The Oberheim was a direct decendant of the powerful Xpander and Matrix 12 series and behind the deceptively simple panel was a powerful 6-voice analogue synth with a spec that was considerably more impressive than any other synth of the time.

However, it was completely preset with no editing whatsoever from the front panel, the assumption being that with 1,000 sounds to choose from, why would you ever want to create your own? Up to a point, that's true but it would have been good to have a few controls just for superficial control of key parameters like attack, release, filter cutoff and resonance. But of course, that would simply have increased cost and the Matrix 1000 was most definitely built to a price point and at $500, it was one of the least expensive analogue polysynths of all time.

Of course, to get costs down, compromises had to be made, the most notable of which was the use of DCOs (digitally controlled oscillators) which, with their rock solid tuning stability, arguably lacked the 'character' of older synths that used voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs). Also, the LFOs were also generated in software as were the envelopes and some will argue that they don't as 'punchy' as analogue envelope generators. However, the filters were all analogue and sounded fabulous.

It was also possible to stack all 6-voices on top of each other in a special unison mode and the 1000's 6-voice polyphony could be expanded with the purchase of further units with a special 'overflow' mode that allowed them to be used as one big polysynth.

If editing wasn't possible from the front panel, via MIDI there was the possibility to use editing software to edit and create your own sounds. One company, Access, actually made a hardware remote for the Matrix 1000 which gave access (no pun intended!) to the most important parameters.

It didn't provide control of each and every parameter but the Access programmer turned an otherwise preset box into a killer (semi) programmable synth with hands-on, knobby control.

Two models of Matrix 1000 were released - initially a black-faced model but later, Oberheim changed the livery to the original cream colour of their early products. Internally, both models were identical, however, and don't believe any rumours that the cream one sounds better - people might perceive a difference simply because the cream one looks more 'retro'!

The Oberheim was a fantastic little box to have around and even today, you wouldn't be disappointed with the warm, rich analogue sounds it can produce and they are as relevant today as they were when the unit was released.

Nostalgia has sounds from the Matrix 1000 module. The sounds only contain single samples but played sensibly and within their range, they sound pretty good. The numbers in the names represent the preset number from the original.