Oberheim Matrix 6

Oberheim Matrix-6 Image

The Matrix 6 was one of the last few synthesizers from Oberheim to come out during the mid-eighties following the classic OB-series. The Matrix 6 utilized high-tech but less expensive digital and midi features and still retained a totally analog sound. It did this by using DCOs (digitally controlled oscillators) to provide stability, programmability and more. All the Matrix synthesizers featured Matrix Modulation which allows for extremely wild virtual patching for almost unlimited range of sounds and modulation capabilities!

The Matrix 6 is a very popular synthesizer today because it offers access to the legendary sounds and power of the Matrix 12, though not as meaty but at a fraction of the cost. The Matrix 6 is also like the Xpander, but with only 6 voices of polyphony and slimmer programming. Each of its 6 voices has a pair of DCOs, a low pass filter, 2 VCA's, 3 envelope generators, 2 LFO's, and 2 ramp gens for a variety of complex analog pads, basses and sounds.

The programmability is vast, but it can be very tedious. As was the growing trend in synthesizers during this time, knobs and sliders were replaced by just a few membrane buttons and a simple data slider. This is accompanied by gobs of programming and patch data written across the face of the unit. Fortunately Midi SysEx is fully supported so you can get patches on-line and transmit them into the Matrix. Access, makers of the Virus, used to make the Matrix Programmer which gives you much more user friendly hands-on controls too. And software editors such as Unisyn make graphic editing possible for much easier programming.

Oberheim Matrix-6R Image

The Matrix 6R (pictured above) is the Matrix 6 without a keyboard, retaining its membrane programming interface. Oberheim later produced the Matrix 1000, which is essentially 1000 patches from the Matrix 6 in a 1-unit rack-module, preset and editable only through SysEx. For professional studio work or live on stage, both the Matrix 6 keyboard and rack-mount are excellent and versatile synths that make a great source of bright and punchy sounds, vintage analog pads, textures and ambient sounds. It is used by Orbital Apollo 440, Jimmy Edgar, Philip Glass, The Grid, Future Sound of London, Astral Projection, The Shamen, Mouse on Mars, Tangerine Dream and Cirrus.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a Oberheim Matrix 6? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

51 Visitor comments
commodorejohn
May 4, 2013 @ 1:07 pm
@jacob: You may just have to wait and catch one when you find it; they don't seem to be hugely common. I got mine putting out a want ad for synthesizers on Craigslist. You might try dedicated synth-trading forums, as well.

If you don't mind having to use a separate keyboard and computer editor, the Matrix 1000 seems to be more common. I've heard it sounds a little thinner, though - but I've never used one, so I can't say.
Jacob
May 3, 2013 @ 8:31 am
Where can I find one of these? I've looked on amazon, ebay and guitar center and can't find anything.
Snoopy
April 25, 2013 @ 3:49 pm
I had it in the 90's. Now i have it again. It's a great synth and the sounds are so vast and impressive. I sold my OB-8 as it was unstable and too big in size for my setup. The Matrix 6 is ultra stable and never breaks down. You can even take it on the road with no worries. A shame this was the last synth from Oberheim. I will never sell my Matrix 6. I use it all the time. Where do I find the Access programmer...
commodorejohn
April 24, 2013 @ 2:54 pm
The sound is certainly worth putting up with the interface for, in any case. Tons of programmability thanks to the patch matrix, a decent squelchy filter, a decent keyboard, and it does a good job with parcelling out the six voices as needed. The big thing that would make it nicer iis if it had more flexibility in arranging voice splits - why can't I do three-and-three? Or five-and-one?
commodorejohn
April 24, 2013 @ 2:53 pm
Honestly, the programming on the Matrix-6 really isn't that bad. It's definitely not as intuitive as the oldschool knobs-and-sliders approach, but it's a nice, well-organized parameter list, nothing like the menus-within-menus-within-menus puzzle-box approach of some of Yamaha's '80s synthesizers. Even the membrane buttons aren't the worst I've seen (though it certainly would be nice to have proper discrete buttons instead.)
 
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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 - 6 voices
  • Oscillators - 12 DCO's at 2 per voice
  • Layers - Single / Split / 2-part Multitimbral
  • Memory - 100 patches, 50 splits
  • Filter - 1 lowpass resonant filter
  • VCA - 2 VCA + 3 Multimode Envelopes
  • LFO - 2 (plus 1 for vibrato effect)
  • Keyboard - 61 keys (w/ velocity and aftertouch)
  • Arpeg/Seq - None
  • Control - MIDI In/OUT/THRU
  • Date Produced - 1986 - 1988

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