KORG MS20M + SQ1: Vegetarian.


I should explain that I purged myself of three Korg MS20s, a MS50 and a SQ10 about 25 years ago, for their crippling effect on my creativity. That was a good and necessary thing because all musical problems were being solved the same way (Bradbury and I called this style Gronk and Shag). This guy is a distillation of that old zoo, it has a bit of MS-50 and SQ-10 in the mix, and is sufficiently compact that I can throw a towel over it when starts to leer at me. It’s just a big fancy Volca anyway (very big – is it longer than it once was?)


The MS20M kit is an MS20, and no real surprise to someone that lived and breathed them for years on end. Everything does what it always did, which is the point really. I tried the Type 1 filter that they put on the Mini MS20. Ouch, it’s not good at all, sorry Mini owners that’s nasty. The oscillator synch and frequency modulation features are decent, but Korg did it better in the MS2000, which really is just as nice a machine. The MS2000 just can’t make that Om sound, you know, the MS20 bandpass Om. That’s its secret.


I would like to say that tightening 1000 nuts in no way made me feel like I was involved in making this damn thing any more than building an IKEA bookshelf makes me into a carpenter. I’m standing at my desk tightening nut number 5 million or something, bored out of my fucking mind when I realise that at my hourly pay rate I was getting ripped off. You also would need half as much plastic bags and slices of tree so this kit thing is not for me.


Let’s look at the SQ-1. In some ways it’s better than my old SQ-10, in that it can dial up musical notes without needing a slide rule, although you’ll soon be reminded that this is the worst possible way to make musical notes. Hell, given the tiny number of notes you can twist into it, it’s really just an arpeggiator, and even my Juno can get that happening faster without nearly as much tedium. You are going to use this for special effects, and then you notice it has only has 2 channels of 8 notes, where the SQ-10 had three of 16. So buy another one, or just use the real sequencer in your computer.


Honestly, I don’t see any advantage in analogue sequencers. They were all we had, then we improved on them. I am glad they put this in the box for the one reason that it talks to the Volcas and the MS20M at the same time.


Oh and another thing, if you power the SQ-1 via the USB connection by a computer and then connect it to the MS20M, it causes a whine. The USB doesn’t actually do anything (at least for now) so just use a USB wall wart.


To revisit my old teasing about the MiniNova versus the Korg – nothing has changed. The MiniNova is still leaps and bounds ahead of the MS20 in so many ways, and I pray that young musicians get a hold of the Nova instead. Make it a new fetish.


I’m not doing the software versus hardware thing because I use the MS software differently anyway. This guy is destined only for irretrievable bonk. Those moments where you would like to move it around a little as the music is recorded. The software is for big poly oomph. They are different in purpose and the main differences in sound are evidenced by that.








It was either this or a red car and I think I chose wisely.