Arturia Matrix-12 V Review
Who doesn’t love a fat analog poly? 4 voices? great! 5 voices? yeah, we all know that one!, 6 voices? Yes, please!, 8 voices? wow, that’s awesome! how about, 12 analog voices? Yes, that’s definitely the Oberheim Matrix 12!
This was an 80s real analog beast! Not only for the 12 voices but, for all the modulation options, the deep control and multitimbral capabilities (yes, multitimbral), all of which, were pretty much big things for an 80s synth, especially for an analog one, especially when digital synths were starting to be the trend.
So, Arturia has taken the Matrix 12 from the vault and made an excellent recreation. Let’s check it out!
The Arturia Matrix-12 V synth plugin has a fairly simple voice architecture with two VCOs, a multi-mode filter, and two VCAs, but, modulation options are really wide: five EGs, five LFOs, a Lag processor FM, Ramps, three tracking generators, and very deep modulation matrix!
Each VCO can output ‘Pulse’ with variable PWM, Saw, and Triangle, VCO 2 can also output noise, the great thing about this is you can output more than one waveform per VCO, in fact, you can output every waveform simultaneously. PW is set individually in each VCO and there is a hard sync option available too. FM can be set to VCO 1 or VCF as the destination.
Speaking of VCF, this is the famous Oberheim filter based on the CEM chip. This thing has 15 filter types to select from. From LPF, notch, HPF, BPF, and really unique types like combinations of LPF and two notches. All of this is resonant filters, and you can set the number of filters being sent to each VCA… Deep, right? Yeah, we haven’t even scratched the surface!! Let’s move on.
There are five five-stages (DADSR) EGs to choose from, so modulation possibilities are almost endless. These EGs are quite snappy and very musical.
There are also five LFOs that can output Square, Triangle, Up Saw, Down Saw, Random, Noise, and Sample waveforms. All can be synced to musical values and be re-triggered by key.
Lag and Ramps.
The lag processor is very well known in synths and the modular world to create glide or portamento effects, but in the Matrix-12 this can be used in a variety of ways, as a modulation source in the mod matrix, on its own, it can be modulated from various sources including the keyboard, pressure, pedals, levers, vibrato LFO, any LFO, velocity, envelope, tracks, ramp, or even itself. It can be set to equal time, linear, or legato modes, and also, you can set the rate.
Ramp processors are basically modulation sources, similar to EGs, which can be set to modulate anything in the modulation page and the mod matrix.
This should be labeled as a tracking generator, and basically, it lets you map a control source like keyboard, pedals, etc to a modified output based on the settings you’ve made, so, this is basically a great tool for modulating modulators!
Modulation page & Mod Matrix.
The modulation page provides a quick way to access the mod matrix. You will notice lots of labeled buttons on each module, let’s say, in VCOs, you’ll see labeled buttons for FREQ and PW, so, once you press, let’s say, PW, this automatically appears as a destination in the modulation page, below, you can select up to six different sources for each destination, and of course, set bipolar amount for each source. Nice, right?
When you hit the Mod button, a huge Mod Matrix will appear in your eyes, I mean, huge! We are talking about 40 modulation slots… so, imagine all the possibilities. One awesome thing to mention is that you can modulate envelope 1 decay with envelope 1 as a source!
Next to the MOD button, there’s a PAGE2 button, which opens some deeper controls for each module. Here, you can set on/off keyboard, lag, pitch bend, or vibrato for each VCO and Filter, and tweak how will envelopes, ramps, and LFOs behave.
There are two slots for fx, and these are quite the same as in some other V collection synths: digital delay, phaser, analog delay, flanger, analog chorus, and reverb. I wish some of the parameters on this FX were included as destinations in the Mod Matrix, but, hey, I’m not complaining at all, this thing is already a beast!
Remember I’ve said this thing is multitimbral? Well, on top of the synth there’s a tab named VOICES, and there, you can set up to 12 different voices which can be divided into six different keyboard zones or within the 16 MIDI channels. You can even detune each of the presets you are using against each other, and of course, transpose, change volume and pan, and then, set how this multitimbral beast will work.
Options are, rotate voices, reassign -which is cool for playing chords, each new note with a different patch-, reset, uni-low, uni-high, or uni-last. And you can do this for each of the six zones. OMG! You need to remember that the only way to create a “multi” is by choosing the Multi Template from the preset browser.
When you first open this thing, you might feel a little bit scared, especially if you are used to knobs and sliders instead of led menus, but, don’t be scared, this thing is really easy to program once you figured it out how it works. This is, by all means, the finest combination of analog sound with digital control made in the 80s, and the original hardware is so hard to find, that Arturia’s Matrix-12V is the perfect choice for any analog polys lover!