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Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:50 pm
by pinksoir
I sold my CS50 and used the cash to buy an Xpander. I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the modulation options. I bought the Xplorer editor and I've downloaded a bunch of user patches (there's some really great sounding ones) to see how the mod matrix can be implemented and it's helped a bit but I generally just stare at the screen, finding it tough to start digging in to program.

So does anyone have any tips? I guess users of the Matrix 6/6r/1000 will have stuff to add too. Or any 'deeper' polysynth users really.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:35 pm
by Sir Ruff
I'd say ditch the software and stick to programming by hand. It will be much easier to get a feel for it that way and eventually you'll be zipping around it in no time. There really has never been a more effective interface (save maybe the Solaris) for such dealing with such a complicated modulation setup.

Start with a basic patch (the standard "Oberheim" one) and just start learning each aspect, like the filters. Learn how a single envelope works on the filter in terms of values as "time". Reading the manual is also de rigueur if you really want to learn what's going on with the Tracking modulation for example. A lot of things have built-in mods (like keyboard tracking) so you can use those without having to apply additional modulation.

To get familiar with more complicated modulation, just pick one parameter (like pitch of one oscillator) and work on modulating that with various LFOs, etc. Then modulate the speed of one LFO with another, or LFO amount with an envelope.

The trickiest part is using the Lag/Tracking. The "input" happens on the specific page (i.e., Lag), and then you just apply the Lag modulation to whatever it is you want modulated. This took me a while to realize.

Ultimately, the modulation is both too much and too little these days because while there are a lot of them, neither the envelopes nor LFOs go up to audio rate, so the main source of "weirdness" is usually using the FM and/or sync. I think how modulation was originally intended pertained more more to live performance features (i.e., fading between modulation types using a pedal), or for studio tricks (simulated delays/reverb) rather than making far out "cool sounds". That's not to say that it can't get totally kerrazy, but the best sounds (to me) are more interesting versions of the standard pad sounds and the self-generating patches. The huge range of filter types is ultimately its greatest strength I think.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:17 am
by pinksoir
Hey, thanks for the reply, Sir Ruff.

Actually, when I first got it I found it quite easy to get programming. I sort of just dove in, there was a lot of back and forth but it did feel quite easy and logical. It wasn't until I got the software that I sort of hit a dead end. I'll definitely try going back to doing it by hand, at least until I get a proper feel for it.

I haven't discovered a particularly noticeable programming 'sweet spot' yet compared to my JX3-P, but then I haven't dug in all that much. Or maybe it's just not as immediate because it's so much deeper. Judging by some of the patches I downloaded, I can definitely hear a lot of the kind of sounds that I personally love and would work great in my music. I like the pads, the sort of majestic synth type stuff, and the bell like tones. I really love the combination high and low pass filter mode. The first thing I did when I got it was program one of my favourite CS50 dual filter patches and I could absolutely nail it with the Xpander.

The Lag/Tracking stuff goes over my head at the moment. I'm going to have to set some time aside with the synth with the manual open (I might even print it out) and really get to grips with the thing.

I'm happy not to have too much crazy available with the synth. The music I make is kind of somewhere between Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective by way of War On Drugs, Deerhunter, and Youth Lagoon. So out there weird electronic bloopiness doesn't factor in too much. I agree about the filter types. I can't believe I've so many in one analog synth. I feel spoilt for choice.

Thanks again though. I reckon the place to start is by going back to hands on programming.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:19 pm
by Sir Ruff
pinksoir wrote:I haven't discovered a particularly noticeable programming 'sweet spot' yet compared to my JX3-P, but then I haven't dug in all that much.
And you're not gonna find it, at least immediately. It took me a few years actually to really understand what sounded best. Coming from something like the JX will be immediately dissatisfying, but that's just because Roland make it impossible to make bad sounds!

Like, I prefer the 3-pole LP filter over the 4-pole a lot of the time (OBs just don't do 4-poles well), but the 4-pole is better for FM patches.
Judging by some of the patches I downloaded, I can definitely hear a lot of the kind of sounds that I personally love and would work great in my music.
Good to hear you've downloaded stuff. The presets are officially the WORST. EVER. As in, in the history of all presets. They are laughably lame ("cowbell" on a $4000 dollar (new) synth?). I've come across some great patches though that really show off the droney, self-playing side. "Millions" is the name of one I think. Really makes the xpander shine.
The Lag/Tracking stuff goes over my head at the moment. I'm going to have to set some time aside with the synth with the manual open (I might even print it out) and really get to grips with the thing.
definitely print out the manual--will make your life much easier. The lag is relatively straight forward--it just slews/blurs whatever the CV input into is. So if you put a square wave LFO into it, it will round the edges and make it more, erm, sinusoidal/round. Keyboard CV works the same way (that's how you get the classic portamento effect).

The tracking requires more thought and patience. I don't tend to use it a lot, but it's useful for making things change across the keyboard for example (i.e., more detuning on one end vs. the other), or having LFO speeds/amplitude only affect certain parts of the keyboard. It can also do cool stuff to LFO and envelope shapes.

Lastly, there's a great Yahoo great "Xpantastic" that has a wealth of info, and users who are always happy to answer questions.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:28 pm
by Z
Fellow VSE memeber garranimal has made several great tutorial videos with his Matrix 12 which also works with the Xpander:
https://www.youtube.com/user/gstormelec ... x+tutorial

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:57 pm
by commodorejohn
If it works like the Matrix-6 (and I think it does,) don't forget that you can use modulators to modulate other modulators. You can do some crazily complicated stuff with this, like frequency-modulating an LFO by another LFO. Also, there's a number of voice parameters that most synths don't normally allow to be modulated, like filter resonance, so play around with that.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:36 am
by max badwan
My tip is a bit mundane, use all six individual outputs - whether you use it as six mono synths, or a six-voice poly (or anything in-between), being able to effect each voice individually opens up another layer of potential.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 1:16 am
by phesago
max badwan wrote:My tip is a bit mundane, use all six individual outputs - whether you use it as six mono synths, or a six-voice poly (or anything in-between), being able to effect each voice individually opens up another layer of potential.
multi patch mode is baller as s**t. also the voice panning settings is really what can make it come alive sometimes. dat hpf is sooooooo aweseom. normally hpf's are kind of shitty.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 2:02 pm
by hageir
The tracking generator (on the Matrix 6R) is really really awesome,
it can shape stuff to your choosing, just imagine the points being like (D)ADSR and then you can sort of modify the shape of the input…

I've been thinking about using the Ramp instead of an Envelope (due to semi-slow triggering/sloppy timing) for the filter freq. (ramp="filter env.") then it's awesome to be able to shape it with the Tracking Generator, it's a very very detailed option… Makes perfect sense when you've got the hold of it…

Someone was talking about turning off Keyboard Tracking for Oscillator 2 (Matrix 6) and using the Ramp or something else as the Pitch-Tracking input; "to get that classic Oberheim sound" LOL

I think it might be the other way around:
Apply Keyboard (in the Modulation Matrix) in an invert value to Oscillator 1 (which is syncable, but you can't turn off keyboard tracking /maybe portamento instead?) to make it more of a steady-tone drone, adjust the frequency,
then Sync that sucker to Oscillator 2 and let that do all the pitch/keyboard tracking..

Then modulate Oscillator 1 while it's synced to Oscillator 2

Next step is to try the External Trigger Input and let Envelopes/LFOs/Ramps get trigg'ed in sync with a beat.


I tried Mono Mode the other day, either using one Patch or a Split and it surprised me!
Sequencing each Voice individually, it's a very special thing.. And maybe it reacts better to MIDI this way, because it's split up on channels?

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 3:50 pm
by Sir Ruff
hageir wrote:I think it might be the other way around:
Apply Keyboard (in the Modulation Matrix) in an invert value to Oscillator 1 (which is syncable, but you can't turn off keyboard tracking /maybe portamento instead?) to make it more of a steady-tone drone, adjust the frequency,
then Sync that sucker to Oscillator 2 and let that do all the pitch/keyboard tracking..
I'm not sure what the original logic was behind the "oberheim" sound you mention, but that's a good idea just the same. You can turn off kbd tracking on the xpander/M12 (and I would assume M6?) Leaving as a steady tone would be cool, as would having osc 1 track the kbd in reverse. Guess I've done that before with FM, but not sync!

p.s. the ramp isn't any faster than the regular envelopes (maybe by some barely noticeable amount), but sending it through the tracking generator is still a good idea!

The key to "fast-ish" envelopes is just to keep all other modulations to a minimum.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:19 pm
by pinksoir
This is all great stuff, guys. Thanks!

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:28 pm
by Synthacon
Just one thing too...

I found with my Xpanders, just because you could, it didn't mean you had to.

Got some nice tones keeping it simple.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 5:59 pm
by garranimal
commodorejohn wrote:If it works like the Matrix-6 (and I think it does,) don't forget that you can use modulators to modulate other modulators.
Modulators can also modulate themselves. I am trying so hard not to post too much here, you'll never get me to shut up.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 11:48 pm
by pinksoir
Hang on a second! modulators can modulate themselves??? That's crazy. What happens? I'll have to try that out tomorrow.

So I had a good play around with it today. It's such a great sounding synth once you did in, but I can definitely hear areas where it excels, and others where it... doesn't. To me it doesn't sound overly 80s (like a Juno for example), it's got quite a modern sound. It's great at really huge, bright and brash sounds as well as understated pads with subtle modulation, the brass is unreal, synth strings can be very interesting with stuff like keyboard tracking of the PWM and so on. I love how a little can go a long way with it. You kind of have to use restraint when adding modulators.

I think it really compliments my JX3P incredibly well. There's almost no crossover and each are excellent at different things. I always felt the 3P was only OK for pads and the Xpander really shows it up.

Re: Xpander/Matrix 12 tips and tricks.

Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 1:10 am
by Z
pinksoir wrote:Hang on a second! modulators can modulate themselves??? That's crazy. What happens? I'll have to try that out tomorrow.
Yes, one of my favorite things to do is have an EG modulate an LFO's speed: get faster and slow down.
Example: 30 seconds into this:
[youtube][/youtube]