5 – Oberheim Matrix 1000
Years of production: 1987-94
Spec: 6-voice analogue polysynth
Key features: dual DCOs per voice, editable via MIDI
Current second-hand price: £200-300
Rack mounted synths are notoriously undervalued in comparison to their keyboard counterparts. At heart the Matrix 1000 is very similar to the excellent Matrix 6 keyboard: two DCOs per voice, fully analogue signal path and extensive modulation routing options.
While the Matrix 6 and the rack mounted 6R use a button-based editing system, the 1000 doesn’t offer any editing options via the front panel. Instead, it comes pre-loaded with 1,000 presets. But don’t think it’s just a preset box; the 1000 can also be edited remotely via MIDI. Program it using a cheap MIDI controller, a software editor, or Lemur on an iPad and you’ve got yourself one of the biggest bargains around.
The modulation capabilities of the Matrix synth architecture ensure that the 1000 excels at pads, strings and textures. Beyond that, it’s more than capable of great basses and leads. It’s got a distinctly bold Oberheim character coupled with that clean, precise 80s analogue sound. Even before you start editing your own sounds, you’re sure to find plenty of useful patches among the excellent selection of presets.
The slightly more expensive Matrix 6R is also well worth checking out, but the 1000 is the real bargain. You should have no trouble whatsoever picking one up for around £200. That’s an absolute steal for such a capable synth.