Matriarch or Pro 3 — which recent monosynth, and why?

Hi there,

A few months down the road I’ll be looking to purchase a new synth, likely either the Matriarch or the Pro 3. The Pro 3 has been out for a while now and I’m sure a lot of people on this forum will have one or the other, or both of these. I’d be very interested to hear your preferences and the reasons why you prefer one over the other. And especially for those fortunates who do own both — which one do you take to the proverbial desert island (where there’s a generator waiting, thank god)?

(I’m not so much looking for a recommendation for me. I’m more interested in YOUR reasons. But I’ll state my tastes anyway: unlike a lot of people, it’s not “fat leads and basses” that attract me to a synth. I’m more turned on by old school sci-fi soundtracks and the early days of electro-acoustic experimentation. Sound design, interesting modulation. I’m sure both of these synths satisfy those itches.)

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By the description of your wants:

Pittsburgh Voltage Research Laboratory.

From the 2, Pro 3. Prefer the sound.

If you like moog, the Subharmonicon sounds more up your street.

Matriarch looks intensely boring to me. Modulation wise I don’t think there’s a lot going on.

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Agree. Pro 3 will get you there

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Nice sound demos on their site for this. Had never seen it before.

Sigh — the attractions of modular are so strong. Just don’t want to start something I can’t finish, i.e. a modular set-up that would forever be calling out to me for MORE, MORE. Also, because of a contrarian streak in me, I’m slightly into the notion of stretching gear that was maybe meant for more straightforwardly musical contexts into more abstract directions. That kind of seems like an interesting project for me, whereas modular, though I know it would be up my alley, might spoil me with possibilities. Hard to explain.

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Yeah I totally get it.

I have spent an unbelievable amount of money on modular.

But I definitely do not regret it.

A nice middle ground, though, that Pittsburgh machine. Thanks for the tip. Looks like it might be hard to get ahold of.

I have a Microvolt 3900 which sounds fantastic and I really like, but I’m watching videos on the research lab and wondering whether to replace it.

I don’t have space for both.

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I was looking at that one a while back and went for the slightly analogous Erebus instead.

What I think the hardware market is calling out for — at least I’m calling out for it — is more interesting sequencers or midi modulation tools, things that would give hardware synths more possibilities for abstraction. I expect this niche will soon be filled.

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Sounds like modular :wink:

A semi modular with a couple of mad Eurorack modulation modules would get someone very far.

I mean, the stuff available in Eurorack just kills everything else.

Sorry!

I think you’re right. I’m just in denial and kind of wanting to stay there.

Haha. Understandable.

I think I REALLY want the research lab

Whoops.

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Yeah, looks really cool. At the risk of dragging my own topic further off track, what would you expect in terms of build quality from them? For example, would that case be particleboard?

The Microvolt case is extremely solid and much heavier than one would expect.

When it comes to the sliders and mini knobs they are standard fair for eurorack, if one wasn’t used to this they might appear flimsy but they definitely are not an issue.

I would be very confident about the voltage lab.

EDIT: cases that hold the modules are metal. The sides look like wood, don’t know if real wood or not but there won’t be an issue with quality / be sturdy.

Yeah, I was pretty close to pulling the trigger on one of these as well, it really has sort of a synthi sound to some of its explorations in demos. But ended up swinging for a Syntrx and an 0-CTRL instead. Still something really tempting about the Voltage Research lab.

@Ob Syntrx is probably worth looking at also as it is taking serious design notes from the synthi which is in some ways still king of the scifi noise genre. I have yet to actually get my syntrx so I can’t really speak to its qualities yet, and it is a bit expensive for its feature set. As far as your actual question I think both could work but Matriarch might have you itching for some more modules when going down the more scifi sound design route, to me I feel like a big focus of it is the stereo filters and stereo delay nice big dreamy sound with room for weirdness, Pro 3 has more tools in there and the mod matrix lets you route a ton of stuff, I have the Pro 2 and have been using the 0-CTRL with it for now and it definitely leads you into some weirder territories quickly. Love my Pro 2 so I would definitely lean Pro 3, really really great workflow on the newer Sequential gear and great sound, tuned feedback can be really cool. It is worth noting though the main signal path on a Pro 3 will always be the same where on the Matriarch can break the main signal path like going to the delay with the oscillators before the filter and then filtering it before hearing the signal. Either way you go look into the 0-CTRL or some alternative control modules as I think it would add a lot especial with your mentioned interest in old scifi stuff.

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I recently sold my PRO3 to get a Motas 6, and I could not be happier with my decision.

Matriarch is great as an additional Synth, If you already own another Main workhorse. Its (M) Features with the Stereo Filter is quite unique and together with the Delay great for Stereo field Play arounds. Plus it Sounds incredible for leads, Bass, Drones, Classic FX sounds. Aaaand…it Sounds Like Moog. And will always Sound Like it. Like a Fingerprint, Always recognizable. After ten years of having a Voyager i started to dislike this Woody Charakter and i sold it. But Back to topic. The Matriarch wants to be manually patched. A semi modular Synth that will Lead you to a modular system. So whats the cons? Relatively Limited Sound, that can be expanded with a modular system aside, Moog Charakter, No preset saving. On the pro Side, it offers you really great Sound quality, great User Interface, patching possibilities, that Moog Charakter Sound.

The Pro3 is definately more versatile soundwise, has more on Board FX, preset Storing, great UI, and an Excellent sound. Great for leads, Bass, Drones, Pads, fx Sounds etc, that can also be less Classic due to the Wavetable Oscillator and the three different Filter types.

If i had to choose, i would Pick the Pro3.

Alternatives you should consider:
Vermona Perfourmer mk2
Novation Peak or Summit
Make Noise 0-Coast
ASM Hydrasynth
Elektron Digitone Keys
Endorphin Shuttle System
Make Noise Tape&Micro Sound music system

All with different approaches and specialties, but great for your Sound experimentation in the Electro acoustic field.

Thanks for your response. I should say I’m not looking specifically to recreate the Forbidden Planet soundtrack, as it were, but was using the sci-fi soundtrack idea as shorthand for a broader field of tempoless / beatless stuff that I love (some of the sound examples on the Voltage Research Lab page are right up my alley). And I do occasionally want to make easy-mode dance music, too, like most everyone else who has the least interest in synths — I’m not a total ascetic.

The Syntrx certainly looks appealing and Erica seems like the kind of company I’d like to encourage with my dollars, but maybe not so many of them; maybe a bridge too far for this buyer. I could probably be persuaded, but I haven’t seen any demos yet that have really blown my mind.

One nice thing about it: it looks like it was built solidly and built for adult hands. I’ve used enough synths to know that the ergonomics and tactile pleasure of an instrument is not a negligible consideration. The Voltage Research Lab, for example, looks extremely cramped (as do a lot of eurorack modules). The demos sound very appealing but I wonder if, over time, I’d keep coming back and stay glued to it. Recently, the Lyra 8 has reinforced this feeling of mine that form really matters. The synth itself is rather limited. It doesn’t really have a lot of range and more often than not you create similar types of noise. BUT I don’t know that I’ve used a stickier synth — I sit down with it and invariably stay there for an hour or longer, just lost in it. The sound can be mesmerizing, of course, but I think the feel of the instrument also has something to do with it. Again, far off my original topic, but yeah, this is a consideration of mine, too.

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Thanks for a thorough overview. Re: Hydrasynth. It was on my radar, too, but I heard some complaints about a kind of digital thinness of sound and, even though some people have refuted these reports and talked about a firmware update that addresses this, the damage has kind of been done in terms of my interest. Maybe the next one they make.

Forgive me for mentioning Analog 4. It is awesome when considered as 4 monosynths in a box.
There are many modulation paths, and goes well with a semi-modular if you ever go that route.

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I really REALLY recommend you consider the Motas-6, It’s like a self contained modular system without the need for all the patch cables and you can save your patches… It has an envelope and two LFO’s available to every parameter that can track pitch into audio rates as well as a bunch of other modulation sources again, available to every single parameter on the synth. The sound is also very nice, nicer than anything else I own. It really is a sound designers dream and the designer is very responsive to user feedback, Since I’ve owned it I’ve suggested the following features: LFO’s being able to track notes and go into audio rate, Microtuning, Adjustable step length to the two sequencer lanes, envelope curves being adjustable with 128 step resolution between LOG and EXP and all of these features have been added as well as a bunch of other features suggested by other users. I speak with the designer regularly and he’s constantly looking at how he can push this synth to it’s absolute max potential.

Compared to the Pro 3 and it’s very inflexible filter routing (only one filter at a time) the Motas-6’s ability to use it’s 3 filters simultaneously, routed however you want is enough that you should consider this synth as this opens up whole worlds of sound that the Pro 3 will never be able to touch.

I’ve done a few quick demos of some of it’s sound potential in the thread here on elektronauts (only touches a tiny bit of the potential of what you can do with this thing) but it should give you some idea of the character this synth has (which again, is very flexible. It can sound super vintage or very modern)

I endlessly hype this synth but it’s my most loved possession and I’m honestly considering one day buying another!

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