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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The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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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.

52 Visitor comments
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.)
February 13, 2013 @ 7:56 pm
Had it for a few years, but never got into it. Very off putting programming, and sound wise I felt it just didn't have the distinct warmth of the OB series. Wouldn't mind having a go at it again, but it's not really an instrument that I miss.
February 12, 2013 @ 3:54 pm
Just to let you guys know, there's one of these for $500 at Boston Craigs List right now, I'm not sure if that's a bargain, but it seems to me for an analog Oberheim, unfortunately I can't swing it right now :( Too bad, it would be nice to have it
January 30, 2013 @ 11:39 pm
I really like this synth. The programming might be offputting for some but you can adapt to it pretty quickly if you enjoy the sound. You can achieve some very warm and thick analog sounds with it. Old school 80's sounds are possible as are more "modern" synth sounds to accompany newer styles.

Here's a song I made with mine if you'd like to get an idea of the sound:

January 23, 2013 @ 7:14 pm
@diablo this will answer your question: http://wolzow.mindworks.ee/analog/m1k-hardware.htm
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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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