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Kawai & Onkyo K5000s
4.5 4.5 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Kawai K5000s Additive synth

31st January 2018

Kawai K5000S by Snuppeluppen

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Kawai & Onkyo K5000s

POWERFUL POWERFUL POWERFUL. The Kawai K5000 branch of synths are known for their Outlandishly powerful take on additive synthesis, there are Three variants, the Kawai K5000 W which is the workastation variant, the S Version which is a pure synthesizer With better hand on controlls/knobs, and the R Version and is based on the S Version.

I would describe the overall sound caracter as crisp and organic, but not analog.
It excells at dreamy and evolving soundscapes and pads, but its overall decent at doing most pure synth sound types. You can get it to produce metallic, "stardusty", "crystally", "glassy" and "wooden sounds". This is overall a great sounding synth!!

:Digital Additive Synthesis plus PCM samples.Harmonics: 64 per Source (6 Sources/oscillators which is 384 in total. Enveloping down to each Harmonic (that should put the Power of this thing into perspective) and 5 "over-Envelopes" that can modulate PCMs and Addetive waveforms.

It also has a powerful 128 band formant, which can be used as a Parametric EQ or several other congurations. The Formant Filter is completely controllable by envelopes or LFOs.
It has 32 voice polyphony and is known for its powerful programmable arpeggiator.
The K5000S contains an advanced digital effects processor which allows four individual effects of chorus, delay, distortion, etc., in addition to reverb and a graphic equalizer.

This synth has great real time controls and programability but has also a sublime Keybed.

Overall, this is one of my top 5 Favorite synths of all time.

  • 1
2 weeks ago

Kawai K5000S by revel8or

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Kawai & Onkyo K5000s

The K5000 series of synths are incredible machines. They are stupidly powerful stand alone additive synths that do so much math that they rely on 5 RISC processors, excluding the effect blocks. Nowadays, multiprocessors aren't even innovative, but when the K5000 series came about, they were leveraging power that was unicorn status in the computing world - for "just" audio synthesis.

Additive synthesis is difficult, although there are some modern versions that tame it to a usable level. If you are looking for simple, don't buy the K5000 series. 2 banks of 64 harmonics per voice (32 voice) split between "soft" and "hard", with optional short PCM samples to give the sound a punch at the start. Each sound is sculpted by adjusting the harmonics with mathematical relationships to create interesting waveforms. One can approximate the basic subtractive waveforms (like saw, triangle, etc) by precisely adjusting harmonic sine wave frequencies and periods. Or, one can create waves that are all over the place.

Each of the harmonics has 3 envelopes (so - 128 harmonics per voice, each with three envelopes) and a filter. The filter is...amazing and the most piercing digital madness that has quite possibly ever existed. So, the filter has 128 harmonic equivalences that can be adjusted to filter each individual voice harmonic...but wait. The filter can be controllably morphed from one shape to another during live play. Because it can be shaped with such detail, it can be a low pass, band, high, comb, formant, or anything in between *and* morphed in real time while adjusting the resonance and moving the harmonics as cutoff would move the frequency in subtractive synthesis. Crazy, eh? And the LFOs or Multi mode hasn't even been mentioned...

There are challenges with this synth. The first is the learning curve. If you don't like math or logic, I mean like them in a way where you do modal logic or derivatives for fun, this synth might take a while to learn. Even if you are a prodigy, it's still going to take a bit to learn how to make a sound that isn't like a gong or bell, and quite a bit longer to make something intentionally interesting. Frankly, programming a DX-7 is cake compared to this, and, honestly, a huge modular is easier to come to grips with.

To beat a dead horse: It's kind of like assembler's language compared to Basic. In Basic, you tell the computer to print something, and it does. With assembler, you tell the computer not only *what* to print, but *how* to print. It's kind-of the same thing with additive synthesis. You don't start with a sawtooth wave, you tell the synthesizer how to *make* the sawtooth wave, then you start making a sound with the wave that you programmed from the ground up.

So, the manual absolutely is below par. It will tell you what is going on, but not how to use it. There is a book, the Wizoo guide to the K5000 series that came with a floppy - it walks the user through lessons in how to program this beast. The book should, at this point, be worth more than the synth as it is truly Unobtanium. And it is *completely* the best way to learn how to use the K5000 series.

There are two hardware issues that I've had with the synth. The knobs. are 15k linear, which are impossible to find. Very impossible. If one goes, good luck. Next, if the display back light goes, you can find a replacement, sort-of, but it will need to be modified for the back light to work.

So, was it worth it to buy one? Yes. Only with a multi-year investment in learning how to use it. If you want to make predictable sounds with this the first year of ownership, you probably won't, unless you can find the Wizoo guide. The floppy helps - the lessons in the Wizoo guide reference the material on the floppy

Some people have compared the K5000 sound to other digital synths, but - I own a MWXT, and have owned the Casio VZ-1 and the VZ-10M, and the Korg Wavestation EX. The Kawai sounds like all or none, but neither the Waldorf or the Casio can do what the Kawai does. The K5000s envelopes are so funky that they approach the Wavestation in terms of sound evolution over time. Further, they are different "flavors." The Kawai becomes soooo sparkly and sublime when ran through a compressor (especially a multiband compressor) and completely...well, it's a unique digital machine with resonance that will truly melt dry paint off of the walls.

If you have the attention span, and can find one of these in good condition, *and* you like digital sounding synths, then this is a drop of a tear from a god. Analog? Not. Even. Close.

  • 1

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