The MS10 is a single oscillator, semi-modular synth developed in the 1970s. Initially designed to offer the basic fundamentals of synthesis (like replicating scary ghost sounds), the MS10 has become somewhat of a cult favorite among synth nerds due to its minimal but brash modulation and filter characteristics.
With a simple front end, the pleasure is instant. Users can easily recall classic patches: round bottom, sharp highs, creamy PWM, screaming leads, and percussion that packs a punch. Add a few patch cables and the synth easily lends itself to more advanced sonic sculpting and experimentation.
With one oscillator, one envelope, one filter, and pretty much one of everything, the MS-10 is straight forward to say the least. But its simplicity allows for a less obstructed signal path than its dual oscillator brother, resulting in more headroom. Sit them both side by side, cue up the same single oscillator on each, and we almost always prefer the MS-10. Its raw oscillator is huge and somehow slightly cleaner and less phasey than the 20.
Add a unique filter that (unlike so many others) doesn't starve you of low end when you turn it up, and you get fat, juicy low end with unbeatable presence:
In more empirical terms, the MS10 has PWM, which the MS20 lacks. It's creamy and organic but, with the right patch, can easily be pushed into more abrasive territory, morphing into what sounds like the mechanical workings of a deadly WWII war machine.
Our primary recording objective sampling the MS-10 was to make sure we captured all of the raw waveforms with minimal external processing. Using a REDDI and API 512 allowed us to leave most of the synth's natural sounds in tact while subtly exciting some of its duller frequencies that come with the territory of old, minimal synths. Kind of like how a little bit of citric zest can bring out the natural flavors of fish in a light ceviche.
Once we'd captured the basics, we got as creative as possible with the synth's modulation section. Since the synthesis isn't nearly as in depth as on the MS-20, we farmed out some modulation help from our Eurorack modular system to help us get as weird, wild and far out as possible. At one point, we multiplied the CV out of the MS10 into an external LFO's CV input and envelope rate, then sent those signals back into the synth's PWM and filter inputs, giving every sampled note unique modulation.
Finally, we ran the MS-10 through its paces of punch and percussion, which it is awesome at due to snappy envelopes, spitty white noise, and self-oscillating resonance (allowing for agressive pitch envelope modulation). We kept the external effects to a minimum (we love this guy just for who he is) but being that we're heavy dub heads, we ran some blips and bleeps through the RE-201 Space Echo. The results: Tubby dub shots, syn-toms, and spring reverb hits Prince Jammy could get down with.
Although it's the smallest of the famous MS series, the MS10 is not redundant in the slightest, instead offering up its own brand of PWM and huge, single oscillator patches not found on the MS-20. And although the modulation is far less extensive than the MS-20's, we were able to dial in some seriously wild FX with our external Eurorack setup.
So, it seems the MS-10 and MS-20 can both do things the other cant, and this is one of those situations where, for better or worse, you'd be happiest with both of them sitting in the same room together. And truthfully, connecting them both together is where the true magic happens (Stay Tuned!).