Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

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Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby knolan » Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:05 am

I've been contemplating getting an Oberheim Matrix 6 for years, and they seem to go for good prices these days, but always back off from it because I just don't know enough about the instrument, and it looks like there's too much writing on the control panel and not enough live controls.

Does anyone know about the Matrix 6 who could provide some insight into it. In particular:

- does it sound good?
- does it sound like an Oberheim?
- does it bare any resemblance to the Matrix 12 or Xpander, and does it have the same depth and pedigree as those?


Any insights, pointers would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Kevin.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby Z » Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:20 am

- does it sound good? Yes.
- does it sound like an Oberheim? Classic Oberheims, No.
- does it bare any resemblance to the Matrix 12 or Xpander, and does it have the same depth and pedigree as those? Soundwise: No, Programability: Yes

I bought my Matrix 6R around 1990, my first rack mount synth. At the time, I also had an Akai AX60 and Roland U-20. I'd rate the sound on par with the Akai (different synth engines, but same "class" of synth), but did enjoy the expressiveness of playing an analog synth that responded to velocity sensitivity.

I used the Matrix 6R mainly for pad sounds (ran it through my Alesis Quadraverb with its chorus and delay), comp/stab sounds and weird sounds that only possible through matrix modulation.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby Sir Ruff » Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:40 am

Why not, you know, listen to some demos? Without checking, I assume there has to be, like, 20 million demos of them on the net. It won't sound like an older Oberheim, but maybe it will still give you the sounds you're after.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby Cerebral Infect » Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:02 am

I concur with Z on all points. And used the Matrix 1000 (same thing as a Matrix 6) for pad stuff, weird noise and velocity sensitive stuff. It is a deep analog synth in terms of modulation capacities. But if you want something that you can program, I would rather go to DSI prophet 08, Tetra, Mopho X4 (Similar brassy CEM chip)

Furthermore, I don`t know if it is also a problem found on the MAtrix 6, but on the matrix 1000, if you send too much SYSEX info a once, i.e. realtime control, the unit hangs.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby knolan » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:41 am

Thanks for the info - very helpful and appreciated. had hoped to hear that it was on a par with the Xpander but seemingly not.

@Sir ruff - accept online demos are useful, but there's not substitute from hearing the thoughts of actual users (that's what forums are for ;) )
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby Sir Ruff » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:13 pm

Ah... I used to agree with that, when youtube/soundcloud didn't exist and word of mouth was everything; now I generally trust demos (and my ears) more unless I'm totally sure someone knows what they're talking about (not applicable to Z in this case, but in general).

Since you're specifically asking how it sounds, no general forum commentary is going to replace a good demo.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby Dr. Phibes » Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:13 am

Sound never really turned me on but it's not bad when you accept it for what is.

The matrix system I did like and the limited "calculator" interface isn't actually that awkward once you get the hang of it.

I sold my on and don't really regret it but I wouldn't write it off.

Quite heavy though I seem to recall.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby guillermotin » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:00 am

I've had a Matrix 6 for almost 10 years now, as well as a Matrix 1000 for about 15 years. I'll just post a few of my impressions here.

Soundwise:
I can't compare its sounds to Classic Oberheims, since I've never owned any. It might not sound the same as a classic Obie, but it surely holds it's place against digital emulations of any sort. In a mix, it tends to sound dark and warm (might be the 30 year-old capacitors). In general, its sound is very suited to external manipulations such as delays, reverbs and the like. It simply flourishes when applied the right EQ, even if its a plugin. I love that. Compared to my other DCO synths (Junos, JX-10, Evolver) it sounds really nice, and a recurrent source of creamy analog pads, fx, eps, and basses. The Junos/JX , on the other hand, can reach stereo-wide chorus timbres, but never go as low as the Matrix 6. They complement each other nicely.

The cool features:
It relates very well with its sibling, the Matrix 1000. I am able to load patches to and from the Matrix 1000, without using the computer. By using the right features on both units, I am able to play a full 12-voice synth with a single patch doubled across both units, controlled by the Matrix 6. If I choose, i can also keep the 6 voices and make a 2-layer patch, with stereo widening achieve through detune. The results sound amazing. You need to have a Matrix 1000 for this, though.

Programming:
Programming is very tedious. It has NOT got a data slider. All values need to be entered by pressing keys. Terrible. You might use an external editor, but still results are far from perfect. As said before, the Matrix processor is really slow. Every time you change a value on the editor, it takes a few seconds to update the Matrix. I even tried a BCF 2000 and a Novation Zero in sysex mode, the speed is still the same. In other words: forget those intense live manipulations. To counter that, it's got plenty of modulation slots (hence the Matrix name), but the envelopes are very slow, too. So, no snappiness here. The only option would be to assign a single parameter to be changed via the mod control on the left. Because of all this, it mostly becomes some sort of a "program-and-then-play" synth.

Now ,the issues:
The synth, due to its age, is fairly unreliable. I bought mine in excellent condition, and my studio is very well cared for. I've read somewhere that the components used on this synth are of an inferior quality compared to previous Oberheim. I can confirm that. The case construction is just about average, and the keys are light and fragile. Sensitivity is not great. Connections are very flimsy, I might replace and resolder them very soon for better quality connectors. Voice chips are also a problem. Every few months I have a quirky voice chip. I have to open the synth and apply either deoxit or isopropyl alcohol to try to fix them. This has been going on for the last 3 years, and I bet that very soon one of the chips is going to die. I have also changed the internal battery 2 times, and the last I had to solder a battery slot to make things easier.

During last year, though, my unit has started to develop some kind of alzheimer. Every time i turn it on after a while (1-2 weeks), the display lights up with @@@@@@@@ for all the characters. I have to turn it on/off a few times to finally boot the unit, and then recalibrate & factory reset. But then all my sound memory is lost, and I have to recall the patches using the tape load function. It is not the internal battery, as I changed it less than 2 years ago. Searching on old forums, I found the information that it might be the symptoms of a dying power supply. Very likely. This means that my Matrix is going to rehab soon.

I am obviously aware that these are like common maintenance routines for a 30 year old synth. But I compare with the Matrix 1000, which is about the same age, gets twice as much use, and has never failed on me. From all the vintages I have, the Matrix 6 is the one that needs the most care.

Since it sounds exactly the same as the Matrix 1000, and given that the Matrix 1000 is a more reliable unit (at least in my experience), I can only recommend a Matrix 1000 instead of the Matrix 6. The Matrix 1000 can also be programmed via software, and will save you some studio space. For the looks and the girls, though, the Matrix 6 is the one.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby Jabberwalky » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:01 am

It was my first synth. I don't think I appreciated the depth it had, but even my fumbling lead to some pretty cool patches. It excelled and keyboard style patches, taking advantage of the subtle detuning, and pretty ok filter. The pitchbend, mod paddles were definitely not my thing. The lack of data slider is also no fun. You have to increment with the buttons. You do however, get a +/-1, or +/-10 button. I don't really regret selling it, but wouldn't mind having one again if it came up locally and cheap.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby commodorejohn » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:45 am

Note that there's a mode where you can use the keypad to enter values directly and the increment/decrement buttons to select between parameters instead of the other way around - it's still not quite as convenient as a data slider, but it's a big improvement.

Anyway, the Matrix-6 is a pretty nifty synth. It doesn't sound big and beefy like the more famous Oberheims, it's more of a mellow, restrained tone. The big attraction is using the many complex modulation facilities to create wonderfully complex patches - there's a nifty evolving patch in the factory library cheekily named "SMPLTHIS" where the modulations are set up so that it takes something like a minute to run its course!
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby Rezisehtnys » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:22 am

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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby Algorithm » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:44 am

I fell in love with mine... I cant say how close it is to an M12 or O.G. OB, but 2 dcos per voice with 6 voices is nice for the price I think. I dont see myself being able to afford the matrix12 so I will tell myself it will do. ;)
My matrix 6 still worked after all this time, being in storage for a few decades, still got power and battery nearly full.
My matrix1000 wont turn on even after I replaced everything I could think of on it. My m1000 must be faulty due to the previous owner more than how it is made though. Take from that what you will. :)
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby nathanscribe » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:06 am

Life is too short to program anything from scratch on a Matrix 6. Especially when you have the rack version racked, and therefore lose sight of the system overview helpfully printed on the top of the unit.

There are some decent sounds in there, but it doesn't like Sysex, takes an age to work with, and IMO I'd forget it and get something DSI or whatever; even for the money the M6R fetches, you might just as well grab a Blofeld and save yourself at least some of that pain.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby knolan » Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:52 pm

Thanks for the replies. Guillermotin your description is really appreciated and though it is an attractive enough instrument (to me), you definitely indicate some earnest issues that I'd be inclined to recoil from. Appreciated.
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Re: Anybody got any insight into the Oberheim Matrix 6?

Postby AnalogPower » Sun Apr 20, 2014 4:34 am

I have two matrix6rs, the rackmount versions and I bought an xpander!

The difference between the matrix six are in the matrix 1000 is that the matrix six has it HRO which is a high-resolution oscillator this causes the oscillators slightly drift to give you a more VCO feel even though it's a DCO synth.
The CEM voice chip is a widebody chip vs the matrix 1000 has a CEM slimmer chip.

For programming I love this thing with all this quirkiness it's a programmer dream if you want to make some custom sounds... and once you start making a handful of sounds you realize how easy it is once you know your way around modulation matrix.

As many sounds that I made on it I'm still learning how to get certain tones and using it better.

Yes it's about a 30-year-old something technology and no it may not sound as fat as the OBXA however it still has some of those classic signature Oberheim characteristics and it holds court with anybody else in his class.

You will need a software editor I will tell you that.

And sometimes the MIDI is kind of slow when it's transferring a patch youll have to wait for it to catch up...so a slight handicap,
however there's a clear delineation between studio mode editing programming and using it as a live performance piece.

So for playing live you want to make your presets sounds also make a split dual timber patch and play two different instruments at the same time each with its own output.

Remember unless you want to get some new fancy digital workstation or your computer with a bunch of VIs one synth is not the end all solution, you will need ... 4!
The Xpander is a VCO synth 6 voices and has a similar modulation matrix however it's sonic possibilities are much greater, it's cost are four times more.




Happy tweaking
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