Monophonic Synthesizer MS a synthesizer family born just after the famous PS Polyphonic Synthesizer production.
Snubbed for years, today re-appreciated by young people for its harsh unpredictable characters.
KEYBOARD compact and portable about (8 Kg) featuring a 37 C-C keys (tend to get klunky in time) with no action Velocity. The synth is well-built with 38 precise knobs precise and reliable in time; relative main panel features 35 patch connections like a modular to interrupt the pre-routed signal, however it is not really modular!so it is often called (wrongly) half-modular... let's says it' s just a synthesizer with some external routing signal, even if some synthesis section are path-fixed (called "hardwired"). On the left side a modulation wheel generating +/-5 Voltage and a nearby button switch for trigger or re-triggering some synthesis functions on main patch panel. All functions are organized with different drawn sections with some strange captions and may soon results in synthesis term confusion.
Power supply is internal. MS20 Exists in both 110V and 220V versions. Check voltage anyway.
VOICE Subtractive monophonic synthesis duel analog Oscillators VCO (no sync between) with variable octave heights and indipendet volume mix. Mastertune potentiometer affects both VCO pitch while and Portamento speed adjusts the note Legato play. Now let's deep the Oscillators:
- VCO1 octave range from 32' to 4' has 4 Waveforms Triangle, Saw, White Noise amd Pulse with variable Width.
- VCO2 has higher octave range from 16' to 2' but has less waveform options Saw, Square, Ring modulator and a fixed 25% pulse (lacks width) + a Pitch detune +/-5 semitone range.
FILTER multimode VCF with 2 serial filters: single Voltage-controlled HighPass featuring 2-pole slopes + one LowPass one with same slope. Both VCF have independent Resonance Emphasis potentiometer Peak that reach self-oscillation with a nice resulting sinusoidal and they can be combined to obtain the famous Screaming filter with BandPass or notch-reject. The filter CUTOFF can be also driven by patching CV section with CV IN VCF LP and CV IN VCF HP or Envelope 2 (EG2).
VCF is the most interesting aspect of the synthesizer and results perfect for electro music and various noise creations, even if sometimes you never know precisely what you will obtain turning the knobs! There are 2 filter hardware versions depending on the production series: the first one is IC 35 filters and second one has a smaller board with custom integrated chips. The MS filter has been cloned many times, in particular in a wonderful filter box called Frostwave Resonator with many CV controls.
EXTERNAL PROCESS another interesting VCF feature is that signal inputs can be filtered through the double filter in a dedicated section called "ESP External Signal Processor" complete with an Envelope Follower function (same featured in the Ms-03) and a pitch-to voltage tracker- generator.
ENVELOPE two in total: EG1 has 3 stages ADSR Attack-Delay-Release while EG2 has 5 stages ADSHR Attack-Decay-Sustain-Hold (keeps Sustain before Release segment)-Release.
ADSHR is also default EG for VCA (both OSC) Amplitude, but you can also patch VCA initial gain with apposite CV patch and EG2 that define also Envelope for both VCF Cutoff. LFO a single modulator called "MG" with progressive variable waveform from rectangular to triangular (LFO outputs 2 CV with separate LFO triangle and rectangular at same frequency) or use an external one with TOTAL IN CV. ->REMEMBER<- to activate MG T/EXT NOT EG/EXT.
SAMPLE and HOLD section for some random or stepped modulations and you have to patch it for yourself: usually white noise IN (better pink) and do not forget S/H clock frequency or it will not work (LFO Square clock CV out usually does the job).
LFO modulates at the same time: VCF LP CUTOFF- VCF HP CUTOFF -VCO1 VCO2 pitch with internal frequency.
MEMORY none, but in the manual there area lot of useful patches suggestions like "create you oboe" or Mariachi guitar ... instead grab the blank patch (on the right column) print it and you are on the road for brand new sounds creations.
RELATED MS20 FAMILY :
MS-10: the little brother: Just one single VCO, but still sounds good and it has some extra gimmicks like the PWM CV IN not featured on Ms20.
MS-50: basically a Ms10 with totally open structure with a LOT of patching routing Input/output. Quite hard to find, maybe the rarest of the bunch after the blackboard.
SQ-10: dedicated MS sequencer, 12 steps, really on the fly pots.
VC-10: a vocoder with some CV interaction with MS family. Sounds like a big juicy frog!
MINI Ms-20 : a remake from 2013, did not tried it yet. Buzz indicates it seems to be vastely inferior to original model.
SPECIAL MS-20 BLACKBOARD EDITION: a special huge Ms20 version for synthesis learning purposes, it is almost impossible find (it seems to be around 40 produced) but it has the same specs.
Only worth only if you are a rich collector because it is pretty awkward to use.
if you have some cool recordings, consider sharing them. Thanks