The release of the MS2000 from Korg was a nod towards their classic mono synthesizer, the MS-20, with the digital patch matrix design taking over the complicated patch cord connections.
The MS2000 Korg was one of the first virtual analog style synths, not long released after the innovative Clavia Nord Lead, and along with models from the other Japanese synth powerhouses, the JP-8000 from Roland and the AN1x from Yamaha.
The MS2000 from Korg is a flexible instrument and designed with such precision that it can actually lay claim to being the first VA synth to actually sound like real analog.
The Korg MS2000 is a virtual analog modeling synthesizer that is heavily influenced by the classic MS-20 of the late 1970s, with Korgs main intention of bringing the classic sound and functionality into the modern keyboard market. Korg’s offering does not disappoint and the possibilities are endless with its virtual patch matrix.
The sound engine is designed around a digital analog modeling system, successfully used in the acclaimed Korg Prophecy, but has been further tweaked and refined to offer even greater potential, letting you create anything from sharp percussive sounds to trembling bass.
Two powerful oscillators are running inside the Korg MS2000, the first oscillator gives you eight algorithms that include sawtooth waveforms and pulse wave. You also have a set of VoxWaves and a further 64 waveforms from Korg’s DWGS (Digital Waveform Generator System).
Each of these waveforms can be tweaked and modified via the Waveform Modulation (WFM) feature, applying different types of WFM will give you more timbral options and sonic potential, proving why the Korg MS2000 was regarded as a truly flexible synthesizer when it was first released.
The second oscillator gives you a choice of three waveforms, saw, square and triangle, and can also be used for ring or sync modulation, plus a detuning function is also available. The Korg MS2000 also has a built-in noise generator that you can use to distort waveforms and create effects with.
Other classic features include an arpeggiator that gives you a total of six arpeggio patterns, offering useful save and playback options. Also, the two on-board LFOs prove to be practical with parameter options that include sample & hold, sine, square, triangle, clocked and key sync.
The Korg MS 2000 offers up an excellent filter section with four types of filters at your disposal. You have two types of low-pass filters (switchable from 12 to 24dB), a high-pass filter, and a band-pass filter. Lastly, the first envelope uses time-variant changes for a fourth filter type.
In terms of the envelopes and sound shaping possibilities, you have two standard ADSR envelope generators that produce time-variant changes to parameters. The first envelope is used to modify the filter cutoff frequency and the second is used to modify the amplifier audio volume.
The possibility to connect external instruments to the oscillators and internal filters via the audio input jacks is also available and a useful feature. This synth packs a lot into its compact keyboard housing and yet it still manages to find room for a beautifully designed interface.
One of the most loved features of this synthesizer is how easy it is to work with, if you love the 1:1 knob-per-function layout style, then you will love the Korg MS 2000 synths. The ability to play and tweak in real-time is a real advantage and this Korg design puts you right in the middle of your music.
Korg managed to fit plenty more features into this synthesizer, which we will look into more detail soon, but the overall look and feel of the Korg MS 2000 keyboard is something that excited, and still excites, many synth musicians today.
The teal blue casing and rosewood end panels give the synth a sleek and professional finish, the 44-note keyboard is big enough to push it out of the mini-sized class, and the additional programming data etched onto the interface is also a nice touch, giving a very vintage feel to it.
The on-board effects are impressive with three modulation effect types, an equalizer and a delay with a further three types to choose from. Of course, you’ve still got the standard phaser, flange, and chorus effects to further modify your music.
The amplifier section includes the usual volume and pan settings, as well as a useful distortion button that allows you to quickly add aggression to any softer sounding tones. Also, by altering the resonance and filter cutoff, you can easily create high-pitched tones and layered harmonics.
The Modulation Sequence mode on the Korg MS 2000 is 16-step sequencer that allows you to create and edit patterns in step or real-time, letting you create complex patterns quickly and easily via the 16 knobs displayed across the front of the interface.
Korg’s VC-10 synth, the classic vocoder launched in the late 1970s, was the inspiration behind the 16 band vocoder in the MS2000, and what a great job it does! The Korg designers have included various patches that recreate the classic, funky vocoder sounds of the 70s and 80s.
It’s worth mentioning in our review that the MS2000 polyphony synthesizer is available as either a keyboard or as a rack module, controlling the module is easy via external controllers (keyboards, sequencer, computer) and the full MIDI connection capabilities that Korg made available on this synth.
The MS2000 synths also come with assignable pedal and switch control inputs, two audio inputs (one with mic/line switch), two outputs (R and L/Mono), and MIDI IN/OUT/THRU. Lastly, a 9V AC adapter is required to power up this VA synthesizer.
It should be noted that the difference between the Korg MS2000 and Korg MS2000B synthesizers is that Korg’s B model comes in dark gray and has an xlr input on the front for the vocoder. The MS2000B has two main functions: analog synth and vocoder. The block diagrams of each function is right on the front panel for easy access during performances.
Korg has included lots of oscillators and modulation sources for almost infinite possibilities: two main oscillators (one of which can use the waveform of a line or mic input), four different filters, delay, distortion, a modulation sequencer, an arpeggiator, and lots more! One of the coolest features of the MS2000B synthesizers is the virtual patching function. The four virtual patches allow you to custom route eight different modulation sources to control parameters from filter cutoff to pitch, giving you even more creative potential with your sounds!
Outside of our reviews of these machines, the reviews from other users have been outstandingly positive for both models. Both offer a great use of flexibility, and an array of audio sounds, effects, and vast opportunities. Included with the MS2000B is a dynamic gooseneck mic for use with the vocoder, a wall wart, and the manual.
The inclusion of the free mic is an awesome add, but the manual is just as crucial. It’s very well organized and comprehensive explaining very much in good detail all of the quality features for the user to learn and take advantage of that any user should not skip over.
It was made very clear that the new MS2000 was inspired by the classic MS-Series synths, but Korg has managed to try and create a classic in its own right by combining the vintage look and feel with the analog modeling synth sounds. The time was ripe for this! It’s a superb design combination that allows the MS2000 to proudly stand up amongst the other popular VAs of the early 2000s.
The only glaring review limitation here is really that it’s a 4 voice polyphony so you’ll have to avoid creating very lush or complex pads. That being said, this product more than makes up for it in its simplicity.
Korg created a new audio synth that is simple to play, has really great sounds, and easy to edit with their logical, knob-per-function layout, making the MS2000 a dream for many polyphony synth musicians to play. If this didn’t sell you enough, there are some notable artists that use this machine. The list includes Trent Reznor and Depeche Mode. Are you sold yet?