NAMM 2015: Korg MS-20M Kit synth, SQ-1 step sequencer hands-on and video

NAMM 2015: First came the MS-20 mini, then we got the MS-20 Kit, and now Korg has taken the wraps off the MS-20M Kit, an enhanced module version of the synth that you build yourself. This will ship in a bundle with the new SQ-1 step sequencer.

More than just a desktop-friendly version of the MS-20 Kit, the new module comes with various synthesis and connectivity enhancements. For example, there are now oscillator sync, FM and PWM options - along with two filters (pre and post) - and CV IN that supports both Hz/V and V/Oct.

Key features and our initial thoughts are below, and you can find out more on the Korg website. The MS-20M Kit and SQ-1 step sequencer bundle will be shipping in February priced at around £1030.

Hands-on impressions

We spent over 20 minutes tweaking the pair in combination, coaxing out squelchy synth plucks and resonant, warping sequences. One hand on the sequencer and the other on the synth gives control over a wide range of performance parameters: sweeping the MS20M's pair of low and high-pass filters while adjusting note lengths on the SQ-1 gave interest and movement to a basic pattern, which extended even further when we opened EG2 at certain points.

A few adjustments of the sequencer can take a simple riff in entirely new directions. Reordering the sequence playback and each note's semitone value instantly creates new melodic ideas - we were pulled back into a new bleepy sequence on several occasions, much to the dismay of the growing queue behind us. A description of the synth-and-sequencer duo in one word? Addictive.

Korg MS-20M Kit features

Significantly powered-up synthesis

  • SYNC ON/OFF switch allows oscillator sync
  • FM ON/OFF switch allows frequency modulation
  • FILTER TYPE switch selects two filter types
  • PWM IN jack allows pulse width modulation
  • EG2 NORMAL OUT expands your sonic possibilities
  • TRIG SW button is a convenient way to audition the sound

Plentiful connectors to control the sound from various devices

  • Supports all CV/GATE specifications: Hz/V and V/Oct, S-Trig and V-Trig
  • Three JUNCTION jacks
  • MIDI IN connector and USB MIDI connector

MS-20M Kit Main Specifications

  • Connectors: Signal IN jack (1/4" phone jack), Signal OUT jack (1/4" phone jack, 2Vp-p output impedance 3.5kΩ), PHONES jack (1/4" Stereo phone jack, 33Ω 48mW), DC12V jack, MIDI IN, USB type B
  • Power Supply: DC12V
  • Dimensions: 587 mm (W) x 211 mm (D) x 104 mm (H) /23.11" (W) x 8.31" (D) x 4.09" (H)
  • Weight: 4 kg / 8.82 lbs.
  • Included Items: Ten ø6.3 mm patch cables, three ø3.5 mm, patch cables, AC adapter (12V)
Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.