Sunday, September 29, 2013

Doepfer History: MCV8 8-Voice MIDI to CV Interface

In the mid 80s Doepfer released the MCV8, an 8-Voice MIDI to CV Interface.
The MCV8 was/is a simple MIDI-to-CV converter, featuring MIDI in/THRU plus 8 CV and 8 Gate outputs on the backside.
On the front side it had a two-digit LED plus 8 buttons.

MCV8 V2 frontside
A preliminary version of the MCV8 (very different from the final version) was available around 1985/86.
It was very primitive and had only one mode: 8-voice polyphonic.
The only controls were a learn button and a LED (to learn the Midi channel and the reference note for 0V CV). The unit had no storage and the Midi channel and reference note was lost after power off.
Only very few units were manufactured (as far as Dieter remembers less than 10). 

MCV8 V2 backside
A few years later a totally revised version of the MCV8 was available (both kit and ready made). 
The kit was about Euro 150 without case and about Euro 180 with case. 
The ready built unit with case was about Euro 280. It had a 2-digit LED display and 8 buttons with associated LEDs and was available without or with case (a ugly black plastic box, not yet 19"). 
The CV and gate outputs were available as a sub-d socket (no jack sockets) and one had to solder a special cable that converted the sub-d e.g. to 1/4" jack plugs. 

It had already different modes (8 voice polyphonic, 2 x 4 voice, 4 x 2 voice, additional controller outputs and so on) but it had no memories.

Around 1990 version 3 of the MCV8 was released.
It was available as a 19" unit with 16 1/4" jack sockets at the rear panel for 8xCV and 8xGate.
The unit had a non-volatile memory for several user presets.

Doepfer MCV8 19-inch rack with Version 3.1 Manual
The buttons could be used to setup different parameters like Legato On/Off, Gate Polarity, Pitch Bend On/Off (only in V/Oct. mode), Type of CV Characteristic (V/Oct. or Hz/V), MIDI Note Reference for 0V CV in V/Oct. mode and Pitch Bend Travel of CV (only in V/Oct. mode)

The MCV8 Version 3 Offered 6 standard modes/configurations:

Poly 8 (P8): 8-Voice polyphonic
All 8 CV outputs are pitch outputs (controlled by MIDI note on/off) on the same MIDI channel
Poly 4 (P4): 4-Voice polyphonic
The CV outputs 1-4 are pitch outputs (controlled by MIDI note on/off) on the same MIDI channel.
The CV outputs 5-8 are the corresponding velocity outputs (controlled by the velocity values of the note on/off events)
Poly 2 (P2): 2-Voice polyphonic
The CV outputs 1 and 2 are pitch outputs on the same MIDI channel, 3 and 4 are the corresponding velocity outputs, CV5 is the (monophonic) after touch output and CV 6...8 are controller outputs.
Single 8 (S8): 8-Voice monophonic
Each CV output is a pitch output on a different MIDI channel.
Single 4 (S4): 4-Voice monophonic
The CV outputs 1-4 are pitch outputs on 4 different MIDI channels.
The CV outputs 5-8 are the corresponding velocity outputs.
Single 2 (S2): 2-Voice monophonic
The CV outputs 1 and 2 are pitch outputs on two different MIDI channels.
CV 3 and 4 are the corresponding velocity,
5 and 6 the after touch, 7 and 8 controller outputs.

Besides the User Presets it had a memory for 6 user definable presets, what made this a very versatile MIDI-CV converter for its time
The CV-range could be configured to do the usual 1V/Oct (standard) or the Korg/Yamaha type Hz/V,
and the Gate output could be configured to do +5V / +7.5V and/or the Moog type S-Trigger by switching internal jumpers.

The price for the ready built unit was about 380 Euros, the kit was about 275 Euros.
There were some differences in the Version3 firmware features but details are unclear.

Doepfer MCV8 Version 3 Backside
Doepfer still has a text file of the manual on their website, you can find it HERE but a nicer  PDF of the manual can be found via the Cykong site.

It is difficult to say how many were sold as Doepfer only have records from since 1990. 
From 1990-1995 about 300 were sold, but they have no quantities before 1990. 
Dieter expects around 400-500 units were sold altogether.

...and there's one MCV8 (V2 - including a breakout box) for sale in the Netherlands now at, where i got those pictures from.

Special thanks to Dieter Doepfer for all additional info.

More pictures of the MCV8 can be found on my PatchPierre Facebook page
Find out more about Doepfer History products HERE