oberheim     matrix-1000


general info

midi spec

firmware notes

hardware notes










Oberheim (under the name of ECC - Oberheim) produced Matrix-1000 since 1987 for a couple of years until they were purchased by Gibson. A few years later Gibson restarted production of some Oberheim gear (incl. Matrix-1000). This is exactly the same device, the only change being the color of the front panel which had turned white. Sometime during the 90's Oberheim brand was bought by Viscount (an Italian organ-maker). Production of M-1000 was discontinued before the end of '90s. Today, noone seems to be sure who Oberheim trade mark belongs to...

I recently became a proud owner of two more M-1000s - a black-face and a cream-face one (I wonder whether it would sound bizarre if I referred to them as Mel-B and Mel-C?). So I can confirm that they both ARE identical, and the Firmware version of the cream-face M-1000 is the very same 1.11.  

Matrix-1000 is an amazing machine. There isn't that much in hardware - the voice architecture which is not that different from the sample 6-voice synthesizer shown on the last page of CEM3396 spec, plus a very basic 8-bit computer. Almost everything, an amazing lot!, happens in software - envelopes, LFOs,  ramps, pitch bends are generated in software and 'materialized' as CVs by DAC. The whole concept of Matrix Modulation is based on (and takes place in) software, allowing much more sophisticated modulation paths than probably anyone else could do at that time, at least for the same price. Matrix-1000 is a direct descendant of Matrix-12/Xpander originally designed by Marcus Ryle and Michael Doidic and carries along a lot of their heritage.

This is where most of the magic takes place - 6 CEM3396 voice processors, housing 2 DCOs, a 4-pole VCF, 4 VCAs and a VC Mixer each, all under CPU control   An AM6012 12-bit DAC (my board actually has PMI DAC312) providing full voltage control for CEM chips

2 EPROMs, 64K for 800 presets, 32K for firmware. Strangely there's an empty slot for another 32K ROM.   68B09 CPU, running at whopping 2 MHz has to take care of everything - including voices, buttons and MIDI.   68B50 ACIA handles MIDI communication.   4 82C54 Timers divide and feed 2 x 6 DCOs with stable digital timing signals. Some people complain about it being too precise for an analog synth.

Matrix-1000 manual contains NO INFORMATION whatsoever about programming and parameters but it has the MIDI specification. Luckily, Matrix-6 (and 6R) manual has the programming information, although not a word about MIDI implementation :) You can download all three of them here, including a new scan of the Matrix-1000 Owner's Manual with much better quality than the one usually found on the net:

 Oberheim Matrix-1000 Owner's Manual NEW SCAN!
 Oberheim Matrix-6 Owner's Manual
 Oberheim Matrix-6R Owner's Manual
 Oberheim Matrix-1000 Schematics (barely readable)
 Oberheim Matrix-6 Service Manual NEW!

Julian Colbeck: N/A (*) [KEYFAX2]

Peter Forrest: 44/100   [A-Z of Analogue Synthesizers]

Harmony Central: 9.1/10

sonicstate.com: 4.4/5

Vintage Synth 4.6/5

(*) I have a 1986 edition of  the book. Matrix-1000 was released in 1988.

definitive website:

None that I know of

worth checking:

Oberheim Heaven

Godric's World

Studio Repair

lists and forums:

Oberheim Abbey



Matrix 2001



M1000X (Mac)