At the NAMM 2013 show, Korg announced nine (!) new products that all look great – I recommend you head to Korg to get all of the details. But I wanted to highlight two that look super-cool: the MS-20 Mini and KingKORG. The MS-20 Mini is the reimagining of the classic monophonic synth that we have seen emulated so much recently. The KingKORG is a robust analog modeling synth built for great sound and performance.
Everyone loves the Korg MS-20, it seems. This 1978 monophonic synth with cable-patching and limited configurations ultimately had one major thing that has kept it alive: great sound. Korg capitalized with the DS-20 and DS-20 Plus for the Nintendo DS, and more recently the iMS-20 for the iPad. All keep the amazing sound intact, and expand upon the capabilities by adding layers, recording, and more.
But all of those devices remove you from the direct control of physical patching and knobs, and from all of the advances in analog microelectronics that have happened over the last 35 years. So Korg had the original MS-20 designers come up with a redesign of the same synth for a new generation. It is smaller, uses 3.5mm rather than 1/4″ cables for patching, and incorporates MIDI control and a USB port. But what has not changed is the sound – in fact, the deep and rich tones still shine through, and even brighter due to a much cleaner signal path. That makes for a great instrument that will actually stay in tune (unlike most classic analog synths)!
Korg created a great video overview that shows off the strengths of the instrument and the excitement of its designers.
The MS-20 Mini is set to release in April for $599. It will also include the original MS-20 owner’s manual and settings chart.
Also on display was the new KingKORG. This is a ‘virtual analog’ synth, which means it is a digital synthesizer that uses computer modeling techniques to create the sounds of an analog synth. This includes oscillators, filters, amplifiers, and signal chains. What makes KingKORG special is the emphasis on usability and live performance. And the sounds. And the recreation of classic instruments. And the CV/Gate Out jack for external control. And … you get the picture!
Here are a few of the highlights:
- Full 61-key (5 octave) keyboard designed for live performance
- Oscillators designed for both usability and depth
- Amazing breadth of modeling filters that reproduce classic instrument sounds
- Three full effects sections add six effect types each
- Vacuum tube circuits add smooth and rich overtones and a natural distortion
- Knob-heavy panel design begs to be played
- CV/GATE OUT allows you to control a Monotribe or MS-20
Librarian software allows you to use your PC to manage programs.
Here is a video showing off all of the features of KingKORG.
Korg has not yet announced the pricing or availability for KingKORG … but they certainly have everyone’s attention!
While last year was ‘all about iPad’ at NAMM, this year we are seeing an amazing breadth of instruments both mobile and traditional that signal a return to focus on the musicality of sound rather than novelty. The MS-20 Mini and KingKORG are all about putting great sounds and powerful sounds into the hands of musicians.