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.

Lookup Kawai K5000 Prices

The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings with more images, specs and information. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace. Our marketplace gets thousands of visits every week so make sure to check back often if you want to buy or sell a synth.

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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
April 18, 2011 @ 11:39 pm
I'm a recent K5000S owner, having managed to find a slightly damaged unit (broken piece on the case) for a very good price. Overall, this is the most incredible synthesis machine I've used. The presets scratch only the surface of the engine underneath, which you could explore for months. Even after all this time, I don't believe there are contemporary machines that really equal it in terms of fundamental sound creation.
Angels In Bondage
March 29, 2011 @ 9:18 am
A good friend of mine used this board (RIP Jarred aka Manchine), and i honestly think that this board still has ton of potential in it.

The sounds that ive heard that stand out the most of this board are really awesome square and attack basses and some crazy pads (reminded me of Transwave technology style pads).

I will definitely try to pick one of these up eventually - they are quite a neat combo when paired with the similarly underrated Yamaha EX7/Ex5R synths
nik green
February 14, 2011 @ 12:17 am
I got the K5000R (rack) unit when it was released in 1997. Its a dog to edit, but the instrument sounds fantastic, quite unlike anything out there. I also still have a K5 (keyboard)... thats an interesting machine, but also beyond tedious to edit sounds on.

Additive has such potential, and so much more could be done with the technique, and with the power of todays DSP chips, the possibilities are endless.

Until then, I shall hang onto my K5000R...
Erik Friend
December 4, 2010 @ 1:12 am
I first heard the K5000s at a music store back in 1996. My high school aged brain thought it was the coolest keyboard ever. It sounded like an alien bad-ass. I spent my first paycheck buying one with expanded memory second-hand.

Nearly 15 years later, I am still amazed by the K5000s. Nothing sounds like it. The knobs allow tone sculpting both subtle and extreme. The keys are beveled for fast action and respond to aftertouch by modulating the sound further. Many patches are elaborate soundscapes to be explored.

The factory patches provide immense variety when you consider the insane warping potential of the controller knobs. Every patch is inspiring and you can find thousands more online and load hundreds at a time via a single 3"1/2 floppy.

In short, I love this keyboard. Have I mentioned the midi-syncable arpeggiator? You control the pattern (preset or user defined), octave jumping, speed, and hold via 3 knobs. No menus required for anything but patch programming.
Erik Friend
December 4, 2010 @ 1:08 am
I paid $750 for mine in 1999. I've seen them estimated at $450 and laughed. I think this synth is superb and shares a place among the other great synths of our time.

Comparisons in sound? Well, it does a mean resonant bass growl that sounds like an analog synth overdriven with tubes. To my ears, some flowing water-like accents can be heard in many patches. I've heard it do screaming leads with shrill crushing modulation, or waves of mechanical atmospheric ambience, or even standard instuments like trumpet. Though it offers few precussion options, it defies categorization.

My only complaint? It weighs a ton, about as much as an Ensoniq Mirage. On second thought; this could discourage a hypothetical burglar from snatching it easily, so I guess the weight counts as a feature.a

So, yeah. The K5000s is rad.
VSE Rating


User Rating

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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