Cherry Audio PS-20

PRESS RELEASE — Oakhurst, California — Cherry Audio is proud to announce the release of PS-20, an ultra-realistic, polyphonic, hot-rodded tribute to Korg’s renowned MS-20 synthesizer.

A Unique Alternative

Intended as an affordable alternative to American mono synthesizers such as the Moog Minimoog and the ARP Odyssey, the original Korg MS-20 was released in 1978, selling for less than half the price of a Minimoog. With that in mind, it’s full of design choices that are sometimes innovative, sometimes maybe dumb, and sometimes just plain off the wall. It’s important to remember that in the 70s, typical analog synth features weren’t yet completely established, so synth design was still in a sort of Wild West, or in this case, “Wild East” era.

All About Those Filters

Perhaps the most notable MS-20 feature is its grindy dual filters. In an era where the gold standard was the fat and velvety Moog ladder filter, the MS filters’ easy-to-distort, screamy resonance couldn’t have been more different. But their signature sound was the unintentional byproduct of a penny-pinching, as-few-components-as-possible design – the similarly crude low-parts-count VCA also contributed to their overdriven sound. The MS-20 wasn’t hugely popular in its day, owing to an overall smaller synth market (Japanese instruments didn’t really take off until the 80s), but as the years went on, people discovered the joys of this unique little monster, along with its baby sibling, the simplified MS-10. The MS-20 really hit its stride in the 90s when William Orbit used one all over Madonna’s “Ray Of Light” record, and people began to scoop them up. Eventually the demand became large enough that Korg reissued the MS-20, first in a miniaturized version, and eventually with full-size editions.

Modularity For The Masses

Beside its unique filters, the MS-20’s other famous feature is a modular-style patch panel, rarely seen in low-priced synths (well, at least in 1978). For most users, it’s something of a mixed blessing, because it appears to add full modular-synth flexibility, but unfortunately lacks a fair amount of connectivity you’d want, such as a separate oscillator outputs and modulation inputs. Overall, its implementation can be pretty confusing, even to seasoned synthesists. At a glance, the Cherry Audio PS-20 patch panel appears very similar, but in actuality, we’ve reconfigured the patch panel considerably, adding desired ins and outs for all oscillators, filters, and VCAs, correcting the confusing terminology of the original, and throwing in a few extras to make it more fun and usable.

A Supercharged Hot Rod

We’ve souped up the rest of the instrument with killer extras – most importantly, transforming the original mono instrument into a 16-note polyphonic beast. We’ve also added a unique three-layer, eight-step sequencer with flexible CV outs, enabling control of any patch panel parameter. Rounding things out are integrated effects including a beastly distortion, modulation echo with stereo spread, and a lush digital reverb with fantastic spring and plate emulations. We finished PS-20 off with comprehensive MPE support, and packed it full with more than 320 mind-blowing presets.

As a result, the PS-20 truly is one of the most unique instruments we’ve released. Between its sometimes unpredictable filter behavior, and the tremendous flexibility of its patch panel and sequencer, the creative possibilities are endless. Throughout its development cycle, even us jaded, lifelong synth nerds kept stumbling on crazy, “how the heck did I do that?!?,” sound programming surprises.

Affordable For Everyone!

Cherry Audio’s PS-20 Synthesizer is available now for $49, with a “bonkers low” intro price of $29. It requires macOS 10.9 or later and an AU, VST, or AAX plugin host. PS-20 can also run as a stand-alone app, and it is M1 processor compatible via Rosetta 2. Owners of PS-20 receive 20% off of Cherry Audio’s newly updated MS Vintage Bundle mkII for Voltage Modular – now including the new EG-20 and Poly EG-20 Envelope Generator modules! Already own the MS Vintage Bundle? You’ll receive 20% off of PS-20!