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MS-20 Mini vs Waldorf Pulse 2

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:18 am
by SInvictus
I've been researching analog synths and believe I have narrowed down my choices to the MS-20 Mini and the Waldorf Pulse 2. Whatever I purchase will be my only synth for a long time, so I need one that will fulfill all my synth needs. I'm mostly into post-punk/goth music, and while I'm not necessarily going to be using it for this type of music, it will be more in this direction rather than contemporary dance music. I'm fairly new to synths, but I've been running through the Syntorial learning software so I have some idea about how synths function and how their various features interact, and I've been playing with the digital MS-20 from Korg's Legacy Series. I certainly still have a lot to learn, though. The pros and cons, as much as I can figure, are as follows:

The MS-20 Mini has a classic synth look, sound, and feel. It's age and popularity will likely provide for lots of 3rd party documentation, support, and ideas. The knob-based interface seems superior for tinkering around with, although the Pulse 2's interface is said to be very intuitive, so they both might work well in this regard. The built-in keyboard means that I won't have to purchase a MIDI keyboard, which is one more expense on top of the already pricier Pulse 2. However, unlike the Pulse 2, it lacks polyphony/paraphony and lacks the ability to save patches. Also, the Pulse 2 has an arpeggiator, an extra oscillator, and although I don't know this, seems to be able to produce a wider range of sounds.

For the last few reasons, I've been leaning towards the Pulse 2. However, I am a bit nervous about the digital interface, as I once had a Microkorg and struggled with its interface and wound up getting rid of it. Although I was drawn to these two synths, I'm certainly open to other suggestions as well.


Re: MS-20 Mini vs Waldorf Pulse 2

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:54 pm
by madtheory
Will you be using this with a DAW? If so I wouldn't worry about polyphony. The MS20 is easier to get into because there's a dial/ switch for every function. The Pulse probably has a bigger sound in general, definitely more ballsy and aggressive. MS20 can do that do but not quite as readily, and I found it hard to get the sweet spot on the filter with the reduced sized dials. Both are about equally flexible- Pulse has extensive and well thought out mod matrix, MS20 appears to do more than it actually does because of the patch panel, which you end up using it a lot for basics.

Overall though it seems to me you would enjoy the UI on the Korg- I know I would. I'd be wary of using it as your main keyboard because it's small and has no MIDI controller functionality.

Re: MS-20 Mini vs Waldorf Pulse 2

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:42 pm
by meatballfulton
SInvictus wrote:I am a bit nervous about the digital interface, as I once had a Microkorg and struggled with its interface and wound up getting rid of it.
I'll be 100% honest, it's all personal perspective. I grew up using knobless synths. I totally understand why some people find knobby synths easier to use, I personally do not. Faster to edit, yes, but easier, no. The microKorg and Pulse2 do have knobs and clearly indicate what they control, I see them as no different than synths that have more knobs.

What most people really mean is they like looking at the knobs to see how everything is set. When recalling patches, the knobs are no longer representing the actual setting and that confuses some people.

My feeling is you either understand what you are programming or you do not. Twisting knobs let you stumble on to things by accident more easily, that's all.

Patch memory was a huge step forward because you could actually save the sounds you created for reuse later. People will tell you that they can write it down on paper or take photos of the front panel but think about it, which is the fastest way to get the sound back, selecting a patch from memory or resetting dozens of knobs working from a photo. Sometimes even a small tweak to a knob causes a massive change in the sound so you can almost never get the sound back perfectly without memory (some people think this is a good thing, you should decide for yourself).

I'll close by stating that the Pulse 2 has a much wider palette of sounds possible than the MS20. For goth music (as I understand it) that would make it a better choice.

== If you want knobs and keys and patch memory, look at the Novation Bass Station II. It's even cheaper than the MS20.

== Knobs and keys and memory and polyphony, look at the Dave Smith Mopho X4 (but more expensive)

== Knobs and keys and memory and polyphony and cheap but not true analog, look at the Roland SH-01 Gaia.

Re: MS-20 Mini vs Waldorf Pulse 2

Posted: Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:50 pm
by madtheory
O ya, that's a lot better, to suggest alternatives. Nicely put together, narrowing down the facilities like that! And defo the Pulse has a wider palette. The Novation is great to use.

Re: MS-20 Mini vs Waldorf Pulse 2

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:41 pm
by loungedumore
I have the MS 20 and love the sound , but it is one flavor in my tool box .
If your only going to have one I'd go for the Waldorf .
I've owned 90 percent of what waldorf has made over the years ... Their matrix is easy and gets intuitive pretty quick .
Anyway one synth only .... You get mono / paraphonic , a fantastic arp , cv gate out ( for later ! ) audio rate mods , filter fm , pwm , multi mode filter .... Pretty powerful synth with a lot of utility too . Has it's own sound , but I've heard some coaxing of camilian like sounds too .
IMHO that's the way I'd go if I could only have one ... Of course enough to me is X + 1 lol

Re: MS-20 Mini vs Waldorf Pulse 2

Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:10 pm
by Jabberwalky
I can't comment on the Pulse 2's sound, but just based on it's interface, I don't like it. The ms20 was a big deal for post-punk, goth, minimal wave, whatever music of the 80s. Check out Kas Product for instance. Meatball gave a really good run down, but like all of us, you may just have to buy some s**t (30-40 synths) before you find what you actually need and like.

Re: MS-20 Mini vs Waldorf Pulse 2

Posted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:43 am
by Ned Bouhalassa
The Pulse 2 ROCKS! Here's a little something from earlier today (all Pulse):