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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50 Visitor comments
Ben Z
August 1, 2012 @ 2:52 pm
Bought the K3m for $80 on cl several years back. Not a fan, because I think the sound palate is rather dull. I even used MIDI to tweak CCs, but still I do not like. Plus, it's like two rack spaces high; one too much!
July 30, 2012 @ 8:57 pm
@Bill, cont'd: The K4 sounds like a 1990's soundcard GM set to me, whilst the K3 is all buttery-warm analog (including "phatness") AND cold/thin/brittle/digital punchy stuff, too !!! It just needs a little external reverb or chorus or cheap guitar pedal to get a bit more out of the "digi" sounds...
July 30, 2012 @ 8:52 pm
@Bill: I'm right there with you, man. Sans racks or modules, i own 21~22(?!!) synths now, including both a K3 and a K4, i just can't see how anyone would favor the K4 over the K3! The build quality between the two couldn't be more different. The K4 is multi-timbral, but that's of no consequence to me..

My K4 is left near-forgotten in a friend's basement, waiting to be transferred to my own basement, 'least until it's sold!... ;-) I've always been much more fond of these "hybrid" synths...
f. a.
July 18, 2012 @ 3:26 pm
I don't understand how the K3 and SX240 can be mentioned in the same sentence. The 240 blows away the K3. The K3 sounds lifeless. In my opinion, any synth you HAVE to add effects to, just isn't worth it. If you want a cheap (market value) synth get any of the casio CZ's or the K4. They are far more interesting.
June 24, 2012 @ 8:45 am
Underrated synth . Hey listen a ton of people buy a synth like this ramp up a few parameters and don't bother doing much else. They use the onboard effects and expect it to sound like god. The k3 is nothing like a k1 . The two couldn't be more different to program. The two couldn't sound more far apart. a k3 a decent drum machine and some effects is enough to make a great start. It's one of the last real bargains. I've owned almost all the kawais and this one and the 240 are the ones I've kept.
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  • 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.
  • 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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