I posted this on a forum in response to somebody with a Korg MS-20 and plans to add more modular stuff. I think it is a good quick primer. I’ll update this with more information when I get some time …
Be aware the MS-20 doesn’t play particularly nice with a lot of modular stuff, at least not without some coaxing.
The MS-20 uses S-triggers (closures) for gates, while the Eurorack world generally uses V-triggers (+5V). It is super easy to go from v-trig to s-trig using a simple adaptor, but going the other way requires a more costly conversion.
Also, the pitch CV output from the MS-20 is Hz/V (linear) while Eurorack is 1V/oct (exponential). This means that notes you play on the MS-20 will not translate to the same intervals on Eurorack. You can bring Eurorack V/oct into the MS-20’s modulation input and adjust the modulation amount and tuning – it will track quite well, but musically controlling Eurorack oscillators from the MS-20 again requires conversion.
There are modules that do all of these conversions quite well. But you need to know this stuff if you want to hook up your MS to anything else, including 0-coast.
Finally: the MS’s envelopes and LFO will work to modulate Eurorack stuff with no trouble.
Keyboard Setup Based on Vintage RMI 300B “Electra-Piano”
Remember me saying that Tom, the guy who sold me the Pax tape echo chamber is pretty cool? Well … periodically he texts me links to good local deals on second-hand gear. He seems to know exactly what kind of equipment I’m interested in, and he has a real nose for good deals. I have added him to my contact list as “Tommy Tape Echo”.
A little over a month ago, he tipped me off to this really cool vintage keyboard from RMI (“Rocky Mount Instruments”). I picked it up from a guy in Oakville that day for a couple hundred bucks. Then, a few weeks later, when I finally got together with my experimental jam band, I put together a setup that looked like this (click the image to enlarge):
Korg MS-20 (Kit), Arturia Microbrute, Mackie 402 Mixer, EHX Small Clone Phase Shifter, Boss RE-20 Space Echo Pedal. All supported by the monstrous RMI 300B "Electra Piano"
Some of the world’s most respected, coveted synthesizers went through production revisions that audibly impacted the instruments’ sonic character. Here are four such synths that come to mind:
- Korg MS-20
(to quote Korg’s MS-20 Kit press release: The original MS-20 used different VCF circuits depending on the date of production. Units produced in the earlier period used a filter noted for its distinctive distortion and self-oscillation, while the filter used in later units was a low-noise design with a more mellow character.) The earlier filter is known as the “Korg 35″, while the later revision is a more conventional OTA-based filter.
- ARP Odyssey
(The Odyssey is notorious for bearing three different filters in its lifetime. The first Odysseys shipped with a Moog-style ladder filter. ARP was threatened with legal action so they quickly replaced it with a buzzy 2-pole filter, which was quickly replaced by a unique, aggressive sounding 4-pole filter.
- Sequential Prophet-5
Rev. 1 and Rev. 2 Prophet 5s used SSM ICs for their VCOs and VCFs, while the Rev. 3 Prophet 5 used CEM ICs. Some say the Rev. 3 Prophet 5 sounds weaker as a result.
- Roland MKS-80 Super Jupiter
The infamous Supe Jupe rack’s filter had an agressive, high-resonance character (IR3109, same filter as the Jupiter-6). But Rev. 5 units (serial number 511800 and up) used Roland’s new IR3R05, the same silky smooth filter that would find its way into the JX-8P, Super JX, and MKS-70.
Korg MS-20 Mini Promo Shot
I have ponied up for Korg’s new MS-20 Kit. The vendor in California tells me he has the much-publicized limited edition vintage analog semi-modular synth reissue-as-a-kit in stock, so I expect it to find its way into my grimy clutches within the week.
Upon receipt of the kit, I shall immediately join forces with the “Love”-ly and talented DJ Güber for an evening of kit assembly and frivolity. Watch this space for one of the first ever customer MS-20 Kit unboxing / assembly / test / MS-mayhem videos.
See you then! I can’t wait!