Finally Got a Korg MS-20 Mini

Well, it was the one I wanted the second they announced it, but it was delayed and in the meantime I dived into a Modular synth. I finally found one fairly cheap, although since it came from Japan I got a 100v power supply (I have adapters anyway) and manuals in Japanese. Still, cool to finally have an MS-20 mini!

Korg MS-20 mini Arrives

At first it seemed fairly simple and sounded like a slightly expanded Monotron but eventually I found the important trick: Patch the Envelope 1 output into the VCA Initial Level input. Now you can use Envelope 2 (the ADSR) to control the filters. This gives you much better control over the sound. Also, when you do that, the sustain level control does something kind of odd. It seems to offset the amount of envelope to cutoff frequency, but inverted. The higher the Sustain setting, the more it affects the filter. Very counter-intuitive, but that makes it a bit more interesting.

(edit: another little trick: When using Ring Mod, detune osc 2 and turn the pulse width knob for osc 1)

I also tried interfacing it with the Eurorack modules and fond the response to be a bit unexpected. Often there is very little effect and sometimes the results are not what you were expecting. I think one of the problems is that many of the controls in the MS-20 are -5v to +5v, but in Eurorack it is generally 0 – +10v. I may need to get a voltage converter (offset) if I want to do more of that.

Overall I’d say this is reasonable quality for a cheaper, plastic synth but the knobs feel a bit loose and at least one of the patch jacks nuts was cross-threaded. Minor problem but there could have been a bit more quality control.

I think I’ve read about several mods people have done so I make get into that at some point. Pulse width modulation would certainly be nice and hopefully there are a few other cool additions. But for now I’ll just take some time getting to know it and see how it fits into my collection and sound.

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