Kawai K5

Kawai K5 Image

The K5 is a digital synthesizer that employs additive synthesis harmonic-building as its method of sound creation. Basically, you can vary up to 126 harmonic levels generated by a sine wave via a bar-graph type graphic display to create, shape and change your sound. De-tuning can also be used to thicken or augment sounds too. In addition, each harmonic has an independent choice of four 6-stage envelopes for further tweaking and shaping. The K5 is also 15-part multi-timbral. Sounds can be split, layered, overlapped and de-tuned for creating thicker sounds or ensembles of instruments and sounds. It has 48 internal patches for memory storage as well as a 48 patch external memory card. There are also 48 patches for the multi-mode settings as well.

The K5 is very digital in its synthesis approach and its overall sound quality. However it has some surprisingly analog-like parameters. Its filter is a Dynamic Digital Filter that has familiar slope, cutoff, envelope amount, keyboard tracking and independent 6-stage envelope controls. The Digital Dynamic Amplifier is set up like a 6-stage envelope for overall sound shaping. The LFO has about six waveform shapes, speed, delay and a new Trend setting which is related to the delay parameter of the LFO. But programming Multi-Mode sounds is a bit more modern in its approach to synthesis than analogs and requires a bit of planning and experimenting.

It should be noted that the user interface makes it particularly difficult to program the K5 well. It's especially hard to tell the envelope-to-harmonic routings, and the various bits of nomenclature used by Kawai to indicate what does what can be a bit misleading. Nonetheless, the K5 is a very powerful instrument for creating digital sounds unlike any other. It works great in any MIDI studio or live situation due mostly in part to its multitimbral abilities, unique sounds and its approach to synthesis. It has been used by Jean Michel Jarre.

Kawai K5m Image

The K5m rack-module version is basically the same as the K5 except that it has 126 adjustable harmonics and 4 assignable audio outputs and a stereo mix output. If you plan to use the K5 strictly as a sound source in an established MIDI studio, the K5M desktop module version is more compact and practical than the keyboard version. The K5m has been used by Jan Hammer.

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15 Visitor comments
Kris
April 12, 2013 @ 9:45 am
This machine has some wonderful unique sounds. The page driven menu system makes programming easier than say, the menu driven system of a miniak or D-50, but the nature of additive synthesis makes getting useful sounds from scratch difficult. It's not intuitive to some one used to wave oscillators! But I was able to get mine for a steal, so it's worth it for me to keep working away at it.

And I hate auto-correct!!!
Kris
April 12, 2013 @ 9:36 am
This machine has some wonderful unique sounds. The page sixteen menu system makes programming reassure that day, the menus driven system of a miniak or D-50, but the nature of additive synthesis makes getting useful sounds from scratch difficult. It's not intuitive to some one used to wave oscillators! But I was able to get mine for a steal, so it's worth it for me to keep working away at it.
Aamir
January 23, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
My LCD screen is not working i dropped it when i took it out for repair. also the EL-inverter is not working on the power supply. I need to replace them both. a compatible screen is costing about 75 euros here locally in the netherlands . I am still looking for a cheaper lcd. when the synth is fixed i will place a DIY video how to replace it and maybe i also need to modify the connections or the connectors etc. this is my K5 check the video pls : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_cKlvHLMg8
Aamir
January 23, 2013 @ 2:53 pm
Hi check this out , I have placed a demoon youtube of the Kawai K5 .The reason was I could not find anything really on the Kawai K5 on youtube, link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_cKlvHLMg8 . I hope you guys like it
Dave Cornutt
November 4, 2012 @ 7:55 am
If you get one of these, you will probably have to fix the LCD backlight. Here is a blog post where I went through it, step by step:

http://sequence15.blogspot.com/2009/04/adventures-in-backlighting-part-3-k5 m_23.html

There is also a mod to improve the output level of the main output. However, it is noisy. The individual outputs are much cleaner.
 
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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.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 16 voices
  • Oscillators - Digital Harmonic Generator (DHG)
  • LFO - 6 waveforms, speed, delay, trend
  • Filter - Digital Dynamic Filter (DDF) with cutoff, slope, envelope amount, keyboard, velocity, aftertouch, independent 6-stage envelope; Digital Formant Filter (DFT) 11-band graphic eq
  • VCA - Dynamic Digital Amplifier (DDA) with independent 6-stage envelopes
  • Keyboard - 61 keys with "release velocity" and aftertouch
  • Memory - 48 patches internal, 48 patches external memory card, 48 multi-mode memories
  • Control - MIDI
  • Date Produced - 1987

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