Worth every stinkin’ penny.
In my crusade towards Artists helping Artists, what is more helpful than an open and honest dialogue in the form of a good old Musician based gear review? In my book, it’s the best way to research whether a piece of equipment is worthwhile and suits your workflow. While the Korg MS20-Mini has some deficiencies, what instrument doesn’t? Read on to see whether this analog semi-modular synthesizer is intended for the sound you’re seeking. Only you can make the ultimate decision to take the leap here but I hope some of this intel will help someone out in that respect.
Honestly, among my modest 7 synths or so this is my current favorite and has captivated me since it’s purchase. It’s filters wail. The patching is powerful. It’s modulation capacity is wobbly. Do not underestimate this synth for a moment. It may not be the prettiest out there, but god damn does it get the job done..
It has a fairly smooth touch to it. The keys could stand to be a little less chincey for the asking price. They're essentially the same type of keys you’re used to seeing on every MIDI controller. For the $450 I paid for it, I’d anticipate at least some heft to the weight of the keys. This is a tiny demerit for this device. The nuances are nothing earth shattering. A first world problem at best.
I suck at the keyboard. I’ll be the first to admit it. I play keys like a monkey flinging it’s poo, flailing my arms around and stomping the keys in fifths to make it sound like I know what I’m doing. One thing I do have a fair understanding of is music theory. This is a natural combination of the two.
Since I suck at keys, it’s all about the knobs for me in that respect. Since I know how intervals work, it makes my desire to play around and experiment with those knobs all the more. Thanks to the MS20, my mediocre playing can sound like genuine music, so long as I keep a careful eye on how I adjust my parameters and stay in key along with the melody played.
Then – BOOM – one day it hits me like a mother fucking truck. I forget where I first heard of the SQ1 Step Sequencer but it has been a powerful tool in my arsenal since it came out of the box. It COMPLETELY makes up for my inability to play keys. Shout-outs to Korg for thinking like the every man! Joking aside, this brick sized doo-dad is easy to fit into any size studio (mine is a kitchen table, so you’re probably good). It’s, simply put, a badass sequencer. It does what it says it does and it does it well. There’s features I still don’t fully understand on it, but that’s half the fun anyway, eh?
Now that you have your SQ1 connected to your MS20 you’ll find your eye wandering over to the right. Ohhhh, the patch bay. Pretty, isn’t it? With something controlling all your rhythmic and melodic parameters, it frees you up to schiz the fuck out of the MS20’s circuitry. All I’ll say about the patch bay here that you may not be able to find on your own is BUY MORE CABLES! The unit itself comes with 5. You will need more than 5. Trust me. Just get some extra cables.
There is one large con that simply cannot be avoided. My eyesight is awful. I can’t see in front of my face unless you’re about four inches or less away. Fortunately, that’s before correction. With correction I am 20/20. Still though, in low-light the MS20 knobs are super hard to see. There’ s something off with the color schema and the white blends into the black too easily. With that said, I give this con a big ol’ mehhh, it’s fine. It’s a very first world problem.
Check the Resources section of the blog for some info I’ve posted about how to get your MS20 rockin’ and rollin’, as always feel free to comment in that section of this article and I hope this write-up helped you in some way, shape or form. Thanks for reading!