Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Doepfer MAQ16/3 Versions

This year Doepfer is celebrating the 20th birthday of the MAQ16/3 MIDI Analog Sequencer with a special 'Dark Edition'

The current MAQ16/3 version
The original version of the MAQ was designed in cooperation with the German band Kraftwerk 20 years ago, and is used by many famous musicians like Human League, Jean-Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze and many more.

These sequencers are best known in Doepfer's silver-grey color, but this new Dark Edition is not the first black MAQ sequencer that they sold.
In fact there were a few different versions that gradually evolved into the current version.
The first MAQs for example, only had 8 presets, no CV/Gate outputs, and a potentio-meter instead of a rotary encoder for data input.

An overview of the most important innovations of the current version 3.xx compared to the older versions 1.xx and 2.xx:
- CV and Gate output for each row (not on the original version)
- 30 preset memories (instead of 8 only)
- Editing feature of all preset data (not only the running parameters but even the step values)
- New additional running modes (e.g. one shot and serial connection of rows)
- On/Off for single steps or complete rows
- Remote control via Midi standard messages
- Step advance via external Midi note on message (no longer clock controlled)
- A rotary encoder instead of potentiometer for data input
- Dark Energy-style knobs (Dark Edition only)

The first black MAQ16/3 model - Picture by Fixed1t
As i wrote in an earlier post, the current MAQ16/3 including the new 'Dark Edition' is now totally 'maxed out', meaningnthat the existing hardware of the MAQ16/3 is already "exhausted" and it will be a problem to add more features with the existing controls and displays.
If you have an old model, you can still upgrade it to todays' standards.

Older devices with software V1.xx or V2.xx can still be updated to the current version 3.xx.
This requires the replacement of the old main board by the new one and the transfer of some integrated circuits from the old board to the new one (including the main processor with PLCC case).
In addition the data potentiometer has to be replaced by the rotary encoder and 6 holes for the CV/Gate sockets have to be drilled or punched into the rear panel.
If your unit is already equipped with the new main board an update to the latest firmware version is carried out simply by replacing the EPROM.
You can find out if your MAQ16/3 contains already the new main board by checking the installed firmware version. It is displayed for a short time after power on. If it shows 3.xx (xx = any number) the new main board is installed.

The latest firmware version for the old main board was 2.04 while the latest firmware version for the new main board is 3.72 (as of summer 2012).
The installed firmware version of my own MAQ is 3.61...

The new MAQ16/3 Dark Edition
Read more about the MAQ updates at

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