The vintage Korg MS20 has always been a favourite and yes the MS20 Mini and the even newer MS20 DIY reissue are awesome but maybe the synth lacks a few modular features. So what would a Eurorack version be like? Something that has the vintage MS series vibe and sound but with supercharged features that modern Eurorack offers.
Well its impossible to get a clone of every part of the MS series and we dont want that anyway so we looked closely at the MS20, MS10 and MS50 and began building a ModularGrid rack making sure all the original features were covered. From there it was like upgrading a vintage car, replacing dated pieces, upgrading parts, installing a turbocharger, new engine… all the while trying to maintain the MS vibe.
The self imposed limitation for this imaginary synth is it must fit into a 6u 84hp case and use only attainable modules – ignoring the really high end modules to make this instrument actually doable. This is what we came up with…
Here is a break down of the modules and why they made it in –
- Mutables CVpal – cheap and easy way to get USB to CV x 2 or can use it for 4 x triggers
- MA CVP – for glide and pitch offset
- ALM Beast’s Chalkboard – get selectable oscillator octaves just like the MS series
- Intellijel Dixie II – a great sounding oscillator and there are three because they fit for a huge three osc patch or use one as an LFO
- STG .SHN – pink, white noise and sample & hold just like the MS
- Intellijel uVCA II – always need VCAs, use these for noise volume or osc volume, can also add some nice drive
- STG .MIX – although a Moog CP3 mixer clone it fits in here to add a fatter mix and overdrive if you want it
- Make Noise modDemix – a wild ringmod that suits the MS vibe and also acts like 2 channel mixer and VCA
- MA35 VCF/A – perfect clone of the MS VCA and filter in one module… this nails the tone for that perfect vintage MS20 vibe
- Intellijel Korgasmatron II – although doesn’t nail the MS sound it is great and expands the possibilities to include panning effects
- Synthwerks FSR-1 – the MS had a trigger button, this adds a trigger and pressure CV
- Doepfer A-174-2 Wheels – cause you need them and the MS20 and MS10 had them
- EMW 200 Filter – LPF and HPF like included in the MS pitch to CV section
- AS RS35 – amazing pitch to CV, believe it tracks much better than the MS20
- Intellijel Dual ADSR – great envelopes or LFO, includes inverse envelopes as in MS but adds cycle and EOD output
- Make Noise Maths – LFO, envelopes, crude oscillator, its Maths and it fits
- Doepfer A146 LFO2 – a great adjustable waveform LFO similar to the MS modulation generator
- Imtellijel uJack – get the signal and headphone out just like MS but in stereo
So this setup gets you a 2 note poly synth with stereo panning effects and a host of clean and/or distorted sounds and simple to complex sounds.
The real heart of the MS sound in this Eurorack lies in the MA35 VCA/F so you must use this module to get the authentic vintage tone. Utilising the .MIX and the two MA35 VCAs means you can get all oscillators and noise audio into the VCF to nail that vintage MS tone. If you don’t use the MA35 and instead use the Korgasmatron for filtering you dont get that vintage sound but a cleaner more modern sound. So its a time travelling synth tone machine.
This rack will set you back a lot more than a MS20 Mini, more than the latest DIY reissue, more than a vintage MS20 and probably a little more than the MS50 but its a meaner and gnarlier synth. What is missing is a VU like on the MS50. A Dave Jones oTool would have been a great addition but decided on not including it because the included modules make the synth really flexible and you can tune the oscillators with a guitar tuner, software or an iPad app… and the MS20 didnt have any monitoring so no loss right?
So what do you think? It will be great to improve on this design with your input and would be great to actually put it together to compare to the real thing.