Korg MS-20 Analog Monophonic Synthesizer

The instrument

The Korg MS-20, released in 1978, is a semi-modular monophonic analog synthesizer renowned for its powerful sound and versatile patching capabilities. It quickly became a favorite among musicians and producers for its aggressive filters and extensive modulation options. The MS-20 was designed as a more advanced version of the MS-10, which was released the same year. While the MS-10 was a simpler, single-oscillator synth, the MS-20 featured two oscillators, offering richer and more complex sound possibilities. Notable users of the MS-20 include Aphex Twin, Daft Punk, and Portishead.


The Korg MS-20 features two Voltage-Controlled Oscillators (VCOs) that provide multiple waveforms, including sawtooth, triangle, and pulse waves. It includes a unique pair of high-pass and low-pass filters with resonance, capable of self-oscillation, which contribute to its distinctive, edgy sound. The semi-modular design allows for extensive patching, enabling complex signal routing and modulation. The MS-20 also offers an External Signal Processor (ESP) that allows external audio input to be processed through the synthesizer's filters and modulators, further expanding its sound-shaping capabilities. Compared to the MS-10, the MS-20's dual oscillators and expanded patching matrix provide greater versatility and depth in sound design.