Comments for:

Sonic LAB: Korg MS20 Kit - Built and Modified
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Goku    Said...

How do the keys feel?

04-Apr-14 12:12 PM

JB    Said...

Thanks for this Nick, top notch as per usual!

04-Apr-14 01:13 PM

Lu    Said...

Yeah it's supposed to be an improved keyboard on the original and the mini

04-Apr-14 01:14 PM

HT    Said...

Decals rubbing off so soon! Tut-tut

04-Apr-14 04:22 PM

LagrangeAudio    Said...

Lovely review Nick, nice work!! How did you do the slow camera tracking during the time lapse segments? That looked really good.

05-Apr-14 12:48 AM

rezleza    Said...

Great review! Thanks Nick! I just love the MS20 sound!

05-Apr-14 11:48 AM

Ms20 admire    Said...

Ok the famous technical question. What are the diferences between the Original, the Mini and the Kit in terms of behaviour sound, funcionality and the expandable options?

05-Apr-14 06:04 PM

Woo    Said...

Great overview. A shame though you dildn't do a quick compare to the sound from MS-20 Mini.

Ultimately I feel that this was Korg making a stunt-product for fetishists. What was needed was not a switchable filter (which only yields subtle differences) but better MIDI and PWM input (and maybe a Microbrute-like sequencer).

For the price of nearly three ms-20 minis (in the US, sale price) you get one reanimated old-style ms-20 that you have to put together. Not too impressed.

05-Apr-14 07:55 PM

E03    Said...

I have an original later model MS20 (bought back in '91) & i must say i still love it to bits. The modern equivalent's filter sounds very nary & cool, and the modding possibilities (osc sync & pwm!!)/filter switching are awesome options but i don't think i'll be selling my old girl for the new one soon. Saying that if i didn't already own one then i'd be very keen on this, albeit the build quality maybe a little suspect compared to orig. Nice review Nick - hope your hands have recovered after the assemble/disassemble process:)

05-Apr-14 08:32 PM

brianfromusa    Said...

So why do people like the early filter so much? The later one sounds a lot better to me. Now if only you could get that on the mini, eh?

06-Apr-14 09:59 AM

Woo    Said...

"why do people like the early filter so much?"

I don't think they really do. Besides, as we can all see from Nick's excellent video, the differences are quite subtle and in a mix they'd be pretty indistinguishable.

That said, it's the filter Korg used in the Monotron and they probably decided that to be most slavishly retro they ought to populate the mini version with the slightly dirtier filter (which they already had a ton of).

06-Apr-14 02:17 PM

Ben    Said...

Thanks for the review. Hmmm very annoying about the paint job and clunking oscillators. Hardly makes it a premium product. Mine came on Saturday, I wonder now if I should return it?

07-Apr-14 04:25 AM

brianfromusa    Said...

"Woo Said...

"why do people like the early filter so much?"

I don't think they really do."

You must not spend much time on teh interwebz. I've read plenty of postings from folks about how the Korg 35 filter is preferable, and most reviews of the mini call including the 35 "a good choice". I think what happened over time is modern MS20 fans actually like all the sounds that result from the many design flaws/quirks.

I'm pretty sure I could tell in a mix when the resonance is cranked, the earlier filter is very unruly, the later may not be "creamy" but it's an awful lot smoother.

07-Apr-14 01:57 PM

brianfromusa    Said...

"Ms20 admire Said...

Ok the famous technical question. What are the diferences between the Original, the Mini and the Kit in terms of behaviour sound, funcionality and the expandable options? "

Sound: no difference other than the differences betwen the filters. Mini is the 35 filter, original could be either and ONLY the kit has both.

Functionality: kit and mini add very basic MIDI

Expandable: original has different circuit boards and no marking, you're 100% on your own; kit has markings on the boards but you still must figure out the extra circuitry needed to implement any mods; until someone opens up a mini and looks at the board it's not clear if it has markings like the kit.

07-Apr-14 02:25 PM

Ms20 admire    Said...

So in terms of behaviour is almost the same, but the original are a bit instable. In terms of funcionality everyone are the same except the midi/usb signal. And finaly in terms of expandable options the kit have more options to expand. Isn't right?

08-Apr-14 01:14 PM

GTRman    Said...

Another piece of garbage from Korg. Who would want to assemble this? Even the screening is already coming off. Korg, stop putting out junk, we are not that stupid.

08-Apr-14 02:48 PM

abc    Said...

I have a production (or maybe just a wish)...

Korg will product an MS20 MKII or SE version. This will have the extra, currently un-used circuitry available on the front panel. Probably change an extra $1k

Who knows, you may be able to buy replacement panels when the white flakes off. Marketing 101 ;)

08-Apr-14 05:48 PM

The Guvnor    Said...

Excellent vid as usual.

What would be awesome is if Korg released the MS20 with an expander box to access all the additional functionality Nick was pointing out on the PCB. This could be plugged into the back of the unit so as not to mess with the design of the original.

09-Apr-14 09:11 AM

EMwhite    Said...

Hey Nick. Now you can get a job at the Moog Factory in Asheville, NC, USA. I've seen more than a few 'assembly' videos and you look to have it down.

Q: about quality of materials, do the plastics feel as 'good' as the original. Is the front panel metal or plastic for that mater (I've never met a vintage MS-20 in person).

As for all of the labeled points on the back; many of them look like test points (and labeled "TP") which are used post build to test and/or calibrate where appropriate. Not sure if there are a small handful or dozens of trip pots as you have not shown the topside of the board but if so, it is likely that factory workers calibrate certain aspects of the synth before boxing up. Having said this, I'm sure the tolerance of components is 1% or better (resistors) so maybe less tuning required.

As for the LM13600, it's an OTA, sort of a dual high-quality op-amp used loads in todays analog electronics, rather, the LM13700 is. Surely if Korg used it, it has been around a while.

Have a read here if interested:

Strange that Korg would have 'filled' the divots in some of the potentially usable mod points. Typically these are open holes. Biggest concern is the panel txt. Shame.

12-Apr-14 06:59 PM

Sander J Alkemade    Said...

great review.

But why is this thing twice as expensive as the mini ?

And is it worth the price ?

14-Apr-14 05:00 PM

Soundsafoolmusic    Said...

Why so expensive? 1) its not expensive at all. In real terms its cheaper than when the original came out. 2) A full size keyboard is always better than a mini (the keyboard feel on this is great). 3) The full size knobs are great/solid and allow me to twiddle without catching other knobs. The bigger knobs and the way it is built means there is no give in knobs and it will last a lot longer than the mini. 3) the full size 1/4 inch patchbay is magnificent. The larger sockets will be fair more robust than the 3.5mm sockets. Some functionality can be done by partially inserting the cables to a socket. This is so much easier to achieve in the kit than in the mini. The full size cables fit nicely with my full size korg monopoly. 4) it looks a lot less like a toy. 5) The completly different build quality than the mini means I am expecting it to be still working in another 30 years. Mini - unlikely that patchbay/knobs will still be working.. 6) With the bigger nice I could easily fit a IEC mains thingly to this and put the wall wart internal. 7) The circuit boards have marked points for PWM etc. Making it easier to mod. 8) The bigger back panel means it is easier to fit a dsub connector which I then connect to a disused altered patchbay to get access to all the mod points. 9) I put it together...

27-Jun-14 10:27 AM

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