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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51 Visitor comments
thispoison
April 30, 2010 @ 5:25 am
I have two that I've recently wired back into the studio (I'm ashamed to say it's been 6 years since they were connected, but hey, the memories were still intact and they remain faultless).

I was a little disappointed initially as I stepped through my old patches - I "remembered" them being better than they were.

HOWEVER...

As soon as I connected the Access Programmer, it was a different world. Even the limited parameters to hand (to be fair, the most important ones) reminded me of what a Matrix 6R can really do - it's maybe my taste that's altered, not my memory.

There are some great sounds in there, you just need something to get them out (and that membrane interface just can't cut it).
mantra_mindware
April 30, 2010 @ 4:14 am
I had the Matrix-6R too. The sounds very pretty unstable in pitch which made it almost impossible for me to arrange this synth in the mix with a Juno 106 or Korg DW-8000. Even if calibrated to 44.1Hz the Matrix was always sounding distorted and dissonant.
Christopher Winkels
February 25, 2010 @ 8:44 pm
I owned a Matrix-6R for a couple of years and was fairly disappointed by it.

The sounds tended towards the sterile and cold. I found this to be especially frustrating since the scope of programming options should've meant ample opportunity to craft acceptable sounds. No joy though. Even trying one of my favourite tricks (mapping key number to LFO speed to have PWM get faster as one plays up the keyboard) yielded unsatisfactory results.

It also suffers from the typical mid-to-late '80s curse of a crap programming interface that smothered creativity. It's one thing to have a great-sounding synth that's a bit difficult to program, but I never could get it to shake the clinical quality to its sonic signature and I wasn't sad to see the back of it. Ten years later I can't recall a single positive thing about it, other than the fact that I sold it for what I paid for it.
The Black Knight
November 8, 2009 @ 2:12 pm
Fantastic sounding dirty beast, massive sounds, amazing programmability, slightly slow envelopes but to be perfectly honest not every synth fits all holes, this is an underated classic but i have to point out its got a much more analog sound than that of the matrix 1000, they are supposed to be the same, but those wide bodied CEMS and the sightly odd way its clock pulse behaves compared to that of the 1000 makes them worlds appart imo.
This unit is capable of a lot of unique sounds some of which are just plain scary. Great great great little synth and very reliable in my experience.
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.
 
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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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