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
December 22, 2011 @ 12:08 am
I have a Matrix 6, and find it to be capable of some amazing sounds. It does take a while to program, but isn't too bad once you get into it. I avoided doing heavy programing for a while because it seemed intimidating, but after not using it for about a year, I came back and it was a breeze. I'm not sure why others think it sounds thin or doesn't get god sounds, but I guess it's a matter of opinion.
August 17, 2011 @ 6:35 pm
Interested in buying (I've posted a few times trying to make a transition from to analog). Contact me at pablojaekwon1985@hotmail.com
April 29, 2011 @ 4:52 am
Microtuning means control over the cents represented by each note across the keyboard, allowing quarter-tone scales, Arabic, Gamelan, and so forth. It's a very rare ability for analog synths. Matrix series do not have it, but it was implemented for the Marion synths and the OB-Mx. Matrix do not have chromatic temperaments either.
Wayne B.
January 12, 2011 @ 9:21 pm
Response to William: "...is the Matrix 6 capable of microtuning?"

The TUNE function in Master Edit tunes all 12 DCO's (presumably to A440). However, p. 25 of the manual describes the DETUNE parameter (12) in the DCO Patch Edit page. DCO2 can be adjusted sharp or flat, relative to DCO1, the range being -31 to +31 (+/- a quarter tone). While the intent is to make a richer combined sound due to beats, you might be able to adjust the amplitude of DCO2 to "overwhelm" DCO1 & accomplish your fine tuning. Good luck & hope this helps.
December 29, 2010 @ 9:39 am
Looking for Matrix 6 if anyone is selling. Pref from Uk/Europe
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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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