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Buying a Oberheim Matrix 1000/6r in 2019... Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 24th February 2019
  #1
Gear Head
Buying a Oberheim Matrix 1000/6r in 2019...

Is it still a good idea?

Seems to be loads of these coming up on eBay/Reverb lately. Wondering if people are getting rid of them because they start showing signs of breaking down or what. It has now been 30 years since their first release...

I wonder if they can still be easily serviced to run well for another 20 years from now. In terms of spare parts rarities, components life cycle, etc.

Any thoughts from the tech masters out there?
Old 24th February 2019
  #2
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tux99's Avatar
Can't speak for the 6 or 6R as I have never owned them, but the 1000 is very easy to service and maintain (probably one of the easiest vintage synths), most chips are in sockets and it's all old fashioned 'trough the hole' components (no SMD).

Aside from that the only thing I ever had to fix in my Matrix-1000 (which I own since the '90s) was replacing one voice chip (which is socketed so no soldering required).
Old 24th February 2019
  #3
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post
Aside from that the only thing I ever had to fix in my Matrix-1000 (which I own since the '90s) was replacing one voice chip (which is socketed so no soldering required).
As a matter of interest, how much did that cost you and where did you buy this chip?
Old 24th February 2019
  #4
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tux99's Avatar
I bough the chip from here: Cheetah MS6 Resource Center (I bought a few to have some spares)

The narrow body is the one suitable for the M1000, the 6 and 6R use the wide body versions.
Old 24th February 2019
  #5
Gear Head
Thanks for the info tux99.

Do M1000/M6r sometimes suffer from capacitor failure like in some other vintage synths?
Old 24th February 2019
  #6
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DevonB's Avatar
I've had my M1000 for 11 years now, and the only issue I've had with it aside from a dead battery was when I got it back after replacement. One of the voice chips acted like it died. I did a re-calibration, and it's been fine ever since. Must have been something with the battery I'm assuming. Loaded back in presets 1-199 and it's been doing great. Always take that into consideration when testing that you check out voice 200 or above, as the battery holds 1-199.

Supposedly these units 'whine' as well from something within the power supply. Mine has never done so. You'll also want to get 1.20 firmware from this guy -

Oberheim Matrix-1000 Firmware V1.20 - untergeekuntergeek

for a very reasonable price too. That'll handle incoming MIDI data much better if you plan to tweak "things" live within the unit.

Devon
Old 24th February 2019
  #7
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tux99's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomatoKetchup View Post
Do M1000/M6r sometimes suffer from capacitor failure like in some other vintage synths?
Not to my knowledge, but of course no capacitor will last forever.
I got the 3 large power capacitors replaced as a precautionary measure but the old ones were still working.
Old 24th February 2019
  #8
Gear Head
Cool, good to know all that. So to sum up, of all vintage gear, a M1000 is a safe enough bet.
Old 24th February 2019
  #9
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tux99's Avatar
I'd say so, yes. Bear in mind that the M1000 isn't even that old compared to the real vintage stuff from the '70s.
It was built from 1988 to approximately 1994.
Old 24th February 2019
  #10
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From what I understand (but I stand to be corrected?) the more common widebody CEM3396 can be used as a voice replacement in the M1000 with an adapter socket, so spares aren't a problem. Mine is still going fine and that sound.... wow.

Add Tux99's awesome computer editor for the M1000 (written in Perl with a nice GUI) and you're in business.
Old 24th February 2019
  #11
Gear Head
I had the Matrix 6 about 5 years ago. Bought it from the second owner who had it since ‘90. Beautiful condition, no maintenance issues whatsoever. I just wasn’t impressed with the sound and sold it after a few months and bought an OB-8...then sold that
not long after. I assume the OB-X is the golden ticket but haven’t personally confirmed. Com Truise has done some great work with the Matrix though...
Old 24th February 2019
  #12
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tux99's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by asbak View Post
From what I understand (but I stand to be corrected?) the more common widebody CEM3396 can be used as a voice replacement in the M1000 with an adapter socket, so spares aren't a problem.
That's correct, but since narrow body chips are still available there is no need for the workaround.

Quote:
Add Tux99's awesome computer editor for the M1000 (written in Perl with a nice GUI) and you're in business.
Well, right now only the Linux version (that you are using) is released, I still have to release the Windows version. Someday I'll get to it...
Old 24th February 2019
  #13
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WozNYC's Avatar
Before you bother with new voice cards or any kind of repair, just open up the unit and re-seat everything.
(Swapping voice cards into different sockets can work too.)
I've "fixed" multiple units like this. The Matrix-6R and 1000 are both built like tanks.
They'll probably outlive you.
Old 26th February 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post
Well, right now only the Linux version (that you are using) is released, I still have to release the Windows version. Someday I'll get to it...
Linux Pride World Wide.

By the way, is the github version the latest & greatist one to get?

GitHub - tux99/m1000_manager: Patch Editor and Manager for the Oberheim Matrix 1000

PS: And thanks again for this awesome M1000 editor
Old 26th February 2019
  #15
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Ned Bouhalassa's Avatar
 

I keep looking for a 1000 for half a grand or less and, man, it’s getting hard to find! Crazy prices.
Old 17th April 2019
  #16
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Ned Bouhalassa's Avatar
 

I finally picked up a mint Matrix-6R for 600 US. I love it! Here's my first demo (all sounds 6R):

Old 17th April 2019
  #17
Gear Head
You guys in the States are so spoiled. Just bought myself a M1000 here in Europe for £520, and that's a complete steal over here!
Old 17th April 2019
  #18
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomatoKetchup View Post
Is it still a good idea?
YES.

Thanks to updated firmware hell yeah (1.16 or 1.20). It's a machine that takes some time getting used to - but inside it you'll find a semi-modular synth with some uncommon features.

Has a Ctrlr vst that lets you control it straight from your DAW just like a softsynth
Old 18th April 2019
  #19
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraze View Post
YES.
This thread didn't take long to convince me... The one I bought is due to arrive today by post, can't wait!
Old 18th April 2019
  #20
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Gnalvl's Avatar
 

One thing that tends to be overlooked about the Matrix 6/1000 is it has a 3rd "vibrato LFO" which can be routed to anything besides vibrato in the mod matrix. You can't save a specific rate for it per-patch, but if you map the rate to the mod wheel, and route it to a parameter where changing rates on the fly doesn't entirely change the character of the patch, then it can free up LFO 1&2 to do other stuff.

If this suits your workflow, then the only difference vs a modern synth like the Prophet 08 is you've only got 3 LFOs instead of 4. But then the Matrix also has 2 ramp envelopes which the P08 doesn't, and IMO the filter sound and general tone is preferable.

My only complaint about it is the skewed value curves on filter and modulation values. If you try to start with a subtle value like 24 or 32 (out of 64) the result is inaudible, so it feels like you always have to use values of 50 or 55 on everything. Somehow you can still manage to pull subtle values out of it, it just takes more hunting and fiddling to get it done. It's a little like using a Korg DW8000, where many parameters run only 0-16... except at least on the DW8000 a value of 8 predictably gives a middle-of-the-road result.
Old 18th April 2019
  #21
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CthonicEwes's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Bouhalassa View Post
I finally picked up a mint Matrix-6R for 600 US. I love it! Here's my first demo (all sounds 6R):

Lovely!

Those drums are really crisp. Are they really from the M6R? (you wrote all sounds were from the M6R...)
Old 18th April 2019
  #22
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Ned Bouhalassa's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CthonicEwes View Post
Lovely!

Those drums are really crisp. Are they really from the M6R? (you wrote all sounds were from the M6R...)
Oh no, sorry, they’re Logic’s drummer.
Old 18th April 2019
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Great demo. In theory the P08/Rev2 should cover what the M6/1000 does with a better interface. Holding onto my M1000.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmanrock View Post
Great demo. In theory the P08/Rev2 should cover what the M6/1000 does with a better interface. Holding onto my M1000.
Yes at that price point P08 is a better deal when talking interface but Matrix 1000 has certain features not found on P08.

For example it has three different types of oscillator sync (kinda like JX8P) further expanding the palette which itself is pretty huge since its oscillators feature gradual waveshaping from sawtooth to triangle which you can automate and then mix in some pulse wave with PWM - all on a single oscillator. Not to mention filter FM by Osc1 which can sound like a proper ring mod too.
Resonance on CEM3396 also sounds sweeter than on P08's PA397 chips.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
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tux99's Avatar
Now there is yet another reason to buy a Matrix-1000 in 2019. I have just released my editor for it:
M1000 Manager - A Patch Editor for the Oberheim Matrix 1000 - Official Home Page
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post
Now there is yet another reason to buy a Matrix-1000 in 2019. I have just released my editor for it:
M1000 Manager - A Patch Editor for the Oberheim Matrix 1000 - Official Home Page
Hey, fair play to you!

Downloading right now, will keep you up to date with bugs, suggestions, etc.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 

I got tuned into these by someone I met who was using one in his vintage guitar synth rig (which I bought most of, not the matrix though)... He was layering his sounds to be guitar, GR300, and GM70 (connected to matrix 1000). Something relatively unique about the matrix is the 6 part multitimbrality, that’s why he was using it.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
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tux99's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kslight View Post
Something relatively unique about the matrix is the 6 part multitimbrality, that’s why he was using it.
The Matrix doesn't have 6 part multitimbrality. What he probably meant was 'mono/guitar mode' where it receives on 6 MIDI channels and each channel plays one note but still all the same patch.
This allows independent pitch bend on each note, which is why it's useful with guitar controllers.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kraze View Post
YES.

Thanks to updated firmware hell yeah (1.16 or 1.20). It's a machine that takes some time getting used to - but inside it you'll find a semi-modular synth with some uncommon features.

Has a Ctrlr vst that lets you control it straight from your DAW just like a softsynth
Here -->
https://roet32.wixsite.com/ctrlr/oberheim-matrix-1000
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