A few decades ago I had a Yamaha DX7IID with an add on printed circuit board that allowed it to play "The Entertainer" (YouTube), see my Music web page.. It was possible to assign different instrument voices to the various parts. Quite amazing.
Recently I learned about the Linnstrument (Music#Linnstrument) and was very impressed. And started looking into low cost analog music synthesizers. Note that using just your finger it's possible to modify 3 parameters, pitch, amplitude and a third parameter such as pulse width and achieve a high degree of expressiveness without a really fancy synthesizer. But ideals you would use one of the few synths listed on the Linn Instruments web page that are polyphonic and that can process the very large amount of MIDI data that it puts out.
So in the process of looking for a synth to go with a Linnstrument (which I don't have and probably will not get) I found the Korg MS-20 Mini. Which is a remake of the classic MS-20 (Wiki). It's called "Mini" because the size is smaller and that's achieved by using 3.5mm (1/8") jacks instead of the 1/4" phone jacks used in the original MS-20 as well as shrinking the size of the keyboard for an overall 86% of original size. There are some additions like MIDI In and USB In & Out &Etc.
Although the DX7 may be the highest production volume music synthesizer ever made (about a quarter million units) the MS-20 is not far behind and catching up.
It outputs line level sound, but there is no built-in speaker, so needs an external amp and speaker or can be fed into a mixer or analog recorder.
Has MIDI in and out as well as a USB-B jack.
original 1978 keys make mechanical click
tuning varies w/temp
115 VAC power
2004 no sounds out only MIDI
use to drive iPad
MIDI & USB
Very similar to the original
switchable "35" or new filter
VCO sync switch
Hz Volt options
Like the MS-20 Kit
comes with the SQ-1 sequencer
Wiki) digital hardware workstation
1999 - Oasys PCI (Wiki) PCI card & Triton (Wiki) digital hardware workstation
2004 - Known as the "Legacy Collection". Consists of the MS-20, Polysix (Wiki: 1981 hardware,Wavestation, Legacy Cell & MS-20ic
2005 to 2009 - Oasys (Wiki: hardware Workstation Computer)
2007 - Legacy "Collection Analogue Edition". Consists of the MonoPoly, M1
2011 - Kronos (Wiki) hardware workstation for x86 PC type computers except running Linux op system. Can load & play Yamaha DX7 files
2012 - Kronos X hardware workstation for iOS version 2 & Kronos 2 for iOS version 3.
2013 - iPolysix (Korg), Polyseq, Durms-6, Mixer-8, Polysix+KAOSS PAD, Polyshare
???? - KORG Gadget, KORG Module, iMS-20 (Korg), iKaossilator, iM1, iDS-10, BLuetooth MIDI Connect
While waiting for the MS-20 and SQ-1 to get here I've been doing some on line research. Here are some links.
YouTubeKorg MS-20 Mini and Make Noise Modular Pt. 1 - MS-20: Log pitch scale, Eurorack: exponential pitch scale - Harvestman English Tear (AnalogueHaven) does the conversions.
Korg MS-20 Mini and Make Noise Modular Pt. 2 -
Korg MS-20 Mini and Make Noise Modular Pt. 3 -
Harvestman – English Tear / NAMM Notes
MS20: FM & the Momentary Switch by willsanquil -
Inauguration of The MS-20 (mini) Synth Synesthesia by Sounds & Things -
Korg MS 20 mini noise problem -
Korg MS-20 mini - Noise Problem? by KORGINC -
KORG iMS-20 v1.1 Demonstration Movie (MS-20ic) - with iPad - "You need to use a powered USB hub. I use a battery powered CyberPower USB 2.0 Mobile Battery Powered Hub CP-H420MP."
MIDI-Ox - MIDI software for PC
Web PagesMS-20 Patch library - most do not have audio clips, but there's a lot of them.
Muff Wiggler - Korg MS-20 Re-issue, MS20 mini mods, Korg MS20ic Controller,
Mutable Instruments - Eurorack module tester - plans
electrical audio: Korg MS-20 mods (full size and mini)
Vintage Synth Expolorer - Korg MS-20 Mini -
First a table showing the 88 keys available on a regular piano keyboard, their frequency and the Control Voltage from the MS-20 keyboard. (Wiki).
Note the VCO2 Scale switch allows going an octave higher in frequency than the VCO1 Scale switch.
Double Hi C
My YouTube Videos:
Korg MS-20 Mini Control Voltages & Frequencies - First showing the DC Voltage from the keyboard, then the corresponding frequencies.
I made a mistake in the video 45 seconds where the frequency of the very left most key (1.000 Volts) it's C1, not A0, so should be 32.7 Hz, not the 27.5 Hz for A0 which is not on this keyboard, i.e. the keyboard starts with C1. Turning the VCO2 pitch up slightly will bring the frequency to 32.7. So Korg allows the very left key (C1 in terms of keyboard layout) to be mistuned down to A0 just like a grand piano.
The frequencies with the VCO2 pitch fully CCW look very similar to A0, A1, A2 & A3 and when the VCO2 Scale switch is moved up range the frequency is modified by 2X, 4X or 8X giving a maximum frequency of 1852 which is sort of like A6. There's no provision to get to C7.
Korg MS-20 Mini VCO1 & VCO2 Frequency & Range - Still having a tuning problem, solved see next video.
Tuning Korg MS-20 Music Synthesizer - Use the Master Tuning knob for VCO1 and then the VCO2 Pitch knob for VCO2. Best done with VCO1 and VCO2 Scale set to 4' (different switch positions) and the highest "C" key (at very right of keyboard) since highest frequency gives the highest resolution.
There are two banks of 8 levels each when active sends out a DC voltage between 0 and 1, 2, 5 Volts/Octave or 8 Hz/Volt according to which of the CV-A Range (4 buttons) or CV-B Range (4 buttons) has been selected while holding down the Function button. This box has no sound generating capability, it only outputs Control Voltages (CV) or MIDI or USB data.
The On/Off button is just to the right of the Mode rotary switch in the upper left corner. Hold down for a few seconds to turn unit off.
This unit runs on a couple of internal AA batteries.
Korg web page with connection info for MS-20M, MS-20 Mini, LittleBits.
Wiki page on Control Voltage and Gate signals.Korg SQ-1 - How to play ratcheting sequences -
Korg SQ-1 - How to transpose Midi-notes and send velocity -
Korg SQ-1 knobs - pimp - uses 6 mm black control knobs 32106
On the run - SQ-1 + MS-20, patch & live knob turning
Korg SQ-1 Sequencer MS-20 MicroKorg Jam -
While I was looking at what low cost music synthesizers were available I came across the Korg LittleBits synth. In fact one of the comments was that for someone interested in a music synth the MS-20 would be a better choice (music capability for the money), so I got the MS-20 Mini. But . . . LittleBits is a child friendly way to work with electronics since it uses a 5 Volt power supply and magnets to connect modules (no soldering required). Open source (GitHub, Files ) hardware and software.
The magnetic connectors (male & female) have 3 terminals (ground, signal & +5 volts). While there are Korg music modules there are also many other modules all offered under open hardware and software license.
Heavy use is made of ATmega micro controllers (same as used in Arduino (Wiki) boards).
The LitttleBits output is a combined Gate plus Control Voltage output so only a single mono cable is needed. When connecting the SQ-1 to the MS-20 Mini 2 cables are needed (CV and Gate).
The MS-20 comes with some 3.5mm patch cables. But either a 3.5mm "Y" or stackable 3.5mm mono cables from Tip Top (AudioHaven).
Custom cable RG-174 coax BNCm to 3.5mm mono - for use with scope and HP 4395A spectrum analyzer.
Custom cable 3.5mm mono - 1/4" phone plug for connecting Yamaha HS5 active (amplified) speaker.
Yamaha HS5 - small easy to carry (not as good as the NS10M, but far lower price).
USB - MIDI adapter and WIN7 software
Fig 1 Used unit came in factory box and packing.
Fig 3 SQ-1 Sequencer & KA350 power supply in boxes.
Fig 4 Front
Fig 5 Back
Fig 6 KA350 World AC adapter, 9V <= 1.7 Amp output.
Positive center contact. 9.15 V no load.
Power Plug: 5.5 mm OD (not the more standard 5.2 mm)
Fig 1 SQ-1 Sequencer
Fig 2 USB output and battery compartment
Fig 3 Front panel. Note Midi out 1/8" stereo jack.
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