Choosing between the MS-20 mini and KARP Odyssey *module*

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Choosing between the MS-20 mini and KARP Odyssey *module*

Postby Valdez » Wed May 31, 2017 9:41 pm

I would like to buy one of these two synths. I'm looking for lush-sounding '70s leads but also pads ie ambient (I am aware a monosynth is not ideal for that purpose).

At the moment, I'm leaning towards the MS-20 mini. It's cheaper and actually has a keyboard, so it would feel more like a self-contained instrument. It has a high-pass as well as a low-pass filter [EDIT: so does the Odyssey!]. Finally, I generally like the look of it - particularly the patch bay - and I've heard some really nice sounds on YouTube.

On the other hand, I've read a few threads already about these two, and it seems people would rate the ARP slightly better for the purposes I've outlined. Moreover, I really love the kind of sounds Joe Zawinul produced with his ARP 2600 - I am guessing that the Odyssey would be closer to that.

I know this kind of thing has probably come up a few times, but would anyone be so kind as to explain the differences between the two on these points?
Last edited by Valdez on Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Choosing between the MS-20 mini and KARP Odyssey *module

Postby commodorejohn » Wed May 31, 2017 11:17 pm

Well, as you've already noted, a monosynth isn't a super ideal pad machine, but you can do surprisingly well with multitracking (which, while it's labor-intensive, does give a nice organic quality to the result due to minor drift over the course of recording each pass. I got a big polysynth chord sound on this track that I've never quite equalled on my actual polys.) And while the Kodyssey is definitely excellent, I'm of the opinion that the MS-20 is often underrated - it's quite versatile and can do quite a number of different things well.

However: it's worth noting that it also has a very characteristic, recognizable quality to its sound and it's difficult to get rid of that. Which is part of its charm, but which does mean that it's not quite as good at subbing for some other synth at some kinds of sounds. In particular, "lush-sounding '70s leads" is not really its strong suit. That said, if I were going to pick only one of the two, it'd be the MS-20 just for the sheer number of roles it can fill.
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Re: Choosing between the MS-20 mini and KARP Odyssey *module

Postby V301H » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:19 am

Though not a resonant HP filter the Odyssey does have a HP filter following the LP filter which is a feature Roland adopted on some of their Synths. This HP filter acts somewhat like an EQ which can roll off low end and thin the overall sound so it sits well in a mix. I prefer the Odyssey's Ring Mod over the MS20's and almost any other Synth I've ever played as it sounds great and seems to have a wider range of control. The Odyssey's Sample & Hold is far superior to the MS20's Track & Hold and it has Lag which is a great for simulating random bird chirps and other effects. Pink or White Noise is available without tying up an Oscillator as on the MS20. The Odyssey has Pulse-width Modulation available on both Oscillators which adds lushness and motion to Square waves which is useful for pad sounds. It also has Oscillator Sync useful for sweeping vocal-like effects. These last two features are included on the MS20M module though the PWM is limited to VCO 1.

The MS20 has some good points and some not-so-common features. It really shines for processing external sounds such as Voice, Guitar, Keyboards, etc. which the Odyssey doesn't do. The MS20 is excellent for interfacing with other gear through it's patchbay. It has Hold and Delay functions on the Envelope Generators which may be useful for certain effects. It has a continuously variable LFO waveshape where most Synths have selectable fixed Triangle, Square, or Up/Down Saw.

Overall I personally favor the Odyssey. The sound is capable of more lushness than the MS20 which is more suitable for pads. Try programming a String patch on the Odyssey and MS20 and see which one you like best. Also try to get the MS20 HP filter to work without turning up the Cutoff and Peak controls on the LP filter. I've tried this on mine and another one and it doesn't seem to work independently of the LP filter which limits it's usefulness.

Here are some patches for the MS20 if you have the opportunity to try before you buy:

http://www.korganalogue.net/korgms/manu ... musin.html

Odyssey Patches:

http://www.arpodyssey.com/oddypatch.html
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Re: Choosing between the MS-20 mini and KARP Odyssey *module

Postby meatballfulton » Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:19 pm

Another vote for Odyssey. It's a much more powerful machine. Hard sync, FM, PWM, duophonic, looping envelopes.

When used alone, the MS20 patch bay only lets you do stuff that the Odyssey does with switches. The patch bay only becomes more powerful if you start hooking up modular gear. The goofy ESP section and the HPF are the real reason to buy an MS20.
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Re: Choosing between the MS-20 mini and KARP Odyssey *module

Postby Valdez » Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:17 pm

Thanks for the comments everyone. Being still quite new to synthesis, it can be hard to intuitively understand the stuff you read about synths so having specific advice is very helpful. I am leaning towards the Odyssey now, but I will definitely look to try them both out (with those patches!) first.

PS: that is an impressive range of sounds john!
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Re: Choosing between the MS-20 mini and KARP Odyssey *module

Postby clubbedtodeath » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:20 pm

(Note: I own both an MS-20 and a KARP Odyssey with mini keyboard)

I agree with the comments above. The KARP's high pass filter is pretty much only good for EQ, for taking off some of the low end. The HPF on the MS20, on the other hand, is one of its strong suits. It's quite aggressive, and with resonance it can give you screaming bass lines. That and the patch bay are the main reasons I'll be keeping mine.

The KARP has some nice touches too. You can switch between three types of LPF, and there is individual control of PWM and FM on each oscillator, which can both be routed through the LFO. But what's best about it, is not only will it do passable funk basses, but happily drift off into IDM too. Very flexible.

Glad you're considering the module, too. The KARP mini keys - well, you'd better not be trying any extended solos with it. Not unless you have the hands of a preschooler.
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Re: Choosing between the MS-20 mini and KARP Odyssey *module

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Jun 05, 2017 12:12 am

Valdez wrote:PS: that is an impressive range of sounds john!

Thanks :)
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