Sunday, 5 January 2020

Synthesizer Build part-15: DUAL KORG MS-20 HP/LP FILTER.

Now here's a DIY project that will instantly make your synthesizer sound amazing! Two awesome Korg MS-20 filters in one module.

     I wasn't too pleased with the performance of the Prophet 5 lowpass filter so I decided to remove it and put a new filter in its place. I've seen lots of videos about the Korg MS-20 and really like the sound of it. I noticed that synthesizer has two nearly identical filters next to eachother; the highpass- and the lowpass-filter, so I wanted to emulate that in my own synth. So I set out to build two of the 'Late MS-20 filters' by Rene Schmitz, and fit them behind a single panel that was the size of the old Prophet 5 filter that I took out. It was a tight fit to put all the knobs and switches on but it worked out beautifully in the end.
The schematics and layout I used are just the same as the ones I used in article 12 of this blog, so if you want to build your own dual filter arrangement you can go to the Korg MS20 filter page and build TWO of those. Build both filters with the HP/LP switch but do not include the bandpass switch. You build two MS-20 HP/LP filters and put them behind one panel. Then, as extra, you add switches to the inputs so you're able to put them in series or use them independently of eachother. The wiring diagram for those switches is further down the article.

Here's a picture of what that looks like. You can see I have filter one on the left side and filter two on the right. Each has its own Cut-Off Frequency and Resonance controls and each has audio and CV-in level controls and each has it's own Highpass/Lowpass switch. Beneath those switches you see two more switches which enable me to switch both filters in series without using patch cables to connect them to eachother.:

The wiring of these two stripboards was a bit of a nightmare but I got it done in the end. I made some initial mistakes and had to re-wire some potmeters so that's why the wires look like such a mess. Luckily it doesn't affect the working of the filter.

In the first filter I used the LM13600 chip and in the second the LM13700 chip. And having them side by side is a good opportunity to compare them and the LM13600 is definitely a bit tamer than the 13700. So if you have both chips in stock you can decide whether you want your filters to sound aggressive or a bit less aggressive.

You can see in the pictures above that it's a tight fit but I did managed to include two volume or level potmeters for the audio inputs, which are not included in the original build but are very useful to have. I'm going to make sure that every filter I build in the future has input level control.
Beneath the HP/LP switches are the two switches that give you the option of using these filters as two stand-alone filters, so not internally connected, or if you want to put them in series so the output of filter 1 goes into the input of filter 2.
One other weird option would be to switch the output of filter 1 to the output jack but leave the input switch for filter 2 as is so filter 2 has no input. Because these filters are self-oscillating you can now use filter 2 as an oscillator. Put the output into the 4 channel mixer described in article 17 and put the resulting wave through filter 1 or wherever you like. Connect a 1V/Oct voltage to the CV input. Just an idea, but you see there are endless possibilities. That is the beauty of modular synthesizers. :)
However, it would be better to use a single DPDT switch here and use it just to switch between two filters in series or both separate. That makes it easier to switch but that way you can not use one of the filters as stand-alone oscillator, but you won't use that function much anyway I'll bet.

Here is the wiring diagram for those two switches:

Finally I want to show you a little video I made which demonstrates the sound of these two filters in series with eachother. I filmed this just after I had finished the build and I was still figuring out what the filter could do but it shows the added benefit of having two of these in series. It can do really deep and full sounding bass tones and it can also scream and distort and sound really weird. I am glad I fitted these and they are certainly a big improvement over the Prophet 5 filter although I will use the AS3320 chip inside it for a future build.
Plus all those knobs and switches so close to eachother look really cool I think ^_____^

Here's a look at the different sounds this filter can produce. (The phaser effects come from the special effects unit and not from this filter):

Okay, that's it for this one. If you enjoyed this article please check out the rest of my synth build and leave me a comment if you have any questions, or even to just say hi. Please also subscribe to my YouTube channel. That would be a great help. THANK YOU!!

Other websites that deal with the DUAL MS-20 configuration:


  1. did you make a layout diagram for this one? Was just about to print the single MS20 filter when I noticed a double.

    1. No, you just build two of the single Korg MS-20 filters and put them behind one panel. This article just describes how you can connect them together.