Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthesis?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
bluntedcircuit
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:34 am
Real name: diaz
Gear: machinedrum, mpc1000, blofeld, maschine, kp3, esq1, ms20, ableton
Location: chicago
Contact:

Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthesis?

Post by bluntedcircuit » Sat Apr 05, 2014 9:31 pm

I'm getting a ms20 on Tuesday either way but in the future if I wanted to get a cabinet and start getting modules, will it be fairly headache free? This will be my first foray into hardware modular, I'm assuming if I wanted to add oscillators for example keyboard tracking would be pretty simple

User avatar
Rezisehtnys
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 211
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:32 am
Real name: Casey
Gear: Ensoniq VFX
KORG Monotron
KORG Triton
Peavey Fury 1992
Peavey KB-300
Peavey Milestone 1984
Roland JX-8P
Waldorf Micro Q
Yamaha KX5
Yamaha SY77
Location: Springville, AL

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by Rezisehtnys » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:17 pm

Well, you have the hertz per volt and volts per octave problem to deal with. I'm not sure about the Mini, but the original was hertz per volt only. Most manufacturers use volts per octave, so that'll cause some issues. Pretty much only Yamaha and KORG used hertz per volt.

User avatar
GuyaGuy
VSE Review Contributor
VSE Review Contributor
Posts: 1547
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:10 am
Gear: YES PLEASE!
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by GuyaGuy » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:27 pm


commodorejohn
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1562
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:39 am
Real name: John
Gear: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, Oberheim SEM
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by commodorejohn » Sat Apr 05, 2014 10:40 pm

Rezisehtnys wrote:Well, you have the hertz per volt and volts per octave problem to deal with. I'm not sure about the Mini, but the original was hertz per volt only. Most manufacturers use volts per octave, so that'll cause some issues. Pretty much only Yamaha and KORG used hertz per volt.
Yes, the Mini is still Hz/V. Well, the main pitch CV is, anyway; the frequency and cutoff modulation inputs are V/oct., but not stably enough or with a broad enough range to make them useful as converters. (I understand this was the case on the original as well.)
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73

bluntedcircuit
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:34 am
Real name: diaz
Gear: machinedrum, mpc1000, blofeld, maschine, kp3, esq1, ms20, ableton
Location: chicago
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by bluntedcircuit » Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:21 pm

Awesome, so all I need if I want to supplement an ms20 with extra modules is an English tear module and good to go nuts :D
Tuesday can't get here fast enough

User avatar
meatballfulton
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5739
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:29 pm
Gear: Live 9, Logic Pro X

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by meatballfulton » Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:25 pm

Even overlooking the Hz/V tracking, the MS20 is a rather weak entry into modular because the VCO-VCF-VCA path cannot be patched...it's fixed.

The whole design is weird, where most synths have switches to change the LFO waveshape, on the MS20 you have to patch it to switch from triangle to square. It's the same with noise, the control wheel and a bunch of other stuff. There's a few cool things the patch panel lets you do but it's not as "modular" as you might think.

BTW, the Arturia microBrute pulled this same trick with it's "patch panel"...it lets them save a couple of $$ on switches.

Now if you want to build up a small modular of VCOs, VCFs and VCAs and use the MS20's MIDI interface, keyboard, LFO and EGs to control them, OK that's certainly useful.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

bluntedcircuit
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:34 am
Real name: diaz
Gear: machinedrum, mpc1000, blofeld, maschine, kp3, esq1, ms20, ableton
Location: chicago
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by bluntedcircuit » Sun Apr 06, 2014 12:40 am

Well the idea is that for now I get an ms20 and maybe later get a step sequencer or some oscillators patched into the ms20s filter/eg. The main thing I had in mind for controlling the ms20 mini is one of the midi channels on my machinedrum, the keyboard would be used not too frequently.

It just occurred to me will the ms20 (with the converter) be able to convert the midi note input into a scalable voltage to control the pitch of external osc modules?
My only "experience" with modulars is uhe's ace vst so this is all pretty over my head

commodorejohn
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1562
Joined: Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:39 am
Real name: John
Gear: Roland JX-10/SH-09/MT-32/D-50, Yamaha DX7-II/V50/TX7/TG33/FB-01, Korg MS-20 Mini/ARP Odyssey/DW-8000/X5DR, Ensoniq SQ-80, Oberheim SEM
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by commodorejohn » Sun Apr 06, 2014 12:58 am

bluntedcircuit wrote:It just occurred to me will the ms20 (with the converter) be able to convert the midi note input into a scalable voltage to control the pitch of external osc modules?
My only "experience" with modulars is uhe's ace vst so this is all pretty over my head
The MS-20 Mini does serve as a MIDI-to-CV converter, yes (the Keyboard CV patch point reflects whatever note is actually being played, whether it's over MIDI or on the keys.) So yes, that'll give you a Hz/V representation of MIDI notes, which can then be run through a converter to generate a V/oct. signal for non-Hz/V gear.
Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73

bluntedcircuit
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:34 am
Real name: diaz
Gear: machinedrum, mpc1000, blofeld, maschine, kp3, esq1, ms20, ableton
Location: chicago
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by bluntedcircuit » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:39 am

Awesome I'm so excited to pick this up on Tuesday

User avatar
JayEm
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 240
Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:41 am
Real name: Jonathan
Gear: KorgPoly800 Monotron MonotronDuo MonotronDelay Monotribe VolcaBass MS20Mini MS2000 MFB522 Arturia Minibrute Yamaha CS-15D Tama TechstarTS305
Band: datapark / KNUCKLEFACE / JayEm
Location: London, ON
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by JayEm » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:28 pm

commodorejohn wrote:
bluntedcircuit wrote:It just occurred to me will the ms20 (with the converter) be able to convert the midi note input into a scalable voltage to control the pitch of external osc modules?
My only "experience" with modulars is uhe's ace vst so this is all pretty over my head
The MS-20 Mini does serve as a MIDI-to-CV converter, yes (the Keyboard CV patch point reflects whatever note is actually being played, whether it's over MIDI or on the keys.) So yes, that'll give you a Hz/V representation of MIDI notes, which can then be run through a converter to generate a V/oct. signal for non-Hz/V gear.

edit : im an idiot. so much wasted time!
w00t

User avatar
Jabberwalky
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2134
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 6:03 pm
Gear: A hybrid of vintage and modern junk
Band: Variar
Location: Pgh, PA
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by Jabberwalky » Sun Apr 06, 2014 7:04 pm

I started by building the Paia 9700s. I haven't bought any more modules since, so it's the best possible way to go about it.

User avatar
meatballfulton
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5739
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:29 pm
Gear: Live 9, Logic Pro X

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by meatballfulton » Sun Apr 06, 2014 9:32 pm

The 9700s is tons of fun. First modular I ever owned, had four at various times over the years. It's as quirky as the MS20 for sure and lots of interesting features like loopable EGs and twin multimode filters that are full of "character".

Seems like every time I get another 9700s up and running something cooler comes into view and I sell it to raise cash (the latest one was sacrificed to finance a Moog Voyager).
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

sammy123
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 47
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:39 pm
Gear: Sk50D, MS2kr, DarkStar, Shruthi (3), Anushri, Meeblip, Ambika, 12U Eurorack, PreenFM, Poly61, DSS-1, DW-8k, Kawai K-3, ESQ-1, Maybe a Polaris soon...

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by sammy123 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 8:15 pm

As awesome as the MS-20 is, I don't think it is a good starting point for modular. I would say the Microbrute is the better option. It is much cheaper and easier to integrate in to a Eurorack system. I had the MS-20 and currently have the Microbrute. The Minibrute is an option to.

bluntedcircuit
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 83
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:34 am
Real name: diaz
Gear: machinedrum, mpc1000, blofeld, maschine, kp3, esq1, ms20, ableton
Location: chicago
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by bluntedcircuit » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:57 am

I've been eying the brutes too for a bit, how do you think they're a better choice?

phesago
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1097
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:56 pm
Real name: Douglas
Gear: tech nine, bag of coke, an erection and a hostage
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Is the ms20 mini a good entry point into modular synthes

Post by phesago » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:33 am

better options for getting into modular on the cheapsies:


Nord MOdular g1. Is wonky with newer windows and mac due to the editor, but it's all there in one package if you dont mind having a dedicated box/laptop with an older OS.


Software. not the best idea if you hate software, but it's def the least complicated.


A4/MnM- solid with great routing capacity. Not 100% modular, but the variety of options it offers will be close enough to it. Then there's the whole price tag.

Post Reply