First of all, it only kind of sounds like an actual MS-20... but that isn't a problem, in my view. It's great on its own, in particular as an FX unit. I use the LPF as a wah effect on my guitar -- awesome, one of the best software wahs around. The filters in general are great, very good (if not actually spot-on) digital renditions of the old MS-20 filter sound. Love this plugin, but yeah, if you're looking for the authentic MS-20 sound, you may be a bit disappointed; appreciate it on its own merits, and it's a winner. (Edit: should also mention -- AWESOME, I mean truly, for bass sounds, especially if you follow them with a good tube saturation sim, Ferric TDS comes to mind among the free ones!)
I bought MS20 because I was looking for a simple, cheap plug-in. Something with a lot of character to broaden my sonic palette. I found it!
User Interface Korg's MS20 is looking great. It's much like the original, so it's pretty easy to get around. Features that weren't on the original are inplemented tastefully, I think. Readability could have been better, especially in the patchpanel, but the biggest drawback of the UI is the fact you have to scroll around the interface.
Sound I don't know how close it sounds to the original, but I have to say I really like it. It has a very distinct, gritty character. It sounds "real".
Features I do not like the "one synth fits all" idea. To many developers cramp too much functionality in a single plug-in, IMHO. I like to pick a simple plug-in that fits the character I want and then create a patch from scratch. The MS20 is great for this.
Documentation The documentation is good. But I could not find a demo online, and I had some trouble with the registration.
Presets There are enough to demonstrate what this thing can do. But I like, and it's easy, to create my own.
Customer Support I did not contact customer support. There is e-mail support and an online FAQ. I hope I won't need it.
Value For Money I picked this up for $50, -. I think that is good value for money. I'd prefer developers to create more simple, cheap synths that sounds as good as this.
Stability I did not experience any crashes. I used it mainly as a VST in Ableton Live 8.
The MS20... how to write a review on this beast....
Well, for starters lets concentrate on the things it doesn't do. Arpeggiator, built in effects, it only has two oscillators, the envelopes are fairly limited and the *on-screen* gui is a pain to work with because korg seemed to think that we would all enjoy scrolling around a window instead of seeing all the controls in the same view...
However. What it does do in its most basic form, is bridge the gap between musical instrument and software. The fact that the MS20IC is a stricly one knob per control affair means that you have total hands on interactivity - something I don't think any other VSTi does. A lot of people have gone through it with spectrum analysers and so forth and done the "well its okay but there's this peak at 22.134Khz that the original does.." - which clearly indicates that these people need to get out more. I've never played the 'real' thing, but as far as i'm concerned this might as well be it. Hell it's the closest I'll get to an MS20 without risking ebay...
GUI, despite the annoyances from the screen version, has to get full marks for the MS20IC.
So how does it sound? Great - really good for basslines, odd weird effects and the filters are superb for running external noises through. I was playing around and before I could say 'homework' I was playing that riff from Da Funk... easily done. The band-pass trick with the High/Low filters is unusual and nice to play with, and the thing distorts to a resonant squeal with ease.
Features are dependent on what you're looking for. It's not Z3ta+ or Absynth, that's for sure, but if you want analogue leads, basslines and effects, look no further. Drop in a few effects from your chosen host for more silliness...
Korg do ship the original MS20 manual with it - can't get better than poorly translated chinese for authenticity - and the patching guide is a good introduction to using the patchbay. It does call for experimentation: which is probably the best way to get the most out of this synth.
Decent number of presets, but again the best thing to do is initialise the instrument from the controller and just play with it - the number of hours spent wondering "what happens if I plug a patch lead from there to there?" are far more fruitful than copying presets.
Customer support is good provided you look on the forums. I had a weird issue when I first got it, wherby the controller wasn't picked up as a midi device. Turned out that I had 10 midi devices installed since my old Edirol UA20 had been installed twice, and neither had been uninstalled since changing to my Firepod: Korg even provided a utility to ditch redundant midi devices so thumbs up to them.
VFM - this is the killer and will probably annoy a lot. I bought this in the UK from Absolute Music online for the grand total of 150GBP for the whole of the legacy collection including the MS20ic. That works out at 50GBP for the MS20+MS20ic - this thing is an absolute (npi) bargain!!
Stability is good so far. I'm about to move to a new DAW so we'll see how things go...
This is the best sounding analog emulation available at the moment. Korg have really outdone themselves with the sound. It has a beautiful organic liquid smoothness even at it's grittiest and most ugly. I was skeptical of the hardware controller at first but it really does give the MS-20 a hands-on tactile feel that software alone can't match. It's not the most sonically versatile synth ever, but it does great basses & leads and simpler pads beautifully.
The software UI alone can be frustrating, with two views, one of which is way too small and one of which is so big that it requires a lot of unnecessary scrolling. This isn't such a big deal really, since you'll generally be using the controller to program it. CPU usage can be on the high side, but it's easily worth it for the sound quality.
It doesn't come with many presets, but it's easy enough to program that you'll be making your own right away. I hope Korg applies their analog modeling technology to a more flexible and versatile synth next time around but right now this is my go-to instrument.
I gave this VSTi a 10 for interface because a 84% scale replica of the MS-20 comes with the package! Whats better than a "real" knob per function??? The controller is VERY responsive. It feels like a real analog synth. And yes, the patch cables actually work when using the modular section. Not to forget that it's made of mainly metal, so it's sturdy (heavier than I thought).
When I first saw the Korg Legacy bundle, I thought that the controller was a gimmic to make up for an average sounding vitage VSTi. I'm happy to report that it sounds very VERY analog! It is something to be heard. The filters are very thick sounding. You can't hear any MIDI steping as you sweep the filter freq knob. The result is smooth and round. The resonence is very aggressive at hi settings (not abrasive though) and warm at lower settings. I have not compaired the VSTi to the real thing (yet), but as is, the synth sounds amazing. They also give you the option to make it polyphonic as well as mono. The patches are endless.
As for features, a controller with a working patchbay and a knob per function... nuff said.
The manual is pretty thick but I was surprised to find that there wasn't any info about the patchbay section of the synth. In the manual it said to look on the cd-rom for more info, but none was found. I have experience with modular synthisis so it didn't take me long to get aroud it. But for a beginner it would be quite difficult.
The presets supplied are pretty good, but not many to go through. Mainly basslines and TB303 type sounds for electronic writers. I create more ambient sounds and pads for rock and pop music, so the presets wern't for me. It's hard to make this synth sound bad so I guess it's not a big deal.
I emailed support a question and they replied quickly. I'll give them a 10 for support :)
3 classic Korg synths and a dedicated MS-20 replica midi controller for 499USD!! I'd say that's a good deal.
Finally, stability. I've been tweeking all day and night for a week now. I use Protools 6.1.1 LE using the FXpansion VST to RTAS adapter version 1.03. For some reason the Legacy Cell plugin won't wrap properly and crashes the FXpansion wrapper. So I read that if you delete the Legacy Cell dll's from the vst folder, the MS-20 and the other synths wrap without a glitch. Sure enough they where right. No crashes and the controller works perfect as well with Protools.
I also have the Moog Modular V and have owned a Nord Modular. IMO the Korg takes the cake. I find the Moog Modular sounds ok, but a bit soft sounding. The nord is great, but it has it's own sound. The bottom line is that the MS-20 is the most realistic "virtual" analog synth I have ever used. You can acheve 1000's of sounds from mellow to hard lead sounds.
I love the ms20, but this VST version has been ignored for a LONG time. Since this was released, the ms20 mini, korg gadget, ims-20 and now the ms20 FS have all been released, and the GUI on the VST is ridiculously small on a 40" screen, and I STILL have to use a scrollbar to see the other side of the GUI, in 2020 !!!