Analogue synths of the 70s and early 80s are fascinating things, not just for the incredible sounds they can create, but also because of the way their circuits can be rewired with knobs, cables and switches to make evermore bamboozling noises. The original MS-20 was just such a beast, and fetches four figures on eBay, but now Korg has remade its classic in a slightly more compact form at a far more affordable price.
The sound-generating hardware of the MS-20 Mini remains fully analogue, with a potentially baffling array of controls to master.
As well as the knobs, there's a "patch panel" that allows you to re-route (or "patch") electronic pulses and audio signals, either from the MS-20 itself or from external sources. The original's 1/4in jacks are replaced with 3.5mm jacks here, but they still feel sturdy enough to survive plenty of plugging and unplugging.
MIDI and USB
Why remake a classic? Well, adding MIDI and USB ports is a good enough reason for us. You couldn't control the original directly from a computer, but the Mini can be hooked up to a laptop or added to a bigger set-up with a MIDI cable, and that's really the only update it needed.
If the sight of those patch cables hasn't scared you off, chances are you'll love the MS-20 Mini just as much as we do. With its combination of immediacy and enigma-like depths to be explored, the Korg MS-20 Mini wins on all counts.
Review by Tony Horgan.