Sunday 5 January 2020

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

This is just two Korg MS-20 filters behind one panel with switches to go between using them as individual filters or switching them in series.  This is one of my early projects so the implementation is a bit clumsy with how I use the switches etc. but I'm keeping the article up for archival reasons plus this dual configuration actually sounds pretty awesome. But I wouldn't be surprised if you found a better way to make a dual MS20 VCF than this one. 

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 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. It's not a big difference though.

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. By all means try and think of a better way to do this. This was one of my early projects so not everything is perfect. I still get confused by these switches when I use this module after 1,5 years of using it LOL
It would be better to use one double pole switch and connect the output of filter 1 to the wiper of one pole and the input socket of filter 2 the wiper of the second pole. With the switch set to the left the output of filter 1 goes to the output socket 1 and the input of filter 2 goes into filter 2. Set to the right the output from filter 1 goes into the input of filter 2 and the input socket of filter 2 is left disconnected.

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:

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  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.

  2. Any chance of a full schematic, for one filter?

    I'm a bit confused by the diagram of how the LM13600 is meant to fit into the original CA3080 based diagram. I bought two LM13600, but now I realize I don't really understand how the circuit is supposed to be.

    1. Hi Andy. It can be a bit confusing yes. The LM13600 and LM13700 are IC's that contain two CA3080's inside them plus two buffers. So the chip is a lot longer than the original DIP-8 package of the CA3080. You can see the pinout of the LM13600 and 13700 in the first Korg MS20 article I wrote. It's just a matter of matching the inside circuitry of the LM chip with that of the CA chip, because they are basically the same. Check out the datasheet for both the chips and see how the insides are the same and compare the in and outputs etc with eachother. You'll see that the LM chips are just two CA chips in one package. I hope this answered your question.


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