Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

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Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby CaveDweller » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:15 am

Howdy. New here. Lately I have become afflicted with an infatuation with the Matrix 1000 that is consuming me. Ever since selling my Juno 60 ( a few years ago) I have wanted to own "one more" analog synth. I simply do not have space for a full fledged keyboard (otherwise I would re-buy the Juno or some other model). This unit would nestle nicely among my other rack synths. I have heard some impressive demos (online) of the Matrix 1000. I realize that onboard editing is non-existant,...but apparently the presets are pretty good (and software editors are available). Is this rack worth what they are going for on eBay these days ($300-$500)?? The demos I have heard (of the 1000) that attract me are the pads and dark murkiness that the unit seems to be capable of. Any owners please feel free to advise. Cheers and Happy New Year.
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby Altitude » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:47 am

Couple things to know (I owned one for a while):

A) Forget about real time control over the parameters, there are a handful of CCs you can assign parameters to (3 or 4 IIRC) that allow for realtime control, but everything else is controlled by sysex and the M1000 processor does not like sysex, fast parameter sweeps will hang it up, even with a software programmer.

B) A large number of these have transformers that have aged and leak magnetic flux resulting in a brutal hum from the chassis. No fix that I have heard of works short of replacing the transformer which is not anything close to common

C) It is based on a CEM3396 "synth on a chip" IC. I would compare it sound wise to other similar synths (CEM3394 Based) like SCI Multitrak, sixtrak, MAX, etc. The modulation matrix is outstanding however and the 3396 is well ahead of its older VCO based brother tech wise. To me, it sounded like a 80s arcade machine and I really didnt care for it. IMHO, if you are looking for a 1u rack synth, something like a MKS-50 is about the same price, has much better features, and real time control..

D) if you go ahead and get one, make sure the controls all work. The control panel is connected to the main board with these 0.100" spaced stranded wire ribbon cable that has a ridiculous bend to it and those connections are prone to have problems. The one I had, 2 buttons were intermittent since the wire in the ribbon actually broke and would make contact intermittently. Its a pain in the ass to fix since you pretty much have to replace the whole ribbon cable
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby redchapterjubilee » Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:46 am

I've had one of these in my studio for the last seven years. I think they are a pretty inexpensive way to get great analog sounds. The problem, of course, is that you cannot edit them. I have read of people who have great success editing them with software and other devices, but never in real time. It's pretty much a preset box. You have to like those presets. Fortunately there are 800 of them in there, plus you can load another 200 in there via software (otherwise the first 200 of the 1000 are repeats). They are solid workhorses and give you that CEM sound. I realize it's the same chip as the SCI stuff but with two oscillators per voice and a ton of other modulations. It's pretty complex. If you could really edit that stuff in real time this synth would be worth easily 4x the $250-$300 they go for these days. There's not much else that's analog, polyphonic, rackmounted and in that price range. Roland's MKS-30 or 50 is about it, and it's rare to find those in that price range anymore.

They do hum when they are on. It's not as bad as the previous poster makes it out to be. It's more akin to the sound of a cathode tube TV when it's on. You can hear it in the studio, but the sound does not come across the audio outputs.

I'm selling one right now (plugola), mainly because I find that the DSI Tetra sounds strikingly a lot like the M-1000 but with less voices and full control. Otherwise I'd be hanging onto the M-1000, as I've used an M-1000 on virtually every recording I've made. It's the '80s in 1U rack space.
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby slippast » Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:48 am

Altitude wrote:Couple things to know (I owned one for a while):
B) A large number of these have transformers that have aged and leak magnetic flux resulting in a brutal hum from the chassis. No fix that I have heard of works short of replacing the transformer which is not anything close to common


Hmm, that's interesting and depressing. My Matrix 6r has recently started rebooting randomly and the noise coming out when it's working is pretty hissy. Could be the same problem?

That said I think it's a great sounding synth. Really bums me out that it's on the rocks. I should probably unload it before it goes south for good. :(

On topic, I love the sound but programming via a mouse really sucks. I get board of it rather quickly. And Altitude is right, if you send a bunch of parameters to the thing at one time it will lock up for 30 seconds with the screen going nuts changing parameters as quickly as the thing can. It usually catches up but can sometimes require a hard restart (power off/on).

In my mind it's one of those pieces of electronic equipment that's nearly end of life. I wouldn't buy another, even if it came out of the original box. Seems like they used cheap components...
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby themilford » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:08 pm

Get a Tetra instead.
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby Altitude » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:47 pm

slippast wrote:Hmm, that's interesting and depressing. My Matrix 6r has recently started rebooting randomly and the noise coming out when it's working is pretty hissy. Could be the same problem?

....


Hissy noise is usually an indication of failing opamps, transformers rarely completely fail so I would have someone look at the power supply in yours, caps going bad could cause what you are seeing. The noise in the M1000 is from the case itself, not on the outputs. It sounds like the humming of old overhead florescent lights..
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby slippast » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:42 pm

Altitude wrote:
slippast wrote:Hmm, that's interesting and depressing. My Matrix 6r has recently started rebooting randomly and the noise coming out when it's working is pretty hissy. Could be the same problem?

....


Hissy noise is usually an indication of failing opamps, transformers rarely completely fail so I would have someone look at the power supply in yours, caps going bad could cause what you are seeing. The noise in the M1000 is from the case itself, not on the outputs. It sounds like the humming of old overhead florescent lights..


Good insight. I've been planning on cracking it open for a long time to have a look at the power supply. I can do the caps myself (and hopefully not die). I figure if the problem continues after I change the caps I'll need professional assistance.

Another issue with the Marix 6r is the cheap pins on the voice chips. Apparently they get 'dirty' which can cause a slight delay when the voices sound, or other malfunctions. I had this problem when I first bought mine, the 2nd OSC on the 6th voice would sound a split second after the 1st, very annoying. I pulled the voice chips and carefully cleaned them all, they are extremely flimsy. I swapped them around to ensure it wasn't a problem with the 6th chip. Sure enough everything was back to normal after that 'fix'. Could be a problem with the socket too...

Sorry to detract from the topic. I don't know what common problems, if any, the 1000 shares with the 6r, but I guess these comments might be useful in some way.
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby themilford » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:57 pm

as for flaky pins... I've found that a light whetting with some quad-eutectic solder helps to keep the pins from corroding.

I use this stuff where vital conductivity is needed:
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby CaveDweller » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:44 am

Well,..thanks for the replies. I must admit I am now completely apprehensive about picking up a Matrix 1000. I didn't realize reliability was such an issue. I don't mind the "preset only" scenario (but WOULD like to modify a few patches and save them). I checked out the Tetra but I can't quite afford it ($800-ish....and I really wish it had at least TWO more notes of polyphony...OH..and the Prophet 8 is WAY out of my budget). If I stumble across a Matrix (for a good price) I might still take a chance,..but,..well,...I don't know. Cheers and Happy New Year.
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby themilford » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:53 am

CaveDweller wrote:Well,..thanks for the replies. I must admit I am now completely apprehensive about picking up a Matrix 1000. I didn't realize reliability was such an issue. I don't mind the "preset only" scenario (but WOULD like to modify a few patches and save them). I checked out the Tetra but I can't quite afford it ($800-ish....and I really wish it had at least TWO more notes of polyphony...OH..and the Prophet 8 is WAY out of my budget). If I stumble across a Matrix (for a good price) I might still take a chance,..but,..well,...I don't know. Cheers and Happy New Year.


I would say, it you are jonesing that bad just hold out for the Matrix 6r or a Matrix 6 keyboard... they turn up frequently for $300-400.

At least you can program the Matrix 6.
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby cornutt » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

I program my Matrix-1000 all the time -- yes, you need a computer, but it's not a big deal. And the MIDI implementation is more complete than the 6/6r. (Except for not being able to recall patch names... was it really that big a deal to put in a few more KB of memory, Oberheim?) And reliability has been a non-issue.
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby slippast » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:02 pm

Hi, Not that anyone cares but I figured I'd post a follow-up to my earlier comments about the Matrix 6r that was noisy and randomly rebooting.

I tore the thing apart to have a look inside. To my surprise it appears that the battery had been replaced and that whoever did the job didn't bother to solder one of the pins, or the solder had broken off, who knows. The battery tested fine so I just soldered it back on. I figured while I was in there I should check out the power supply board. I located the capacitor that was bad, I replaced it along with most of the others that looked iffy and for less than $10 it's back to full operation. There were a few caps that I couldn't find locally but they were still holding a charge so I left them. I used better caps, higher temp rating anyway.

Now the hiss is almost completely gone, the synth doesn't reboot and I believe the display is actually a little brighter. Very nice! I should have done this a long time ago since it only took a couple of hours and a few bucks. I'm going to go on a recapping campaign now!
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Re: Jonesing for an Oberheim Matrix 1000

Postby cornutt » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:25 pm

Good for you! Depending on where you are, you can mail order the caps you can't get locally. You might already know this, but most of the big Internet parts suppliers cater to hobbyists. In N. America, Mouser, Digikey, and Allied seem to be the most popular.
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