Oberheim Matrix 6 OS Update and Patch Editor

Oberheim Matrix 6 Synthesizer
Oberheim Matrix 6 Synthesizer

One of my favorite synths is the Oberheim Matrix 6. I have two and currently have one integrated into my live setup. While doing some midi sequencing I learned that my Oberheim Matrix 6 had the old OS version 1.05 inside. I was curious because I was getting frequent shutdowns of the Matrix 6 and many of the available editors would not work properly. After some research I discovered there was an update OS version 2.13 and 2.13A available around the net in .bIN format. So I finally decided to investigate how to burn my own EEPROM chips so that I could upgrade my Matrix 6 and other synths that I’ve collected OS update files for. After asking some questions around various forums, I was recommended from reputable sources that the USB MiniPro TL866CS Universal BIOS Programmer was a decent choice. People were having success with it and EEPROM burning so I decided it was about time I got into the practice of making my own firmware chips.

USB MiniPro TL866CS Universal BIOS Programmer
USB MiniPro TL866CS Universal BIOS Programmer

Later, I realized that in storage I had a second Matrix 6 that I didn’t know the OS version of. So I took it out of the closet and opened it up. Inside I was surprised to find it had the OS chip version 2.13. So I swapped my Matrix 6 synths around in order to finally have a version that would work properly with my Midi Patch editors. I still plan to use the Programmer to create the version 2.13A chips which clears up some bender issues.

with regards to editors there are quite a few available for the PC. There is a MidiQuestXL Matrix 6 editor, A SoundDiver editor, Ctrlr editor, Synlibmx6, Obiex401, and OB6000 editors. For Mac OSX, I could only find MidiQuestXL for the Matrix 6. Finally, I found a template control map for the Behringer BCR2000 which worked well too. Ultimately though, I decided to create my own editor on the iPad using the popular Midi Designer. I found that the iPad sat nicely on the Matrix 6 and I could program specifically what parameters I wanted to edit.

Matrix 6 Patch Editor
Matrix 6 Patch Editor

Furthermore I created a Midi Designer Matrix 6 editor that I have been tested a couple of times during a live performance recently. So far it’s been working nicely, but there are a couple of parameters that are sluggish and need to figure out if I need them. On another page I’m currently working on the Tracking Generator, The Modulation Matrix, Global Parameters (Common/Vibrato/Midi), and the ability to do Patch Changes. The Mod Matrix is very tricky, so I’ve decided to hard code only the matrix selections that I use the most. Software editors are much better for complete Mod Matrix control until Midi Designer adds multiple command functionality. I find Ctrlr for the Matrix 6 and OB6000 to be the easiest editors to work with on the PC (Bootcamp unders OSX is what I use). I do a lot of Envelope tweaking so I need good sliders and not dots that fight with my computer mouse. The Midi Designer Matrix 6 editor I’m working on is a bit crowded, but it’s ok so far. It’s a work in progress.

The Matrix 6 is a great synth. I primarily use it in Split Mode which makes the synth fully bi-timbral. The levers combined with the Mod Matrix makes for some great sound modulations as well. I’m also now experimenting with putting each of the six voices in mono mode and sending a midi sequence to each. You can do this with OS 2.13 which allows you to send midi data to six individual midi Channels on the Matrix 6. It’s still a two patch bi-timbral synth, but you can split and allocate 2/4 voicing with each voice having a separate midi channel. You can then send up to six individual sequences or arps, one to each voice. Pretty cool I think! I also have the Mutable Instruments MidiPal connected to the Oberheim Matrix 6 for some fantastic arp sequences. I LOVE the MidiPal device. That thing is amazing!! I highly recommend one of those by the way.

I’ll post updates shortly about how the OS chip programming goes. Currently I’m awaiting for all my tools to arrive in the mail this week from China.

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21 thoughts on “Oberheim Matrix 6 OS Update and Patch Editor

  1. detlef

    Hello Jim

    I have a problem with mine: when experimenting with sounds, one of the oscillators went out of tune, producing an odd pitch.
    Calibrating and Tune functions does not sort any effect.

    I had an identical problem after loading factory patches, but Calibrating worked it out. I can only use it by excluding the oscillator from the mix (with function 20)

    Any idea?

    TIA

  2. Eric

    Hi Jim,

    I’ve been keeping an eye on your site for some time and am especially interested in all the old relics you bring back to life ( bit envious about the great deals you keep finding though… 😉 )
    I’m very interested in your progress on the eprom burning as there are some machines i’d like to give an update. Also, do you plan to try to copy any eproms and then burning new ones to see if that works?

    Greetings from the Netherlands,

    Eric

    1. Hi Eric,

      Thanks for the comment and blog visit. Yes, I’m actually very heavily into my Matrix 6 synths and work on them daily. I’ve managed to burn successfully the latest firmware to both my Matrix 6 synths. I also managed to extract the contents into an editor which I’m currently working through to develop further. I can definitely say the latest firmware has fixed most of my issues. I also have picked up a Roland A800 Pro controller that allows me to program sysex messages into it and control the Matrix 6 from afar. I did this because obviously the Matrix 6 doesn’t have knobs and I like to tweak while having keys easily accessible. Although the Behringer BCR2000 worked great initially it was a bit too bulky to sit on the Matrix 6. It also was not easy to program and test with. The A800 Pro tied to my Macbook pro, allows me to enter sysex commands fast and easily. I can then identify faster the weak points of controlling the Matrix 6. I also can better determine what I might need to fix in the firmware should I get to that point. I also cleaned and reworked the membrane buttons on my Matrix 6 so that they are more sensitive and easier to push. This has really helped tremendously because I can now program faster on the Matrix 6 itself. Combined with the A800 Pro, I can say my programming experience with the Matrix 6 has improved dramatically. All of the complaints about the Matrix 6 are definitely warranted, but I find if one can get the latest update in there and bring in a set of decent controllers, it will make the experience with the Matrix 6 very rewarding. Plus getting those membrane buttons more sensitive is a huge plus. I’ll keep in touch. – Jim

      1. Liam Howe

        Hi Jim
        Fascinating stuff!
        I’m a big synth collector and music producer based in Lodon
        I have a Matrix 6 too and my appetite has been whetted in regards to upgrading the EEPROM.
        Have you thought of burning a few extra and making them available?
        I’d love to know?
        Liam Howe

  3. Han

    Hi Jim,

    I enjoy reading your blog. What I like is that you can appreciate the beauty of something like a Kawai K4 just as much as a prized vintage item piece like the Mono/Poly.

    How is that MiniPro TL866CS working out for you? I’m looking for a programmer to burn firmware chips for some of my synths, and new sound roms for my Sequential Drumtraks.

    Take care

    1. Hello Han,

      The MiniPro TL866CS has been working perfectly including the software. I was able to burn the OS quite easily and can highly recommend the product. It did take a couple of weeks or so to get the device but it ultimately did arrive ok. My IC chip order arrived sooner so you can imagine I was eager to get the MiniPro TL866CS. I was able to both rip and burn the Matrix 6 Rom rather quickly. I’m confident it should work with most other hardware. Thanks!

  4. Griffin

    Hi Jim,

    What is the status on your matrix 6 editor for midi designer? I am in desperate need of a control surface for it!! Yours looks to be the best one I’ve seen. Is it for download? Purchase? Please let me know!

    Griffin, New York

  5. austingreen

    Hello, I’m a MidiDesigner user and Matrix 6r payer. Would you mind sharing your layout with us? Big fan of the work you’re doing keeping this synth alive… Thank you!

  6. Phil Peskett

    Hi Jim. Do you know if there’s a way to get the Matrix 6 to function as a mono synth, rather than poly or unison mode? I’m thinking of buying this 6 but I’d love to be able to use it in mono for lead and bass patches. I thought I might be able to get around it by changing the voice assignment in split mode, but according to the manual I downloaded, you can have a 4,2 assignment but not the 5,1 setting that would enable mono mode. I’m hoping that this may have been addressed in the later firmware version. Thanks! Phil

  7. Martin

    Hey Jim!
    Very interesting what you write about the Matrix6. I also have a Matrix 6R which I totally love and use for long years now. Is there a way you can share this Midi Designer patch that you created for the Matrix? Would be amazing.

  8. nik

    Hi Jim, sitting here in Tokyo, Googling around for info on a Matrix 6 I got in all places….Nagano! All seems to be working well except a possibly burnt-out LED display panel. I’ll check the battery too but there are actual dark scorch marks on the 2 upper corners of the LED display part and reading other forums it looks like it’s a goner…we’ll see. Anyway would love to hear back if you’re still there and into all this stuff, I have another trip to Nagano in a couple of weeks or so.

    1. Did you have any luck with your Matrix 6? I’m curious if it’s working for you now. I just pulled mine out and have been playing with them quite a bit lately. With the new apps and support for the Matrix 6 lately, it’s rekindled my interest.

      1. Nik

        Thanks for the reply Jim. YES! 14,000 yen through a friendly shop here in Tokyo and all good, lit up like Christmas!

  9. Hell Jim,

    I have a Matrix-6 and I just bought a BCR2000. You wrote have used a mixer map for the Matrix-6 on a BCR2000. Where have you found the file on Internet? Have you the link or can you put this one on a download website? Thanks.

    Best regards.

    Jenfi

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