Sunday, June 28, 2009

Oberheim Matrix-6r

via this auction, via the forum.
"For those that don’t know, the Matrix-6 is about as close to a presetable, midi controlled analog modular you’re going to find without venturing into the realm of dsp. I’ll spare you the boring details and focus on some of the more unique aspects of the Matrix. For starters, it has a CV input (pedal 1). To catch the would-be techno dj types up to speed, this means you can use external sources to control the envelope triggers (all the “x…” functions in the envelope trigger modes). Which means, with a little effort and perseverance, you can sync this synth to, at least some of, the rest your non-midi gear. The envelopes themselves are pretty unique featuring a few different mode types (DADSR, DADR, “free” and “both”) and they’re lfo retriggerable. I’ll let you look up the details yourself. You should probably find and read a copy of the manual prior to biding as there are a lot of nice touches and neat features in the design which I don’t have time to go into. Simply put you can get –all- sorts of repeating and evolving sounds out of this synth. From rhythmic beating filter sweeps, to chaotic, seemingly randomly changing unending well… stuff.

Also of note is that the lfos have a sampling feature, so you can use them as -very- controllable sample and holds.

For more presetty sounds this synth also delivers. The oscillators (digitally controlled analog) and the filters (analog, good Curtis chips with FM modulation) sound nice (and stay in tune). The only way I can really think to describe the sound is “expensive” or classy. It sounds like what platinum trumpets played by angels would sound like if platinum had better acoustic properties and angels existed. For the dedicated synth wizard, the signal chains of the Matrix can be strung together into delightful tapestries of astounding complexity.

But there are no knobs you say. No, there aren’t and mileage varies using modern devices to send cc messages to it (and there is only one dedicated programmer for it left in existence and no one knows who owns it, so the “remote” socket is basically a belly-button) . That being said, there’s a reasonably priced, working, supported software editor for it in the form of Matrix 2001

Which is good. Editing the Matrix with the buttons and the display is more tolerable than most make it out to be if you remember that all the settings and their corresponding numbers are printed on the top of it. But editing it with a good software editor can be an absolute joy. It still has it’s quirks; device id and midi channel are synonymous, it’s prone to buffer overflow especially when you’re fiddling with the mod matrix, getting used to its split mode is weird (no output from the auxillary channel unless it’s in left-right split mode, for example), and some of the cc’s (filter

cutoff)don’t follow the standard 00-ff value system. Software editing is easy and works well, but sometimes you need to be a little bit more patient than you would with more modern gear.

Real-time control of parameters is possible, but it’s better if you approach it like an old digital synth. It responds perfectly to more normal control messages (pb, mod1, mod2, at, velocity, pedal, ect.) and these messages can be mapped to pretty much any input. If you really want to wail on this thing in real time then wail on it like it was meant to be wailed on. Get a keyboard with aftertouch, a good velocity curve, 3 nice wheels on the left side and get yourself a cv pedal. Look at Herbie Hancock, he did fine not always twistin’ those knobs.

Here’s the pitch:
If you want a synth you will never get tired of patching, pick this up. If you want a modular, but don’t have the space or the money for it (or want it programmable), pick this up. If you want a really classy analog sound, crazy ambient-techno-industrial noises from distant cosmos, or the intro from “Jump”, pick this up. If you want to be like the guy who runs matrix-synth, pick this up, sell it and then regret having sold it."

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