MacBeth Studio Systems M3X / M3X2

MacBeth Studio Systems M3X / M3X2 Image

The M3X is a hand-built, drift-free, MIDI-controlled, rack-mount analog synthesizer from Scottish synth designer Ken MacBeth. The M3X is similar to the Minimoog in that it features three oscillators and a transistor-ladder filter for warm analog sounds in a simple, streamlined package, although the M3X goes beyond the original Moog. The M3X has been designed to operate via MIDI or traditional 1V/Octave control voltage input and output, as well as the standard S Trig interface as used by many analog systems.

The M3X has three dedicated oscillators, each with five waveform types and user selectable destinations including cross-modulation capabilities. In addition to the oscillators, there is a noise generator and an external audio input amp for processing other synths or sound sources. The filter section is a transistor-ladder type similar to that used in the Moog synthesizers and sounds totally warm and at times harsh (a good harsh). It offers 24dB/oct low-pass filtering with controls for frequency cutoff, resonance, envelope amount, attack, decay/release and sustain. The voltage-controlled amplifier also features attack, decay/release and sustain controls. The Mixer section offers volume controls for each of the oscillators, noise generator and external audio input plus a master volume. The digital menu system provides access to the MIDI, LFO, Portamento, and various tuning and scaling parameters. Absolutely simple, hands-on and easy to understand but full of big beefy analog sounds.

MacBeth Studio Systems M3X / M3X2 Image

The M3X2 is an updated version of the Scottish analog synth. According to MacBeth: "We have taken a good look at the original design and improved upon it from a user interface point of view, and the M3X2 sports some new features...the interface jacks are now on the front of the unit as opposed to rear which takes into account those users who want to integrate the M3X2 into the up and coming M5 as well as any other modular systems...many have commented on the excellent sound quality of the Filter as used in the M3X. Well, it is the same Filter, but now the self-oscillating super-matched transistor ladder Filter features temperature compensation allowing keyboard tracking to be accurate over a full 10 octave range during oscillation!

"The Oscillators have featured one or two improvements too! Some of the IC 'Op-Amps' have been replaced with even more 'discrete' transistor circuits and their outputs are now AC as opposed to DC, providing easier control of Cross Modulation...and we are still using the excellent 10 turn potentiometers on the Frequency controls. The VCA has had a number of improvements too, with a higher and cleaner Signal to Noise ratio! The M3X2 is built to the same standard as the previous model, and is housed in a quality solid steel and aluminium rack-mount casing built for the studio and the road. The M3X2 comes in a choice of two colours: The Bluebay M3X2 is to sport a stylish dark, dark blue finish and the Studio Systems model is to sport the jet black finish!"

The M3X and M3X2 are no longer being built but their circuit designs are behind the upcoming X-Factor Analog Keyboard coming soon from MacBeth Studio Systems.

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8 Visitor comments
January 16, 2013 @ 10:05 am
I have two M3X's, one of them is actually the one tested by Gordon Reid from Sound on Sound magazine.
They are exceptionally great sounding monosynths, many have likened to a Model D but I own a Model D as well and there's a huge difference;the M3X's sound cleaner then a Model D somehow but the bass end is all there. Hard to describe the sonic difference but of course the M3x's handle very differently as well, they can do sounds that the Minimoog just can't.
One thing I don't like is there is no dedicated portamento knob, it's actually buried in the Kenton interface and doesn't work too well
ana log
March 21, 2012 @ 1:42 pm
From all the comments this sounds like an amazing analog machine... but with all the low comments why such a low rating? Someone have something against MacBeth?
September 16, 2009 @ 7:47 pm
This thing is pure Gold... A real keeper. Thick, dark deep or bright and zippy. The Model D I don't have to worry about
September 5, 2009 @ 10:40 am
The M3X and M3X2 look really cool. very much styled like a rack mount Minimoog Model D with, obviously, additional features. REALLY cool looking synth and i bet it's as powerful as a proper MOOG Synthesizer too!
August 20, 2009 @ 5:09 pm
i am one of the lucky bastards to own an m3x... only about 150 copies excist i guess.
its absolutely a must have for the analogue fat sound lover!
buchlajoe indeed doesn't know what he's talking about.
great sound, from soft and warm to total analogue anarchy!
this synth is pure punk and pop in one.
its the heart of every track i make and i'm absolutely not planning to sell it at any time.
a keeper for sure! the handy knob twiddler can reach about anything with it... not for presetters...
VSE Rating


User Rating

Rated 3.19 (213 Votes)

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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Monophonic
  • Oscillators - 3 analog oscillators.
  • Filter - 1, 24dB/Oct Transistor Ladder with 1 EG (Attack, Decay/Release & Sustain)
  • LFO - 1 LFO with 9 waveforms
  • VCA - 1 VCA with 1 EG (Attack, Decay/Release & Sustain)
  • Effects - Portamento
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Keyboard - None
  • Memory - No Patch Storage
  • Control - MIDI, CV/Gate
  • Date Produced - 2001

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