Kawai K5000

Kawai K5000S Image

The K5000 was Kawai's top of the line music workstation digital synthesizer when it was released back in 1996. It's a bold and elegantly designed synth with a large LCD display, realtime controls and incredible sounds! The look and functionality is rivals the competition from the time...the Korg Trinity and Kurzweil K2500.

Programming sounds with the K5000 can be a breeze (once you learn how) although it has over 1,000 parameters per patch! That's plenty to play with. It combines additive synthesis and PCM sampled waveforms for you to layer and combine to design a whole range of sounds. Plenty of LFO modulation, filters and envelope controls allow you to shape and morph your sounds further. On-board multi-effects add the final touch of life to your sounds.

Once you've created some sounds, there's the on-board sequencer (K5000W only) for creating songs or loading Standard Midi File sequences (via disk-drive). It has a 40,000 note capacity and 40 tracks. Real-time record and step-edit modes are available and the sequencer is pretty straight forward.

The K5000S (pictured above) adds 12 dedicated knobs for hands-on control of filter, LFO and envelope parameters. There are 4 user-definable knobs and 2 assignable switches. The K5000S also has a 40-pattern arpeggiator on-board with 8 user-definable patterns too! K5000's have been used by Kraftwerk.

Kawai K5000-Rack Image

In 1997 a rack-module version of the K5000 was released. The rack version shipped with Kawai's more stable OS 3.0 software. The latest is 4.03 and is free to upgrade via download from Kawai. The rack offers all the same power and flexibility as its keyboard counterparts. To get a more hands-on-knobs control of the K5000 (like the K5000S) there is a Knobs Macro box. But other controllers such as Encore Knobby or Keyfax Phatboy can also do the trick.

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Are you looking to buy or sell a Kawai K5000? Post an ad in Gear For Sale or a request in Gear Wanted. For spare parts and repair services check out Gear Services & Other Goods. Our forums also has a Buyer’s Guide section where you can ask for advice on buying synthesizers.

63 Visitor comments
January 15, 2009 @ 11:25 pm
The main function is not sample based, but the actual building of sine waves in a tiny box like this to create sounds heard or never heard of. Like I said you may use small samples as maybe the attack of the sound. The samples are short, but they are useful and they sound like 16 or 18 bit sample. The D-50 were I think 8-bits samples, but that was excellent at that time. You could add fx to singular patches before writing your patch to memory. Once you are done programing patches, you could start building up a performance patch with up to six of the singular patches and add fx and your're done. Like the O1/W the singular patch FX are not transfered to the performance patch. So the FX on the combination are for all the singular parts.
January 15, 2009 @ 11:23 pm
I love it because of the sound and complexity. This could do things that other expensive systems in the past could do like the computer security movie with the fancy motorcycles, computer frisbee discs and the arcade programmer that was derezed in to the computer system. The soundtrack was additive synth on most if not all parts. It takes a good amount of knowledge of sound, electronics, math , physics and time to master these types of additive systems, but the results are well worth it. This is a great system and would love to build my own system.
January 15, 2009 @ 11:21 pm
The filter sounds between analogue and digital depending on how you set the resonance. I think if the resonance is pushed too much, everything starts sounding too digitally harsh, but one would have to give that an extreme value to do this on purpose or accident so this unit is very flexible underneath these values. This is an extremely complex system compared to others modern synths of the time. There was editing feature for changing the harmonic and inharmonic balance with velocity also.
January 15, 2009 @ 11:20 pm
To build an acoustic sounding sound on the K5000 one would program for example a sample of a piano attack and the use of the additive harmonic sctructure that you have created. There are macros inside that will let you use a set of preprogrammed harmonics and edit portions of a harmonic structure, but the best thing is to use the included PC software to edit the K5000. One patch could take half a day to build sometimes without computer. With PC software you could also convert sample files in a MIDI file dump to be stored on the K5000. You could use the included software to draw a saw or square or etc.. in harmonic structure and then the user may edit it so that they have their own waveform, then filter on the K5000 and you have your own analogue synth sound.
January 15, 2009 @ 11:16 pm
I have played both the K5000 and K5000R and first the sounds are great. The shinny output is like that of the 01/W series. The appearance and LCD display is shinny too. This is an advanced additive syntheizer first of all in a small box. To start, the overall non-performance patch sound is created with harmonics natural overtones and inharmonic overtones(like cymbals). The creation process takes a while and it has built in macros to help the user build addative sounds. There are synth PCM waveform cycles and loops that may be used to create the attack or looping portion of the sound. The D-50 is only similar in this way, attack portion and sustain portion when combining sound sources together to make a acoustic type sound as a general example. The D-50 has cycle waveforms and fixed synth waveform generator(from memory Square, Saw,Pulse).
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Rated 4.2 (556 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 32 voices
  • Oscillators - Digital Additive Synthesis plus PCM samples; Harmonics: 64 per source; Waveforms: 689 (123 synth, 341 GM, 225 drums). Note: only K5000W features GM sounds
  • Effects - 4 effects algorithms with 32 different effects
  • Filter - 128-band formant filter, 24dB/oct low-pass and high-pass
  • LFO - 2 (one for formant filter, one can be freely routed to other destinations)
  • VCA - 1 ASDR per part, with key scale and velocity
  • Arpeg/Seq - Sequencer: 40 tracks, 40,000 note capacity (K5000W only)
    Arpeggiator: 40 patterns, 8 user (K5000S and K5000R only)
  • Keyboard - 61 Keys with velocity and aftertouch
  • Memory - 200 patches, 64 performances
  • Control - MIDI (K5000S, K5000R: 4-part multi-timbral; K5000W: 32-part multi-timbral)
  • Date Produced - 1996
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from
    and LoungeLizard via Synth Site.

    Thanks to Jesse Farmer for providing some information.

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