The Korg MS-20 is an analog synthesiser known for its versatile sonic palette, unique filters and patch bay-based signal routing. It excels at a range bass and lead sounds as well as well as less conventional noise effects and, combined with its ability to process or be controlled by external sources, makes for an excellent all-rounder beloved by synth players and producers alike.

The Korg MS-20 is a monosynth that was made in the late 70s and early 80s as part of Korg’s MS series of instruments. It features an analog, dual-oscillator design and both hardwired and manually patchable connections, allowing for a great deal of flexibility. 

The first oscillator offers triangle, sawtooth, adjustable square wave and noise generation. The second allows for sawtooth, square and rectangle waveshapes, as well as a ring modulation setting and detune control. The oscillators are followed by two voltage-controlled filters for high and low passing. During production years, Korg changed the filters used in the MS-20 from their own proprietary design, the Korg-35, to the prefabricated LM13600 filters, the latter achieving lower noise and having a less aggressive sound. In 2013, with the re-release of the unit as the MS-20 Mini, the original Korg-35 filters were reintroduced due to their favourability with users. 

One of the most distinctive features of the MS-20 is the inclusion of a patch bay, similar to that of the famed ARP 2600. This enables the user to engage in flexible routing of modulation sources and destinations, allowing opportunity for expansive control and sound creation. In addition to routing within itself, the patch bay also allows for external sources to be connected to the synth. This has options for both processing signal through the MS-20’s filters as well a pitch/CV converter for controlling the synth with external sources. 

 Control Section 

1. Keyboard [asterisk] C ~ C, 37 Keys / (3 octaves)
2. Voltage controlled oscillator 1
(VCO 1)
[asterisk] Scale [32', 16', 8', 4'] / (6 octaves + 6 octaves (FM))
[asterisk] Wave form ( [vco waves], PW ( [pulse wave]), white noise) / (4 modes)
    [asterisk] PW adjust
3. Voltage controlled oscillator 2
(VCO 2)
[asterisk] Scale [16', 8', 4', 2'] / (6 octaves + 6 octaves (FM))
[asterisk] Wave form ( [sawtooth wave][square wave][pulse wave], Ring Modulator / (4 modes)
    [asterisk] Pitch/ (+- 1octave)
4. VCO master control [asterisk] Master tune/ (+-1/2octaves)
    [asterisk] Portamento
    [asterisk] Frequency Modulation intensity by MG/T.EXT
    [asterisk] Frequency Modulation intensity by EG1/EXT
5. VCO mixer [asterisk] VCO-1 level
    [asterisk] VCO-2 level
6. Voltage Controlled High Pass Filter [asterisk] Cutoff frequency
    [asterisk] Peak [flat ~ self-OSC]
    [asterisk] Cutoff Frequency Modulation intensity by MG/T.EXT
    [asterisk] Cutoff Frequency Modulation intensity by EG2/EXT
7. Voltage Controlled Low Pass Filter [asterisk] Cutoff frequency
    [asterisk] Peak [flat ~ self-OSC]
    [asterisk] Cutoff Frequency Modulation intensity by MG/T.EXT
    [asterisk] Cutoff Frequency Modulation intensity by EG2/EXT
8. Envelope generator 1 [asterisk] Delay time
    [asterisk] Attack time
    [asterisk] Release time
9. Envelope generator 2 [asterisk] Hold time
    [asterisk] Attack time
    [asterisk] Decay time
    [asterisk] Sustain level
    [asterisk] Release time
10. Modulation generator [asterisk] Wave form [mg triangle]
    [asterisk] Frequency
11. Manual controller [asterisk] Control wheel
    [asterisk] Momentary switch
12. P. switch & volume [asterisk] Volume
13. Indicator [asterisk] LED (trigger, MG rate)

External Signal Processor 

v

1. Control section [asterisk] Input signal level
    [asterisk] Low cut frequency
    [asterisk] High cut frequency
    [asterisk] CV adjust
    [asterisk] Threshold level
2. Input & output [asterisk] Signal in (auto-pad system)
    [asterisk] Amplifier out / 0V ~ +8V
    [asterisk] Band pass filtered out
    [asterisk] CV out (F/V) / 0 ~ +8V
    [asterisk] ENV out / 0 ~ +5V
    [asterisk] Trig out / [ground]
3. Indicator (LED) [asterisk] Peak indicator
    [asterisk] Trigger indicator

Patch Panel Section 

1. Keyboard [asterisk] Keyboard control voltage output (exponential) / 0 ~ +8V
    [asterisk] Keyboard trigger output / [ground]
2.  VCO [asterisk] VCO 1 + VCO 2 control voltage input (linear response) / 0V ~ +8V
    [asterisk] VCO 2 control voltage input (linear response) / 0V ~ +8V
    [asterisk] VCO 1 + VCO 2 external frequency control input (OCT/V) / -3V ~ +3V
 3.  VCF [asterisk] External signal input / 3Vp-p
    [asterisk] External HP filter cutoff frequency control input (2OCT/V) / -5V ~ +5V
    [asterisk] External LP filter cutoff frequency control input (2OCT/V) / -5V ~ +5V
 4.  VCO + VCF [asterisk] Total external modulation input (T.EXT) / -5V ~ +5V
 5.  VCA [asterisk] Initial gain control input / 0V ~ +5V
 6.  EG [asterisk] EG 1 envelope signal normal output / -5V > 0V
    [asterisk] EG 1 envelope signal reverse output / +5V > 0V
    [asterisk] EG1 + EG2 trigger input / [ground]
    [asterisk] EG1 + trigger input / [ground]
    [asterisk] EG2 envelope signal reverse output / [rev env]
 7.  MG [asterisk] Triangle output ([mg triangle]) / 5VPP
    [asterisk] Rectangle output ([mg pulse width]) / 0  +5V
8. Noise generator [asterisk] White noise output / 5Vp-p
    [asterisk] Pink noise output / 5Vp-p
9. Sample and hold [asterisk] Clock trigger input / [ground]
    [asterisk] Sample signal input / 5Vp-p
    [asterisk] S/H output / 5Vp-p
10. Modulation VCA [asterisk] Control voltage input / 0 ~ +5V
    [asterisk] Signal input / -5V ~ +5V
    [asterisk] Signal output / -5V ~ +5V
11. Manual controller [asterisk] Control wheel output / -5V ~ 0V ~ +5V
    [asterisk] Momentary switch / [asterisk]
12. Signal out [asterisk] Signal output / 2Vp-p (output impedance 3.5kOhm)
13. Headphones [asterisk] Headphones out / (8 Ohm) 120mwatts

 

[asterisk] Power consumption   10 watts
[asterisk] Dimensions   569 (W) x 309 (D) x 249 (H) mm
[asterisk] Weight   7.7 kgs
[asterisk] Accessories   Patch cord, connecting cord / 35cm x 2, 3m x 1
[asterisk] Optional equipment   Stand, case

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