Welcome to my Korg MS 20 Mini review. The MS-20 Mini is actually a modern recreation of the original Korg MS-20, which was made between 1978 and 1983. The name “mini” comes from the fact that it is slightly smaller than the original synthesizer, with its keys somewhere between mini keys and full-size keys.
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Product: Korg MS 20 Mini
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon
Warranty: 1 year
See & Hear the MS-20 in Action:
Original MS-20 Circuitry, Slightly Smaller Size
The MS-20 Mini sounds exactly the same as the original MS-20 which was created in 1978. Actually, that’s not quite true. It sounds like the MS-20 would have sounded when it was first made before any of the components got old. In fact, the people who designed the first MS-20 supervised the design of the MS-20 Mini. The only noticeable differences are that it is 86% of the size and the inclusion of USB and MIDI connections, plus there is a bit less noise to the sound.
Some people have commented on how heavy the MS-20 Mini is. This is probably because there is so much going on inside it to produce those great synth sounds. Yet despite its heavy weight, some say it feel like it could break easily, so make sure you get a good case for it if you plan to use it for live performances.
Easy to Use, Get Any Synth Sound You Want
It’s very easy to use, and is ideal for both beginner and eperienced synth enthisiasts. Beginners can just dive straight in and start playing around with the knobs. For those who want to learn more about what it can do, it comes with a great user guide which will show you how to get great sounds. In fact, you can get pretty much any synthesizer sound you want with the MS-20.
It’s a bit of a shame that it is only monophonic, which means it can only play one note at a time. However, this can actually be a good thing for doing lead synth lines as it stops the notes from overlapping each other. It just means you can’t use the MS-20 for chords.
External Signal Processor
One of the best things about a synthesizer like the MS-20 is the ability to plug in any external sound source. This means that there are literally infinite sonic possibilities available. For example, you can plug in an electric guitar and use it as a guitar synthesizer by putting the guitar sound through the filters and other effects.
Filters, LFO, and Distortion
The oscillators and filters on the MS-20 Mini are the same as the original, but they have been improved to make them less noisy than they were on the original MS-20. The filters are both high-pass and low-pass, with the ability to add resonance on both of them.
In fact, if you push the resonance to its maximum, this causes the filter to self-oscillate, creating a sound that was unlike anything else at the time it was first made. Also included are ring modulation and envelope generators to help you shape your sound.
Flexible Patching System
The MS-20 Mini has its own built-in patch bay and comes with 10 patch cables. This means you can route any part of the synthesizer to any other part, which opens up all kinds of sonic possibilities. It even comes with a patch flow chart which can help a complete beginner start creating great sound effects straight away.
MIDI and USB Connectors
Of course, MIDI and USB were not around when the MS-20 was first invented, but these days we can take advantage of these ways of connecting to other devices. This means you can use any MIDI sequencer to control the MS-20 Mini. You can even link it up to your computer and sequence it using software.
One drawback, connection-wise is that the main output plug is 1/8″ instead of 1/4. However, you can easily overcome this by getting an adaptor to convert from one size to the other.
Is the Korg MS 20 Mini Suitable for You?
I would say that the MS-20 is ideal for anyone wanting to create crazy sound effects. For example, if you are creating spacey sound effects for a sci-fi film, this would do the job nicely. Also, if you are part of an experimental live band that wants some weird sounds, this could be great for that.
I would say that if you are looking for a good all round keyboard for playing standard keyboard parts, this is perhaps not the best option for that. There are many other keyboards out there that are better suited to that kind of thing, for example, the Korg KROSS Keyboard Workstation – it costs a bit more, but is well worth it.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a great all-round music making solution, I recommend Propellerhead Reason – it’s about the same price as the MS-20 but contains everything you need to make music. But if you want to have some fun getting your hands on some real live synth control and create some weird and wonderful sounds, the MS-20 Mini is a good choice.
I hope you found my Korg MS 20 Mini review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.
All the best,