As technology grows, it ironically shrinks. The gigantic supercomputers of old now fit in your pocket.
Laptops that used to be bulky are now as thin as a wafer. And our heavy synthesizers are now much more lightweight, yet give off the same sound.
The Korg MS-20 Mini revisits the Korg original MS-20 forty years later, and shrinks it by a whopping 14 percent.
A coveted synthesizer back in the day, can the smaller version stand tall? Or will it sound like a pale imitation of the original MS 20? Let’s find out by breaking down its features, pros, and cons.
Let’s look at some of the unique features that Korg MS-20 Mini has…
14% Smaller Than the Original
The Korg original MS-20 was around 17 pounds, while the Korg MS 20 Mini is 10. It has the exact same shape and layout as the original, but shrunk to a new size that makes it much easier to carry and use.
The people who changes the original size on this iconic keyboard made sure to make it as useful as the original, taking care of the keyboards, knobs, and every other nuance the keyboard has to offer. The plugins are designed for contemporary times as well, going from phone plugs to mini.
The entire point of the Korg MS 20mini was to make the experience as authentic as 1978 without the bulky technology. Everything from the manual to the packaging feel like you’re in a time period where synth technology was taking off.
Whether you’re an aging rock star nostalgic about the old times, or a retro musician, you’ll love its size and packaging. Everything is just how you remember it, just made more convenient for the modern age.
All the Circuitry is the Same
Of course, we can talk about the outside of the synth mini all day, but what really matters is the inside of MS 20. For people who are curious about what’s inside of it, all the circuitry is the same to the best of the ability of the engineers, many of whom were the same ones who worked on the MS 20 Korg original.
Whenever there was a part that wouldn’t work today, they found the next best thing after researching it heavily. When you listen to the sound quality of the MS-20 mini, you will be amazed at how crisp and beautiful it sounds.
You’ll feel like you’re back in 1978, during a time period where this was new technology and not a vintage piece.
There is New Circuitry for Modern Times
In addition to the original circuitry on the mini, they’ve added ports for the modern computer age. You have a MIDI in jack, which helps the synth receive note message. There is a USB-MIDI as well, which helps you exchange note messages.
For most computers, the Korg MS-20 Mini connects to them and you can play the synth by using a sequencer. Composing music has never been the same, and we believe that you will love it. Being able to plug in the Korg MS 20 mini synth to our PCs and play is always fun, and the possibilities this unlocks are quite limitless.
Let’s Look at the More Technical Aspects
The original Korg MS-20’s analog synthesizer capabilities are reproduced to a T. It has two oscillators with the ability for ring modulation.
You can use hold and delay with its envelope generators as well. The VCA (voltage-controlled amplifier) is around the original, but is less noisy.
Another feature of the MS-20 was its filters. During the lifecycle of the Korg MS-20, there were two filters used, with the second one implemented later on in its lifecycle. This was a bit of a controversial decision, as everyone preferred the sounds of the original filter.
The original MS 20 filter had the power to self-oscillate, which could create some distorted sounds. The resonance it created on both passes made it beloved, and what’s awesome is that the Mini uses the original filter. So in a way, the Mini is closer to the original than later models of the original.
You’ll love playing around with the low pass filters and high pass filters and seeing what they can do. Play around with the low pass and high pass filter by sweeping their cutoff frequencies upwards and downwards in various degrees.
Let’s also mention its external signal processor. Just like the original MS 20 allows, the External Signal Processor (ESP) allows external audio signals to be used with the MS-20 mini. With the External Signal Processor (ESP), you can control the synth with an external instrument and use the pitch and volume for your own unique sounds.
Guitars, mics, and anything else can be plugged in for some extra creativity. The distinctive and flexible patching system unleashes a multitude of high degree sounds by the rerouting of both the internal oscillators and external audio. Flow-charts listed on the front panel of the MS 20 mini help the user understand how to route signals and explore an enormous palate of sound options using the flexible patching system.
For the musicians who dabble with more than one instrument, there is a lot you can do with this MS 20, and we believe that you’ll find much use out of it. Experiment with everything you have on the MS 20 and see what you can do. Chances are, you can create something that stands out.
Let’s Look at the Patching System
The patching system on the semi modular analog synthesizer MS 20, which you can see on the right side of the panel, is quite flexible. By plugging in some cables, you can be able to make some intricate music. By swapping the connections, you can make as much music as you put your mind to it.
The MS 20 patching system also has a flow chart on the panel to help beginners figure out how it works. We enjoyed creating some tunes with the patching system.
It was easy to use and gave us plenty of possibilities. With its user friendliness, we believe that anyone will love this synth, regardless of their skill level or their musical expertise.
It’s good for newcomers and veterans alike. Just play around with it and you’ll be surprised at what you can create.
It Sounds Just Like You Remember It
We suppose that one of the biggest concerns for lovers of the classic synth is how good it sounds. Does the semi modular MS 20 Mini sound just as good as the original MS 20?
The unique, spacey jams the original could create still remind of the late 1970s, a time when we were on the verge of computer technology and the world was going through uncertain times.
Both the original Korg MS-20 and new Korg MS-20 Mini sound amazing, but the Mini has the advantage of brand-new parts.
Any piece of technology will struggle with 40 years, so we are glad there is a new piece of technology to help both newcomers and veterans fall in love. There is little reason to have the original at this point.
It’s Good for Learners and Anyone of Any Skill Level
What makes the Korg MS 20 analog synth Mini unique is that it combines an old keyboard with new technology, making it good for younger audiences. With its manual and with plenty of video tutorials online, you should be able to learn this keyboard with ease. Even someone who has never used a synth will soon be able to play with ease.
A Good Price
The Korg MS 20 Mini goes for under $500. Depending on where you are, the original can go for much more if you want to get a working model. This is a small price to pay for a powerful instrument that can enhance your creativity like nothing before.
Some synths go for much more, but this one goes for a price that we believe most can be able to afford. It’s a small price to pay for limitless fun.
Tuning it is Easy
If you want to play with the knobs and adjust everything, it’s quite easy to do so. Everything is laid out in a convenient location on the MS 20, and even someone who is overwhelmed by buttons should be able to figure everything out. If you’re ready to play some music with ease, you can’t go wrong with the Mini.
USB Feature is Quite Useful
In 1978, there was a lack of home computers to help indie musicians create some music. However, the Mini has a USB option so you can plug in the synth to your computer and easily make some music. No matter who you are, you can be able to plug it in and make some of the best synth music you possibly can.
We live in a world where every piece of tech needs to be portable. No one likes to lug around a big piece of heavy equipment unless they are in a band. While this isn’t an instrument you can play on the train, it is one that doesn’t weigh too much and because of its small size, you can pack it and go.
If you’re a musician who is hopping from house to house, even a small instrument can be annoying to carry. The Mini is great due to the fact it’s so small.
There is no point owning an original in this day and age unless you’re a collector. The Mini is the perfect replacement for its size alone. Unless you have big hands, which we’ll discuss in just a second.
Keyboard Can Be Small for Big Fingers
The keyboard’s small size is both a pro and con. It’s less heavy and more portable than most models, but the problem is that the MS 20 mini keys may be small.
Now, this is all subjective. If your fingers are small, you won’t have to worry too much in this regard. However, we do realize that some people have big, bulky fingers, and it can make playing the MS 20 Mini keyboard difficult.
If you have big fingers, see if you can find a way to try before you buy. If the keys are too small and it hinders how you’re able to play, perhaps you should try another keyboard. The last thing you want is for your experience to be ruined by not being able to hit all the right keys.
The Knobs May Need Some Gentle Hands
Another flaw of its smaller size is that the Korg MS20 mini knobs are smaller, and can be weak at times. If you have big hands, you want to be careful and make sure you aren’t adjusting them too hard to the point where they can loosen or even fall off. Or you don’t want to adjust it and end up in the wrong place.
This shouldn’t be a problem for most, but if you have big hands, you should again try before you buy.
There Are Keyboards with More Features
The Korg MS 20 Mini is a great keyboard with a variety of ways you can make music, and we believe that most people will find use out of it. With that said, it’s on the lower end of keyboards, and more advanced users might find that it doesn’t have all the features that more advanced keyboards do have.
It is a keyboard from forty years ago, and since then, there have been keyboards with much more options than what they had back then. However, if you want something vintage and affordable, this could be the right keyboard for you.
We are quite impressed by the MS 20 Mini. While there are other keyboards with more advanced features, you can still do a lot with the remake of this 40-year-old keyboard.
You can still create some heavy synth jams, and it’s quite easy for anyone to enter. And even though the original size was nothing to complain about, the MS 20 mini adds much more convenience and portability.
Unless you have giant hands, you have no reason not to add this synth to your collection. It’s perfect for those who want portability, or those who have a smaller studio room.