Yamaha QX3

Digital sequence recorder

Yamaha QX3 80s sequencer
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1987 (Sep.)
Initially sold for ¥158,000

The Yamaha QX3 Digital Sequence Recorder is a 16-track MIDI sequencer with a capacity of 24,000 notes, and can play a song chain of up to 48,000 notes. Realtime recording, step recording, and several punch-in modes of recording are possible. Extensive editing functions are provided, and the built-in 3.5" floppy disk drive also functions as a storage device for MIDI bulk data. The human-engineered front panel switches and large illuminated LCD make for maximum ease and efficiency in editing or entering data.

Evolution of the QX1, with more advanced technology and controls, a smaller case, a built-in micro floppy disk drive, a larger data display (with contrast control) but less MIDI outputs and less internal volatile memory.

This digital sequence recorder can record up to 16 tracks with unlimited polyphony. Notes can be quantised, moved at any point and manually modified (together with velocity information). Sequences can be saved to disk and then merged later. Generic MDR files can also be saved on disk.

The workflow is the same shared across the QX line, with a very satisfying keyboard to input commands, with one notable difference. The Step record function is not part of the Record mode but is instead an extension of the Edit mode, letting you insert and change notes with complete freedom. The input wheel, also found on the QX5fd, is a welcome feature. The keyboard is unfortunately not localized: so anyone not used to the ABC notation will find inserting notes not as quick as expected.

In 1988 it was one of the best sequencers available on the market. Comes with a music stand that can be folded to act as a cover of the front panel.


  • 16 tracks, each with unlimited simultaneous polyphony.
  • Each track's input and output channel can be set independently.
  • Incoming data can be recorded on any track, or can be split by MIDI channel and recorded on several tracks.
  • Realtime, punch-in, and step recording.
  • Three modes of punch-in recording.
  • Autolocate functions.
  • Capacity of 24,000 notes with velocity, and playback a song chain of up to 48,000 notes.
  • Built-in 3.5" 720 Kbyte floppy disk drive.
  • MIDI data recorder function for saving and loading system exclusive bulk data to and from disk.
  • Editing dial for scrolling through events or measures.
  • Numeric key pad for speedy data entry.
  • Illuminated 2-line 40-character LCD with variable contrast control.
  • Two assignable MIDI OUT terminals.
  • Measures can be of any time signature 1-64/1,2,4,8,16,32, and measures of different time signatures can be used in a single song.
  • Songs can be chained together for successive playback.
  • Selectable sync clock: internal, MIDI, tape.
  • Time resolution of 96 clocks per quarter note.

Note: the Yamaha QX3 shown in After Touch and in press kits sent by Yamaha back then has a different print on the top plate, showing a much more dense job table. What made to market is a slightly simplified version without horizontal lines, although software features seem to be identical.

Yamaha QX3 on Music Technology, Oct 1987
Yamaha QX3 on Music Technology, Oct 1987
Yamaha QX3 on Sound On Sound, Dec 1988
Yamaha QX3 on Sound On Sound, Dec 1988
Shot from After Touch 1989
Shot from After Touch 1989

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