular aspect appealing, as well as knob-per-function workflow and the reputation it has for creating obscure noisy sounds. Great to hear more of a human take on what it is capable of. I would still very much like to have one..

As for ideal first synths, I went for the Minilogue (I already have an original Bass Station and I find that to be very much a one trick pony so haven't got much use out of it.) Again I love the knob-per-function approach but the four voice polyphony is great, and the way you can stack them for a powerful mono synth, or use them in a polyphonic mode (as well as some other very interesting options) makes it really versatile. Highly recommended.

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