Oberheim Matrix 6R

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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.

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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Demos & Media

Oberheim Matrix 6 Analog Synth
Bruce Call
Audio Clip 1 Except for the drum loop, this track is all Matrix 6 sounds! Arpeggiated bass, deep bass, warm pads, hollow synth stabs, and warm sinusoidal leads. Written to be a trippy, d&b groove.


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