NAMM 2014: Korg announces the MS-20 kit

Posted Jan 23, 2014 at 1:00pm
Read more about NAMM 2014: Korg announces the MS-20 kit at MusicRadar.com

NAMM 2014: Given recent form, it seemed pretty inevitable that we'd see some form of new analogue gear from Korg at this year's NAMM.

Follow closely on from the release of the MS-20 mini - which was announced this time last year - this year's analogue offering sees Korg once again reviving its classic MS-20 monosynth, this time in DIY kit form.

Unlike the three quarter-sized mini, however, the end result of the MS-20 kit is a full size replication of the original. The kit also comes complete with both the early and later incarnations of the original's filter circuit and, once built, users can switch between the two.

As with the mini, the MS-20 kit has been developed under the watchful eye of the engineers that designed the original, remaining as faithful as possible to its design. According to Korg, "when it was necessary to substitute a part, the engineers made the decision based on their own ears, ensuring that the exact sound of the original unit has been reproduced."

As for the assembly itself, Korg state that building the MS-20 kit will only require the tightening of screws and fitting of parts together, so no experience with a soldering iron is necessary.

Check out the press release below for full details. The MS-20 kit will cost £1079 when it's released in March.

Korg MS-20 Kit press release

Creating an instrument with your own hands is the part of the true enjoyment of an analogue synthesizer. The MS-20 Kit lets you obtain a real, full-sized MS-20 by assembling it yourself.

It goes without saying that, Just like the MS-20 mini released in January 2013, the engineers who developed the original MS-20 have overseen this project - ensuring that its historic sound is reproduced with complete fidelity.

In addition, the MS-20 Kit provides the filters from both the early and late versions of this classic instrument and it even allows you to switch between them. Today, 36 years after this historic instrument was first unveiled in 1978, the MS-20 returns to its true origin.

Key Features:

  • A full-size MS-20 that you can assemble yourself
  • Both the early and late versions of the filter are provided
  • Overseen by the engineers of the original MS-20; a complete replication of the original analogue circuitry:
  • 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure
  • External signal processor (ESP)
  • Extremely flexible patching system
  • MIDI IN and USB connector
  • Powered by an AC adapter
  • Replicates every detail of the original, down to the package binding and the included manual

A full-size MS-20 that you can assemble yourself

The MS-20 Kit is a kit that lets you obtain a real MS-20 by assembling the parts according to the directions in the owner's manual. Most of the steps are simply a matter of tightening screws or fitting parts together, so you don't need to know about soldering or electronic circuitry.

Beyond any doubt, the analogue sound generated by the MS-20 that you yourself completed will sound more valuable than that of any other synthesizer.

Unlike the MS-20 mini, the MS-20 Kit is a full-size unit with a standard-sized keyboard, and the plugs are also full sized 1/4" phone plugs.

Two types of filter are provided: both the early and later versions

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.

Amazingly, this new MS-20 Kit provides both filters. You can switch between the two by moving a jumper pin on the circuit board according to your taste or needs.

Overseen by the engineers of the original MS-20; a complete replication of the original analog circuitry

Just like the MS-20 mini, development of the MS-20 Kit was led by the original engineers themselves, who spared no effort to perfectly replicate the circuitry of the original unit. When it was necessary to substitute a part, the engineers made the decision based on their own ears, ensuring that the exact sound of the original unit has been reproduced.

In fact, the sound of the MS-20 kit has a somewhat bright and extreme quality to it because its sound is that of an original MS-20 in mint condition at the time it went on sale, before any of the components aged.

2VCO / 2VCF / 2VCA / 2EG / 1LFO structure

The MS-20 kit reproduces the distinctive synthesis of the MS-20; two oscillators with ring modulation, and envelope generators with hold and delay.

External signal processor (ESP) for processing an external signal

The ESP carries on the experimental spirit of MS-20; it allows you to use the pitch or volume of an external audio source to control the synthesizer. For example you can input an electric guitar and use the MS-20 kit as a guitar synthesizer, or input a mic and use it as a vocal synthesizer.

Extremely flexible patching system

The patching system provided to the right of the panel lets you create complex sounds by plugging-in cables to change the connections between the various units.

The possibilities are limited only by the user's imagination; different combinations of the modulation input/output and trigger, sample and hold, and noise generator can produce an incredible variety of sounds.

By patching according to the MS-20 flow chart that's printed on the panel, even the beginner can start taking advantage of these possibilities right away.

MIDI IN connector and USB connector

The MS-20 kit provides a MIDI IN jack for receiving note messages, and a USB-MIDI connector that can transmit and receive note messages. You can even connect the MS20 kit to your computer and play it from a sequencer.

Powered by an AC adapter

Although the power is supplied by an AC adapter, the voltage specifications used internally are the same design as the original unit.

Replicates every detail of the original, down to the package binding and the included manual

Our efforts to remain faithful to the original are not limited to the unit itself. Even the package that contains the unit replicates the original as far as possible. Also included are the original MS-20 owner's manual and settings chart, explaining how to create sounds. Now you can experience the excitement of the MS20, just like it was during its original release in 1978.

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