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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52 Visitor comments
The MIDIGuru
September 27, 2009 @ 10:08 pm
It programs well. Two, coupled with a OB-XK controller, you could really get that OB-12 series sound.
April 29, 2009 @ 10:45 am
I have to agree with Jupiter. These just don't sound like the VCO equipped Oberheims. That said they still kick most of their DCO contemporaries. I love the way these sit in a mix. You can get lush strings and pads that are big but not smothering. A computer editor greatly simplifies programming. It is worth it as these synths have a lot to offer. I have the Matrix 6R - still very affordable, not typically prone to problems and there are plenty of them. Real, usable analog on the cheap... not too shabby.
March 24, 2009 @ 4:11 pm
programming seems horrible at first but is easy to grasp and well laid out. all changes made are done in real time so you can hear what you're adjusting. once you get past the tedious programming you have a synthesizer capable of pretty much any sound. a highly capable synth.
January 30, 2009 @ 9:06 pm
Saying these have the "classic Oberheim" sound is definitely a mislead. As the owner of an OBXa, and after having (and selling) a few Matrix 6 and 6R, I can definitely say these are so much far away from sounding like classic VCO Oberheims. Not like with Roland classic analogs, of which DCO based synths will still sound very "Rolandish" (for example: Juno 60 vs Jupiter 8), the Matrix 6 is yet just another nice sounding DCO analog. pre-Matrix Oberheims are exceptionally fat and huge sounding instruments.
Ken L
January 16, 2009 @ 3:56 pm
I still use mine in my studio! I like the split feature that allows two MIDI channel assignments. I also have a fwe cassettes that let me load in a new set of sounds or back mine up on tape (or sysex).
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  • Check Price
  • 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 - 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
  • Resources & Credits
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