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, specially for an analog one, specially when digital synths were starting to be the trend.
So, Arturia has taken the Matrix 12 from the vault and made an excellent recreation. Lets 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 generator 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 are set individually in each VCO and there is a hard sync option available too. FM can be set to VCO 1 or VCF as 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 are resonant filters, and you can set the amount of filter being sent to each VCA… Deep, right? Yeah, we haven’t even scratch the surface!! Lets move on.
There are five five-stages (DADSR) EGs to choose from, so modulation possibilities are almost endless. This 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 modular world to create glide or portamento effects, but in the Matrix-12 this can be used in a variety of ways, as 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 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 modulate modulators!
Modulation page & Mod Matrix.
The modulation page provides a quick way to access mod matrix. You will notice lots of labeled buttons on each module, lets say, in VCOs, you’ll see labeled buttons for FREQ and PW, so, once you press, lets 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 to your eyes, I mean, huge! We are talking about 40 modulation slots… so, imagine all the possibilities. Some awesome thing to mention is that you can modulate lets say, envelope 1 decay with envelope 1 as 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 this 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 in 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!
All you need to remember is that the only way to create a “multi” is by choosing the Multi Template from preset browser.
When you first open this thing, you might feel a little bit scared, specially 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 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!Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]