Kawai K3

Kawai K3 Image

The K3 uses the same technologies as the popular K1. Although it was among the first from Kawai, it is surpassed by the K1 and K5. The K3 is a wavetable synthesizer. It has 32 waveforms, some of which are samples of acoustic instruments like piano and percussion as well as some unique waveforms. By combining two of these waveforms you can create unique new sounds or add a twist to a traditional sound. Since there are only 32 of these waveforms, the K3 also features a programmable digital waveform where you can tweak the harmonic content of a waveform allowing for added flexibility and range of sounds.

What's really neat about the K3 is that (unlike the K1) it has analog filters and envelopes! So although the sound may be digital at first, it sure does get warmed going through the filter. The low pass resonant filter even has its own envelope generator. There's also a high pass filter and a highly flexible LFO. The K3 is an interesting synth, nicely bridging the gap between the analog and digital domain of vintage synthesizers. The K3M is a rackmount module version of the K3. The K3 has been used by Jan Hammer and Patrick O'Hearn.

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46 Visitor comments
Steven Pelchat
July 9, 2009 @ 10:43 pm
Grabbed it for 90 bucks at Daddy's Junky Music store. Most voices written over with the same voice. Did a system reset to factory default and all voices came back to their preset value. Build like a tank or even a BBW. Rock solid and heavy. Nice feel to the keys and sound is retro-cool. Very nasal and thick. Farted around with the analog filters, OSC,VCF and VCA. Pushbuttons real easy to program and unlike the Digital stuff like a D10 or D110, you don't have to dig into the levels of menues and learn the button functions. Quick and dirty-just like it sounds. Also own D110,JV1080,XV3080, K1,K4,K5,XD5 and K4r.

Steve Pelchat
June 6, 2009 @ 10:47 pm
People keep saying it has no midi through - that isn't true, it does, and it works just fine.
June 2, 2009 @ 2:19 am

That's bull [beep] , K3 has got analog filters, analog chorus and stuffs. K1 is just a cold PCM crap, how can it surpass the mighty K3 ?
January 31, 2009 @ 7:34 pm
underated synth by a lot of people. hard to really describe can sound very analog and you can get a amazing bass sound from it. it can also tread somewhere into dx sounding patches due to the digital waveforms.
analog envelops and analog filter. nice. i somewhat suspect its very simple yet nice chorus and delay effect are based on bucket brigade technology and not dsp. i could be wrong but they sound very nice.
keyboard is not the best feeling action but it is pretty good.
saying this keyboard is surpased by the k1 is just out to lunch. you either havent heard one or havent sat down and programed it at length. the k1 is a completely different animal and well no where near as fun to program.
this synth has its issues without a doubt. no mod wheel no midi through.
ok so for the prices they go for still it is one of the best bargains out there.
its not as cool as some but way cooler than most.
January 25, 2009 @ 3:09 am
I like this synth. I've had one second hand for over a year now . It's easy. ADSR envelopes - compared with more complex structures on the D50 and ESQ1. A warm analog filter. The chorus is great as well. It's build like a brick proverbial, the only thing to watch is the JX8P style membrane buttons which wear out. Disadvantages? Firstly - no midi through on the keyboard. The waveshapes are 8 bit samples and have a lot of digital noise - so its lucky that the thing has a great filter! You need it to filter out the 8 bit noise at the high end. Last disadvantage is that the modulation routings aren't great. One envelope each for VCA and filter and assignable LFO. Still its simplicity could be an advantage. This is not a DX7 or D50 alternative and can't do acoustic emulations. However, it does produce warm character-filled sounds that are a nice blend of digital and analog. It's a good alternative to a Roland JX8P.
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  • Check Prices on eBay
  • The link above will take you to a 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.
  • Demos & Media
  • YouTube Thumbnail
    Kawai K3 | demo
    by WC Olo Garb

    Patch Files - Every patch Kawai has for the K-3, provided by Kawai.

    Manual - Download the original owner's manual from SoundProgramming.net.

  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 6 voices
  • Oscillators - 32 digital waveforms
  • LFO - YES
  • Filter - Low pass resonant filter, high pass filter
  • VCA - ADSR
  • Keyboard - 61 note (velocity + aftertouch)
  • Memory - 50 patches
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1986
  • Resources & Credits
  • Images from Jack Solkiewicz, found at Synth Site.

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